Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HELP IS AVAILABLE - from Our Journey Home

We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our life had become unmanageable.

He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them.
Psalm 72: 12-13 New Living Translation

“People see God ever day. They just don’t recognize him.”
-Pearl Bailey


Help is Available

Those of us with addictions tend to be great actors. We attempt to keep our outsides looking really good so that no one would suspect that we’re all messed up on the inside. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth because in the final analysis, our secrets and addictions prove that we’ve been little more than pretenders. Mostly, we’ve been going through life acting like we are in control and that our problems happen because other people are not behaving as they should. We’ve generally had an attitude like we’ve got it all together and if the rest of the world would just cooperate with us then everything would be okay. Do you recognize the thinking here? We fake it. We pretend. We go through life with a head full of fanciful thinking. We are selfish.

Inadvertently, we have made ourselves to be our own god. We have worshiped our own lives, our own agendas, our own priorities and our own values. In short, we have valued ourselves above all else. And many of us have actually done this covertly by hiding ourselves in religion. Whatever we call it, the result has been the same; addiction. So, we find ourselves in a tough spot. We have to make a change in our thinking and in our attitude because the old ways just don’t work anymore.

Recovery from addictions will only come to those of us who can acknowledge and admit that we cannot manage our own lives. As long as we are too proud to admit our weaknesses we will never be able to change them. If we are going to live and recover we will have to find a belief and a faith in something that will work for us because what we’ve had up to this point hasn’t been working. Has it? We need to have help from a Power that is greater than we are. A Power that can heal us where we could not heal ourselves, from the inside out. In light of the destruction that addiction has brought on to us, we must know that we’ll be better off cooperating with this Higher Power instead of trying to overcome it or deny it.

While it is true that we will need help from other people along the way, our failures to heal ourselves prove that we must learn that only God will be the ultimate solution for our problems. Sometimes, as we ask for help we must make the simple and difficult admission of our fearfulness, as well as our powerlessness. On the one hand we fear God and his unpredictability and on the other hand we fear our addictions and their certainty.

Our problems have not really been our addictions, or even the painful circumstances of our unmanageable lives. We, our own self-centeredness that is, is really our major problem. Only God, who often works through people, can solve the “you” and “me” problem and give to us the liberation we’ve been created to experience. As we put our hope in God we find that our past humiliations become humility for today. As we hope and trust in The Higher Power, God can make the tragedy and weakness of addiction into a joy that positively empowers everything we think and feel and do with our lives. As faith in God becomes real for us we find that our addictions and our lives become helpful and encouraging to others as well. After all, everyone is addicted in one way or another.

Our Journey Home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


IT IS A PROCESS - from When Lost Men Come Home, not for men only

It Is a Process

Having faith in God empowers me to accept a ‘process’ way of life for others and myself. We are all in process. My process is my job, not yours. Your process is your job, not mine. We have little or no control over anything except our own willingness which is the key to unlocking a life changing recovery. I am entrusted by God with my opportunity for my life, whether I lose it or find it restored. I am not called to be successful. I am called to be faithful. With this simple attitude, I am able to make a positive contribution to the world around me.

 
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage
to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Serenity Prayer

 
This life therefore, is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it: the process is not yet finished but it is going on. This is not the end but it is the road; all does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.
Martin Luther

 
“I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray I will listen. If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and bring you home again to your land.”
Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT

This is an excerpt from When Lost Men Come Home, not for men onlycopyright, david zailer 2012

Monday, March 18, 2013

TRUE SURRENDER - from WLMCH, not for men only


True Surrender
In true surrender to God, we quit fighting anyone or anything, because we know the only battle really worth fighting is within ourselves. Because I am powerless over people, places and things, it is essential that I keep as my primary goal a faith that longs for God and trusts in His care. A trusting relationship with God always brings improving character.
 "You know you're surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You don't have to always be 'in charge.' Instead of trying harder, you trust more."
Rick Warren - The Purpose Driven Life
 
            Sexual addiction can be like a train wreck. Just because we put on the brakes does not mean we won’t crash and have the pieces of our lives come apart. Consequences already set in motion by poor decisions and destructive actions will likely play themselves out to their natural conclusion. How we come to accept the world, our circumstances and our consequences varies individually, but the willingness to accept the things we cannot change is essential. True surrender means being willing to accept the world and the circumstances that are beyond our ability to control. This is essential for everyone, addicted or not. 
            As I recover and grow, I am learning to make peace with an imperfect and often unfair world. It’s broken and it just doesn’t run right. I see others getting away with things I no longer get away with but wish I could. At the same time, I find myself asking — or maybe it’s God asking me — How many times did people look at the way I lived and wonder why I was getting away with those same things? The truth is no one gets away with wrongdoing. Sooner or later, we all reap what we sow.
            Regardless of the difficulties I face in this world, it is my job to focus on my spiritual relationship with God as I understand His will to be, and allow others to do what they will, be it right or wrong. A man’s freedom is his right according to his Creator. God gives every man the right to make his choices. It’s not our place to judge. By virtue of the gift of recovery, my response-ability is to do all I can to make my life right with God and with others. This I can do. 


This is an excerpt from When Lost Men Come Home, not for men only copyright, david zailer 2012

STEVE SHARES HIS LIFE - from Our Journey Home


Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
 
Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.
I Peter 3:15, The Message

“True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.”
- Alcoholics Anonymous, page 125, The Twelve and Twelve

Steve Shares His Life

My family has owned a lumber business for over 80 years. My grandfather started it and my father and his two brothers continued to grow it. Even in childhood, I knew that my dad and mom planned for me to go to college first and then come back and work in the family business.

I was very active in high school, lettering in baseball and football, and I always kept my grades up too. And I did more than my fair share of partying at the same time. My friends and I used to throw really big parties out in the woods and fields around the area, where we would drink beer and smoke marijuana. Actually, I only smoked pot at the time because my granddad and my two uncles had had drinking problems. I never saw my dad drink. He told me that he had a drinking problem at one time, so he stopped. I decided pot would be safer because I didn’t want to become an alcoholic like my uncles.

My wife, Mattie, and I met when we were seniors in high school. For me it was lust at first sight. She was smart and beautiful, popular and determined to go to college. Almost immediately we became boyfriend and girlfriend. We were inseparable. Our plan was to get into and out of college as quick as we could, and then get married and start a family. But, something unexpected happened. Mattie called me one afternoon to tell me she was pregnant. She and I were sexual on several occasions, always practicing what we thought was “safe sex.” We used a condom each time we had intercourse, but the condom did not prevent her from getting pregnant. Needless to say, our plans for the future changed.

We married the summer after graduation. I went to work driving a truck for the family business, Mattie gave birth to our daughter and we settled into a pretty good life. I worked long hours and made good use of the accelerated opportunities I had in a well-established family business. Our daughter was healthy and joyful, Mattie worked hard to be a great mom, and she attended the local community college part-time as well. I continued to smoke marijuana after work and in the evenings. It took the edge off the day and relaxed me. Mattie had immediately stopped all of her partying when she learned she was pregnant. I think she assumed that I would give pot up too, but she never gave me too much grief about it. Still, I knew she wanted me to stop.

Our daughter was about four, when I got pulled over by the highway patrol as I was driving home after work. I was a sales rep for the business by then, and I would smoke a bowl or two of pot several times a day to relax and chill out. I had marijuana in the car and I had smoked some just a few minutes before getting pulled over. Well, you can guess what happened. I was arrested for driving under the influence and for misdemeanor possession of marijuana, and I was sentenced to a drug education and diversion program. The program required that I give regular urine tests to verify that I was no longer smoking marijuana. I wasn’t happy about this but I wanted to be a good father, a good husband and a good citizen. So, I gave up pot and soon realized that a few beers in the evening or at lunch did a pretty darn good job of replacing pot. I never smoked marijuana again, but I did pick up a pretty strong habit of relying on alcohol to influence the way I felt. It was not too long before alcohol began to cause problems for me.

Mattie and I had a second child, a boy. When he was about two-and-a-half, I realized that I had gone down the wrong road and become something that I never wanted to be. My two uncles still worked in the family business alongside my dad and me. In fact, as I had matured, I had become the spitting image of one of my uncles. We were the same size and shape, we talked alike and we had the same sense of humor. We also drank the same beer and went through each and every day being just a little drunk. Not too much, but just a little. When I was growing up, I had always felt a sense of loathing towards my uncles because of their drinking. I certainly loved them because they were good-hearted and reliable men, but their drinking made them obnoxious at times and it certainly was not what I wanted to become.

I was shocked the day I realized I had become like my uncle who had the habits I didn’t like. I caught a glimpse of him and me in a mirror that day as we were leaving a restaurant. I was shocked to see how much I was like him. Both of us had drinks with our lunch that day, and having seen how much alike we looked in the mirror’s reflection, I knew then and there that I had become the alcoholic that I never wanted to become. Instead of returning to work, I went home and told Mattie what happened. She could tell I was in a panicked state. I had been drinking for years by then, and alcohol had become more important to me than I knew. And, at the same time, I was desperately afraid that all of my good intentions and dreams for my family had been damaged beyond repair.

Now Mattie had been going to church ever since our daughter was born. In fact, she and my mom had been attending church together. Mattie suggested that I call a pastor she knew from there. Apparently this guy had some experience in helping people with problems like mine. That evening I found myself sitting in his office, where we chatted. He was very relaxed and confident. He seemed to understand the dire pain and concern I felt, but at the same time he didn’t share my panic. He explained to me how addiction is a disease and that my addiction probably didn’t start with alcohol, it probably started with the pot that I was smoking back in high school. He suggested that I get some professional help. Two days later I entered into a twenty-eight day detox and treatment program. This program had me going to AA meetings and I was surprised at how normal the AA people seemed to be. Actually, the people at the meetings were pretty cool.

Near the end of my twenty-eight days at the treatment center, I was visited by the same pastor from Mattie’s church. He told me about Jesus in a way that was different than how I had heard about Him before. The pastor told me how Jesus makes it possible for me to enjoy a relationship with God, and that a relationship with God was more of a personal interaction, not a religious endeavor. In fact, he said that I didn’t have to get religious at all; all I had to do was just be honest and open with God, and Jesus would take care of the rest. I guess I should confess by this time I was intrigued about God because of the great way the people from AA and from Mattie’s church would talk about Him. It was like He was their friend and helper, not like the big head-busting punisher I thought Him to be. I was thirty-seven days sober when I prayed to God, thanking Him for Jesus and asking Him to live with me and in me.

I completed the treatment program but I have never completed AA. I still go to meetings. I attend church with Mattie and I’ve gotten involved in the Restoration program for recovering people like me. On Tuesday evenings I set up chairs, make coffee, shake hands and help with the Twelve Step groups. I’ve been doing this for quite some time now, and I’ve grown to love the addicted people who come to visit us. There are several treatment centers around the area who bring their clients to visit us. I can’t wait to get there on Tuesdays to see them. I know the pain they feel. I know what it is like to have my ego crushed. When they cry, I cry too. I never promise them that their life will be easy or that it will be the way they want it to be. I just tell them about Jesus. I tell them that God does not hold their sins against them, and that His full love and forgiveness is theirs to have if they will just believe it, ask for it and act on it.

I am turning gray now. My daughter is in college and my son is heading that way. Almost every day I look back and fondly remember the day that I went into treatment. Even then, I sensed that my life was not going to be the same again. I was afraid and yet I was ready, too. I wanted to escape the addictions that had plagued my family and me. But, I never expected what I got. In sharing what God has done for me through AA, recovery and, above all, through Jesus, my life is complete.

As I examine myself further, I want to confess that I have often had the silly belief that I was “the king” of my own world. I don’t really know how to explain it anymore than that. Maybe it was because I grew up kind of spoiled, but I always thought that I should be immune to suffering, and that if I felt emotional or physical discomfort in any way, I was being treated unfairly. I bet this is why I learned to prefer being disconnected from life through pot and alcohol instead of facing life head-on. And, I think this is why I spent so much of my life flirting with women in very subtle ways. I never cheated on Mattie and I was never into porn or anything like that. I just had an insatiable need for attention and affirmation, which I would get by being charming to women. Having recognized this, I have admitted it to several of my recovery partners and I am working my Twelve Step program and going to meetings to help me deal with what I now know about myself.

In brief, this is how I see my life. I know that I was born into privilege and that I did not have the wherewithal to appreciate it. I have been loved all along, by my family, by my wife and by my children. Most of all and best of all, I have come to know that God has always loved me and that He has and will always love the whole world too. No one needs to be left out. I know, from my own experience, that God loves people who have addictions. And, on top of it all, I believe that those of us who have addictions and who are in recovery are well suited to take in and give out God’s love to all of those around us.

Our Journey Home By David Zailer, Copyright David Zailer, 2011
http://www.amazon.com/Our-Journey-Home-Inspirations-Christian/dp/0615521312/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363624554&sr=8-1&keywords=Our+Journey+Home+by+David+Zailer

Monday, March 11, 2013

PRIORITY

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Proverbs 3:5-6, The Message

“We take our efforts seriously, while knowing that serious results are from God. We remain intent and dogged in pursuit of our disciplines, in the working of the steps, but dismiss at all times the notion that our work is enough. It never is. Our miracles come from God, and He offers them in conjunction with our work.” - Oswald Chambers


Priority

Self-centeredness is cunning, it is baffling and it is powerful. We slip into it often without knowing it. And nothing will kill our recovery faster than when self-centeredness hides hidden in our religious activity. Our commitments to pray and meditate will not make us immune. We will trip up sometimes because we lost sight of the fact that we are not the one who brings good gifts to us. Good gifts come from God alone. We must remember that our best intentions and efforts got us addicted.

So, we must never rely on our efforts alone, no matter how good or well-intentioned they are. It is God who makes the difference in our lives. Yes, we are responsible for being disciplined and intentional in our responsibilities because we will not, after all, grow spiritually if we do not apply ourselves. But, discipline and hard work are never enough to overcome our addictions or conquer the self-centeredness that lurks within us.

All of the growth we’ve had so far has come from God, and the growth we experience in the future will come from Him too. Carving this simple principle onto our hearts and minds will keep us motivated to keep up with our spiritual disciplines. It will keep us moving along the path of God’s spiritual care.

This is an excerpt from Our Journey Home, By David Zailer
Copyright David Zailer, 2012

click link below to purchase
http://www.amazon.com/Our-Journey-Home-Inspirations-Christian/dp/0615521312/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1361298547&sr=8-5&keywords=our+journey+home

NO HAND-ME-DOWN FAITH

No Hand-Me-Down Faith


There is no such thing as “hand-me-down faith.” Ultimately, every one of us will stand before God with our future literally in our own hands, deciding for ourselves what kind of person we will be and what our life will stand for. Some of the men in the recovery group I attend, when they made their decision to entrust themselves to God, experienced immediate and profound gratitude with dramatic emotional outbursts. Others experienced only a quiet sense of relief that their life would change for the better. Whatever the experience, each of us knew it was far better to make the decision to surrender and trust than continue on the way we were going. It was very simple, really; we could no longer trust ourselves to manage our lives alone.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek His will in all you do and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

           

Everyone is affected by external influences. We are influenced by our social environments, by our friends, our families and our coworkers. And we are commonly identified by our appearance, profession, and social status. While our external circumstances may appear to be the most dominant aspect of our lives, it is really our will that is the true center point of every man and woman. 

            My will is always central to who I am and who I will become. Behind everything I say or do is my will. It is the doorway of decision through which I give and take in this world. The will is what initiates and dictates the actions of one’s life. The will is where the one and only real question of life is asked: Will you be self-directed? Or, will you be God-directed? 

            In my addictions, I was blind to see how I had been a slave to my own agenda. The self-centered ways I thought and lived both triggered my addictions and increased them at the same time. Without realizing it, my goal in my addictions had become very simple — to get what I wanted. Every decision I made was simply determined by whatever made sense to me at the time. I was my own god and I did not even know it.

            So, in order to find a new and better way to live, I had to make a new decision. And in making this new decision I also made a new goal. My new goal is to ask — continually ask — God to manage and care for that part of me that is made in His image. The part of me that is personally unique: my will. My goal then became the pursuit of an honest and open relationship with God. To a sex addict like me, anything else is death.

“We had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”
Alcoholics Anonymous, The Big Book pg 62

“God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love, and Thy way of life.

May I do Thy will always!”

Alcoholics Anonymous, The Big Book pg 63

 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,

but let God transform you into a new person,

by changing the way you think.

Romans 12:2 NLT

 

            Once I made the decision to turn my will over to God’s care, I quickly learned that it is impossible to do this without turning my life over to God’s care as well. We simply cannot do one without the other. This is because the way we live our lives is the truest indicator of our will, and until we are willing to give our life to God entirely, we have not surrendered our will, either.

            My problem had been that I had considered my personal wants and wishes as if they were necessities, making demands in ways I was not even aware of. I wanted my way and I wanted others to agree, cooperate and assist me in obtaining what I wanted, with little regard for the impact on others. When I failed to get what I wanted, I became angry and resentful, which proved just how selfish my motivations really were at the time, regardless of how good I thought my intentions were. And often, without realizing it, I would punish others in one way or another, and in so doing, I became intolerable to an extent that those around me would leave me or reject me. Then, my misery would grow all the more, making my addictive inclinations seemingly irresistible once again.

            Are you like I have been? Are you at odds with the world and the people in it? Sometimes, with very little provocation, we can be like mercenaries. We fight to get what we think is important. If pushing and shoving doesn’t work, we “kill ‘em with kindness” to hide our selfish motives. We sometimes claim victory. And other times we politely admit defeat — faking surrender — in order to regroup and try to win once again. 


This is an excerpt from When Lost Men Come Home, not for men only copyright, david zailer 2012