Tuesday, October 29, 2013

RECOVERING A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH OURSELVES - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

Recovering a Healthy Relationship with Ourselves

“But you desire honesty from the heart, so you can teach me to be wise in my inmost being.”
Psalm 51:6 NLT

“The moral inventory is a cool examination of the damages that occurred to us during life and a sincere effort to look at them in true perspective. This has the effect of taking the ground glass out of us, the emotional substance that still cuts and inhibits.”
- Bill Wilson

We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

No matter how we may rationalize it differently, our addictions have been destroying us. Part of the insanity of addiction is how we tend to minimize the damage that our addictions do. To whatever degree that we have brought pain into the lives of other people, we must admit it. But it is likely that we are the ones who have been hurt the most by our addictions.

This section of Step Four is an attempt to see how our addictions have hurt us individually. It is important that we be as objective as possible. We are not the focus. What we are looking to do is to recognize the causes and the conditions, the thinking and believing that have promoted the growth of addiction in our lives. We look ourselves over much like we would examine a part of our body that is hurting. We do it with care, in a nurturing way. Friendly, respectful, objective detachment is one way to look at it. We don’t want to deny how we feel at any moment in time but, at the same time, this is not a sentimental journey, either.

We sift through our life, past and present, in order to identify the selfish thinking, the corrupted beliefs and the ineffective emotional maladjustments that promote our addictions. We need to understand that addictions grow because of self-centeredness. Addiction is not the cause of moral failings nor is it a moral failing in and of itself. Addiction and its subsequent moral failings are caused by spiritual and emotional longings that have gone unmet. Because of this, it is critical that we see how we have contributed to our own spiritual and emotional deprivation. For you see, our addictions take hold of us as we seek to meet needs that we cannot meet and escape pain that is too much for us to handle on our own. Sadly, in addiction, the very things that we have used to escape our pain actually increase our pain. Then, addictions grow and deepen all the more.

Most certainly, some of the pain we have experienced in life has come from other people. For now, let’s just do our best to take a non-emotional look at what these people did to us and how it made us feel. For the sake of our recovery, it’s important that we don’t judge other people’s motives. That is God’s job, after all. He is the only One who has all the facts. We should just look at what they did, not why they did it. Let them work out their own troubles with God, just like we are doing. Any resentments that we have against others should be listed and cataloged. We will discuss them later, at the appropriate time and place.

As we move forward, God will give us courage. We will see things with a better focus. We may not be all that we thought we were. And that’s okay. Whatever we are, God says that He loves us. In time we will grow to love ourselves, too.

Getting Clearer Perceptions

· Describe how you feel about yourself right after you have acted out in one of your addictions.
· How has your addiction affected the way you think about your life and your future?
· Describe the pain you feel when you consider the relationships you have lost because of your addictions.
· How have you objectified yourself financially, sexually or emotionally?
· Do you remember your first sexual experience? What was it?
· How have you violated your own sexual ethics?
· How have you been a hypocrite religiously, sexually or socially?
· Why and how do you feel sorry for yourself?
· How have you manipulated yourself with self-pity?
· Are you mad at yourself? Why?
· How have your addictions affected the goals and plans that you had for your life?
· Why would you sacrifice long-term health for short-term gratification?
· Do you work too much? Why?
· How have you exaggerated your successes?
· Have you ever asked yourself why you would ever do certain things?
· In what ways have you repeated dangerous experiences?
· How and why have you minimized your addictions and your mistakes?
· What are you avoiding?
· Do you like yourself? Why not?

Copyright 2011, David Zailer

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NEW DISCOVERIES - from When Lost Men Come Home, not for men only

NEW DISCOVERIES

I realized some amazing things as I made a list of the people harmed by my addictions. I came to grips with how amazing it was that I was ever loved by anyone, considering the selfish ways I treated other people. I saw that — when I came face-to-face honestly with the truth of my addictions — I wasn’t loved because I deserved it, but because God and others saw me from a perspective of love. This made me value my relationships like a precious gift. Now, with every ounce of diligent response-ability I can muster, I view others lovingly, as others have done for me.
Caring for others respectfully in this way — with love-centered actions — I will hope that love will be given back to me, but I won’t need to be upset if it’s not. My truest God-given desire is to just pass along the love I receive from God and others. So, moving through any fear of rejection I may feel, I live my life differently than I had in the past. I care for others as I would like them to care for me — just as God, my sponsor and counselor have done for me.
"Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider,
an outsider you will remain."
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory pg 154

We set realistic boundaries for ourselves, and we accepted boundaries others placed on us. First, we became willing to make amends to others. Real hope for reconciliation requires that we be willing to make our amends unconditionally. Second, we became willing to accept healthy limitations and to make living amends by the way we relate to others in the future. There is little value in professing good intentions. There is much greater value when we live our lives in healthy socially responsible ways, letting the authenticity of our changing life speak for us. If we refuse the opportunity to right a wrong, we shut the doors and windows of the spiritual home God is building within us. Nothing gets in, nothing gets out. Darkness closes in and we miss the leading of God’s Spirit. We simply create more of the chaos that we are trying to avoid.
It’s quite easy to agree intellectually with the facts of our wrongdoing, to look past our mistakes and not be responsive to the hurt others feel because of us. Intellectualizing our lives disconnects us from feeling our emotions. It blocks our ability to connect with others. It reduces our amends to little more than a narcissistic continuation of the selfishness we claim we want to be free of. A recovering man, however, moves from his head to his heart and from his heart to his feet, where reconciliation with others is made step-by-step. With our feet placed firmly on God and within a fellowship of support and accountability, we find stability to live response-ably. As we are willing to accept responsibility for our life, good and bad, we are better able to know ourselves like God knows us. As we’re willing to know and own ourselves, both good and bad, we will live in reality, the place where God lives.

By the time I was an adult, my resentments had rooted so deeply that I was no longer consciously aware I felt the way I did. My anger had become internalized, fueling the fires of my addictions. One day in a counseling session my counselor had me read something written by someone in their early recovery. By the time I read the third sentence I broke in tears, and it took me several minutes to compose myself. Waiting patiently, the counselor asked me what I was feeling. The only response I could give her was that I had been waiting all of my life for the freedom these words expressed. Later that day I went home and wrote the following.

"I survived childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse. But now, I no longer consider myself a victim. With God’s help, a change has come over me — my attitude is different. No longer do I need to destroy myself or others with anger and hate. I don’t need to entertain thoughts of revenge. God knows what happened. He knows all the facts. He knows the truth. He will make the correct judgments and punishments as He sees fit and according to His mercy. He will be just. I leave it in His hands.

I will not be judged for what happened to me, but I will be judged by how I let it affect my life and how my life affects others. I am responsible for my actions, for what I do with what I know. I am not to blame for what happened to me as a child. I cannot change the past, but as God is my strength, I can change my future and I can assist others with their future. I have chosen to be healed and to take full advantage of the opportunities to be healed. As I heal, I choose to pass this healing onto my children, my family and to others. The ripples of healing in the pond of my life will spread throughout future generations."
 
This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


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Monday, October 21, 2013

THE DECISION, from OUR JOURNEY HOME

The Decision

“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow Me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26

“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything.”
-Bernadette Devlin

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

It has been said that everyone will have their Waterloo. In addiction we have found ours, too. We can no longer deceive ourselves, or anyone else for that matter. Our addictions have been profound. We know it, and other people know it. Because of this, we just don’t have the energy to go on the way we’ve been going. Physically, mentally, and spiritually we’re done. It’s all over. It’s the end. It seems that we’re as good as dead. But here, when we’re at the end of ourselves, there is a calling for us. God, the giver of life, is calling for us to accept the loss of our own lives in order to accept the life that He has to give us.

The decision to surrender ourselves to God’s care is far more personal and practical than religious. We surrender our will and life to God because if we continue to live as we have, our addictions will destroy us. We’ve simply come to understand that God is a life-or-death decision for all of us. And today, each of us decides whether we are willing to trust God or continue our journey alone. Failing to trust leaves us spiritually alone and unprotected against our own progressing addictions. This is a potentially fatal mistake for anyone who has an addiction.

When we decide to trust God, we are not making a religious decision, although many religions encourage us to do this as well. You see, it’s not religion that we need. If religion was the answer for our addictions, those of us who came from religious backgrounds would never have had the addictions that we’ve had. What we really need is intimacy with God. Intimacy with God is far more personal than religious. It is an intimacy that transcends all that we are as human beings. Intimacy with God puts God inside of us. It makes us bigger than what we could ever be on our own. We call it a surrender because we can’t be exactly sure how this intimacy with God will affect us. But while we may not know exactly how God and His goodness will play out in our lives, we do know that it will be far better than staying in our addictions.

Ultimately, all of us will stand before God with their future literally in their own hands, making their life decision for themselves in their own personal way. Some recovering addicts, when they made their decision to trust their life to God, experienced immediate and profound gratitude with dramatic emotional outbursts. Others experienced only a quiet sense of relief that their life would change. Whatever the experience is for us as individuals, each of us must understand that it is far better to make the decision to surrender and trust than continue on the way we were going. We know that we must have God’s help and we have decided to ask for it.

As we make the decision to surrender our lives to God, let’s pray in ways that are personal and intimate. Let’s pray like this:

Dear God,
Only You are God and I am not. You are the Maker and Fulfiller of life. As for me, I know that I originate from You, that I exist because of You. Today, I make the decision to give myself to You, the best I know how. You own me, as far as I am concerned. I am Yours. I give You my old life and I ask for You to give me Your life. You can do with me anything You want to do. Now there are times when I get deceived and I become distracted from You. When I do, I feel that You are far away and I am hurt, from the inside out, when I sin. But, according to Your Word and Your promises, I know that You are always with me. Only You can save me from my addictions and my sins, renewing me in the center of my soul, my will. You protect me, You save me, You transform me. I thank You for the changes in me that You have promised. I want to be more of Yours. I seek You, and by Your grace I am finding and knowing You. It is my desire to know You more intimately and to more effectively live out the life You have for me. Amen
Copyright 2011, David Zailer

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THE POISON OF RESENTMENT - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only

The Poison of Resentment

During the process of making my list, I got in touch with resentment I felt for some people who hurt me deeply in childhood. I asked for God’s help to forgive them, but it was difficult. I also asked for help with this from my sponsor and my counselor. With their help, I was able to begin admitting my resentment, communicating honestly why I felt the way I did. This helped me be responsible — response-able once again — for my own feelings which in turn helped me be more forgiving to myself and others.

            Today I recognize that, while others have accidentally and sometimes even intentionally harmed me, any resentment I hold against others becomes a root source of my own spiritual and emotional handicaps and pain.

 

Resentment poisons our hearts. Then it circulates into every part of our lives. It’s like taking poison and expecting someone else to get sick and die.

Variation of original quote from Malachy McCourt

           

            As I learned to quit looking for opportunities to be resentful and blame others, I became more objective about myself and my life — better able to embrace my shortcomings and my strengths. I could sense God’s strength moving into me through my weaknesses, resulting in a more intuitive ability to care for others without fear. And, I learned to better care for myself as a child of God. Benefiting from the forgiveness others may give to us starts with us forgiving others.

 

Don’t speak evil against each other, my dear brothers and sisters.  If you criticize each other and condemn each other, then you are criticizing and condemning God’s law.  But you are not a judge who can decide whether the law is right or wrong.  Your job is to obey.  God alone, who made the law, can rightly judge among us.  He alone has the power to save or destroy. So what right do you have to condemn your neighbor?

James 4:11-12 NLT

 

            This work will help us sense the incredible work of God in our lives. We will see how He has made us for supernatural purposes — with His divine purposes in mind. As we list those we have hurt, and as we become willing to help them, we start to pass along some of the goodness God has given to us in recovery. Our personality, our talent and our charm will never be enough. People need a love that is not based on who we are. They need a love based on the One whom we all have been created for. Attempts to love made by our own power, no matter how dedicated, most often take on the ugly ways of codependency. Loving others effectively grows from an obedient connection with Real Love, and this comes only from — you guessed it — God. 


This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


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Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Man from Operation Integrity shares his deeply experienced discovery

A Man from Operation Integrity shares his deeply experienced discovery...

The conflict I had was thinking I am ugly and unattractive. That might be true on the outside based on GQ and societies standards. I would think that I am entitled to fantasize about girls and look at porn because they reject me. It is okay for me to take drugs and drink because it is just me. No wife, no family. God was not giving me what I wanted, I had the right. Then in His timing he answered my prayers and over time I will be married and have a family. I panic though. I thought everything I come to understand and enjoy was going to be taken away. I decided to do more while I had the time. Look at more porn, drink some more, and get high. But I realized that what I have now is better. What God is going to give me and take away is better. I don’t have to do what made me comfortable. Being uncomfortable during a transition is okay. God is with me. I don’t need to look at porn, drink or get high because of my low self-esteem. God has answered my prayers by validating through others that what I have on the inside is more than what I think I have on the outside. That my beauty is skin deep and that others do see that which I didn’t realize or want to believe. I realize now that I am not the only one who sees inner beauty. I would project on others based on their outward appearance that they did not understand inner beauty and would reject me. It does not matter, what matters is what Gods thinks. That we are all made from His perfect image. Not getting what I want does not give me the right to look at porn, do drugs, or drink. What matters is Gods-esteem and what He thinks of me. Regardless of my prayers answered or validation of others, what matters is that I’m beautiful and attractive. God's validation is all I need by knowing He made me just perfectly the way I am. I draw from Gods-esteem and not my self-esteem.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

When The Blind See - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

When The Blind See

“As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, ‘Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!’ Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, ‘Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stopped in his tracks. ‘Call him over.’ They called him. ‘It's your lucky day! Get up! He's calling you to come!’ Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus. Jesus said, ‘What can I do for you?’ The blind man said, ‘Rabbi, I want to see.’ ‘On your way,’ said Jesus. ‘Your faith has saved and healed you.’ In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.”
Mark 10:46-52 The Message

"It's really very simple, either God is going to save me, or I'm screwed."
-Robert Orman

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Enmeshed into and promoting all addictive behaviors is a self-defeating and destructive way of thinking. It’s the way that we’ve seen ourselves and life as a whole that has been the problem. This includes inaccurate and distorted personal beliefs and self-centered agendas that send us time and again into insane activities. With this in mind, we can begin to see that our problems are deeper than our behaviors; our problems are how we perceive ourselves and life as a whole.

We all can change the outside of our lives temporarily, but changing the insides has been impossible up to now. As we get honest about our addictions, we can begin to see that some of the most pervasive damage done to us has been the result of a way of thinking that was closed-minded, selfish, and chronically frustrated and negative. At best our lives have been a groping around in darkness. At times we would see something that we thought would help us, and grasped for it only to find that it was nothing more than a vapor or a shadow. Life was always getting worse, never better. We were dying a little more every day. God wants to change all this.

In Mark 10:46-52 we read about a blind man who encountered Jesus and came away having had his blindness healed. This blind man, whose name was Bartimaeus, can be our guide as to how we, too, can find our blindness of perspectives healed and made whole by God. Bartimaeus’ blindness was apparently physical, where ours is more a spiritual and psychological blindness. But the principles that we need to apply to our lives are the same. Bartimaeus, when he heard that Jesus was coming down the road, abandoned his place, and in “throwing off his coat” made a mad dash to seek out Jesus. It seems that Bartimaeus was hungry and desperate for healing. This desperate hunger, along with a hopeful belief that it was possible for Jesus to help him, caused him to take decisive action. Bartimaeus’ belief in the possibility that his life could be made whole drew an amazing affirmation from Jesus himself. Jesus said, "Your faith has saved and healed you."

This is what it can be like for us. As we come to believe that it is possible for our lives to be different, God, working through others, can heal us, giving us renewed sight to see perspectives of sanity and health. Our lives will be different. We can be healed. We will be healed. Most likely it will not be an instantaneous healing like our friend Bartimaeus had, but a healing restoration of sanity nonetheless. Most often the healing we experience will be a developing process where our spiritual eyesight improves over time. As we seek out the help that God provides, we will—one day at a time—experience increasing clarity of thinking and a growing sense that our future will be bright, happy, joyous and free. Furthermore, as we accept the friendship of the blind man and as we place our hope in Jesus, we come to believe that God loves to heal the blind.
 
Copyright 2011, David Zailer
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BECOMING RELATIONALLY RESPONSE-ABLE - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY

BECOMING RELATIONALLY RESPONSE-ABLE
The power to love and live well is a gift from God. It’s the joyous gift of living well spiritually and relationally. As we become more spiritually connected with God and as we develop healthier relationships with others, we become healthier people ourselves. As we become responsible to others for our actions, we will become response-able with our wives, our children and our vocations. Our individual place in the world will begin to make sense. We will find our place in this world to be a very, very, very good place.
 
With all of this in mind, our job at this time is to make a list of the people we have hurt and become willing to forgive others for any wrongs they have done to us. Doing this helps us become ready to make things right. There are no excuses. No ifs, no ands, and no buts. Excuses, procrastination and delay may be understandable, but they are unacceptable if we intend to grow in recovery. Excuses stop recovery dead in its tracks. The calling of Christ in recovery is to make our list and become ready to make things right wherever we can. There is no good reason we should not do this. There is no good reason to delay.

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
Matthew 5:23-24 NIV
 
This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011


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