Wednesday, March 18, 2015

TURNING OVER MY WILL - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

Turning Over Our Will

“With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 CEV


“We deify our independence and self-will and call them by the wrong name. What God sees as stubborn weakness, we call strength.”
-Oswald Chambers



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

Everyone is addicted to something. While some things are more addictive to some people than others, the potential is there for all of us because of the biochemical connections that happen in our brain and our bodies. In fact, we can potentially become addicted to things that are not even thought of as addicting, because addiction has more to do with the inside of us, than it has to do with things that are outside of us. For example, let’s say that we have become addicted to jelly beans. Now we all know that jelly beans are not generally considered as addictive, but, nonetheless, it is possible that we may be so profoundly affected by our love of jelly beans that we begin to think and feel, at least to some degree in our psyche, that we “need” jelly beans. Being addicted to the jelly beans means that we’ve come to believe that they are necessary for us. We think that we need them to be happy and to maintain what we think is normal for us. This is the way that addiction corrupts our priorities, misplacing other things that are truly more important.

Just like with jelly beans, we can potentially become addicted to any person, to any place and to anything. The addictions we’ve struggled with have embedded themselves into our priorities and our intentions and, in doing so, they’ve hijacked our desires. The sum total of our priorities, our intentions and our desires equals our will. This means that ultimately we get addicted in our will.


The will is best described as what we intend on doing and what we plan to do. Perhaps we can best understand the term “will” if we think of it as our focused desire, our commitment to pursue, the giving of our attention, what we most deeply desire. Our will is what we want, what we pursue, with what and how we devote our attention. It’s what we are committed to doing. It’s what we really want. It connects us to everything we hope and dream for. It’s connected to our personal history including family, career, love interests, even religion and politics. Our will reveals everything we really think and feel about ourselves, other people, and the world in which we live.



In the past we have lived by our own willpower. And, as our addictions prove, our self-determined willpower has entangled us, getting us attached to people, to places and to things in ways that are not healthy for us. If we become attached to people, to places or to things in ways where they become more important to us than God’s will, our willpower is weakened accordingly. The more we exert our willpower for our own self-centered desires, the less effective it becomes. This is where the bondage of addiction gains its deadly toehold in our lives. Even though we often don’t realize it, the root of our addictions—and our sins, too—is pride. Willpower alone will never be enough. It must be empowered by God.



The antidote to our pride and our addictions is humility. Turning over our will to God’s care is the ultimate, and intimate, humility that only we can do for ourselves. What we are really doing is turning over every thought, every feeling, every desire, and every intention. We don’t try to change them ourselves, and we certainly don’t deny them. We just admit them and then turn them over to God. It doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad, we turn them over either way. As we turn over our will, even in the smallest of ways, our struggle with addiction begins to be—to the degree of our surrender—consecrated by God. As we turn over our will and our life to God, our personal will begins to be made holy.


Let us never forget that God is fully connected to everything we think and feel. He knows it all and He doesn’t turn away. In knowing all, He calls us home to health and recovery. This journey home begins with a letting go of our attachments, which is a way of allowing God to become fully involved in our thoughts and feelings. As we turn over our thoughts and feelings to God, they begin to become transformed by God. The power of God’s grace flows into us most freely when we decide to align our will with God’s will. As we do this, God will become more important and we will become less important. This simple decision is the most powerful way that any human being can exert his or her will. It is our choice for our recovery. It’s evidence of the initial transformation of everything we are, beginning with what we want and hope for, our will. Some of us prayed in this way:

Dear God,

I pray that I will learn to desire obedience more than blessing or comfort and to know that the greatest blessing in life is to live obedient to Your will. May I learn to better give up my will and find my complete and total satisfaction in Your will. My self-centeredness destroys me, but seeking You and doing Your will brings life to me. Realizing this, I have decided that my mind, my heart, and my will, will be directed to You. I will find my purpose and identity in knowing You more personally and living more powerfully according to Your Spirit.      
Amen 



SAYING GOODBYE TO SECRETS - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY










Saying Goodbye to Secrets
When we are ready to accept the grace God and others have for us, our secrets become like broken kindling which help build warming fires of joy and comfort for us and those around us. Isolation becomes joyful fellowship. It is replaced with relational assurance and confidence. Not like the temporary, intoxicating feelings our addictions gave us, but a deep, profound sense of goodness, openness and oneness with God and the world He created. When we say goodbye to our secrets, we become honest and free men. We grow to become more like Jesus.

We hide what we know or feel ourselves to be (which we assume to be unacceptable and unlovable) behind some kind of appearance which we hope will be more pleasing. We hide behind pretty faces which we put on for the benefit of our public. And in time we may even come to forget that we are hiding, and think that our assumed pretty faces is what we really look like.

Simon Tugwell, The Beatitudes: Soundings in Christian Traditions


            For me, admitting my faults was like a desperate grasp for life, because the life I had been building with my secrets had been killing me. For others in Operation Integrity, it was more of a powerful claim for personal freedom. In either case, it is a breaking away from the secrets and addictions which deceived and buried us ever deeper into a world of increasing self-deception and isolation. Getting real with God and another person is an opportunity to receive supernatural help and human assistance together. It is our personal way of reaching out, revealing ourselves — confronting, exposing and then ultimately accepting the faker-impostor that’s lived inside of us. Allowing others to know us thoroughly brings us into humble alignment with God, Who will delightfully breathe life into the true and honest person we hope to become. By getting real and being honest, we make ourselves available to be loved.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

WE ADMITTED - from OUR JOURNEY HOME







We Admitted



“If you think you know it all, you're a fool for sure; real survivors learn wisdom from others.”
Proverbs 28:26 The Message



“When we have accepted the worst, we have nothing more to lose. And that automatically means – we have everything to gain.”
-Dale Carnegie


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



Everything that we do in a worthwhile recovery effort begins with “we.” We cannot allow ourselves to be alone if we hope to have a worthwhile recovery experience, because no one recovers from their addictions alone. We have to have help. While each of us will have a different story to tell, all of our stories end up pretty much the same way: addicted.



In our addictions, we become isolated by our secrets and by our shame. We feel guilty about the things we’ve done and we feel shameful about the secrets we’ve kept. We often feel like we are little more than a huge mistake that must be kept hidden from others at all costs.



In our efforts to combat our sense of aloneness, many of us have participated in various groups that were based on commitments of religion, social service, virtue, promise keeping, and faithfulness. We participated in these groups with full sincerity, always working with great diligence so we would not fail. We thought that if we could make ourselves to be of great importance we could solve our own internal pain. But we could not. Our best efforts were never good enough for us. No matter how much we excelled in our good works, our own sense of failure continued to grow. Whatever we did, no matter how good or worthwhile it was, it was never good enough. We thought we had to be perfect. It seemed to us that if we could get it right, whatever it was, then we could get ourselves right too. We always worked harder. To us, things were never good enough. We became perfectionists. Then, we would even find failure in our greatest achievements. Strange as it sounds, no matter what the successes we achieved, or the failures we experienced our addictions seemed to become ever more attractive. And, paradoxically, the harder we worked to overcome our addictions on our own the more our addictions ruled our lives.



Left with few, if any, viable opportunities for change we admitted we needed help. And, we took the first step in getting help by seeking out a recovery fellowship, a place where it was safe to admit that we were not in complete control of our lives. Desperate, we admitted that we had been unable to overcome some very serious problems with our behavior and that our life was beyond our ability to manage. In making our admission, we began to set aside our own ego-centered independence in order to seek out a connectedness and fellowship that could do for us what we had not been able to do for ourselves. Alone we are dying, but together we can recover and live.

A NEW AND BETTER WORLD - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY










A NEW AND BETTER WORLD

My part in the recovery process required me to become more honest with myself, God and other people. This was a slow and difficult process, but as I did it, I began to experience a new closeness with friends and a respect for myself that I had never had before. This new way of relating to others felt strange in the beginning, but it also felt good. It was like I was being baptized into a new and better world. By admitting my faults and vulnerabilities to people who could understand and empathize with my experience, I was able to rise above the sense of condemnation I learned as a child.
The ‘getting honest’ part of my recovery work transformed my self-disgust into a compassionate regard for myself and my own life experience. Allowing other people to know my mistakes and vulnerabilities helped me experience the relational acceptance I needed. Listening without judgment or criticism, they modeled to me the grace and acceptance I didn’t get at home. This lightened the burden of shame and guilt I felt, which encouraged me to become even more honest still. But there was more to this experience. I started to feel lightness in my heart, and even, at times, found humor in the things that
once threatened my health and my safety. I could accept and laugh at myself like never before. I was on a new path which was leading me out of isolation and fear of the past to a newfound sense of wholeness and honest friendship with others. This honest and transparent way of recovery brought me authentic, burden-bearing friendships I previously thought were not going to be possible for someone like me.


"You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less.
That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought."

Matthew 5:5 MSG






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