Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THE POISON OF RESENTMENT - from OUR JOURNEY HOME
















We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14, 15, NIV

Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge, the other guy’s out dancing. - Buddy Hackett



The Poison of Resentment

It is very important that we keep our focus, remembering that we are working our own recovery program and not someone else’s. Our faults are our responsibility and the faults of others are not our concern. Our recovery necessitates that we recognize that while others have accidentally and even sometimes intentionally harmed us, any resentments that we entertain against them will handicap us spiritually and emotionally. 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.

When we hold a grudge against someone else, we are actually bringing misery back onto ourselves. Resentment creates a kind of attitudinal foul odor that keeps others from getting close to us. Resentment can be intoxicating, and then we get hijacked by unhappiness which further alienates us from others. But, honestly recognizing the hurt others have done to us and giving those offenders our undeserved forgiveness will help to cleanse us from the stagnating resentment that will destroy us. Allowing others the freedom to be wrong helps us to see life, most notably our own life, more clearly. We will be better able to objectively acknowledge and embrace our shortcomings as well as our strengths. Thinking and living this way is a relational kind of humility that frees us to receive God’s strength coming to us through the holes that our weaknesses create, which then results in an increased freedom to love other people without barriers. As we learn to care for others, both the good and the bad, we learn to better care for ourselves with increasing aptitude and insight as a child of God. Forgiving others and being forgiven go hand in hand. We can’t have one without the other.






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THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY








THE GIFT OF GRATITUDE

During this time of my recovery I began to experience a deep untangling of the pressure and stress I had felt inside me. I was learning new and healthier ways to cope without taking drugs, drinking alcohol, or being sexual in ways that made me feel bad about myself. I was trading in my troubling and self-destructive emotions for the simple gift of gratitude, often without even knowing I was doing it.


Gratitude posts a loving guard at the door of our lives, insuring that bitterness and resentment and anger will no longer dominate us as they have in the past. Gratitude helps us to be thankful for life as it is not how we wish it, expect it or even need it to be.
If you will throw away your detestable idols and go astray no more, and if you swear by my name alone, and begin to live good lives and uphold justice, then you will be a blessing to the
nations of the world, and all people will come and praise my name.
Jeremiah 4:1 MSG

As gratitude inside of us increased over time, it became more apparent that we had to continue taking effective actions to avoid a relapse back into active addiction. We needed to be ever alert, because sexual addictions interact with, set off and build upon other addictions. The dual diagnosis of addictions is becoming more and more common in rehab centers and Twelve Step fellowships. So with this in mind, we stay closely connected to other recovering people who have more experience than we do. We look to our sponsors, our mentors and our counselors for help and guidance. They help keep us moving away from our addictions, or unknowingly picking up new addictions along the way. Common co-addictions can be food and compulsive eating disorders, destructive spending, gambling, alcohol and other drug addictions and even prescription medications. Religion and religiosity can be addictive, and we can become so obsessed with certain people that we become addicted to trying to control them or their life. Fact is, not recognizing any destructive behavioral pattern can potentially trigger sexual addiction. This is because, at their core, addictions are simply a destructive relationship with a mind or mood altering substance or experience that expresses
itself in destructive behavior. Virtually anything that is mood or mind altering and destructive can potentially be addictive.


If you think you may have a problem with a substance, even the use of prescription or ‘legitimate’ drugs, it is essential that you stop and get help today. If you are drinking destructively, seek professional help and call Alcoholics Anonymous at once. And the same holds true for any addictive behavior. You and your loved ones will suffer more if you don’t ask for the appropriate help today.
Today and every day we stand at a crossroad. But, we are not alone. When we are ready to ask for help, a fellowship will be with us. Even better, THE SOURCE of all power has already joined the battle for our lives, helping us live a new way and become new people, to be free.


Your God is present among you, a strong warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs. The accumulated sorrows of your exile will dissipate. I, your God, will get rid of them for you. You’ve carried those burdens long enough.
Zephaniah 3:17, 18 MSG













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Thursday, August 13, 2015

THE SOURCE OF OUR STRENGTH - from OUR JOURNEY HOME








We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.



And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. I John 5:14,15, NLT



A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven. - Alcoholics Anonymous, page 75, AA 12 & 12








The Source of Our Strength



We have, albeit unintentionally, created the problems that we have in our character. Now we are asking God, with as much humility as possible, to resolve the problems that stand in the way of us experiencing all that God has for us. Before, we had spent much of our lives and energy attempting to overcome what we could never overcome in our own power. But today, as we surrender our lives to God and humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings, we discover a strength that is unlike anything that we have ever encountered before.


Only in God, and through the help of others, will we receive the strength and the endurance to continuously let go of our character defects and our addictions.

Nothing in our recovery work is magical or unreal. We will forever be human and prone to all of our human inadequacies. As much as we may wish it to be different, not all of our character defects will be removed from us. The work that God is doing in our hearts and minds will be part of His overall purposes. So, we will help ourselves the most when we accept the consequences that we have created for ourselves without complaint so that we can enjoy the benefit of lessons learned once and for all.

There will be times when we try to get rid of our character defects and fail, sometimes repeatedly. We will inevitably find ourselves in situations where we have to choose between trusting God amidst our repeated attempts of trying and failing, and the certain penalty of failing to try, which is in and of itself a failure to trust God. What we choose to do with failure is perhaps the most profound indicator of who we are and who we will become. Failure with effort can be a frustrating setback. The setbacks and disappointments create the sad feeling inside of us that we may never overcome our problems. This is where we will need help from our friends in recovery and from God himself. We will have our setbacks. We will try and fail sometimes. But, let us stay honest and let us stay motivated because our own fatal failure is giving up. Failure to try is suicide. It is here, in our failures and setbacks, that we learn to keep turning to God, time after time, and in so doing we learn to experience Him to be our Source, our Strength and our Joy.













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EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY








EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS


While doing my Step Four personal inventory work, I started to see how the difficult emotions I experienced could be powerful triggers for my addictions. As emotions are triggers, character defects are the building blocks of addiction, and self-centeredness is the cement which holds the addicted nature together within me. So, finding the freedom to recover and live in a way that was healthy long-term was impossible without removing these addicted structural components from me.
I know today how my character defects started innocently when I was a child. They were my means of survival. I learned to manipulate to get my needs met. I lied to protect myself. I hid my emotions to avoid embarrassment and shame. I rationalized to escape ugly truths which were too much for me to handle. My character defects were really nothing more than broken and ineffective tools I used for coping and control. They were my methods of minimizing pain, and diffusing perceived threats. They were my strategy to care for myself when I believed that no one else would. At times I feared what life would be like for me without my character defects. When I felt that a character defect — like my lying — was necessary to survive, I would mourn the thought of having it removed from me. Fortunately, my sponsor and counselor and recovery partners helped me see how fearing the loss of one of my coping mechanisms was understandable, but it was also critically important for me to grieve these personal losses without complaint so I could move on down the path of my recovery.

I knew I had made the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God daily and, as I did this, the self-centered cement holding my addictions together began to slowly erode. There was little I could do to avoid the difficult emotions I felt. They came and went like the wind. All I could do was recognize them and speak honestly about them to a trusted recovery partner or spiritual guide. And while I could make the decision cognitively to get rid of the addicted building blocks of my character defects, my best efforts seemed to actually reinforce them. So, like everything else in my life, I turned them over to God, asking Him to remove them in a way that fit His plan for my life. Then I began doing whatever I could to live without them in the future.


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Thursday, August 6, 2015

MAKING IT REAL - from OUR JOURNEY HOME









We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.



My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
I John 4:11, 12, The Message



"A critical component of recovery is recognizing and admitting personal responsibility in relationships."
- Anonymous



Making It Real



We waste our recovery efforts when we forget our failures. Forgetting our failures can lead us into the most self-centered and insidious of all sins, self-righteousness. With a short memory and a little complacency, we become piously religious, self-satisfied and woefully unaware of the difficult world that we’ve created for ourselves and others. This is why one of the most critical components of recovery is to recognize and admit our personal responsibility in our relationships. And, this is why it is so important for us to acknowledge the people that have been harmed by our selfish attitudes and actions. We must, for our own sakes and for theirs, see how they’ve been affected by us. The opportunity and possibility to recover from our addictions compels us to ask for forgiveness, to help those negatively impacted by our lives and -- when it’s available -- accept reconciliation from them while forgiving others, so that we can all grow in freedom.



Let us set aside any remaining selfish or prideful motivations that we are aware of. Starting with our recovering fellowship, let us begin to make personal investments in others, working to expand and heal the world around us. Let us take this momentum of love to our families, to our communities, to our work places and to our churches. We want more today than to just have our lives and our circumstances improved. We want to see other people healed and their lives and circumstances improved, too. We are taking on a new ways of thinking, new personalities, becoming more concerned with loving others and honoring them as people who’ve been created by God to know Him and His love.



Name some people who would benefit from a healthier expression of your love.













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BALANCE AND RESPONSIBILITY - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY









BALANCE AND RESPONSIBILITY

One challenge we face in long-term recovery is to balance our needs for love, personal security, and social position. As addicted self-centered people, our beliefs and values regarding our personal needs have probably been distorted. We have often ignored our needs or denied them. And other times we expected others to meet our needs because we were too lazy or self-centered to be responsible for ourselves. We thought we knew what we needed, and we expected someone else to do for us what only we could truly do for ourselves. Or, on the other hand, we would think no one would be there to help us, so we wouldn’t honestly communicate our needs and feelings, which further compounded the isolation and helplessness we felt. Either way, the self-preoccupation we felt increased, hardening even more the self-centeredness that caused our problems. Self-centeredness is the root cause of all our character defects and sins. It can be called self-idolatry, and it is deadly to a sexual addict — and everyone else as well for that matter. But however, as we remain diligent in our recovery work, this is changing. Our self-centeredness begins to die off and fall away when we reach out to God and others honestly and openly. And in doing so we learn not to make such quick assumptions regarding what is best for us or for others either. Our first thought can often get us into trouble, so it is important that we make good second thoughts — praying and consulting with others in order to make the best decisions possible, which results in the best actions in just about any situation. Just because our head sits on our shoulders does not mean it is our friend.

Since most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires, it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purpose. When they drive us blindly, or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures that are
possible or due us, that is the point at which we depart from the degree of perfection that God wishes for us here on earth. That is the measure of our character defects or if you wish, of our sins.
Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions pg 65

Misguided feelings of personal inferiority or superiority, grandiose and unrealistic beliefs, selfish intentions, selfish motives and selfish priorities are all symptoms of a deeper problem. If we believe that our demands must be met or if we believe it’s somehow bad to feel pain or have difficulty, or if we believe that others need to make us happy, we are exposing ourselves as the selfish center of our lives. Recovery in Christ will give you ever-increasing opportunities to make good choices leading to an abundant life. But! There is always one absolutely wrong choice! And that is to make yourself the center of your own world. God has never shared His role with anyone, and He won’t share it with any of us. Our character defects and sins thrive when we try to rule our own lives or anyone else’s.
Our character flaws ooze out of us like a foul odor when we remain stuck, living life our way. On the other hand, as we focus our mind and our heart on God, we become more willing to let go of our character defects, our addictions and the habitual sinfulness that has held us back in our lives. It is important to note that even when we express our trust in God in the smallest ways, it shows we are growing in willingness. This growth in willingness is a growth in faith, and no matter how small our willingness and faith is, it pleases God. Willingness is our part in our growth. We plant it like a seed — no one can do this for us, we do it for ourselves — our recovery fellowship and partners will help us nurture and grow our seedlings of positive change. Our brothers and sisters in recovery who help us tend our new garden of change — and we theirs — are in effect a huge down pouring of God’s caring rain. Seedlings of willingness and faith respond dramatically as we make these small and crucial choices.
"Faith as small as a mustard seed."
Matthew 17:20

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