Wednesday, August 16, 2017

EMOTIONAL TRIGGERS

We became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
Matthew 5:8 The Message


No matter what we do or where we hide, we can’t escape our essential design. We long to be free of shame’s restraints, immersed in the passion of giving and receiving. We long to live a sacrificial life that matters today and tomorrow.-- Dan Allender Ph D

Emotional Triggers

It is a good idea for us to review our Step Four inventory along with our sponsor or counselor. When doing this review with an open mind and heart, we can begin to see how difficult emotions can be triggers for our addictions. While emotions can be our triggers, our character defects are the building blocks of addiction, and our self-centeredness is the cement which holds our addictive nature together. We will never find the freedom to recover and live well until we remove all of these addictive components from within us.

In reviewing our inventory, we can see how our character defects began innocently when we were children. They were our means of survival. We learned to manipulate to get our needs met. We lied to protect ourselves. We hid our emotions to avoid embarrassment and shame. We rationalized things in order to escape ugly realities that were too much for us to bear alone. Our character defects are really ineffective tools for coping and control. They are our methods of minimizing pain and diffusing threats that we see coming our way. Without realizing it, our character defects have become a kind of strategy to care for ourselves when are afraid that no one else will.

We may feel afraid when we think of losing our defective coping mechanisms. After all, we have, at least to some degree, subconsciously thought that our character defects were important for us to survive. Thinking this way, we will subconsciously mourn the thought of having our character defects removed from us. Because letting go of our character defects can be painful, it is important that we lean on those who have been working at recovery longer than we have. Those who have more experience will understand our pain and fear. Fearing the loss of a coping mechanism is understandable, but it is essential for us to grieve these losses without complaint so that we can effectively move on down the path of recovery.

Exercising courage makes it possible to learn new and healthy ways to live our lives without resorting to the addictions that we have relied on in the past. With courage, we trade our destructive emotions and addictions for the simple gift of gratitude. Gratitude posts a guard at the door of our hearts, which is to be accessed only by God and those whom He allows. Gratitude will help us to be thankful for life as it is, not how we wish it or expect it to be. Today and every day, we stand at a crossroad. But we don’t stand alone. Our recovery fellowship stands with us. Even better, the Source of all power, God, has joined the battle for us to live a new way, to become new people, to be free.

available through all major book sellers

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

OUT OF THE BOX INTO THE LIGHT

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

I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won't have to stay any longer in the dark.   John 12:46 The Message

Pay attention to the external Source and the internal power will be there.  ~ Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest

Out of The Box Into The Light

Most of us have had our addictions much longer than we first realized. Because of the destructive impact that our addictions have made on our hearts and minds, we’ve probably not known what it means to be emotionally healthy. It’s like we’ve grown up being locked away in a box. There, in our addictions that is, it would be impossible for us to see the light of freedom. Without light we could not see the future with any sense of joy or healthy expectation. Living in addiction is like being stuck in a cave for so long that we have forgotten what it feels like to have the warmth of the sun on our face. Because we’ve only known the dark up till now it’s been impossible for us to comprehend The Light.

But, as we get connected to a recovery fellowship we begin to see people who have seen “The Light” and the hopefulness that The Light brings with it. From the example of others whose lives are being changed for the better we can see that things can change for us: that the destructive patterns of our lives need not continue anymore. With what we can see in The Light, we come to believe that change can happen for us because we see it happening for others right before our very eyes. This is how God, The Higher Power, works. He works through people.

As God gives us The Light, through the guiding direction of others, we begin to see the pathway to recovery and change being illuminated right in front of us. We see that The Light for living is available to everyone. We find its usefulness not because we are special but because it is the nature of light to light up things around it. Our job is simply to put ourselves in the Light, which is another way of saying we put our confidence and trust in God. For many of us this was a radical but subtle departure from the ways we have talked about God in the past. Let’s get honest, simply talking about God really hasn’t helped us much in the past, has it? After all, many of us have spent much of our lives in religious exercise but have never really known God as any kind of real Higher Power. If anything, our addictions prove that in the past God, as we would refer to him, has been little more than a religious symbol or relic, impersonal words on a page of religious material, or possibly for some of us, a tyrannical overlord that demanded that we observe religious impositions that seem to be irrelevant and arbitrary.

For God to be The Light, our Higher Power that is, means to recognize God to be The One that we trust will show us the way to a life that is free from our addicted insanity. Then, in faith, God, The Higher Power, becomes our Protector, our Sustainer, and our Redeemer. If we think of God in any way less than this we take Him for granted. And if we take God for granted we waste this chance to recover from our addicted insanity. Either God is The Ultimate Higher Power for us or He is nothing for us.

Furthermore, as God works in our lives, we find that The Light that illuminates the way for us is not always pleasant. Not only does The Light shine the way to a hopeful future, it also illuminates areas of our lives that we have not considered before. Many of these areas will need to be changed just as much as our addictions need to be changed. In his loving care for us, God does not discriminate.



Available through all major book sellers

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

GOD UNDERSTANDS US

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

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
Psalm 139:1-6


“So in terms of what every man needs most crucially, all man’s power is powerless because at it’s roots, of course, the deepest longings of the human soul is the longing for God, and this no man has the power to satisfy”
-Frederick Buechner

God Understands Us

Knowing that God knows us through and through can be very troubling. Nevertheless, our friend David from the Psalms didn’t seem to mind. He even expresses joy and amazement knowing that God is so aware of him. We might think that David would feel this way because of his self confidence. This may be partly true because David was a man of great success, but he was also a man of tremendous failure, too. It’s more likely that David’s joy came from his belief that God had a loving and careful interest in him. The kind of love and care that didn’t depend on whether he was a success or a failure.

David’s experience reminds us that no amount of virtue, religious or otherwise, will make us immune to temptation, to sin or to failure. To his credit, David honestly faced his failures, and as he did so he experienced an expanding relationship with God. David didn’t run, hide, or make excuses. He didn’t pretend and he didn’t minimize his mistakes. He accepted the worst about himself and openly surrendered his shortcomings to God right along with his successes. David, as he admitted his problems, used his failures as a lens through which he could get a better view of God’s forgiveness. As he did this, his failures became building blocks of growth and maturity. Knowing that God was a gracious and forgiving God enabled David to repent and find ever greater joy and health in life. David knew that there are no sins that are too big for God to forgive. He also knew that God was not impressed with his success and that, as he responsibly faced his failures, God would not condemn him.

God knows us in an intimate way just like He knew David in an intimate way. Like it or not, we are all naked before Him. As we acknowledge this, God’s love and power will heal our addictions and save our lives. Just like He did for David, failures and all.

For you see, God understands when we feel conflicted. And, He knows that we live in a conflicted world, too. He is aware that we are not happy ourselves much of the time. Because He understands this, He never holds our struggles and conflicts against us.

He sees that our intentions are good for the most part. But He also sees that we run into problems when we try to control things that are beyond our ability to control. It hurts Him when He sees how we create problems for ourselves and other people because we don’t ask for his help. But then, with compassion, God knows that there is a reason for everything we do, a reason that that we usually don’t know. When our addictions corrupt our motives, he knows it. He also knows that our motives are purified as we get honest. Feeling what we feel, He never loses sight of the fact that we pay a price when we get honest. But, nevertheless, He is always urging us to move deeper into honesty because He knows that the price that we pay for dishonesty is far greater.

In Jesus, God assures us that there are no sins that He is not willing to forgive and that there are no addictions that cannot be healed. With this in mind He wants us to recognize in a deep way that the desire of our heart and the direction of our lives go hand in hand. He has created a world where we always have a choice in who we will become and what our lives will be like from here on out. So, He holds us responsible for our lives. For you see, it is the subtle and intimate decisions that we make that will most profoundly impact our character and our lives. No matter what other people may say, God never laughs at us when we tell Him our plans. He never laughs at us, at all, in any way. God takes us more seriously than that. After all, He died so that we can have this opportunity to live.

God will, maybe, laugh when He sees how we try to make Him fit into the image that we make for Him. But then again, maybe not. After all, He knows that He is God and that we are not. Having expressed his love through Jesus, and having provided help for our addictions through people, God holds us fully responsible for our lives no matter of what we say or think about Him. At the end of the day, He knows that we have no excuses.

God is the ultimate “more than.” He is, in every way and at all times, more than we are and more than everything else, too. Only He can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. With all of this in mind, it stands to reason that we will only know the intimate power of God once we have come to the end of our own resources and realize that we still need more. Having expressed himself in Christ, God is now willing to express himself in our lives as well. The only place for us to find life is in The Life of Christ, God. This Life of Jesus can never be contained in a history lesson or a theological discussion. He is more alive than that. He is to be lived in us! Jesus’ life is now our life. His God is our God. Our lives are His. And now, we exist for God.

Everything will make sense for us when we are willing to look through the lens of eternity. The recovery that God gives is not about rule-keeping, religious moralizing, or self-imposed corrections. It is really the love of God that is changing our hearts and as our hearts are changed, our minds will be changed, too. We are experiencing a complete change of personal allegiance, coming to prefer an intimate relationship with God above our addictions, above our lives, above everything.

Are you ready to say…

God, I surrender my will and my life to You today, this very moment, without reservation and with humble confidence, for You are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find joy and delight simply and solely in pleasing you. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of Your presence, Your peace, Your power, and your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of all your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love You with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in You, for You are my Abba Father. ~ Attributed to Brennan Manning



Available through all major book sellers