Friday, January 27, 2012

Grandiose Thinking

From AA daily reflections: "Experience has taught me that my alcoholic personality tends to be grandiose. While having seemingly good intentions, I can go off on tangents in pursuit of my "causes." My ego takes over and I lose sight of my primary purpose. I may even take credit for God's handiwork in my life. Such an overstated feeling of my own importance is dangerous to my sobriety..." Grandiose thinking is common among addicts and even more so for those of us who are dual-diagnosis, where grandiosity may be a symptom of our mental illness. How can the Bible help us to have a more accurate view of ourselves and our responsibilties?

 I believe one answer can be found in Luke 8:26-39 (The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man.) I think many of us recovering from addiction can relate to the plight of the demon-possessed man. He was chained hand and foot and lived in a type of solitary confinement. I know before Christ I felt isolated and chained to drugs and alcohol, but just like the demon-possessed man, I was healed by Jesus. There are two things in this passage that can help us with grandiose thinking. First of all, is seeing how valuable we are to God. Jesus sent the man's demons into 2,000 pigs, which then were drowned. That would cost over a million dollars in our day! Do you know that you are even more valuable than that? The very blood of God's only Son paved the way for your salvation and recovery! If we don't accept that we are valuable, then we will constantly think we need to be more "important" than we are.

Secondly, it is important to see the town's reaction to the healing of the demon-possessed man. They were in awe because this man was "dressed and in his right mind." That's all! Do we think that we need to be "great" in order to have an impact on other people? Honestly, I would rather change the world than change the sheets, but it is not always the "glamorous" things that make an impact on others. When we tackle things like being responsible with our finances, keeping our homes clean, our bodies healthy, and loving our family, friends, and neighbors, those things make an impact on others. We might think they are boring, but God promises that if we are faithful with a few things, then he will give us more. Besides, even if all we do seems to go unnoticed, we must remember that God DOES notice and we are looking for a "Well done, good and faithful servant" when we reach heaven, not necessarily praise from people while we are here on earth. Remember, you are incredibly valuable to God. He made you and "God don't make no junk." Wendy

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What is humility?

I have been asking God a lot about humility lately. What is it? How can I know if I'm even going after it? The Bible has some great promises concerning humility. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:10. I know that humility is essential to staying sober. One of my favorite sayings in CR (Chemical Recovery) is: "When the pride goes up, the sobriety goes down." But how do I know if I am headed towards pride or humility? What are the signs? I think one element that is important to humility is complete and total honesty with God and others. The "How it works" section in the AA Big Book says the following is necessary in order to recover: "rigorous honesty", being "fearless and thorough" and being "willing to go to any lengths." There has to be a depth to our honesty that goes as deep as we possibly can go, as honest as we can be with God, with others, and with ourselves.

Pride wants to look good before others. It cares more about what others might think than about being right before God. The thing is, when we give in to pride and are not honest about the sins in our hearts and minds, it keeps us ashamed and fearful. There is such a freedom in being more concerned what God thinks than how other people might judge us. I am not saying we have to broadcast our sins on a billboard, but we need to be transparent people and we need to have people in our lives; mentors, sponsors, best friends, who will be willing to listen to the nitty-gritty and call us to the table on sin.

Another element of humility that seems essential is obedience to the scriptures. Proverbs 3:7-8 says, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." For Christians, it is easier to know, than it is to be. That was Jesus biggest problem with the religious leaders of his day. In James 1:22 it says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." We can be fooled by our pride and think that because we know a scripture and are trying to love God, that it makes disobedience somehow okay.

In the past few days, I have been totally convicted of this. I reread 1 Peter 3:1-6 and there are so many things in this passage that I don't like and don't "make sense" to me. Ugh. But to be honest, I don't want to be gentle, quiet, submissive, and ultimately (trusting) both God and my husband. I want to be in control. I don't want to be vulnerable. I want things done my way. Gross and ugly! But that is how I have felt. I have felt afraid that if I truly let God (and my husband) be in control that they will hurt me.

But my pride and excuse-making about these scriptures have kept me from the promises God has about humility (and obedience). Why would I want to miss out on that? To jumpstart repentance, the first thing I have to do is get honest with loving and spiritual women. The second thing is to realize that God will bless my life, if I just obey! I need to trust God (humility) and not my own ways (pride). When I do those things, it will help me to grow in my recovery. "When the humility goes up, the sobriety goes up!" Good news for people like me. -Wendy

Saturday, January 14, 2012

You're not alone

What does recovery mean exactly? There are a lot of different definitions, but I like to think of recovery as a form of attack. It is going after all those elements which keep us from being comfortable with sobriety. This is obviously a never-ending process, but encouraging because if we are truly attacking those issues, we will see growth. My very favorite passage from the AA Big Book is: "Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."

The great thing about a blog is that we can go on this journey together. You are not alone!I know this sounds strange, but I love being a recovering addict. For one thing, I get to experience a genuine sense of connectedness with other addicts. We have a lot of "aha" moments together because our thinking is so similar to one another.

The other aspect I love about being in recovery is that I have so much to be grateful to God for in my life. I was just reading the Bible this morning about Jesus encounter with "the sinful woman." Jesus says to the judgmental Pharisee, "Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47 When I begin to comprehend all that I have been forgiven of it absolutely boggles my mind. I do not deserve to have the marriage I have or the wonderful children I do or even a valid drivers license! Jesus has saved me from hell on earth--that's what I had before Christ and even greater, he has saved me from eternal hell too. But he doesn't stop there. He wants to heal us and make us whole people again - awesome! And then, on top of that, give us heaven! For those of us who have experienced the depths of hell on earth through all the negative consequences we experienced in addiction, in recovery we can experience an even greater appreciation for genuine love, joy, and peace. God Bless-Wendy