The Road to Recovery

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE ARE WORKING THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY THAT ARE BASED ON THE BEATITUDES, ALONG WITH THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY AS THEY ALIGN WITH THE YEARLY CALENDAR.

 

So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do’t fall! ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12

 

Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

 

Principle 7 (Celebrate Recovery): Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. 

 
 
In Step 10 and Principle 7 we will begin to put into practice all the steps and principles we have learned thus far. We are beginning to live in reality vs. denial, we have made our amends and now we desire to grow in our relationships with God and others.
 
Principle 7 nicely complements Step 10. Taking our daily time with God for self-examination helps us prepare for our personal inventory. 
 
Something I learned about a couple of years ago was The Examen. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that helps us see God’s hand at work in our whole life experience. It is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day where we can detect God’s presence and discern his direction for our life. 

Here is how I like to work The Daily Examen:

1: Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are most grateful.

  • If you could relive one moment, which one would it be?
  • When were you most able to give and receive love today?
  • Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so good.
  • Breathe in the gratitude you felt and receive life again from that moment.

2: Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are least grateful.

  • When were you least able to give and receive love?
  •  Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so difficult.
  • Relive the feelings without trying to change or fix it in any way.
  • Take deep breaths and let God’s love fill you just as you are.

3: Give thanks for what you have experienced. If possible, share these two moments with a friend. 

 

The Examen is a different way of taking daily inventory, but I like how it combines my prayer time with God and a daily reflection. There are many ways to work The Examen I hope you will look into it further and consider trying it. I think you’ll find it a sweet time with God as you look back over your day.

Enjoy this brief video that will walk us through The Examen. If you can’t see the video screen below click here .

 

10.02.13

Surrender

One of the biggest challenges for the recovering person is getting to the place of surrender. Not only is this important, it is critical to the recovery process. This can be a tough, especially for those of us who are stubborn and willful! Before we will truly surrender we may have to go to the darkest of all places, possibly near death.

What does it mean to surrender your life?

The sense of not knowing can be paralyzing for some. We can’t go back but we can’t go forward either. We’re stuck sinking in our own quicksand of uncertainty and doubt.

How can we save ourselves? 

Surrender: to yield to the possession or power of another; to give oneself up to an influence, to abandon or relinquish; to resign; submit.

When I read Webster’s definitions I see myself walking in sin and addiction having already surrendered; just to the wrong side. I had yielded my power and abandoned myself to my addiction and the evil forces driving it.

Usually, when we think of surrendering, we think of a criminal surrendering to the police with their hands up; or perhaps in the old westerns and war movies — someone waving the white flag of surrender to the opposing forces. In these situations the surrendering party believes they have given up any hope of victory. These are good images of surrender because that is exactly what we must do when we surrender. We have to give up. But when we surrender ourselves to God we actually have hope for real victory.

The key element in the process of true surrender is accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. Until we do we are trying to do everything in our own power and we know how that works – it doesn’t! We must first humble ourselves before God, fall on our face and confess our sins; acknowledge Jesus’ death on the cross and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus Christ took the pain we suffer in addiction to the cross. Why should we want to continue to carry that ourselves? Healing begins immediately when we give ourselves over to Him and let him carry our burdens for us.

Surrender means to relinquish control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our “rights”. To properly surrender to God we are simply acknowledging that what we “own” actually belongs to Him. But not just what we own, what we think and do also are His. He is the Giver of all good things. Also, the degree in which we surrender determines the degree in which we grow in our character. So if we are still holding on to something, by not surrendering it to God, that can inhibit our potential for spiritual growth and full recovery.

Similar to salvation, surrender is a gift we receive from God; we can’t will it for ourselves. But also like salvation, the gift of surrender requires a response from us: acceptance. And there must be fruit: a changed life! Actually living a life surrendered to God is so much easier than trying to do it on our own. But it is a daily choice, sometimes moment by moment, with every breath. So stop right now and do a few deep breathing exercises…God’s way in, my way out… You may not be happy about it right now, but in the bigger picture of life, you’ll be glad you chose to surrender your pain, your addiction, your life — to God.

 

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. ~ I Peter 5:6-7

 

 

09.14.08

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The Road to Recovery :: STEP 9

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE ARE WORKING THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY, ALIGNed WITH THE yearLY CALENDAR, along with the EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY THAT ARE BASED ON THE BEATITUDES of Jesus Christ. 

STEP 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar ad there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” ~ Matthew 5:23-23

PRINCIPLE 6 (Celebrate Recovery): Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

“Happy are the merciful.” ~ Matthew 5:7
“Happy are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9

Last month in Step 8 we worked on listing the people we need to make amends to. This month we take the next, maybe the most freeing step, and actually make the amends. This is a difficult step but a critical point in our recovery. Without this step we will continue to beat ourselves up and continuing to carry more shame and guilt which could be the driving force to possible relapse.

The *Celebrate Recovery program is full of beautiful acrostics that help flesh out the work of each step. Each letter in the acrostic helps us make the next important step in the process of making our amends. Take some time to sit with the acrostic. Read it. Meditate on it. Journal how you can apply each letter’s step to your life as you prepare to make your amends.

A — Admit the hurt and the harm ~ Holding on to old resentments blocks our recovery and God’s forgiveness in our lives.
M — Make a list ~ Not worrying about how we will make the amends we simple list the people we have hurt.
E —  Encourage one another ~ It’s important to meet with our sponsor or accountability partner beforehand to practice making our amends.
N —  NOT for them ~ Without excuses or justifying our actions we make our amends humbly, honestly, sincerely and willingly. We focus on our part only.
D — Do it at the right time ~ Before making our amends we should pray for God’s guidance, direction and perfect timing.
S  —  Start living the promises of recovery ~ Embracing true freedom from our past we are now ready to receive God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

~ Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Remember, the recovery process is not meant to be worked alone! Reach out to your sponsor or accountability partners to assist you. If you’re not in a 12 Step program please click here to find a CR group near you.

If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE to watch our Road to Recovery theme song.

RESOURCES:
Celebrate Recovery Bible 
*Celebrate Recovery Leadership Guide


Photo Courtesy 123rf.com

Originally published September 4, 2013

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

When I was growing up my father was an alcoholic. Our home life was stressful and unpredictable so I developed a coping mechanism to escape the painful reality of my daily life. My personal escape mechanism was fantasy. I created invisible friends who kept me company when lonely and scared. Fantasy served me well in my childhood but later as an adult it became an unhealthy escape.

39368870 - two eyes with the sky and so many butterflies flying on the forehead

 

Though fantasy escape is no longer a issue for me, I still struggle with wanting to avoid the painful realities of daily life. In the last 50+ years I’ve made the rounds of the common addictive substances/behaviors: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sexual addiction, gambling, shopping, television, and food.

In this most recent season of recovery I’m giving up something that I have to witness someone else using on a regular basis. At first this was extremely difficult and maddening. It’s getting easier as time goes by, but some days are still hard. At the same time I was getting sober from this substance both of my elderly dogs died within a few weeks of each other. The emotional pain was so intense I wanted to run away. But I couldn’t.

Most of my life I’ve avoided feeling anything really. The bad was numbed with some substance. And the good was also numbed with a celebratory substance. So I grew up not knowing how to feel. Now in my late 50’s I’m in one of the most difficult seasons of life and facing it completely sober.

To be honest, I’ve cried a lot and I’ve yelled at God. But ultimately what has helped me the most has been just sitting quietly in God’s presence. I’m learning how to accept this moment, one moment at a time.

Life may not get any easier, but I’m learning new ways to cope with my pain. I’m avoiding television programing that highlights escapist lifestyles and replacing them with encouraging audio books and podcasts, listening to liturgical prayers, reading scripture, journaling, and writing this blog. It’s vital to have a creative outlet to help process feelings.

When we escape this moment we are running from the only life we have.

Are you always seeking escape? Do you often want to fly far, far away?

 

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The Road to Recovery :: STEP 8

IN THE ROAD TO RECOVERY COLUMN WE ARE WORKING THE EIGHT PRINCIPLES OF CELEBRATE RECOVERY THAT ARE BASED ON THE BEATITUDES ALONG WITH THE TRADITIONAL 12 STEPS OF RECOVERY AS THEY ALIGN WITH THE MONTHLY CALENDAR.

STEP 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  ~ Luke 6:31

PRINCIPLE 6 (Celebrate Recovery): Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

“Happy are the merciful.” ~ Matthew 5:7
“Happy are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9 

After all the searching and confessing it’s now time to take responsibility for our actions.  Similar to the moral inventory of Step 4 we will list all the persons we harmed when acting out in our addiction or dependency. In fact, using our inventory list can help us determine who belongs on our amends list.
 
Reliving how we have harmed others is difficult. But with God’s help we can recall the names and faces, making notes as thoroughly as possible we prayerfully examine each person and our relationship with them. 
 
Remembering the faces of those we have hurt, can be a very painful process. But we must write their names down, carefully considering our relationships and how we harmed them.

Total honesty with ourselves is vital so we can go forward with peace of mind. With the pain of remembering the damage we have done, comes a welcome relief that we’ll no longer cause these injuries to our self and others.

Step 8 prepares us to continue the work of making amends. After making our list we are ready to ask God to give us the willingness to make those amends. As God helps us work these steps we will have the strength and the tools to heal our broken relationships. 
If you can’t see the video screen below click here for our Road to Recovery theme song.

 

RESOURCES:
Celebrate Recovery Bible
Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide
Life Recovery Bible
Life Recovery Devotional
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Prayers for the Twelve Steps-A Spiritual Journey
Serenity: A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

Image Credit: alexmillos

Originally published Aug. 7, 2013

Crutches

 

 

29381594 - vector silhouettes of people walking on crutches.

What does your crutch look like?

 

  • A bottle of liquor
  • An Internet site
  • A pack of cigarettes
  • A case of beer
  • A trip to the mall
  • A box of donuts
  • A pot of coffee
  • A bottle of pills
  • A pack of cards
  • A sharp blade
  • A binge/purge session
  • A one night stand

What do you think about when you first wake up? On your way home?

 Do you think about how fast you can get your crutch because you can’t stand walking with this pain by yourself any longer?

We’re afraid to walk without our crutch because it will be too painful. And it is too painful, if we try to do it alone.

It’s better to walk with a painful limp with God’s help and be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy, than to walk without God using our crutch to numb the pain.

When we take our mind off ourselves, by helping others who are walking with the same painful limp that we have, we almost forget we need a crutch.

In time we grow stronger, our muscles learn new ways of walking and we aren’t in as much pain.

One day we will be pain free.

 

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The Art of Suffering

We all endure suffering and handle it differently. Suffering has many levels and can be expressed in various emotions and behaviors. It can be very painful, even destructive to relationships. What can we possibly do to get through this difficult time in a healthier way?

17636134 - young lonely woman

What is suffering for you may not be suffering for me. What is suffering for me today may not be suffering for me tomorrow.

To the degree that we surrender to our suffering is the degree that we will grow stronger spiritually.

The idea seems simple but it’s difficult and even painful to walk out.

As a recovering addict, I am usually trying to avoid pain at all cost. But I’m finally learning the more I fight the pain and suffering, the more I try to run from it, to avoid it, to remove it… the worse it gets and the longer it may last.

If we can find our way to accept the moment and its lesson for us, trusting that there is something better on the other side of the suffering, we are closer to the Peace of God that passes all understanding.

When I surrender to what this moment brings I am accepting God’s providence. By trusting Him, I am loving Him.

 

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The Road to Recovery :: STEP 7

In THE ROAD TO RECOVERY column along with working the traditional 12 Steps of Recovery we are working the Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery that are based on The Beatitudes of Jesus. Our steps align with the monthly calendar.

STEP 7: We humbly asked God to remove all our shortcomings.

“If we confess or sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9 

 

PRINCIPLE FIVE (Celebrate Recovery): Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.


“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” ~ Matthew 5:6

This leg of our recovery journey continues to be challenging. In Step Four we examined ourself through our moral and spiritual inventory. Step Five required the discipline of confession to a trusted friend or mentor. With Step Six came a time of repentance followed now by Step Seven and the purification of our character.  

 
Having become willing to yield our defects to God we now must bow humbly before our creator in the hopes that He will see fit to remove them. It’s important not to confuse humility with the humiliation that we may be very familiar with as recovering addicts. God doesn’t want to shame us, He only wants us to submit ourselves to His way for our life.

Three reasons we need humility:

  1. We need humility to recognize the severity of our character defects. Without it we may minimize the pain they cause to ourselves and others.
  2. We need humility to acknowledge the limits of our humanity. We can’t remove these character defects with our intellect or willpower.
  3. We need humility to appreciate that it’s only God’s mighty power that can transform our life.
 

Our goal at the end of this step is to find peace with ourselves.

When we go to God we must bring our inventory list and be specific in our prayer. It can be painful and difficult going through this list of wrongs again. Our stinking thinking may tell us we’re not worthy of the growth and progress we’re making. But if we come with the right attitude God will honor our efforts.
 

Father God, thank you for helping me become willing to be molded into who you want me to be. I pray that you would remove every defect of character that stands in the way of my being useful to your work. Give me the strength I need to go on from here. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen

If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for our Road to Recovery theme song.

RESOURCES:
Celebrate Recovery Bible
Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide
Life Recovery Bible
Life Recovery Devotional
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Prayers for the Twelve Steps-A Spiritual Journey
Serenity: A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

Procrastinating The Inevitable

There are times in life when you know God is calling you to start or stop something. You ignore it. Time goes by but you’re still constantly reminded of your disobedience.

30208437 - word now written instead of tomorrow. procrastination concept

When the Holy Spirit convicts our heart to make a change in some area we must not procrastinate! Waiting to make the needed change only gets harder the longer we wait.

God sees the bigger picture and knows the best time for us to do things. The problem is we think the way things are today is how they will be tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year. But God knows what is coming around the corner and whether the situations will be more conducive to make the needed changes.

A few years ago, God called me to stop a bad habit. He spoke in my spirit that it wasn’t going to get any easier if I waited. I was faithful to the required abstinence for about 3 months and then I allowed the habit to creep back in. Over the next two years the habit was in full force and I couldn’t make it through most days without giving in to its hold on my life.

In March of 2016 God showed up again with a not so gentle command to give it up for good and if I didn’t my health was going to be effected in a negative way. Sadly, this season of life is much more stressful than years ago when God first wanted me to quit my bad habit. I’m paying a stiff penalty of ‘should have’ for my disobedience.

Why the stiff penalty? Doesn’t God love us? Once we made the decision to let God into our lives His recreating force went to work. It’s precisely because God loves us and wants us to be pure that we can’t escape the regular examinations of our life by the Holy Spirit. Life won’t get any easier if we continue to put things off that we’re being convicted to do.

Let’s do now what we know we will have to do some day.

 

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Doubt vs Belief

believe

STEP TWO: 

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 


It’s been a long time since I’ve seriously struggled with unbelief. For some reason in this season of life I have strong faith that God can change external situations: relationships, living conditions, etc…  But I have doubts when it comes to the complete change of my own emotional and physical weaknesses.

In my readings today I’m encouraged to let go of my emotional crutches for happiness. Through prayer and meditation I can reduce the obstacles I’ve set up against God’s presence in my innermost being. 

In this way I will come closer to peace and healing.


RESOURCES:
Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr
Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps by Thomas Keating

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