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Measuring Progress

12 steps healing progress Mar 03, 2021

Dan Sullivan, a renowned business coach, teaches a concept he calls the gap and the gain. The gap is the distance between where we are and where we want to be. No matter how successful we are, there is always going to be a gap between where we are and where we want to be, especially if we compare ourselves with others. This can lead to discouragement and a never-ending chase for something more. It is a future-focus that can rob us of seeing the important things in our lives right now. On the other hand, the gain is measuring and celebrating the progress we have made (and are making) along the way.

This is especially pertinent for those of us in recovery. If we measure the gap between where we are and where we want to be, we can easily become disheartened and get a “what’s the use” attitude. Recovery can be slow and painful, especially when we are dealing with the consequences of our behavior and the fallout of disclosure. We can feel like we are at the foothills,...

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Stop Hiding

Isolation. Hiding. Secrets. “In our own heads.” These are familiar concepts to us. There is a sense of comfort in them because we feel the illusion of safety and protection. 

But alone. And separate. There is loneliness and desperation in isolation and hiding. We long for connection to God and others because that is how we were designed. Many of us are around families, friends, co-workers, and church members, but still hiding. Hiding in plain sight.

That is the beauty of the 12-step meeting: you start to come out of hiding just by being there; you don’t have to say anything. The other attendees know something about you that your loved ones may not know yet. That can be the first step in breaking the chains of addiction.

Attendance is only the start. As difficult as it may be, there will be a time when you will need to speak. Healthy relationships require communication and this is something you will have to learn. A meeting is a good place because when you...

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Am I Sick With a Disease?

healing Feb 02, 2021

Almost every time I hear the “D” word in a 12-step meeting, I cringe a little bit. Someone will mention the word disease, usually preceded by the words “our” or “my.” I guess I am never quite sure what they mean by “disease”—is it some condition that they have, or even inherited, that somehow lessens their responsibility for their actions? I am not comfortable even thinking about my addiction being a disease that I somehow caught and am not responsible for.

However, I am slowly coming to grips with the fact that my addictive behavior caused me to be very sick. It is probably because of my liberal use of the word “healing,” particularly in these posts. Strangely, it has taken a while for it to sink in, mainly because I want to be clear that I am accountable for my actions. But our Lord Jesus Christ did say that they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick, referring to sinners needing repentance....

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Expectation, Disappointment, and Acceptance

god healing progress Jan 15, 2021

It is said that expectation is the root of all disappointment and that is usually a true statement. The trouble is that life is full of expectations and most of them are very reasonable. I am at the bus stop and my app says that the bus will be here at 6:21 am. It is 6:20 so I expect it to be here very soon. I have an appointment to get my teeth cleaned at 8:00 am and expect to be in the chair shortly after.

If the bus doesn’t come or I have to wait a long time at the dentist’s office, I can be disappointed. I had an appointment—I expected something to occur at a precise time and it didn’t so I am dis-appointed. It’s funny how words make sense when you break them down.

Where expectations get tricky is when they are not about a fixed, agreed upon appointments, but in more nuanced things like relationships. I expect something from someone else and when things work out differently, I can be disappointed or even devastated.

Disappointment, then, is a useful...

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Don't Talk to Me Like That

healing progress sobriety Dec 28, 2020

You are no good. You are a loser. You will never get this right. You messed up again. Why don’t you just give up? You don’t deserve your wife. She despises you and thinks you are a loser too.

If those words were directed to me from the outside, I would be pretty upset. I would even consider those “fighting words.” But there was a time not long ago when I let statements like that enter in and  dominate my thoughts. Worse than that, they were phrased in the first person: “I am no good...I am a loser...I will never get this right…” etc.

I let them slide through because I assumed that they were true. This is the ultimate form of self-deception—I was telling myself lies about myself.

This kind of thinking and self talk has to stop if solid sobriety and recovery is to occur in your life. Recovery is not possible when toxic thoughts are allowed to run wild in your mind. Why? Because your behavior is usually consistent with who you think...

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Friction and Inertia

healing progress temptation Dec 21, 2020

I felt a strong craving. A lust craving. One that I wanted to fulfill with a woman. Any woman.

It was a Sunday evening as I was sitting in church. During the preaching. If that shocks you, this website may not be the place for you.

My Bible was flopped open on my lap and the preaching was lively and relevant. But I didn’t care. My mind was somewhere else, being pulled by my craving. I had been sober for a long time so I was a bit disoriented, but the sensation also felt familiar, like an old friend. Like the bad kid from the neighborhood that you liked getting in trouble with.

I discreetly hit the home button on my phone and scanned the apps. I had gotten rid of all of the dangerous apps that I had previously used in finding sex partners. Friction. Something to slow me down. Slightly frustrated, I got onto the NFL app to check the football scores. My team was losing a game they shouldn’t be losing. Bummer.

I launched a classified website that has some dark corners and...

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Three Aspects of Peace — Part 3

god healing progress Dec 20, 2020

Part 1 was about peace with God, which is the result of being reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Part 2 was about the peace of God that comes in response to making requests to Him with thankfulness and giving our cares over to Him.

This post is about a peace that rules in our hearts, a ruling peace. It turns out that this has been the most difficult aspect of peace to write about. I pictured an armored sentinel at the door of my heart keeping everything out except peace. She would be peace personified. I was actually daydreaming about this as an analogy—until I got cut off in traffic and she disappeared. But I persisted in this line of thinking until I found myself standing in a FedEx location frustrated with the clerk about a lost package. I know, just little things, but how quickly my peace went missing!

After taking another look at the passage, I realized that my analogy wasn’t very good.

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to...

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Hearing the Word of God

healing practical Dec 18, 2020

A vital part of renewing our minds comes from large doses of the Bible. While it is good to actively read and study the word of God, we can benefit from “passive” consumption as well. One way I do this is by listening to the Bible as I fall asleep at night.

I use my smartphone, but if you are at a stage in your recovery where you are not using a smartphone, you can listen to the Bible on CD or on an MP3 player. Here are the steps you can use to do it on your phone.

Download and install a good Bible app

I use YouVersion, which is available for iPhone and Android.

Here it is on the Apple app store:

Set up the King James Version

After you download it, open it and click the Read icon, which is the second one from the left at the bottom of the screen. 

Click the default Bible version at the top of the screen and navigate to the King James Version. Make sure you click the Download button so that you can use the Bible without internet access. NOTE: You may have to log...

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How Do I Get Unstuck?

healing progress Dec 15, 2020

I recently asked my 12-step home group: What do you do when you are stuck? I asked the question because I felt stuck. As always, I got some great wisdom from the group. Here some thoughts on the topic:

Admit it to someone

Two things that have been vital in my recovery: I have to bring things into the light and to be honest about my weaknesses. When you go to the hospital to get a wound fixed they don’t examine you in a dark room. When I had open heart surgery, my open chest was flooded with powerful lights so that the surgery staff could do their work. The darkness was not a good place to be in our addiction; healing began when things were exposed to the light, whether the exposure was on purpose or not.

One of our 12-step meeting guidelines is to lead with our weakness. I don’t find that very pleasant because I want everyone to think I have it all together. But I don’t have it all together and if I can’t admit that among my fellow recovering addicts, where...

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Enjoying Temptation

healing sobriety temptation Dec 12, 2020

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2, emphasis added).

I admit that this verse doesn’t make much sense to me, especially in the midst of temptation. I have experienced a ton of temptation in my life and I don’t think joy has ever entered my mind as part of the experience. 

This verse has always been a marvel to me, so much so that I have a big, bold exclamation point drawn next to it in the margin of my Bible. Joy? All joy? In the second verse in the whole epistle? But maybe the joy part is the result of what is said in the following verses:

“Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3, 4).

Temptation is a means of trying my faith and Peter says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be...

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