Thoughts on

Sobriety, recovery, growth, and healing

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Strength Through Resistance

Resistance is part of life

Whether it’s the force of gravity, entropy, or the curse, there is always resistance in life. We talk about taking the path of least resistance or taking the easy way out. Most advertising is geared toward comfort and entertainment, things that avoid resistance. The flesh certainly doesn’t like resistance.

People don’t naturally like resistance. It’s easier to “go with the flow” but that usually means going backwards. Of course a life with no resistance equates to becoming fat, lazy, passive, and unfulfilled. To have a meaningful, purposeful life will require facing and overcoming resistance.

Addictions are the result of avoiding resistance. That is why I don’t promise an easy path to sobriety and recovery. There is a lot of help available and sobriety and recovery are certainly God’s will, but you will surely experience a lot of resistance in the process. You might as well face it and use it to your benefit....

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Recovery Hack - Change the Subject

It is not unusual to get stuck in the recovery process. This can take the form of stronger-than-usual temptations and cravings, boredom, loneliness, and sometimes slips and relapses. The best solution can be to double down on good recovery activities: call your sponsor, attend extra meetings, and spend more time with addiction recovery resources like books, counselors, etc.

But what if you are doing the right things, but still feel like you aren’t making the progress that you should be? It could be that you are spending too much time on recovery topics. It may be time to explore some growth topics and activities that aren’t directly related to addiction recovery. It may be time to expand your focus to include other things.

The first few times that I drove a car, my eyes would look at the hood, trying to keep the car lined up with my lane. The instructor said, No, look farther out to where you want the car to go. That will keep you in your lane.

For much of my driving...

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Letting Go

Lasting growth and change requires letting go, surrendering, giving up control. The very first reading at each of my 12-step meetings is a reminder of this: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” If this prayer is going to be answered—and if growth and change are my true desires—then I have to let some things go.

Surrender can have the image of me standing with a weapon over my head, ready to yield to an enemy. It implies defeat, capture, and a loss of freedom. But there is a positive side to this: the enemy that I am surrendering to may be better than the current ally that I am serving. It is said that in some wars, enemy combatants were surrendering in droves because they were fighting for oppressive regimes and knew that they were better off in the hands of their captors.

This picture is quite accurate in my relationship to God. It’s hard to...

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Why Things Don’t Work

12 steps practical progress Mar 17, 2021

Oftentimes people dismiss something, saying that it didn’t work. “Yes, I have a drinking problem, but I tried AA and it didn’t work.” “I tried Christianity but it didn’t work for me.” “I have had this destructive habit most of my life. I have tried everything, but nothing seems to work.” I have felt this way before and I am sure many of you have had similar experiences. Here are some things that explain why we are often disappointed by programs and organizations that are supposed to help us.

We look for perfection

It’s easy to become excited and hopeful about something new—a church, a book, a program, or an organization, etc.—that we think will help us. We want to change something in our lives and we cling to the hope that we have finally found the elusive answer, the key that will unlock the solution.

We soon spot the flaws—in the program, the people, or both—and become disillusioned and...

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Sobriety Hack - Measuring Percentage

12 steps hacks sobriety Mar 16, 2021

Getting sober is the first, most important order of business for a person that is addicted. Traditional 12-Step groups have good methods to get you sober: get a sponsor, attend and participate in meetings, make phone calls, work the steps, etc. Being radical is encouraged; for example do a “90 in 90”—that is, attend 90 meetings in 90 days. Early in my recovery, I was so desperate to get sober that I was attending 5 or 6 meetings a week.

The saying is that the program “works if you work it.” But what if you are having trouble staying consistently sober? Why do relapses seem so horribly defeating? Why is it hard to get traction and maintain consistent sobriety?

Let me relate my personal experience. I entered my 12-Step program in May of 2016 and had 11 months of consecutive sobriety. At that point, I had become a little proud and complacent and allowed an “I got this” attitude to creep in. I went on a weekend retreat, stayed alone in a hotel...

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Identity - Part 2

In Identity - Part 1, I talked about the importance of “I am” statements and how they relate to personal identity and behavior. I have given a lot of thought to my own identity and what is really true about me.

For me as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, it has to start with my identity in Christ and how God sees me. If you aren’t born again spiritually, this approach may not make sense to you, and I suggest that you read the posts on salvation.

Most of these are personalizations of scriptural statements that I have written in my journal. Because of the power of “I am” statements, I have tried to phrase them that way. The idea isn’t necessarily for you to take my statements as your own, but just to give you an example of what I see as my true identity. However, these things are as true for any believer as they are for me.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in...

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Identity - Part 1

NOTE: While this is not an official 12-step site and is not endorsed by any 12-step program, I am going to give a disclaimer about this post. This is the first post where I am going to openly question some 12-step dogma. This is not to question the way 12-step programs operate in this particular area, nor am I suggesting that you try to change things in your own group. I am only relating an important part of my own journey. The views expressed here are my own.

“Hi, I am Rick and I am a sexaholic.”

This is the way I have introduced myself in a lot of 12-step meetings since 2016 (I still attend two meetings a week). “I am” is a statement of identity. It tells me who I am, or at least how I see myself. 

“I am” statements are significant in the Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ used them throughout the gospel of John to establish who He was (and is). Here are just three:

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me...

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The Heart Follows the Treasure

12 steps progress recovery Mar 12, 2021

I love porn.

What a crazy statement. I loved the very thing that was destroying my marriage, my ministry, and my purpose and happiness in life. And yet,  I can remember thinking this and even saying it out loud over the years. How could my heart be attached to something so evil and destructive?

The answer is based on a simple statement made by our Lord Jesus Christ:

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34).

Intuitively, it seems like the statement should be reversed. If my heart desires and loves something, then I will pursue it and invest in it. But our Lord’s way is true: my heart will be drawn to the things that I invest my treasure in, treasure being represented by my time, money, and effort.

I invested a lot of treasure in porn and sexual sin. It took a lot of time and effort to live a secret life and try to hide it. I was clever and creative in my deception—and that was my treasure. It’s...

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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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