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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...
How do you eat chicken wings? Not the boneless kind, but just normal, everyday chicken wings. You eat the meat and leave the bones. You consume the good parts and leave behind the bad parts. Obvious and simple when it comes to food, but what about in the world of ideas?
A good chicken wing is a “package”; the meat and bones travel together. I am going to sift through it with my fingers and mouth to get the good stuff. I may find that some unwanted stuff gets through that I have to spit out. The stuff I don’t want will be left behind and discarded.
I don't like seafood too much but I was eating with one of my buddies and he was pulling small pieces of meat from some kind of crustacean. I swear that there was more debris on his plate after he finished eating than before, but he seemed quite full and satisfied when he was done. He certainly knew what the good parts were and how to get them. And he knew what parts to leave behind.
The problem for me has been an...
Life has its ups and downs. And its flat spots. Peaks, valleys, and plateaus. Life moves through time so I don’t think of these as static positions but movements along a line. Sometimes rising, sometimes falling, and sometimes flat.
There can be multiple lines: rising success at work and play, but a decline in morality and the private life. A rise in recovery and healing and yet a decline in some relationships. Sickness in the outer life and growth in the inner life— “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Life can be complex.
But the fact remains, we have to navigate the peaks, valleys, and plateaus and still maintain sobriety and recovery. I think the first key is to be aware of them, realize that they are part of life and that everyone experiences them. We want to think we are “special” and that our experiences are quite unique. But there are cycles in nature like the four seasons and the waxing and waning of...
Sometimes I am amazed at the successful, accomplished men and women in my local 12-step groups. There are physicians, engineers, computer programmers, college professors, musicians, teachers, diesel mechanics, surgery nurses, business owners, and ministers. And those are just the people I can think of off the top of my head.
I don’t know why I am amazed. Maybe I expected a bunch of guys sitting around in trench coats when I first came into the program. I don’t know. While I wasn’t wearing a trench coat back then, the addiction had me feeling like I was down-and-out.
And yet, parts of my life were quite accomplished. I had (and still have) a successful computer programming business for over 20 years. I was basically self-taught and became one of the top experts in my field. I was earning enough for my wife to stay at home and raise and home-school 8 wonderful sons. I was logging thousands of miles on my bicycle every summer. I was teaching hundreds of people in a...
If you are an addict, you need help. If you are an addict, you think you can do it all on your own without help. That is a big part of the problem. You may recognize that you need God's help and earnestly ask Him for it. But then you want Him to answer on your terms and with your preferred method. "Please heal me directly, in private, and without any human intervention." That is a prayer or wish that is not likely to be answered.
If you break your arm, you can pray for healing and God can certainly heal you directly. In the meantime, head to the hospital and let a doctor set the bone and put a cast on.
The truth is that God uses means, especially people, to heal us and provide for our needs. I can remember praying for rent money as a young believer and receiving a belated birthday card from my grandmother. It took me awhile to see the correlation between my prayer and the check from grandma that covered my need. I guess I expected a more "divine" answer like an angel showing up with...
"God, I am sorry for falling again. Please take this away from me! Please heal me!" I prayed prayers like this so many times when I was up to my neck in my addiction. And I really meant it! But those prayers were never directly answered and I often wondered why. Didn't God want me healed? Didn't He want me to stop the behaviors that were surely displeasing to Him and destructive to me and others?
Then I discovered a missing piece to the puzzle when I compared two Bible passages that speak of confession.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
What are the results of a direct confession to God? Forgiveness and cleansing, which I definitely needed and wanted. But nothing here about healing. I was forgiven and cleansed because of the blood of Christ, but still not healed.
Let me make one thing clear: I believe that God can and does heal in direct, immediate answer to prayer. I had seen and heard...
The picture is painful. The homeowner and insurance adjuster walking around a tornado-ravaged home, assessing the damage and loss. The insurance man has done this before and feels sympathy for the homeowner, but he doesn’t know the extent of the loss and damage because much of the debris has been scattered for miles. But he can be an expert and gentle guide in making an inventory of what was lost and damaged.
We recovering addicts have to do the same thing: take a thorough inventory of ourselves.
This is the step where we go below the symptoms—the actions of the addiction—and look at what drives and feeds the addiction. This is the dirty, painful step, where we look at things like selfishness, pride, anger, bitterness, lying, and deceit. Then there are the more subtle things that we hide behind: denial, blaming, and rationalization. There is the realization that we have sinned against a holy God...
I stood in the parking lot of our local community college over 35 years ago, listening to a preacher gently urging me to receive Jesus Christ as my Savior. Life was good at the time: I was doing well in school, I had stopped using alcohol and drugs, and I was engaged to a beautiful, loving woman. But there was unrest in my soul that I knew was deeper than circumstances and human relationships. And what this radiant believer was telling me was being met with agreement deep in my soul: yes, I was a sinner; yes, I deserved judgment and punishment for my sins; and no, I did not want to die and go to hell. And most important, Jesus Christ had died to pay for my sins, not just the sins of the whole world. So there on April 6, 1984, I repented and received Him as my Savior and was born again.
What really happened on my part? I surrendered. I gave up. I couldn’t save myself...
For most Christians, this is the “no brainer” step: of course there is a Power greater than me and His name is Jesus Christ, not “higher power.” But this is not the place to get hung up and bail out because of terminology. Believe me, the whole Higher Power thing rubbed me raw at first. I was even told by a member that I was being “divisive” by referring to Jesus Christ as my higher power. Then I realized that knowing Jesus and His name hadn’t helped me stay sober. My Bible knowledge and doctrinal purity had not kept me from continually ending up in a ditch. I decided to stick around the 12-step world and give it a try.
I actually think that the last part of the step became more important to me: “restore [me] to sanity.” I mean, what was more insane than the way I was living? I had a beautiful wife, great children, a church that I was involved...
Powerlessness. It can be a dreadful word because our experience tells us that it is true. We have tried again and again to stop lusting and acting out, but we haven’t been able to. As believers, it can be more frustrating because we should have the power of God to help us overcome lust. But why don’t we stop?
Powerlessness is a biblical concept as seen in Romans 7:
For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I (Romans 7:15).
The writer here is basically expressing powerlessness; he does things he doesn’t want to do and even does things that he hates. Sound familiar? He repeats himself in verse 19, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”
Some say that this chapter represents a lost man before salvation, but based on the verb tenses and its position in Romans, there is...
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