Not affiliated with or endorsed by any 12-step program
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....
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...
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...
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...
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...
“Hello Mr. Q. I will be over in 30-minutes to take your bandage off.”
My visiting nurse was on the phone. It was June of 2012, just short of a week after open heart surgery. Instead of sewing up my chest with Frankenstein-like stitches like the old days, they used glue to close the incision in my skin and covered it with wide, semi-clear tape, sort of like packing tape.
“Is it going to hurt?” I asked her before she hung up.
“Oh no, it won’t hurt. See you in a half an hour.”
About 30-minutes later, I answered the door, only to see a different nurse. “What happened to my regular nurse?” I asked.
“She got stuck at her last call. I am here to take your bandage off.”
A few minutes later, she had worked her fingers under the top of the bandage and was getting ready to pull it off. “Are you ready?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “Is it going to hurt?”
“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...
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
There are three things to note here: temptation is common, God is faithful to provide an escape, and you can bear temptation. As with the passage we saw in James, temptation here is presented in a remarkably positive way. I can almost picture it as a challenge or game: Here comes a temptation; let me see how fast I can find the escape.
For me, finding the escape is not the hard part; actually using the escape is where I have the most trouble. It can only take a split second for me to choose the wrong door. I have to act quickly and make the phone call to my sponsor, pray, leave the premises, delete the email, etc.
There is one type of escape that is usually more beneficial for us as addicts: ...
Temptation is an overwhelming force that we addicts have to deal with in sobriety and recovery. It can be next to impossible for us to see it as positive, but surprisingly, temptation is often shown in a positive light in the Bible. There are three particular things I want to look at regarding temptation. In this post, we will look at enduring temptation.
First, though, it is important to understand that temptation itself is not sin. The Lord Jesus Christ was tempted but sinless throughout His entire life.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis added).
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).
Already we see that temptation is associated with blessing, which is...
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