- A Gentle Path through the Twelve Steps Paperback Book by Patrick J Carnes Ph.D
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- An Elephant In the Living Room The Children’s Paperback Book by Jill M. Hastings
- Daddy’s Disease (Helping Children Understand) Paperback by Carolyn Hannan Bell
- Understanding Addiction and Recovery Through a Child’s Eyes Paperback by Jerry Moe M.A.
- When a Family is in Trouble: Children Can Cope with Grief from Drug and Alcohol Addiction Paperback Book by Marge Heegaard
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RECOVERY PRINCIPLE 11: DISCIPLINE
RECOVERY PRINCIPLE 10: AWARENESS
RECOVERY PRINCIPLE 9: FREEDOM
RECOVERY PRINCIPAL 8: FORGIVENESS
Recovery Principle 7: Humility
What is required of you for God to remove your defects of character and highlight your unique talents? Recovery Principle 7: Humility – “We humbly asked Him to remove our defects and heal our hurts”. We asked whom? God. No longer dependent on the devices of this earth to provide this transformation. For some of you, the act of letting God do for you what you could not do for yourself may becoming familiar. You are beginning to experience true freedom and want more. We asked how? Humbly.
Humility is the absence of false pride. It is not arrogant nor aggressive and has a clear and concise understanding of what you are, your humanness, followed by a sincere desire to become what you can be. Humility provides the change from self-centered, insecure and controlling to having a healthy awareness and use of your strengths.
The reason humility is required for the continuation of your recovery is because you MUST become willing to try another way other than your own. Humility provides that pliability. It was your way which resulted in the insanity and unmanageability of your life and only served to exacerbate your fears, hurts and hang ups. Out of the dereliction of your past evolved a deep-seated self-centeredness in which you over-personalized much of what you experienced. You saw yourself above others, and the rules and laws of society and when you did not get what you wanted when you wanted it, you would rely on manipulation, deceit and control to get what you thought was most important to you at the time. Chasing self gratifying pleasures at all costs, risking finances, health, safety of yourself and others and complete loss of integrity. The antithesis of humility is what you had become and you needed more and more of your ‘drug of choice” to cope with and survive each day. The miracle of Recovery Principle 7: Humility is that you are now serving something other than and greater than yourself.
Humility says, “I have tried it my way and it did not work. I am tired and done living this way. My God, I will do it your way. And this time, my Lord, I am determined to stay out of your way”.
Coming to understand the exact nature and dynamics of your wrongs and learning the assets God has blessed you with, that’s power, that’s recovery! When you: get honest (Recovery Principle 1) in recognizing your powerlessness; begin to experience hope (Recovery Principle 2) in coming to believe that a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity; and make a decision to turn your will and life over to the care of God, faith (Recovery Principle 3), then the seed of truth and love, the seed of God, can be “planted” in your heart. This seed is nurtured through your daily walk with God and grows a “tree” which extends far beyond and casts a shadow on your “tree of darkness”. Real life change!
It is up to God when and how He removes the defects and when and how He begins to use your assets for His Glory. You have a specific purpose and design in His plan for you. The more you allow for God to reveal this plan, the more clarity you have of what your life is to be and what it’s not. In the past, your false and very temporary identity came from the ways you masked your insecurities and past hurts. Your identity now comes from what God’s purpose is and only that. This means you no longer have to be everything to everybody. And you no longer have to try to be great at everything but only be great at what He created you for.
How can you know God’s will for you? By honoring and obeying Him, by being pleasing to Him in all you do and by refusing to be influenced by societal pleasures. As you replace your old ways of thinking and adopt an entirely new perspective you’ll begin to recognize God’s will for you. You’ll find it easier to hear his voice in a variety of situations. God may not dictate the details of your life (such as what color clothes to wear or which toothpaste to use) but He has given you Spiritual Principles for everyday decisions.
Humility means you realize it is no longer up to you and you come to trust in God to be your provider. The only hope you have for your restoration is by inviting God in and then humbly getting out of His Way.
Recovery Principle 7: Humility, prayer – “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you. I repent of my old ways and I pray for your forgiveness. Grant me humility, wisdom and courage as I go out from here, to be your vessel. Amen.”
It has to be prayed for and then patiently waited and practiced upon. Allow yourself to meditate on this so that it comes to resonate within you.
Join me next time for Recovery Principle 8: Forgiveness.
Alone And Terrified
Over 26 years ago I began a life without the use of drugs and alcohol, following years of chronic substance and alcohol abuse which ended with my arrest on May 2nd 1989. My initial intentions in being clean and sober and going to 12 step recovery meetings were to manipulate the legal system in an effort to get my charges dropped. My God had a different agenda for me as I discovered, early on, how much I had been wanting and waiting for this new life. I remember my first 12 step meeting I attended in New York back in the summer of ’89. I was truly shocked, not offended, with the level of honesty with which people shared. I didn’t know it was ok to admit such things about yourself. And to see people applauding, relating and hugging one another. All very foreign to me, but I immediately felt the freedom, love and potential for change!
Although I’ve maintained my abstinence from drugs and alcohol in these 26 plus years, there have been times I chose my disease to resurface in other ways and wreak havoc in my life and the lives of others. The tendency is to think of alcohol and drugs when speaking of addictions and recovery. Issues related to addictions and unhealthy dependencies also include nicotine, caffeine, spending, sex, pornography, food, relationships, body image, religion and gambling. I went to any and all lengths to feed and anesthetize the bottomless pit of the hurts from my past. I protected my deceit and darkness by putting my very life in front of it and calling it something else. Til the enemy decided to betray and expose me, rendering me defenseless, hospitalized, divorced, penniless and alone. On my knees in the dark, alone and terrified, I had once again become my own worst enemy and turned my back on the very thing which restored my life to sanity, my God. Despite my efforts to dwell in darkness, He once again would demonstrate His unfailing grace and mercy. God loved me that much, that He picked me up, cleaned me off, saved and forgave me.
To stay on my path of recovery and no longer depend on the devices which created unmanageability, I needed to apply the spiritual principles of recovery to my daily life. Honesty, hope and faith are the foundations of my recovery. Honesty meaning that I surrender, my life is a mess, my way does not work and I can’t do this alone. Hope is the next step in regaining a sense of victory and success back in my life. Not society’s definition of victory and success, but in terms of having integrity. Being where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing and with whom I’m to be doing it with.
The journey of my recovery from past hurts and brokenness is lifelong. In order to avoid complacency and short cuts to my rec0very, the application of humility became crucial for me. This meant acceptance of and responsibility for not only my defects of character but also my God given talents. For years, I thought my inventory began and ended with how bad of a person I was and the horrors of the things I had done. Just as important was identifying and maximizing the potential of my strengths. It’s through my assets that God was able to use me, my past hurts and my accomplishments to reach others. It was here that the true desires of my heart were revealed and I was uniquely placed and given tools to change lives, one a a time.
Deep within me resides an intense fire to lead a godly life and teach others. I’ve come to truly enjoy not having to look over my shoulder nor having to cover up for the lies of my disease. Discipline, which is something I’ve lacked throughout my life, helps me to adhere to the things that work for me and help to neutralize the cunning, baffling and powerful ways of my disease. My discipline was fortified with the loss of my sister to the disease of addictions as she committed suicide years ago. Her life and tragic death has not been for nothing. I’ve used it to carry me, when all seems lost and over. It sounds like such a cliche, but it’s true. Don’t ever give up! My God has a plan and path for me. I have a pretty good idea what I am to be doing each day to remain in His Light and protection and it’s on me to make that choice. On my own, I will fail. You may find times in your life when you think giving into temptation outweighs all the blessings. The M.O. (modus operandi) of your disease is to blind you from everything good you have. It’s to cause you amnesia of your previous consequences. A sure sign of danger, is if you begin thinking that you’ve got it under control. Surrender, the epitome of recovery, is admitting you need something greater than yourself. It is up to you to discover what that is and keep it by your side each and every day.
A little over a year ago, my faith and my sense of freedom in being powerless over others and situations was put to a test. In a matter of weeks I lost my mom to complications derived from Alzheimers, lost my job and closed on a home on nearly the same day. My wife lost her job just several weeks following. Life changes were happening seemingly all at once and having my integrity questioned by loved ones was about devastating in and of itself. I recall times feeling very alone, confused, resentful and terrified. My perspective was becoming distorted and life began to overwhelm me. My daily plan of rec0very was being replaced by completing tasks and attempts to please others and my faith was being replaced with worry, anxiety and fear. The enemy was getting a foothold. I saw what was happening and became determined to not lose myself again and immersed myself back into the things that had worked time after time. Most importantly were prayer and honest and open communication with my wife. It truly was an amazing lesson on the importance of keeping spiritual principles, the Serenity Prayer and a support system in place. Were there some things I should have and could have handled better? Absolutely! But, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The experience I went through now provides me with immeasurable peace in that could I see God had me all along. And He so perfectly had the plans for my life already laid out.
I am far from perfect and life’s challenges have a way of exposing my seemingly well hidden weaknesses. My tendency was to over-personalize things and emotionally over- react to situations. But, I was changing and was no longer the controlling and insecure man of my past. God was softening my heart, healing my hurts and releasing me of my need to depend on the corrupt ways of this earth. This was best reflected in that I was able to move through the experiences of last year and not self sabotage. I allowed myself to feel and learned to be ok with having feelings. And I stuck around for the miracle of my God showing up each day through this time, providing for me and my family in such blessed ways. Even when I would succumb to fear and try to take back the control and figure it all out on my own, He would lovingly and sometimes not so gently remind me, He was keeping to the plan He had for my life.
Join me next time as I break down Recovery Principle 7: Humility. And enjoy some pizza this week!
RECOVERY PRINCIPLE 6: WILLINGNESS
What does willingness mean to you? Recovery Principle 6: Willingness, by definition, is promptness to act or respond; accepted and done of choice or without reluctance. First, recall the lengths you went to, the insanity of your ways, the risks you took and the things you were willing to do to feed your addiction or fill the bottomless chasms and voids of past brokenness. Are you (RU) becoming willing to do whatever it takes to allow for true healing and recovery to take place? Recovery Principle 6: Willingness, “We readied ourselves to no longer be an obstacle so that God may remove these defects of character.“ We became what? WILLING! To get out of God’s way and allow Him to do that work in our lives.
As is true of each Principle, special attention should be made towards what is required of you: “readied” ourselves. In part, this means, to be in prayer. Prayer for what? Willingness. Why Willingness? Due to significant insecurity issues, you’ve looked to control, albeit a very false sense of control. Your issues related to control have been instrumental in perpetuating the state of brokenness from which you look to be restored. Recovery Principle 6: Willingness, directly confronts the defect of character, control, and continues the process of surrender. To remove our defects of character until He granted our request. Wow! This is in direct conflict with the agenda of your sinful nature and insecurities and their insatiable appetite for quick fix and instant gratification. The hallmark of a life becoming restored is the turning over of the care of your very life to God and allowing His way in His time to provide radical change.
What makes willingness difficult for you? Look, giving up control and letting go and letting God is going to hurt, especially early on in your recovery. It’s all you’ve known and have trained yourself to be adept at for years, for some, decades. Your biggest obstacle to becoming willing will be denying that you have control issues. No lie! You’ve become a master of deception,which includes masking your control issues. Bringing these very same issues out into the light will be met with a least some resistance. Before you go any further, take out a pen and paper, get honest with yourself and list what makes putting down the control such a threat to you.
In turning to scripture, God does not force human beings against their own will (willingness). Throughout the word of God, He leaves the choices up to the individual as to whether or not they will comply with His truth. You know what the “next right thing” to do is. The reason you so often choose just the opposite is due to the issue of willingness. You’ve become comfortable in your insanity. You have operated so long in the guise of your defects that it seems overwhelming or too late or terrifying to try a new or different way of living. You’ve become resigned to being comfortably uncomfortable. Willingness says, for the ultimate sacrifice that was made for your salvation and towards maximizing your God potential, you are willing to confront this comfort that you’ve settled for. Willing to feel and see it for what it truly is and seek to become comfortable as you are being transformed into a godly and Christ-like person.
God has “called” you into a relationship with Him and has shaped you for eternity, and deep within you, you sense it. Although you’ve become lost in believing that heaven is comfort in thickly padded bank accounts, real estate, the perfect relationship, spring catalogs and vacation brochures, you can not escape the hunger you long for the eternal kingdom. You are dissatisfied, obsess and compromise each day of your life to produce what you believe the ideal life is to be. You consistently fall way short and miss the “fruit of the spirit” which is deep within your heart compelling you to cultivate a kingdom-minded life.
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” speaks to the earthly nature and it’s agenda are too strong for humans, on their own, to overcome.” -Colossians 3:5, NIV
Recovery Principle 6: Willingness, is the key to acceptance in allowing God to do what you could not, would not do for yourself.
Homework assignment: Apply Recovery Principle 6: Willingness to your life this week.
Visualize two warehouses: One contains those you have harmed throughout your life and the other those who have harmed you. When you change your ways towards becoming godly and Christ-like, you begin to have expectations for those you have harmed to grant you almost immediate forgiveness and mercy. And when they do not respond according to your expectations and in your time, you have become frustrated, bitter and resentful. You’re convinced, family, loved ones and those of your past, should see the changes as eternal and worthy of them wiping the slate clean. That same forgiveness you ask for and often expect others to grant as you have changed your ways is how willing you should be to give to those in the warehouse of those who have harmed you. The act of forgiveness is for you, not for them. To release and free yourself of the burden associated of having been done wrong. Continuing to carry the “weight” and self destructive nature of resentments and bitterness only harms YOU. The tattered security blanket, called control, you put on each day to protect and distance yourself from others can now be sacrificed and left behind.
Each instance of conflict this week you will have a choice to make. To hold onto the resentment or give it to God. Take yourself out of the equation and practice forgiveness. Their wrongs are not against you but against God. Take yourself out of the equation. Forgive another as you would want to be forgiven and pray for that person.
Daily Prayer: Dear God, Please help me to be willing. Amen.
Join me next time for my own personal story of recovery.
Recovery Principle 5: Trust
Do you have trust issues? Do you trust yourself? The previous 4 Recovery Principles have helped to prepare you for your next step on your journey, Recovery Principle 5: Trust. Trust is confident reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something. This principle directly confronts any remaining insecurities. But, in attempting to manipulate your recovery by avoiding your next step means you will stay as sick as your secrets. Recovery Principle 5: Trust, “We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”.
By confessing to God, yourself and another human being, you reveal the deepest secrets that are preventing the complete power of healing within your life. Accountability is the result and the journey of restoration continues. When you invite a “spiritually fit” human being into the deepest, darkest areas of your soul the miracle of individual integrity and true accountability takes place.
“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:14, NIV
Recovery Principle 5: Trust, puts you face to face with not only your defects but what you have allowed them to do. As you continue to uncover the depths of your brokenness and gain a significant consciousness of your behaviors and the things you have done, you will experience resentment, guilt and shame. Commitment to your program of recovery is essential along with using the supports and tools God has provided you thus far.
You will gain a heightened awareness towards your old self which assists in understanding why you treated yourself and self-sabotaged your life the way you did. Through the work and application of Recovery Principle 5: Trust, and the following 4 principles, you come to forgive yourself so that there is no longer any separation or division within you. This continues the process of allowing yourself to be truly loved and truly cared for. You are to confess to be healed. Scripture says the confession is to be to God and to another human being.
There are times when we can look to history as a means to provide us with insight, motivation and inspiration towards fortifying our commitment to change. In 1519, Spaniard conquistador Hernan Cortes, who led the first expedition that resulted in the fall of the Aztec empire, scuttled his fleet of ships as a way to prevent the disloyal from undermining his plans by returning back to their homeland, Cuba. In applying this to your restoration, the scuttled ships represent burning the bridges to your old ways, thus discouraging you from returning to them. The “disloyal” to Cortes, symbolize the insecurities and brokenness in you which looks to serve to sabotage your journey towards true freedom. You can now look to this new life, your resurrection, as there is no turning back. The “ships”, or bridges, to the insanity of your past have been scuttled. At a cognitive level, it helps to solidify your commitment to Recovery Principle 5, Trust, and, at a spiritual level, helps to seal your focus towards God.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives.” 1John 1:9-10, NIV
What will you decide to do? Will you continue to hold onto your deepest darkest secrets or will you opt for true healing and for your life to be restored?
Dear God, I humbly pray to you on Holy, Holy, Holy Ground to reveal that spiritually fit person whom I’m to confess to. I pray, God, to provide me with the courage to carry out Your will in this submission of confession. I humbly and completely submit myself to Your will and Your way. Amen.
Join me next time for my personal journey of recovery.