Sunday, February 03, 2008
"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry , for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you."--James 1: 19-21
Resentment and anger keep us focused on the person or situation causing the negative feelings and prevent us from accepting God's promise of healing. Resentment is the number one offender and often the major cause of spiritual dis-ease. As I began to look at my list of resentments I saw how they had affected my self-esteem, my well being, and my personal relationships. Years ago iwhem I started working the Twelve Steps I was full of resentment from my childhood days. As I looked back I saw that my holding onto the those resentments causes me to feel stress, anxiety, and even more important, uncontrollable feelings of anger at times, and I didn't know who I was even angry with. As I worked the steps, I learned that if these were not resloved, there were going to be serious emotional and physical consequences that would develop. If I were to allow those resentments to prevail, serious depression can develop, and ultimately destroy me.
Well, I had to really take a look at myself back in 1999-2000. I was having periods of confusion, lethargy, loss of interest in everything, even my music, which I love dearly. I was not getting housework done. As I drove home from work one night I began to inch the speed up on my car not caring what happened to me, as long as I didn't hure anyone else. Then I heard God's voice yelling, " SLOW DOWN", and I listened to him. I pulled over to the side of the road and just sat there. I knew I had to do something. I needed help. When I got home, I told my husband and I just broke down in pieces. I felt like I had lost myself and I didn't know there I was or where how to find me again. I had hit rock bottom the next day I made an appointment with a female psychiatrist I knew from work and I felt I could trust her. She help me so much. I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and depression disorder, and she started me on anti-depressants. We also did therapy work at the same time, and I was able to work through my anger and resentments at that time. What a relief. I discovered I had a lot of issues having to do with the corporation I was working for at the time and I had to work my way through what the corporation was doing to me having to do with my age at the time. They were known for making things difficult for people nearing 50, or their 20 years of service, which I was reaching. This corporation found ways to make their employee's lives miserable so they would either quit or be fired so they wouldn't have to pay retirement benefits.
The good new is that I finally decided, with the Lord's help and the Doctor's diagnosis that it was time for me to move on and re-invent myself. So, that is what I did. I was able to resign with my head held high knowing I did the very best that I could have done for the patients, and that God had me there for as long as he wanted me there. My work there was done.
Do I hold resentments today? I can honestly say that, to the best of my knowledge, I do not. I cannot afford to harbor a resentment today and follow Jesus at the same time. There is no room for resentments. I cannot afford to have resentments while working a recovery program. Resentments will cause my disease to return full bore, and I don't want that again. Resentments can lead to depression, and I certainly do not want to feel ever again like I did that evening I reached rock bottom. Nothing is worth that kind of feeling again.
As I continue to learn about myself while taking this 4th step, my fearless and moral inventory, I also learned that FEAR is the second most destructive offender. God did not give me a sprrit of fear. However, It is the emotion I strongly feel when I began to looka at myself. When the spirit of fear is present, my need to deny, ignore, and avoid reality increases. My unrealistic perspective becomes exaggerated and intensifies my emotinal responses. Fear can and has caused me so much pain. Why? Because it attacks me physically, and causes feelings that range from appfrhension to panic. When fear is present, I become nervous, nauseated or disoriented. What really got to me was seeing that my fear is a direct result of my inability to make dicisiions. I was at that point back in 1999-2000.
There is a scripture that really spoke to me as I was reading, searching ,and learning about myself. It is 1 John 4: 18
" There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
The guilt and shame I feel about my past behaviors may inhibit my ability to conduct a thorough inventory. I believe that God's love for me will remove my fear.
As I continue to look at these areas of my life in a true honest way, I must remember that God is with me and He will help me every step of the way. With God's help and understanding, all my pain, fear anger and resentments will fade away. Praise be to God.
I know with your help, love, and understanding I am able to face anything and go through it because you have a hold of my hand all the way through. There are no words for me to adequately say" Thank You", but you know how grateful I am that You are with me. I cannot do this alone. As I continue on this wonderful journey we call Life, I am looking forward to being molded into the person you want me to be by You. You are the potter, I am the clay. Mold me, Make me, like you, I pray.
Above all, Lord, free me from any hidden resentments, fear, anger or guilt I may be hiding. Only then can I becom free to love and to encourage others. I truly believe this is what you want for me today, and I accept your call to serve you.
Your Loving Daughter,
Thursday, January 31, 2008
" Those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone! A new life has begun!"
---2 Corinthians 5: 17
A New Day
I have a Joyce Meyer perpetual daily calendar of devotions. I read this on January 29, and was absolutely overjoyed because I finally "got it". I will share this with you now.
As a Christian, according to the Bible, you are a new person now. As A "new creation" you don't have to allow the old things that happened to you keep affecting you new life in Christ. You have become a "new creature." Rejoice! It's a new day!
What that is telling me is that I no longer have a problem with food. I don't have to have a problem with food. From here on out I can look at myself as a healthy person, one who wants to keep my body fed with only good things, both physically and spiritually. I no longer have to use food as a comfort . My comfort comes from the Lord. There are so many more productive and healthy ways to work through feelings instead of eating.
Does this mean I can now abandon my eating program, the 12 steps, Spark, and Weight Watchers? No, not at all. In fact these tools and gifts I have been given are even more important. God lead me to all these wonderful tools, gifts, and people to help me not go back into my past.
Yes, I am a new creation, a new person, a new me. Why would I want to do anything to go back to my "old " way of thinking and acting, Why would I want my addiction to other people, places and things rob me of the joy I feel today? That would be an insane thing to do. I an finished with insane behavior.
Thank you so much for making me a new person when I accepted you as my Lord and Savior when I was 12 years old. I have renewed that commitment many times throughout my life, and each time I become more aware of your teaching and your love for me. I can never thank you enough, but I can continue on this journey of Temple Maintenance. When I want to overeat, help me to remember to take you hand and hold on tight so I won't be temped to act on going back to that "old" person again. That Elayne is gone foreve. Praise God !
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
" If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing , he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.---Galatians 6: 3-5
For me, my pride can limit my capacity to be honest, and it is a critical element in doing my fourth step work, making my searching and fearless moral inventory.
As I was reading more of my Step 4 material, I discovered that DENIAL has many faces. I counted 7 of them, which I will list here.
1. Simple Denial: To pretend that something doesn't exist when it really does. For example, discounting physical symptoms that may suggest the presence of problems.
2. Minimizing: To acknowledge a problem, but refuse to see its severity. For example: Admitting to an overindulgence of food when there is in fact.
an addictive behavior with my food. I ate the whole box of cookies, and tried to hide the evidence.
3. Blaming: To recognize the problem, then blaming someone else. For Example: Blaming others for my tendency to overeat.
4. Excusing: To offer excuses, alibis, justifications, and other explanations for our own or others' behavior. For example: Well, I had to eat that cake or my friend would have been hurt since she baked it for me. or Calling in sick for a partner when the actual cause of the absence is that the partner is drunk.
5. Generalizing: To deal with problems on a general level, which typically avoids personal and emotional awareness of the situation or conditions. For example: Sympathizing with a friend's unemployment when you know the underlying cause is irresponsibility. or Saying I just don't feel good when I know I don't feel good because I overate.
6. Dodging: To change the subject to avoid threatening topics. For example: Talking about the weather when is discussing the overdrawn checkbook, or discussing the weather when I know I need to admit that I binged again.
7. Attacking: To become angry when reference is made to the existing condition. thus avoiding the issue. For example: Arguing about work conditions when the boss addresses tardiness, or Arguing about the dishes I have to wash when it was my overeating that left most of the dishes sitting in the sink to begin with.
For me, taking a personal inventory is like cleaning a closet. I take stock of what I have, examine what I want to save, and discard what is no longer useful or appropriate.
1. First I learned that I am not a "bad" person . Overeating is NOT a Moral issue.
2. I learned I was filled with DENIAL, a form of dishonesty about my disease. I could stop overeating any time I wanted to. I just wanted to eat more because it tasted so good. I would stop after the next piece of candy, and the next, and the next, and so on.
3. I was filled with false pride. I thought I coul do this myself. Not true. I needed help.
4. I was and still am a procrastinator. " I'll start back on track tomorrow. I promise tomorrow will be the magic day. Of course, tomorrow never comes. It's always today.
5. I learned that my eating disorder combined with my rationalizations, "I don't have a problem", "I can do this myself" and "I'll do it later.", all caused me to become overewight. The fourth step is forcing me to take a look at myself and face the facts. My very survuval demands that I work on them.
I got started by taking a pencil ,paper, and a clipboard and began writing down some very personal things. These included a list of people I was angry with and why. I also wrote a list of my fears as well because they are instructive as to the nature of my defects of character. And yes, I also wrote down my depest secrets because the adage that we are only as sick as our secrets is true. I had to admit that to myself.
It was important for me to remember that my inventory is not a long autobiography...I don't have to account for every moment of my life. The purpose of a searching moral and fearless inventory is is to find out where my problems are. To deal with my procrastination problem, I began writing a little something every day. At first it was for only 5 minutes, and I was answering a question about myself.
This step is very important im my plan for recovery. If I do not complete this step to the best of my ability, I will continu to use food as my god and as my comforter. This has to stop so I can live.
The wonderful news is as I work on myself I will become stronger and will get to know my Lord better and better. It is He who gives me strength where I am weak. As I reflect on my past, I will be learning what to keep and what to throw away. I am becoming a new creation in Christ. When I become full on His Word and on His Love I will not want to eat what is not good for me. I will know when I am physically full, and continue to be spiritually fed. I will not over eat today.
Next I will be looking at Resentment. What resentments am I harboring and why?
Thank you so much for continuing to give me strength and courage to take a good look at what is inside my heart. This inventory is the only way I can truly and honestly check out my strengths and weaknesses, and learn what I have to do change or discard of them. Only you can help with me with these decisions. Help me to also remember to take the time to write down my good qualities as well. You have given me many gifts, and I want to be sure I am using them for your Glory, and not my ego. See, for me EGO is Easing God Out. I never want to ease you out, God. Without you I am nothing. With you I can do all things ..Nothing is impossible when you and I do them together.
Love from your daughter,
Friday, January 25, 2008
"When Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servants ...saw Peter warming himself. " You also were there with that Nazarene, Jesus, " she said. But Peter denied it...and went out into the entry way. when the servant saw him there, she said again to those standing around , "This fellow is one of them"....He began to call down curses on himself, and swore...Immediately the rooster crowed...And he (Peter) broke down and wept.---Mark 14: 66-72
As I began to do my Step 4 work, my personal and fearless moral inventory of myself , one of the first character weaknesses that came to my mind was DENIAL. I have learned that Denial was a way I was able to rationalize that I was gaining too much weight, I was able to blame it on my medicine, my genes, my being short....anything but being able to be honest with myself. I was afraid of the consequences if I was truthful with myself. To do this I would have to take responsibility for my own actions... for what I was putting into my mouth. No one was "forcing" me to eat. By rationalizing what was happening to my body I was able to invent acceptable reasons for my un-acceptable behavior. I was able to continue to use denial to protect myself from facing reality. Here is another scripture that talks about this.:
Jeremiah 17: 9-10
" The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve."
What I was attempting to do was to survive the chaos I created by denying its existence and I was fostering deceit and delusion.
I was denying that I had a problem with food. This does not make me a "bad " person. I have learned through the 12 Step Program that Overeating is NOT a moral issued. BUT, my character defect of DENIAL was
certainly an issue. You see, DENIAL is a form of dis-honesty about my DIS-Ease. I thought that if people didn't see me eat, it didn't count. I would go to great lengths to hide my eating, even though others could see by looking at me what I did with food. I would go and buy more candy and try and replace it secretly so my DH wouldn't know what I was doing. That is the same behavior an alcoholic will do to hide the amount he or she is drinking. It doesn't work. The truth will always come out. But, I was like Peter... I would deny that I had eaten "ALL" the candy or biscotti, or whatever it was that was disappearing way too fast.
I became like Peter....when I realized what DENIAL had done to me, I was faced with feelings of self-hatred, which had to be acknowledged and resolved. When I faced the consequences of telling the truth, I was inclined to tell lies about it. Maybe not to others, but certainly to myself.
I have found that Denial has at least 7 faces and they can be easily marked. In my next blog I will be talking about those forms of Denial and and how to recognize them As you can see, taking this step is a long process. I will be studying along the way and will report on what I have learned about myself. This can be a very painful experience to go through, However I will also be looking at the "good" side of me as well. It is by no means all doom and gloom. I just want you all to know that it is a very cleansing, uplifting step to do. Also remember that recover y is a process, not an event. It is a journey, not a destination. .
Dear God, Thank you for giving me the courage to face my DENIAL, and to become honest with you and myself and my DH. I know just how dangerous living in denial can be, and thanks to you I have begun to recover from that Character weakness. I have a way to go, but I also know every day will get easier and I will overcome this behavior. Let me not go back to denial. It is something very real with-in me, and I know it is NOT a river in Egypt. It is within my soul. But you and I can conquer this. I know it and I believe it. with You all things are possible.
Love from your daughter,
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
"Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord."
STEP 4 .
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I remember when it was time for me to do Step 4. It took me a year to get up the courage to even begin to look at myself. I felt bad enough about myself, and I was afraid to take a fearless moral inventory and see all the bad things I had done and all the terrible things I had become. I finally got up the ourage to ask for help too do this step. I had a wonderful person who helped me to take things slowly and look at one thing at a time. I didn't rush through this step, and I have done it several times since then, and it has become easier and not so overwhelming and scary.
In Step 4. I realized that there were areas in my life that needed attention. I also realized that I could not see all of those areas. because Denial had kept me blind to the dirt in my corners. Low self-esteem had kept me ignorant about the beauty and worth of my life. The good news is that in this step God came to me as a caring friend and opened my eyes to the weaknesses in my life that needed changing and helped me build on my strength. It was important for me to look at my "good" side as well as the parts in me that had weaknesses.
WHERE DO I START?
To prepare for Step 4. I had to recognize the fact that to some degree DENIAL had been operating in my life. I prepared by asking God for the courage to face those areas that have been protected by denial,( which is not a river in Egypt). I prepared for Step 4. by planning to nutrure myself during and after the inventory preocess.
I began to look around me in a store and saw how an inventory was taken there. I adopted the same kind of exercise. I took a clipboard and began walking down the isles of my life and noted areas of weakness and strength. When I came to the RELATIONSHIP isle, I took stock of the resentments and grudges, but also I examined my loving and healthy relationships. When I came to the COMMUNICATION section of my "store" , my mind, I wrote down the lies as well as the positive ways I share with others. In the process I looked to God for guidence. Why? Because He knows the contents of my watrehouse better than I do.
STEP 4 PRAYER (Taken from Prayers for The Twelve Steps-A Spiritual Journey, page 14.)
It is I who have made my life a mess. I have done it, but I cannot undo it. My mistakes are mine, and I will begin a searching and fearless moral inventory. I will srite down my wrongs, but I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete the task.
Note: This will be a continuing process as I continue to write about it in my future blogs. I will be talking about my weaknesses, and how they affected my life. I will take them one at a time, and examine each one under the microscope. You will see what weaknesses and strengths I have come up with as I go throgh the process. In my next blog I will be talking about DENIAL, and how it has affected my life. I willl examine the different kinds of denial as I go along. I hope you will join me on this journey and provide feedback on how you think I am doing, or how what you have read may have affected you. Thank you for your support as I go through Step 4.
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