June 2

Rebellion:  I need to control

       When an addict joins a twelve-step group he/she begins the 12-Step recovery program.  Many addicts balk at the notion of “God” or “Higher Power.”  But that’s because they’re dealing with issues of control.  Any rational person who is aware of his or her own limitations (i.e. admits that they are not God) recognizes that there must be a “higher power” above or within them.  How can anyone think that they are the highest power in the universe?  The one who is insane is convinced that there is no God, and indeed there is no one greater.

       The addict has spent his/her whole life trying to control and manipulate.  The world is an insane and scary place where no one can be trusted.  ‘Acting out’ (or ‘using’) is a way of controlling how the addict feels; ‘using’ is mood-altering behavior. 

       But in a more sane and compassionate world there is a Higher Power, a power “greater than ourselves” that is ultimately in control.  But can this “God” be trusted?  Most addicts think not.  And this rebellion leads to all kinds of desperate measures, the kinds of things that look – to the normal person – quite insane.  And indeed they are.  The definition of insanity is “continually doing the same thing – over and over – expecting a different result.  I suppose you could say that we are all addicts to some degree in that we repeat the same things hoping for a different or better result.  This is rebellion.

       Trust is key to the 12-Step program.  The addict doesn’t always see where things are going for them when they begin recovery and will often abandon ship along the way.  When an addict first begins recovery there is a great deal of fear to overcome.  Old familiar patterns that “worked” for them in the past are now forbidden.  The addict who successfully works through the program has learned to trust the process.

       When there is doubt, rebellion grows.  If the crew on a ship no longer trusts in their captain, there is mutiny.  And all war breaks loose in an attempt to remove those in charge.  The captain is either thrown into a holding cell or made to “walk the plank.”  When a government is no longer trusted there is anarchy and chaos as a new regime attempts to take over.  Civil war breaks out and the struggle begins.  Heads begin to roll as the new leaders emerge and displace those in charge.

       This is the kind of rebellion that happens when people try to run their own affairs.  Resistance to “Higher Power” is an act of rebellion.  It is an attempt to take over the wheel and steer the vessel where they think best.  It is an act of desperation. 

 We fail to realize our needs can be met by simple, expectant faith in a Higher Power, Someone greater who knows our needs and can meet them on a daily basis.

 Tomorrow’s topic – Autonomy:  The illusion of self

June 1

Idolatry:  Coping with powerlessness

       It takes great humility to be able to face the reality of who we are.  Arrogance and pride lead to an inflated idea of self:  I am divine; I am in control; I am all powerful…

       But humility is the character trait that marks a truly spiritual person:  Someone who accepts their imperfection, their humanity, their limitations (we are not limitless).  Humility is the ability to see accurately who and where we are in this universe.  It acknowledges our relationship to our Creator. 

       Every once in a while I have a desire to fly – like a bird.  If you knew me you would think that this sounds strange because I suffer from vertigo – a fear of heights.  I wish I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, and move faster than a speeding bullet… I wish I was superman!  There is a desire in every person to have, do and be a great deal more than what we settle for.  We want to be able to fly much higher and run much faster.  We want more of what life has to offer us.  And we resort to the most insane methods to attain wholeness, love and serenity.   

       The first step of the 12 Steps of recovery is:  “We admitted we were powerless…”

Step one was a humbling experience for me as I began my recovery.  I hated to admit that I was powerless over anything.  My addiction had given me a false sense of control, but I was forced to examine the evidence.  My life had become a chaotic mess with a trail of sad desperation in its wake.  “Powerlessness” and “unmanageability” were spelled out clearly for me on every front.  And I was starting to see where my life was headed.

       We need not confuse powerlessness with helplessness.  We are not helpless; we have a brain that still works and a heart that still pumps blood through our veins.  We can still make decisions about our lives on a daily basis.  In fact, we are quite resourceful when it comes to our survival.  But without a Higher Power to guide us we are powerless against the tremendous pull of addiction.  It is our condition as human beings to be tempted and drawn toward the illusion that we can somehow avoid pain.  It is this human condition that causes us to commit some of the most insane acts of self-preservation.  Left alone, our lives would only grow more chaotic and unmanageable.

       The ancient scriptures teach us that we are separated from our Creator because we took what was not ours to have:  “The knowledge of good and evil.”  I am not a theologian, but I can relate to this account of temptation and weakness.  I experience it almost everyday.  There is something we want that is not ours to have.  We are not the Creator; we are the creation.  What kind of madness takes over and convinces us that we can replace our Source with a substitute?  It is this issue over our powerlessness that we must come to terms with in order for us to recognize what has led us into idolatry:  Our naïve rebellion. 

 Tomorrow’s topic – Rebellion:  I need to control