Abundance

My purpose in life is to inspire others to greatness by encouraging them to:  Surrender to God; Believe in themselves; Give to others.

My purpose in life is directly connected to the benevolent abundance of God.  Without my connection to my Higher Power, a power greater than myself, I would be lost.  Such a thought – being disconnected from God – causes me to rethink my whole day, and my whole life!  Without God I am disconnected from abundance.

Do I really want to take one step without knowing that I am connected to my Higher Power?  Without my Higher Power, I have only myself.  And by myself I am left with attachment and addiction.  Like the song says: “Without Him I would be nothing, Without Him I’d surely fail; Without Him I would be drifting, Like a ship without a sail.”

It is because of God’s abundant love and mercy that I am in recovery – like thousands of people before me.  We all have drawn from God’s grace, and continue to do so each and every day we are in recovery.  There is no shortage of grace – God’s power and favor – for anyone who will surrender and trust in God’s abundant mercy.

Following a Sunday morning 12 step meeting, I met up with a bunch of people I know from a church I used to attend.  Seeing all these familiar faces reminded me of the days when I was deep in my addiction.  And deep into religion.

My connection with God was really just a connection with the idea of God:  Religion. I had no experience of God’s abundance, the overflowing abundance of the Universe. I only knew about my own shortcomings. I wanted to tap into Abundance, but I was too attached to my own limitations, and believed in my feeble attempts to control others.

I had to control the people around me.  I had to control how people perceived me; otherwise, they wouldn’t approve of me.  I knew I fell way below everyone’s expectations, and I felt so ashamed.  My world was very, very small.  Just me and my own fantasies.  I imagined a world that conformed to what I wanted – or, at least, what I thought I wanted.  And it meant keeping people at arms length in order to ‘control’ what was going on around me.  I was running short on self acceptance.

But when there’s lots of grace to go around, my self-acceptance increases.  God’s abundant grace and mercy is what makes the difference in my life.  I can trust in God to help me fulfill my mission in life.  I can let go and allow God to bring into my life the people and the resources that will enable me to fulfill my purpose here on earth.

Without the faith-knowledge that God gives abundantly, I would not have the confidence to step out and try to live out my purpose in life.  And my purpose in life is a lot more than just making a lot of money.  It’s about experiencing God abundant grace.

Presence

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact…”

One of the first things my therapist encouraged me to practice was consciousness – being present.  He would say. “When you are (and I’m not saying you will) standing at the checkout paying for a pornographic magazine, I want you to be mindful that it is your money you are handing over to the cashier, and it is with your hand that you are offering the money… remember that you are doing this.”

As I have continued on in recovery, I am often reminded to live ‘one day at a time.’

It is useless to ‘live’ in the past, with all of its hurts, failures and regrets.  We cannot ‘unring’ the bell!  The past is the past, and nothing we can say or do will erase what we have done.

It is just as pointless to ‘live’ in the future, with all of its possible adversities, large promise and poor performance.  There is no point in worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow is beyond our immediate control.

That leaves only today – this present moment – in which we can live.  Today is the day. Now is the time.  Regret and resentment can have no part in our daily existence.  Fear and worry accomplishes nothing, except to bring us what we don’t want.

It has been said that ‘worry is asking for what you don’t want.’  I realize that as addicts we want to control our circumstances, our environment.  We want the best for us; we want to be successful.  We want to win.  But we try to control how others feel about us.  We want to control how we feel about ourselves.  Instead, we end up caught in a vortex of shame and compulsive activity as our lives spin out of control.

The only way we can recover is to remain in this present moment.  Everything that happens takes place in this present moment.  All change happens in this present moment.  We meet with God in this present moment.  Our Higher Power cannot help us if we are lost in the ugly past or obsessed with the possible future.  We must remain watchful, not willful.  We must pay attention to what’s going on right now.

There is nothing wrong with remembering our past.  We can learn from our mistakes.  There is nothing wrong with planning for the future.  We need to set worthy goals for ourselves.  But we cannot live in the past or the future.  It’s just impossible!  And we waste today – these sacred, precious moments – when we fail to pay attention to where we are right now.

We work the steps in this present moment.

Decision

We are individuals who ought to be able to make our own choices freely.  But the addict who still suffers is unable to make wise decisions.  That’s because the addict’s will is ruled by compulsion and resides in captivity.

The only way out is with the help of our Higher Power.  We addicts cannot think our way to safety.  Our self will is taken captive by attachment and addiction.  The only response we have to life is to ‘use.’  But how is a ‘higher power’ going to make a difference?

If you are an addict who still suffers – caught in the middle of ‘self-will run riot’ – there is only one decision you can make:  Surrender to your Higher Power.  Until you have decided to “turn your will and your life over the care of God” you will never be able to choose anything else but the addiction.

We call it “working the steps” for a reason.  Studying the steps won’t cut it.  Going to meetings isn’t enough.  Talking about the steps with another person won’t make the difference for you.  The 12 steps are meant to be worked through.  You must take the necessary action that is suggested with each individual step.

Hoping and praying won’t amount to a hill of beans until you decide to take action.

Once you have decided to surrender to your Higher Power and then work the steps, you can begin.  You have made the necessary decision to begin your journey back to sanity and freedom.

Once the spell of your addiction has been broken, you are in a position that will enable you to make wise decisions.  That’s where the help of another person in recovery (your sponsor and others in your fellowship) can start to mean something.  That’s where going to meetings takes on its true significance.

12 Step work breaks the cycle of shame in which every shame-based addict is caught.  This powerful loop which leaves us powerless can be interrupted.  Even though our lives are spinning out of control, it is possible to stop the insanity.  We can be rescued from the vortex of this chaotic cyclone if we will decide, once and for all, to surrender.

Working the steps is an exercise of decision making.  Surrender must be made every single day, every single hour, and if necessary, every single moment that passes.  Surrender must be made continually, over and over.

But if you are willing to ‘turn over your will and your life to the care of God’ you are ready to learn to make good decisions, wise decisions… freely.

 

Emancipation

Imagine the relief and joy of the prisoners in the Nazi death camps when the war ended and they were released from their captors.  Some had managed to survive for years in spite of hunger, slave labor and terrible beatings.  And suddenly the doors are swung wide open, allowing all prisoners to walk out free… Emancipation!

The prison of attachment and addiction is just as powerful.  But there is a difference: The prison of addiction is self imposed.  There are no captors like those of a POW camp.  Only the imagined forces that exist in our minds.

In any case, we need a strong deliverer, a power greater than ourselves.  Once we are locked in the clutches of a powerful addiction we are not going to be able to free ourselves.  It will require the help of others (a fellowship), and the enabling of God (our Higher Power).

This freedom comes to us as we acknowledge our part in all of it.  We are not to blame for the addiction, but we are responsible for the choices we have made leading up to our demise.  It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true:  The first step to freedom and recovery is admitting we have a problem. We must admit that we are powerless over our addiction, that our lives have become unmanageable.

The 12 steps are a process in which an addict can (with the help of another) finally ‘let go and let God.’  This act of surrender opens up spiritual doors of our hearts and allows the addict safe passage to freedom and recovery. 

Surrender involves three attitudes:

  1. Courage
  2. Acceptance
  3. Trust

Courage involves letting go of the past.  You cannot live in the past – regret, resentment, blame – and expect to know freedom within.  The courage of ‘letting go’ is necessary in order to experience the release from the past.

Acceptance means that we learn to embrace the present – our present circumstances.  We are finally at a place where we accept our responsibility for how things have played out.  We did not get to where we are by accident.  Acceptance is necessary if we are to experience spiritual freedom in this present moment.

Trust implies that we have decided to hand over our will and our lives to the care of God.  It suggests that we are now leaving our future in the hands of our Higher Power.  We can do this because we know that we have no control over any final outcome.  And this takes faith and trust.

Rest and relaxation

As a full-blown addict constantly acting out, I could never relax, never take a break.  My compulsion to act out, and to ‘use’ required that I constantly plan to use, act out, feel shameful, experience another emotional trigger and start the process all over again.

I’m talking about the cycle of shame – the endless loop of acting out, gaining some ‘relief’ and then using again when shame takes over and we are compelled to use again.  Truly, there is no rest for the wicked:  Triggers; plans to use; acting out; feeling of shame and suffering; more triggers… and so on.

But it is the grace of God that calls us to rest and relaxation; spiritual rest.  I don’t know if you are familiar with the Creation account, but I’d like to use it as an illustration.  Just like God – as recorded in Genesis – rested after Creation was complete, we are called to this same rest.  What do I mean? 

It’s simple: God created that which we see all around us, said it was good, and ‘rested’ from His/Her work.  Why? Because He/She was tired?  I hardly think so!  God rested because it was complete; he ended his work because it was perfect.  That which is perfect doesn’t require any more tweaking to make it ‘more perfect.’  And so God rested.

Therefore, we are called to rest in God, in His/Her completion and perfection.  God acted, saw that it was good and rested.  The full-blown addict can’t do that.  The addict is acting out but not creating anything perfect or complete.  There is no rest for the individual who is obsessing about pain, and trying to cope by using things that are, at best, a poor substitute.

Rest and relaxation come to the person who has the faith to believe that their Higher Power is good and ”able to restore us to sanity.” 

The person in recovery is granted serenity, a quiet spirit, a quiet mind and a peaceful demeanor.  There is no need to rush; there is no need to panic.  This world is perfect and complete just as it is.  The recovering addict must come to the place where faith allows the eyes of the heart to open to this fact.  Is this not part of the spiritual awakening?

There is rest for the ‘wicked’ on the Sacred Path to recovery.