One Day at a Time

Addiction: Hope, Anger & Courage

St. Augustine once uttered this powerful statement:

"Hope has two beautiful daughters: anger, at the way things are and courage, to work for change."

Upon reading it, my mind went first to the Serenity Prayer and then to how hope plays its role in addiction and recovery.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."

Indeed, hope is not a neutral word. We have feelings about it, be they negative or positive.

Whose Are We?

We are who owns us. We derive our nature and uniqueness, our very selfhood, from our owner. Furthermore, we willingly join ourselves to God in Christ. Being forced to go to church, or feeling under coercion, ordered to be who we are, is like telling a bee it must gather pollen and fly to the hive. If it were unnatural to be who we are, the Christian life would be alien, foreign and against our will. But we belong to God.

All Mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them. John 17:10

Through His gracious generosity, in Christ Jesus, God has adopted us. We are not natural born, but supernaturally born children, through the cross and resurrection of Jesus; He owns us. That's the reality. Embracing any other owners, or powers is like swimming upstream or committing spiritual suicide. As long as we remember that we belong only to God, and continue to assemble to worship Him and do the work He has given us to do, we will be who we really are and do what we truly should do.

Letting God

"Letting God" testifies to the release of tension, the surrender to trust, and being at ease instead of in "dis-ease." What is offered in each day's meditation is relaxation and peace in Christ. You will be called to turn over control of your steering wheel. You will be urged to relax your power and control and open your door to the priceless gift of serenity in our Lord and Savior. You will be presented with scripture, stories, short essays, and even humor as ways to let God take over.

I have learned in forty years of experience with alcoholics and other addicts, that living the Gospel truth AND Twelve-step recovery creates a hallowed and holy life. This holiness is not sainthood but a serene state of being, achieved as cease our striving, halt our stressful efforts, and fall into the arms of our Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

"Letting God" is the key to most all experiences of sacredness and spirituality. The surrender to the divine within and without, the acknowledgment of the humanity of the Holy and the holiness of the human ls to "Let go and let God." As we allow God to be God, without trying to fix or manipulate his reality in heaven or earth, we welcome his healing love. We let love flow. We use no force, no struggle, no strain, no competition, no trying harder, no willpower. We admit and accept our weakness and God's strength. If we do not make this unconditional surrender to God, our own spirituality will lie dormant and lifeless. Our selfish will becomes our god, and we run rampant toward our own self-destruction, screaming to the end, "I can do it myself!"

A Prayer for the New Year (by Matthew Henry)

"My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15

Firmly believing that my times are in God's hand, I here submit myself and all my affairs for the ensuing year, to the wise and gracious disposal of God's divine providence. Whether God appoints for me...

    health or sickness,
    peace or trouble,
    comforts or crosses,
    life or death--

may His holy will be done!

All my time, strength, and service, I devote to the honor of the Lord Jesus--and even my common actions. It is my earnest expectation, hope, and desire, my constant aim and endeavor--that Jesus Christ may be magnified in me.

The New Year: With the Hope?

"In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again."
~Lewis Carol, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

The new year: it is a minefield. There can be this weird concoction of hope and discouragement, effort and apathy.

A social media post, once again, caught my attention concerning this point. It was of the literary figure, Alice, from Carol's classic work, essentially binging.

And this was the image's caption...

"I can relate to Alice. She just keeps randomly eating and drinking everything she sees with the hope that it might actually solve all her problems."

Where’s The Peace On Earth?

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:8,14

Christmas Eve more than 2000 years later, it’s fair to ask, “What happened to ‘peace on earth’?”

War. School shootings. Terrorism. Racism. Death. Families torn apart. An observer might wonder if Silent Night is anything more than a song.

A few years later the baby born that night would teach His friends about a different sort of peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

It’s the peace that doesn’t depend on circumstances. It’s peace that sustains like the eye of a storm while life’s chaos swirls around it.

Do You Overindulge During the Holidays?

I cracked up when I saw this image, stating, "This is me, thinking about Thanksgiving."

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.
Do not crave his delicacies,
for that food is deceptive.
Proverbs 23:1-3

We're in the sea of overindulgence holidays. We're polishing off the Halloween candy; now we're headed into the choppy waters of Thanksgiving. And then there's more fun: Christmas and Hanukkah, followed by the reinvention promise of New Year's.

My raft is overturned.

Admit it, these holidays are raging seas for our appetites.

We often struggle not to drown.

For, we often believe the lie of the satisfied appetite.

Being this long in the game with my own issues, I'm learning that, when it comes to our tricky carnal natures, there's no such thing. When it comes to matter of the appetite, the name of the game is more, more, more! And then some more piled on top of that! There! That'll fix everything! That'll make everything all better!

So, we consume whatever, however and in whatever amounts we desire.But it's all deceptive; the appetite we struggle with seems to act as a spiritual barometer. It registers as our chosen God substitute. And, because it is only a substitute, a counterfeit attempt, at best, it never fulfills us. So, what's the answer we choose if we're not careful? Gimme more!

Are You Living the Language of Recovery?

"Rétablissement" is the French word describing recovery from illness or injury. Similarly, the phrase, "être en cure de désintoxication" has as its English translation, "to be in recovery from drugs, alcohol, et cetera."

I recently stumbled across some old vocabulary flashcards from my two years of high school French class. Some things have stuck with me years later, like reciting the alphabet and singing the Christmas carol, "Silent Night," à la française.

Yet, as I was flipping through the flashcards, I was re-reminded of just how much I had forgotten.

Seldom used words...
Factory is "l'usine."
Waste basket is "la corbeille."

Where Does Your "Precious" Lead You?

The character, Gollum, in J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings," is a study in addiction and its pitfalls.

This creature was obsessed with the powerful properties of a much-desired ring. Transfixed, he often referred to it as "my precious." This preoccupation, over time, led to his changed, grotesque form; it also contributed to both his torment and his tragedy.

The story portrays Gollum as a struggling being who had "come to love and hate the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself." His unfortunate fate inevitably followed. Upon finally seizing the ring, he fell into a volcano's fires. Both he and his "precious" were destroyed.

Now, how's that for a cautionary tale?

Learning How to Wait

The Lord is not slow about His promise.

First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!"... But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:3-5, 8-9

We live in a fast food society. There are many places now that have put time clocks at the order windows. If your food is there in less time than promised, you get a reward...a free meal, a coupon, something. We are not used to waiting.

The Lord wants us to learn how to wait, to wait on Him. There are some things about waiting that I need to learn. As I look at the many definitions of "wait " in the dictionary, I see these:

  • to stay in place in expectation of
  • to remain stationary in readiness or expectation
  • to look forward expectantly

These are all things I need to learn.

First, when I wait, I learn to expect God to act. If He is going to act, then I am not going to act. I am going to wait on Him to act. That seems so simple, but the fact is, if God doesn’t do what I think He should do, then often I move ahead, doing it instead. And, of course, I only make a mess of things. In waiting for Him to act, I learn to live content in the situation itself (Phil. 4:11), trusting Him to make the changes He deems necessary at the time He deems right.

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