Addiction

Our Reward-Driven Selves

I recently saw one of those cute dog posts on the internet, saying the following:
"So, you're telling me you have a whole box of treats but I only get one?"

After I stopped giggling, I squirmed a bit. For who was I to laugh at this dog? I have often dealt with that particular thought myself.

And it's further complicated by the reality I am reward-oriented.

As I've tried, over the course of my childhood, adolescence and adult years to constructively deal with that fact, let's face it, all too often, the bright shiny rewards are just too tempting.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15

Most of the time, like our little canine friend here, I've looked to consume an entire box or bag of something instead of eating one cracker, chip or cookie. Indeed, my attitude...

"So, you're telling me you have a whole box of treats but I only get one?"

And, more times than I care to count, I've looked to other things, instead of God, to satisfy me and be my substitute. And yes, that's even while being a Christian.

I know- shocking!

But, before you hyperventilate, please keep in mind, you, my friend, are mortal also.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

Rewards on the brain.. are you guilty of this? C'mon, be honest.

And yes, unfortunately, for many of us challenged by addictions, compulsions and disorders, these elusive things are far too desirable to ignore. Ideally, we would focus on our true, meaningful rewards, as connected to our loving God.

After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." Genesis 15:1

Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:24

Ideally, we would concentrate on this, appreciating, thanking Him for it, being satisfied and peaceful about the entire thing. But hey, c'mon, we're dusty, remember?

So, this is more like it...

How is Your Spiritual Heart Health?

God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.

According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15 NIV.

"All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our "eyes and ears" in the spirit. If we discern the "will of God" it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well." "Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You", pg.67, published by Shepherd's House, Inc. revised version 2000.

As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa's will or my true identity and destiny as Papa's beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).

When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.

I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was "called a man after God's own heart."

The single goal of heart healing is to

What Measures You?

I once came across an image of two little girls looking down at a bathroom scale. This was the caption:
"Don't step on it. It makes you cry."

Troubling.

Indeed, as a child, I had my own painful association it. There was once a time when I only saw a weird square in our bathroom. I didn't give it much attention; I was more interested in the blue windmill stencil designs lining the tub and my rubber ducky. It was just a square, taking up space.

However, suddenly, Mom placed me on this square - and I became conscious of what I weighed. Apparently, it wasn't a good digit as, with more frequency, I needed to get on this square. Now, suddenly, I had a "weight problem."

And ever since, I no longer see just a square.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, it dictated my worth, which was never good enough, always too big and always too heavy.

That drove me to eating disorders, with the hope as I became more punishing of myself, more "dedicated," well, then my two-digit weight as a young adult would mean triumph. It, however, never really did become that reality, of course. Because, I could always lose more weight and somehow, magically, "be better."

On and on and on I went, into my own hell...

Is it the ego? Or is it the soul?

I recently came across a little gem about the ego and the soul.
It's quite profound. It states things like:

"Ego looks outward. Soul looks inward."

"Ego sees lack. Soul sees abundance."

According to one definition of the word, soul is comprised of the mind, the will and the emotions. So, it stands to reason soul would be quite vulnerable to disease. Indeed, there is a battle going on.

And, let's get real -- a large part of that battle involves the toxic pride factor.

Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

And that pride rubs shoulders with rebellious foolishness.

The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. Psalms 14:1

And yes, that goes for even us Christians.

It's not about being a good little boy or girl in the pews on Sunday. Instead, it has everything to do with the very real, very rebellious, prideful and diseased thoughts which have ensnared us in affliction. Saying "no" when we should say "yes."

As is echoed in the "Ego Versus Soul" post...

"Ego rejects God. Soul embraces God."

Again, profound.

And, while we may nod our heads in agreement with that statement, do we really examine any rebelliousness lurking in our tricky hearts?

After all, we're not above being deceived...

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

For, once upon a time, there was a certain rebel who let some audacious, prideful attitudes rip.

And he said unto them, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." Luke 10:18

Are you in a prison of hopeless despair?

Too many of us have lived our lives suffering in a silent, shameful prison of hopeless despair. When we tried to hope -- our hopes were always deferred. We were heart sick from all our seeming endless deferred hopes (Proverbs). Hope for us was more of a mirage; one which was continually being pushed into an elusive, uncertain and clouded future.

Thus, our lives became defined by disappointment, disillusionment and shame. And like Rowan and Martin, on the 1970's show Laugh In, we regularly awarded ourselves with "the twisted finger of fate," instead of embracing our true divine destiny in Christ.

These three cousins of hopelessness (disappointment, disillusionment and shame) 'mar' the true image of God. I don't recall whose quote this belongs to; but, it goes something like this: "God created man in his image and likeness. Unfortunately, man has returned the favor. We have shaped God into the 'twisted' and 'wicked' view we have of ourselves." Disappointment, disillusionment and shame diminished us!

Not so in Christ! With him in our hearts, "hope springs eternal."

Such hope never disappoints, disillusions or shames us; for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:5, Amplified (my editorial change - deludes changed to disillusions)

Hope enables us to wait patiently for our redemption.

That is why (hopeful) waiting does not diminish us;

Seizing the Gospel of Grace for Yourself

This maybe one of our most daunting challenges; to daily apprehend through faith, the gospel of grace for yourself and others aggressively.

"Aggressively" literally means it will be marked by obtrusive energy and will be strong in effect and intention. Wow! Too daily apprehend through faith, grace strongly and intentionally toward ourselves and others.

Instead, most are passive about their daily faith in the gospel of grace. Whatever will be will be? No! May it never be!

Your salvation is not a reward for good behavior! It was a grace thing from start to finish; you had no hand in it. Even the gift to believe simply reflects His faith! Ephesians 2:8 (Mirror)

You did not invent faith; it was God's faith to begin with!

It is from faith to faith. Romans 1:17 (Mirror)

He is both the source and conclusion of faith. Hebrews 12:2 (Mirror)

This aggressive grace journey progresses in/by a "mind shift" away from re-penance (faith in the law) to (faith in grace).

"The word 'repentance' is a fabricated word from the Latin, penance, and to even give it more 'religious' mileage, the English rendering became re-penance!" ~Francois du Toit

That is not what the Greek word means at all! The true word that sets the journey of grace, by faith in motion is "Metanoia." This comes from (meta) - meaning together with, and (nous) - meaning to mind together with God's mind; continuously perpetuated by a "radical mind-shift."

The Gigantic Fridge isn't So Big Afterall

The refrigerator -- the bane of so many of our life issues, huh?

When I was a little girl, I almost had the entire Sindy doll set up. I had her accessories, clothes, horse and of course, doll furniture. This refrigerator was part of the kitchen set. And, as part of my play, I had different food items kept in there: chicken, orange juice and even a teeny tiny ice cube tray with itty bitty ice cubes. It made playing with my Sindy, Barbie and Ken dolls all the more realistic.

Still, I knew this yellow fridge was a toy.

Unfortunately, as I grew up, I had a more difficult time seeing the actual refrigerator for what it was, without making it more powerful than it needed to be.

"Is not life more than food?" Jesus, in Matthew 6:25

A fridge was an appliance to contain and cool perishable food. It was not, however, my enemy, a monster plotting to trap and torment me. Neither was it my unfailing friend, soothing and comforting every wound and issue. Yet, with my eating disorder behaviors, that was actually the power I gave to it. Simply stated, I viewed the fridge as larger than life.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do. The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

That's part of the challenge of our food and weight issues, isn't it? We see things looming larger and more powerful in our lives than they should be. We use black and white thinking to decide if food, our disorders, our exercise patterns and our refrigerators are for or against us. Many times, we look at our fridges and see the enemy, a Goliath who will only defeat us.

Our heart issues can set us up for failure, for pain and for addictive and disorderly thoughts and actions. That's why God brings the issue up in the first place:

The Ultimate Therapist

I came across a humorous post on the internet:

"Someone's therapist knows all about you."

It made me laugh… and think. I thought back to many therapy sessions I engaged in, talking about certain individuals and their impact of my life, disorder and state of mind. I talked about my mother, my dad and my childhood bullies. Believe me, I had A LOT to say. So, yes, even though my therapist never met them, she knew all about these people.

But this humorous post touched on something bigger. It wasn't just about the acquired knowledge a therapist gained when his/her patient ranted about their issues. It had to do with God - the ultimate therapist-and His role in our lives as we struggle, hurt and encounter recovery.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12>

Cue the heart, therefore:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

But this heart issue is not a passive thing, ignored by God. Quite the contrary, in fact.

"…the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

In other words…

Beyond the 12 Steps

note: there is a worksheet at the bottom of this article

I have spent a lot of years struggling with drug addiction and alcohol abuse. At one point the drug addiction had completely taken me over. I began trying desperately to stay clean but every time I got a little taste of sanity the world would come crashing in and I would crumble under the weight of it all. Before I knew it I was escaping the pain or responsibility of life by using drugs. I had been through the court system, rehabs, 12 step programs, counseling (behavioral and substance abuse), and many psychiatric visits for medications. Nothing seemed to stick very long. Most of the people trying to help me eventually threw their hands up in defeat and passed me off as a hopeless case. I got to a point I started to agree with them. Nothing seemed to work for me. I was living in constant commendation from the world and in my own mind. Every mistake seemed magnified. I would beat myself up in my head over and over until my only relief was escape.

Through divine intervention I was given a book named "Freedom From Addiction." It captivated my attention because it was such an honest account of the thoughts bombarding an alcoholics mind. Not only an alcoholic but a Christian. Now I have to say that believing Jesus Christ died for my sins did not automatically make me Christ like. I was continually going against God. The shame I felt about knowing what was right but not being able to live it was more shame than I could bear. But then this book was placed in my path. As I read it something started to stir deep within me. There was a message of hope written on those pages that spoke to my innermost heart. The message was not about what I have done as a sinner (that already plagued my mind enough) but a message of who God says I am as his child. I started hearing a message telling me he doesn’t see what the world sees when he looks at me.

When I looked at myself and compared myself to the world’s expectations of me I saw all of the bad things I’ve done and how I just didn’t measure up. I owned my bad behavior as my identity but that’s not the truth. God says I am precious,

Our Inner Cookie Monster?

Most of us have grown up with Cookie Monster on Sesame Street. We know the cute, blue fuzz ball who just gets frantic at the sight and thought of cookies. Anyone out there in that club?

For those of us with food and body image issues, the preoccupation can be toward any food. Perhaps cookies are not the thing which compels us. Maybe it’s ice cream, pasta, candy bars, crackers or Jell-O. Whatever our “thing” is, it seems to render us obsessed and, before we know it, we’re acting just like our blue friend.

“C is for cookie - and that’s good enough for me.” Indeed.

Scripture tells us we’re missing a huge point in our monster obsession with cookies or anything else which is tasty:

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