Addiction

Help My Unbelief

Our beliefs can either work for or against us.

Years ago, a life altering point in both my eating disorder recovery and my relationship with God involved the scripture, Mark 9:24:

"Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief."


It punctuated the state of my life. I didn’t think I could believe in who I was, in life and in God. My faith wasn’t "enough."

Through my eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, I believed God hated me and was going to send me to hell. My perfectionistic thoughts had obliterated His grace. Increasing amounts of shame from my behaviors, which included theft and lying, made me reach a point of no return. I was "un-save-able."

So, when I encountered Mark 9:24, it validated my struggles with doubt. That ninth chapter in Mark, uttered by a man, centuries earlier, sent the reassurance I needed. I was not the only person to ever think this way. And before Mark 9:24’s zinger, there was the set up scripture of the twenty-third verse:

Jesus said unto him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."

Ordinarily, this would have caused me to despair. If Jesus was telling me it was solely up to me to "believe right," then, let’s face it, I’m a goner.

But again, centuries ago, He responded to another doubting person. Mark 9:24 was this man’s only comeback.

Each of Us is that 100th Sheep

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace." Jeremiah 50:6

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and the passage about the good shepherd.

Flock of sheep. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:3-7

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

And most of us have seen the matching artwork, the depiction of a loving, attentive Jesus holding a lamb in His arms.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... Isaiah 40:11

Yet, there seems to be a disconnection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loves us; He's our good shepherd. But do we REALLY personalize it? And what exactly would that mean to us?

Problems with AA and Church

These questions were part of a survey conducted by Dick B. and are worthy of consideration

Problems You Have Experienced from Those within A.A.

Q1: Have you been told in a meeting not to mention the Bible (either because that is an “outside issue,” because such mention violates A.A. Traditions, or because A.A. is not a “religious program”)?

Q2: Have you ever brought the Bible to a meeting and been told that the Bible is not “A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature” and therefore cannot be the subject of a meeting?

Q3: Have you ever tried to place the Bible or other Christian literature on a literature table and been told that such action violates A.A. Traditions?

Q4: Have you ever organized a Bible study-oriented A.A. group and been denied a listing in A.A. meeting schedules?

Q5: Have you ever mentioned the Bible in a meeting and been told that you could not do so?

Q6: Have you ever received a letter on an A.A. letterhead stating your group cannot be listed because it studies the Bible and that such meetings cannot be held in A.A.?

"Purpose" in The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Quotes on "purpose" from the book Alcoholics Anonymous (aka "The Big Book"):

All changes made over the years in the Big Book ( A.A. members' fond nickname for this volume ) have had the same purpose: to represent the current membership of Alcoholics Anonymous more accurately, and thereby to reach more alcoholics. ( p. xii )

To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. ( p. xii )

Do You Have a Pinocchio Nose?

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Proverbs 28:13

Pinocchio - the adorable little story about a marionette who wants to become a real boy. It touches on this real theme, as well as the power of dreaming and the ability to love.

And yes, there's also the lesson about lying, hence Pinocchio's growing nose every time he tells a fib.

And that reminds me about the often chaotic journey of recovery when it comes to our addictions, compulsions and issues.

A lot of us having growing noses, don't we?

Addiction - related issues are subtle, tricky things which seem to sneak up on us from "out of nowhere." A lot of us may not look "the type." We may not look like such creatures as an alcoholic, a drug addict or a person struggling with eating disorders. We may appear to have "normal" looking noses, so to speak.

Alcoholics Anonymous & Bill Wilson's Bible Witnessing

Fragment Number Eight

The Bill Wilson that many do not know became an "evangelist" almost immediately after he was discharged from Towns Hospital, having had a spiritual experience. For example, Lois Wilson's biographer wrote:

    The doctor [Dr. Silkworth] always allowed Bill to share his God-experience with some patients, hoping somehow it might help... Dr. Shoemaker [the Episcopal rector at Calvary Church] encouraged Bill to spread the message of change and spiritual recovery to others like himself. Bill took the preacher at his word. With Lois's full support, he was soon walking through the gutters of the Bowery, into the nut ward at Bellevue Hospital, down the slimy corridors of fleabag hotels, and into the detox unit at Towns with a Bible under his arm. He was promising sobriety to every drunk he could corner, if they, like he, would only turn their lives over to God. [See William G. Borchert, The Lois Wilson Story: When Love Is Not Enough: A Biography of the Cofounder of Al-Anon (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2005), 170.]

In fact, Rev. Sam Shoemaker wrote to Bill on January 22, 1935, commending Bill for his witnessing to Frederick E. Breithut who became known as the "chemistry professor." Shoemaker wrote:

Cross-Addiction: A Way That Seems Right?

Recently, a young girl reached out to me concerning her struggles with disordered eating; she informed me she just took up the habit of smoking.

For what I am doing, I do not understand... The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

She's currently in a facility, being treated for bulimia, a mood disorder and self-injury behavior. I asked her what her treatment center thought about this habit. She told me she thought it was a better action than engaging in the eating disorder and self-injury behaviors.

But, to me, it smacks of cross-addiction. Indeed, someone afflicted with an addiction, obsession or disorder can often become convinced if they just switch it for another passion or behavior, he or she will be fine.

I did this myself.

Recovery: Practice, Practice, Practice

When I was in kindergarten, I took dance class, with emphasis on ballet and tap. At least once a week, I attended these classes, held in Mrs. Taylor's basement. My strongest memories were the gigantic black bow pinning the back of her bun hairstyle and the 45 records we were given to practice our routines. I especially remember "Alley Cat" and "Practice, Practice, Practice." I spent hours in my tap shoes, striving for improvement on a square piece of plywood. After a while, I grew to dislike that song immensely. "Practice," after all, was tedious, boring and frustrating.

Little did I know, however, so often, would life be as well.

According to the famous myth, the character of Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of hard labor. For a crime against the gods, his assignment was to roll a great boulder to the top of a hill. Each time he completed this task, requiring tremendous effort, reaching the summit, the boulder rolled back downhill again.

Tedious, boring and frustrating...

I recently came across this famous Margaret Thatcher quote:

Do You Embrace Everything that is Permissible?

In the past two weeks, I've become aware of two pastors (same denomination, different churches) who are wallowing in self-pity and self-indulgence. Both claim depression and overwhelming personal pain. One used the term "burned out." A Christian who is "burned out?" Who cannot go on in ministry or service for the Lord? Oh . . . my . . . goodness!

On the one hand, I'm angry at these brothers. How dare they, as servants of the Lord and leaders within the Church, be so self-centered as to put their own desires ahead of the desires of the Lord? And, on the other hand, I'm filled with pity for these men who are so deluded in their beliefs that they can justify "crises of faith," doubt as it were, without feeling the least tinge of remorse or fear of God's judgment. (And if they are fearful, not fearful enough to turn back to the narrow path.)

"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

The Functioning Alcoholic

The Functional Alcoholic does not necessarily:

· get drunk every time he or she drinks
· drink a large amount
· have hangovers
· miss a lot of work
· drink during the day, week or month
· drink every day week or month
· look bleary-eyed
· have slurred speech
· stagger
· get unpleasant or belligerent with other people
· drink in the morning
· become physically abusive
· crave a drink
· show up late for work
· have a hangover
· get a DWI/DUI
· ever look drunk
· have blackouts

...the family usually sees the first symptoms, but don't always know what they mean.

The Functional Alcoholic may have problems with:

· sleeping
· finances
· sex
· thinking

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