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,

valuable, a blessing, chosen, co-inheritor with Christ, an important part of the body, and so on. He says I am all this simply because I am His. It has nothing to do with what I have or have not done. So I thought, "if that's true then who am I to say I'm not worth while. God made me after all. It's really up to him to toss me out if I'm useless and so far he hasn't done that. " I continued to think, "maybe God can still use me in some way." I began taking a few suggestions from others around me and things started changing inside me very quickly. I started hearing God's voice. I noticed God working in my daily life and my faith grew. I learned to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus Christ. Then I worked on filling my head and heart with the truth found in the Bible. As I did this I began to have hope of restoration and renewal. The longer I spoke the truth to myself and out loud to others the more deeply the roots were growing. I started thinking, “Hey, I haven’t always been like this. In the beginning I was innocent, naive, free to love everyone, and quick to forgive. God knows the real me (Jn. 15:1, 5)” This hope of living out of my true identity catapulted me into a wonderful new place. I felt a new sense of purpose to my life. Then I began noticing things about people and the world around me.

In some cases, the people who claimed to love me the most were in their own way sort of sabotaging me. In most instances they weren’t even aware of it. At first I was highly offended then it occurred to me to pray for truth. I started praying for truth and just left everything alone for awhile (Psalm 37:7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him ;) In the 12 step meetings I attend I often hear people say faith requires action, I agree, but sometimes active faith is inaction. Actually, I found most of the time the best way for me to exercise my faith was to do nothing at all (manipulate, control, fix) while I waited for the Lord to work it out. I left everyone alone by just taking care of myself and only doing the have to stuff each day. Everything around me kept going without my interference. For the first time I was able to observe life around me and see that I didn't have to control every detail to be okay. God was taking care things without my permission. From this removed point of view I was able see things from a different perspective.

I realized I was placing myself in positions to be hurt over and over again. Every time I did this I ran the risk of using because I still had virtually no coping skills. I saw I was allowing people to manipulate me. Certain people knew they had something I thought I needed for survival and knew I would do anything for it. I had to stop playing the game and trust God would take care of my needs (Mt. 6:26). It soon became very obvious that just because I was getting better it didn’t mean everyone around me was. In reality most people I had surrounded myself with were not very healthy people. They had their own issues (sin problems) and were used to my issues (sin) interacting with theirs. By stopping my part it exposed theirs and they did not like it at all. Some people walked out of my life quietly, some I had to stop inviting into my life, and some I had to set up firm boundaries with for my own protection.

This all takes practice for a period of time but just keep practicing. The goal is continual progress in the midst of many mistakes. Eventually our ability to live with integrity increases as our mistakes decrease as long as we stay in Christ. It begins with honestly looking at ourselves, resting in the hope and renewal of the Lord, choosing to believe in faith our identity comes from God not the world, and courageously starting to live in the truth. Then quit adding to the list by living with integrity. To simplify it more: Choose to believe (internal action), ask the Lord to take complete control of your life (external action) and walk daily in freedom by obeying God’s written word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit within (internal and external come together for continual spiritual growth). Believe, Ask, And Obey!

Following is an exercise reproduced with permission from "Christian Coaching: Helping Others Turn Potential into Reality" by Gary R. Collins. This will help you identify the people, places, and things in your life that need to be looked at and possibly dealt with in one of the manners above. If after doing this exercise you don’t know what to do with the new awareness pray and ask God to guide you about what you need to do- if anything. Ask in prayer for direction about every person, place, or thing affecting you negatively. You will be amazed as Jesus comes into your personal life and begins to prune you into His image.

ENERGY-DRAINERS

In the spaces provided, list the energy-drainers in your life. Use additional paper if necessary.

Energy-Draining People

__ 1.

__ 2.

__ 3.

__ 4.

__ 5.

Energy-Draining Emotions

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__ 2.

__ 3.

__ 4.

__ 5.

Energy-Drainers at Work

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__ 3.

__ 4.

__ 5.

Energy-Drainers at Home

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__ 5.

Other Energy-Drainers

__ 1.

__ 2.

__ 3.

__ 4.

__ 5.

When you’ve completed your lists, go back and put a letter in the space

at the left of each number. Write an O by the items you can overlook. Write an A by the items that need some action. In the space below, list some actions you can take to reduce the

Energy-drainers marked with A’s.

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Copyright Trecia Wright,
All Rights Reserved, Used by Permission
Trecia Wright is a Certified Christian Life Coach
Life Recovery Missions, Program Director.

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