Smoking

Honey Bear: Identifying the Idols in Our LivesPremium Content

Most of us wouldn't think twice about a honey bear.

And, likewise, most of us are familiar with the Biblical account of the golden calf the Israelites worshiped, just before Moses arrived with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32:1-35). Impatient as they were, waiting for the blessings to hit their lives, they concluded if they created their own visible god, they'd be happier and finally have their dreams.

Eh… not so fast…

And that brings me to the innocuous honey bear. At first glance, I'd never view it as an idol. As a child, I remember it was there with the maple syrup and the strawberry jam, sitting on my family's kitchen table. That's all.

But, as I spiraled into my eating disorders, as I reached the paralyzing lows of anorexia and frantic desperation of bulimia, I turned to an off the wall strategy: the honey bear, or more specifically, arts and crafts with the honey bear.

Please bear (pun intended) with me.

As I was struggling with my eating disorders, painful issues and stressors on full blast, I had the idea to distract myself. Yes, that was my answer. If I could just keep myself occupied enough, I'd be okay.

So, after my college classes, I turned to a honey bear I emptied on one of my recent binges. I thought I'd do something creative with it and keep myself busy. I decided to spray paint the bear gold. That's right, gold.

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Managing Change WiselyPremium Content

I recall hearing from a wise mentor once that, the definition of insanity was... "repeatedly doing the same thing the same way, whilst also expecting a different outcome." Duh! For me, that was also a good definition of stuborness or willfulness. ROTF

C.onscious approach to daily living
H.opeful that the future is bright
A.cceptance of transitory nature of life
N.on-attachment and non-addiction leads to serenity
G.iving control over to a higher power.
E.xpecting only the best.

1. One of the most useful personal management skills today is that of managing personal change. In times of turbulence, many people are feeling scared and frustrated about their lives for a number of reasons.

2. We live in turbulent times no doubt, which makes managing change an important skill in today's age. It takes knowledge and Work to be able to adapt to changes in life so you can stop worrying and start living more of your life.

3. Virginia Satir, a pioneer of family therapy, developed a Model of how individuals experience Change. The Satir Change Model says that as we cope with unexpected or significant Change, we predictably move through four stages: Late Status Quo, Chaos, Practice and Integration, and New Status Quo.

4. A lot of people don't have goals other than working, errands, household chores and relaxing with family and friends. Of course there is nothing wrong with doing these things. If you are perfectly content with the structure and current direction of your Life, then don't Change a thing.

5. It's not enough that we have to deal with the normal Personal changes that we all go through in life, but these days we also have broader issues to contend with such as the global economy, the domestic economy (job loss, company closures), the environment, technology, and changing cultural values.

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Addiction and LazinessPremium Content

Those who have done the most for their recovery have been early, on a daily basis, to pour headway on their desires to remain clean.

He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunities and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking recovery will make poor headway seeking it the rest of the day – especially newcomers whose addiction had been escalating in an alarming manner. If recovery is not first in our thoughts and efforts, we may become sidetracked, by temptation, toward certain failure. Morning listlessness demands listless recovery.

It is not simply the getting up that puts recovery to the front, but it is the ardent desire which stirs and breaks all self-indulgent behaviors. Early morning promotion may also increase your strength to the desire rather than the quenching of it. This strength in the face of laziness and self-indulgence gives rise to our faith, fullness, and gladness during the labor of the day.

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What is Addiction?Premium Content

The term "addiction" is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive physical dependence or psychological dependence, such as: drug addiction, video games, crime, alcoholism, compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, pornography, compulsive shopping, workaholism, over exercising, etc.

Addiction severely impacts not only the addicted or dysfunctional person but also everyone who comes in contact with them (loved ones, friends, family, children, co-workers, neighbors, associates, etc.).

Addiction may involve having a dependence on a substance (i.e., alcohol, marijuana, food, prescription or nonprescription drugs) or an activity (i.e., shopping, gambling, hoarding, self-injury, etc.). It can be either a physical (as in the case of most drugs) or psychological (as in the case of most activities) compulsion to use the substance of activity as a way to cope with everyday life, problems and/or circumstances. The dysfunctional person will often have deep seated feelings of guilt and shame which they try to cover up.

Addiction is a habitual behavior that is extremely difficult to control and leads to activities that are designed solely to continue or cover up the addiction itself (e.g., an alcoholic hiding bottles around their home, the drug addict embezzling to support their habit, lashing out in anger blaming others for their own behaviors or consequences of those behaviors).

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What is Powerlessness?Premium Content

I have been reminded recently that the Christian faith is as offensive and outrageous as it has always been. It is still, as the Apostle Paul put it, a kind of foolishness. That the weakness of the infant Jesus could contain the power at the heart of all of creation is sheer foolishness. That the weakness of the cross could possibly constitute the decisive victory over the forces which oppose God's rule seems preposterous. Indeed, it is rare today to find anyone, either within the Christian community or elsewhere, who speaks in praise of weakness. Our understanding of power has become decidedly unparadoxical. We want our power untainted with anything as undesirable as weakness. We prefer peace through strength and salvation through self-reliance.

A growing critique of the recovery movement makes precisely this point. Stan Katz and Aimee Liu put it this way in their book The Codependency Conspiracy: "relationships that are based on mutual weakness cannot serve as sources of strength or enrichment". This is a remarkable conviction - and one that is quite contrary to my personal experience. But it is a very popular conviction. Recovery through strength is much more appealing than recovery which begins with the appalling weakness of 'admitting powerlessness'.

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Finding a Church to Support Your Recovery Premium Content

Because recovery is a spiritual journey, it will result in spiritual changes as well as emotional and physical ones. That is one reason, among many, why having a supportive faith community during recovery can be crucially important. In addition to the resources of a therapist and/or a support group, having a safe community of people with whom to worship and learn can be a big help.

Finding such a community may not, unfortunately, be easy. It is not difficult to find congregations with a performance orientation and a spirituality rooted in shame. That is not always the case, however, and it's well worth the effort to find a congregation that is at least sympathetic to recovery. There are, of course, no perfect churches out there - just as there are no perfect support groups, perfect therapists or perfect programs. So, give careful thought to what you really need from a church during this time in your life. If you have a supportive group and a therapist, you may not need a congregation to have recovery programming. It may be more important to have a place where you can experience grace-based worship and teaching.

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Addiction and BoredomPremium Content

When was the last time you said, “I’m bored”, and when was the last time you used drugs because of it?

Everyone gets bored sometimes; it’s only natural. But let me tell you something about boredom, and the dangerous apathy that creeps into the minds of men. Man is the only one of God’s creatures who is capable of being bored. No other living thing can ever be bored with itself or its environment.

Boredom is one of the sure ways to measure your own inner emptiness. Like mercury in a thermometer, it accurately measures just how hollow your inner spirit really is. Each person who is thoroughly bored is living in a vacuum, and nature requires that all vacuums be filled. Like “what goes up must come down”, it is one of the unfailing rules of the universe. But it is entirely up to us how the vacuum is to be filled.

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God Expects You To Be Better By Now (Resistance to Recovery)Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 2

(The third in a three part series on resistance to recovery.)

In the first of this series of articles I emphasized that the most difficult form of resistance to recovery is our own resistance. Recovery is not easy. It is a difficult process. Telling the truth, acknowledging our need, accepting help, making amends - these are some of the difficult tasks of recovery. It is understandable that we resist such a difficult process. In addition, recovery involves change. We have spent many years practicing our dysfunctional ways of living. The path of least resistance for us is to keep doing the same old things. Change is difficult and it is understandable that we resist it. In the second in this series of articles, I emphasized that in addition to our own internal resistance to recovery, recovery also often takes place in a hostile environment. For a variety of reasons, not everyone in our lives will welcome the changes which recovery brings.


Many of us, unfortunately, have experienced some distinctively Christian forms of resistance to recovery and it is this kind of resistance which I would like begin to discuss in this article.

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 2Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 3

In a previous article I discussed the most insensitive, intransigent and personally painful kind of resistance to recovery - our own resistance. We tend to be our own worst critics. We resist the changes most tenaciously. In most cases we fight it, reject it, hate it - probably more than anyone else.

It is often true, however, that the recovery journey takes us through territory that is either ambivalent towards or downright hostile to recovery. Recovering codependents, for example, may find that some people prefer the 'good old days' when they were more compliant and self-sacrificing. Unpleasant emotions, once medicated with addictive substances or processes, may be experienced as threats to relationships that have adapted over the years to the insanity of addiction. Some people in recovery experience hostility when they start telling the truth in social systems which have been committed to silence for generations. Other people experience shame and rejection when people are skeptical about or merely uncomfortable with the changes that recovery brings.

Recovery is about change and most of us will encounter resistance when change produces new and unfamiliar behaviors. It is not reasonable to expect that all of the changes which take place during recovery will be received with rejoicing as if they were 'answers to prayer'.

Resistance and Rejection
Most of the resistance we encounter in recovery will be personal and painful. Even when resistance comes in the form of intellectualized 'arguments' against recovery, it may feel like personal assault rather than dispassionate analysis. For example, suppose someone says: "You can't change the past, so you should focus on the positive." This may make some intellectual sense to you. It may 'ring true.' It might, indeed, be good advice at this particular stage of your recovery. But for many people it may also feel like a profound dismissal of their struggle towards sanity. The key to sorting out confusing stuff like this is not the truth or falsehood of "you should focus on the positive". What is critically important is the tone of voice in which you hear "you should focus on the positive". Is the tone practical and understanding? Or is it shaming and dismissing? Do I feel rejected as a person when I hear this?

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 1Premium Content

See: Part 2 | See: Part 3

Let's begin with the obvious. The most argumentative, tenacious, illogical and misguided criticism of recovery comes not from other people but from me. When it comes to my own recovery journey, I am the person who resists the most. Like many of us, I have always been my own worst critic. I can think of 50 reasons, easily, why my recovery is just a pop-psychology, navel-gazing, trusting-the-wisdom-of-men-instead-of-God, self-pity-party.

I do not need any external hostility to recovery in order to remind me of how I should be better by now, of how I should be able to just pray about it and trust God, or of how I should spend more time helping others rather than selfishly focused on my own needs. I have yet to find a criticism of recovery that I haven't already internalized in some way. I have recently finished reading a series of books highly critical of the recovery movement and there were few surprises for my personal Inner Board of Critics. This distinguished panel of Judges has left few stones unturned in criticizing my own recovery. I suppose there are some obvious reasons why we resist our own recovery so tenaciously. Let me mention just three.

Resistance to the Truth
First, of course, we experience denial as having such tangible benefits. Denial has a lot of appeal - it always seems like it's going to be less painful than facing the truth. I've gotten along so far without having to face this, why should I have to deal with it now? The truth, by contrast, always seems like the worst possible thing. So, we resist recovery because it is less appealing than denial. This is, of course, why few of us choose recovery just as a kind of personal enrichment activity - most of us don't begin the recovery journey until our pain becomes so intense that we are forced to take measures that in ordinary circumstances we would resist if at all possible.

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