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Did you know that love is a choice? We choose to love or not to love. It's that simple. But I believe the non-loving choice is not our "true selves." The non-loving self is absorbed in anger, judgment, resentment, and all kinds of things that we allow to control how we love.
We haven't let go of past hurts. These hurts control who we are and how we react to people around us. The bottle controls an alcoholic and a hurting person is controlled by resentment.
My husband used to tell me, “I love you, but I don’t love the disease.” What he meant was that he loved me for who I really was, not the alcoholic.
Gravy will spatter, babies will blubber,
Toddlers will plaster their hair with the butter,
Turkeys so tender, fit to be carved
And tossed to the masses assembled, starved,
Grandpa will nod by the end of the meal
Then jump when the elbow from Grandma wheels,
Mountains of taters and stuffing will flow,
Bellies all 'round will grow, grow, grow.
Pastries and pies will add to the craze,
Burping and slurping continue unfazed,
Unfettered gobbling will finally peak,
A sudden a sleepiness fall on the feast,
Tables abandoned, couches claimed,
Children and elders alike feeling chains,
Tethers that tryptophan wields on the peeps,
Hypnotic aminos, now sleep, sleep, sleep.
Deuteronomy 16:13-17 NIV
Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. Be joyful at your Feast--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. For seven days celebrate the Feast to the LORD your God at the place the LORD will choose. For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.
Though the above Scripture refers to the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Weeks, these are not what I was thinking about when I came before my Lord today. In fact, it was not even the Thanksgiving Holiday that so many of my American friends are celebrating today. Truly, it is Christmas ~ the Season that is on so many of our minds despite the fact that we do not celebrate its Eve for another month from today. Why am I thinking about this today? And why did I choose this Scripture on these Feasts to talk about Christmas?
1. We admitted that Thanksgiving and Christmas have a deeper meaning than drinking, drugging and overeating.
2. We came to believe that God, a power greater than ourselves, could help us see and celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
3. We came to believe that God could help us appreciate the joyfulness of the season as intended by Him.
4. We made a searching and thorough examination of our relationship with our addictions, obsessions and overindulgences during the holidays.
5. We admitted to God the exact nature of our addictive habits and overindulgences during holiday seasons past.
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. Mark 7:13
The holiday season is all about traditions. Families build their own, everything from the food to the decorations to the outings.
Traditions can be wonderful. However, seen through the prism of eating disorder rituals, they can be imprisoning.
"Rituals are both a tactic not to eat and also a piece of obsessionality associated with anorexia. When eating disorders are starting, people will try to make it look like they are eating by cutting things up and shifting food around on the plate so as to not draw attention to how little they are eating." Cynthia Bulik, PhD, eating disorder specialist at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
Traditions, rituals - it all represents the same unrealistic expectation: perfection, happiness and a sense of safety.
These rituals can be anything such as counting to a specific number how many times one chews his/her food before swallowing, meticulously counting calories or eating from the same bowl and spoon. There’s an exacting precision attached to keeping these behaviors - and a dreadful fear if one is unable to do so.
Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions. Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met.
At other times we simply don't know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common. Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin.
Here's a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialog gradually to a deeper level. Use them in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.
1. What's the best thing that's happened to you since last Christmas?
2. When was your best Christmas ever? Why?
For most Christians, this is a special time of joy and celebration. Yet, it can be an extremely difficult and stressful time for those who are just beginning to recover from addiction to alcohol and drugs. Spending Christmas in a shelter or residential recovery program is hard.
Here's a few simple thoughts that can make the experience a little more tolerable:
A. Remember the spiritual significance of the holiday
- This time of year is a major commercial event for America's retailers. It is also a time for special celebrations of family and goodwill. Still, we must remember that Jesus is the Reason for the Season . Above all else, we are celebrating God's sending of His only Son to be our Savior and Redeemer. Keeping Christmas as a spiritual celebration puts all of our other expectations for the holiday season in proper perspective.
B. Don't isolate
- The holidays can be the loneliest time of the year for the recovering addict. One one hand, we are reminded of all the relationships we've messed up. Some will spend Christmas haunted by memories loved ones and friends they've alienated with destructive and manipulative behavior. We know, too, if we want to keep our sobriety, we must avoid people who are still using alcohol and drugs. What's the solution? Take advantage of the new sober acquaintances God has brought your way. Reach out to those around you and use this holiday season s as a special opportunity to get to know them better.
"...and that's when I became a warrior!"
I recently caught this statement trending on social media. It's no surprise why it has caught on. With so much suffering in the world, taking on a fighting perspective can be empowering.
No matter what we've experienced in our lives, God has placed within each of us a warrior spirit. He knows full well of our challenges, setbacks, relapses, pain and loss. He also knows of our mighty purpose as well.
And it is precisely that reason why the warrior emerges. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." It's that kind of thing which attaches itself to our every breath. It's that thing which does not give up, no matter how many times we feel we cannot go on.
Whatever you have survived in your life - loss, trauma, addiction, abuse, extraordinary pain- God wants you to do something with it, in spite of it.
Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy. Proverbs 31:8-9
He wants to turn those ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:1-3).
But He doesn't stop there. He doesn't just want you to fight for fighting's sake. He wants to give you the Victory as well!
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
God wants you to experience overcoming that enemy. He didn't say it would be easy, instant or painless. But He has assured us that Victory is ours.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4
And that is often what awakens the warrior within us, often, without our own awareness. Some call it "instinct." But again, it's "that thing" which keeps going when everything and everyone else tells us to give up. It's God given.
And because it is God given,
There are many of us out there who have been bullied and abused.
Whether we've been beaten verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually by a family member, have been teased, thrown in lockers or picked last for teams as kids or, worst case scenario - all of the above - it certainly is a challenge to live through that, let alone, overcome it.
Many of us are underdogs, the forgotten, the least likely.
And that is precisely why one of the things that I love most about God is His viewpoint on that status. God's "M.O." is one of championing the underdog, encouraging him/her, and exalting/promoting that individual, not just in spite of the odds, but quite often, because of them.
Helen Keller once said: “The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it.”
Perspective plays a role in how we view our current physical, emotional, spiritual, and attitudinal situations. Is the sum total a barrier or an opportunity? Like a kaleidoscope, we can tweak the patterns of what we see, what we feel, how we respond via our perspective.
For Helen Keller she chose to see the human situation of suffering and seized every opportunity to overcome suffering. When we stop and think about it, overcoming is a lifetime decision. We can either wrap ourselves in a cloak of suffering to insure our self pity and woe is communicated clearly and heard by the masses, seeking sympathy with “poor me. No one knows the trouble I bear.” Or we can embrace an attitude of bravery in Christ—overcoming the suffering.
There are many tough, life-impacting decisions in our lives, but choosing to wallow in the mire of our pain and be satisfied with a life of self pity just doesn’t seem like a healthy life decision. In fact, that’s not why God created us.
First and foremost, God created us to have a personal loving relationship with Him. Hmmmm.... Based on my personal research, Bible study, and life experiences, this means a two-way relationship, including a:
-A relationship with God
-Freely inviting God into every aspect of your life.
No sloughing off here, because God wants every part of you in this relationship. Your mind, soul, spirit, body, and heart. Don’t hold back, or you’ll end up back at that pity party, and we don’t want that do we?
John 10:3-5 gives a relationship view for us to strive for: