Monday, December 31, 2007

Prospective Retrospective

Happy New Year!
My habit is to write New Years Resolutions. Some I've kept. Many I recycle, putting them in the pot one more time, year after year. This year, there will be no resolutions. Oh, I do intend to improve in 2008. I lay claim to the promises! I've quoted those on pages 83-84 of the Big Book. This time I'll quote those in "A Vision for You."
God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven't got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.
Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. (AA Big Book, Page 164)
Resolutions imply I'm going to do something by will power and personal strength. I understand popular resolutions are:
  • lose weight
  • pay off debt
  • save money
  • get a better job
  • get fit
  • eat right
  • get a better education
  • drink less alcohol
  • quit smoking now
  • reduce stress overall
  • reduce stress at work
  • take a trip
  • volunteer to help others
Some of those things I want to happen in my life. I promise not to get in the way of those that need to happen. But for me to do it by my will power and determination? That's not going to happen. I know because they didn't happen in other years with all the umph I could give them. But with God's help, the ones that need to happen will happen in my life. That "with God's help" doesn't mean with God helping me. It means with God's help in getting me to remember to get out of his way so he can make them happen!

Fifty seven pounds in 2007. And I didn't do it. God did it. How good can it get? I have no idea. I'm looking forward to finding out, though. Thank God!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fat Cows, Skinny Cows

Consider Genesis 41:17-21.
Pharaoh dreamed of fourteen cows, seven fat and sleek and seven slender--gaunt. Now, Genesis calls the lean cows ugly and the fat ones sleek. And Peter Paul Rubens painted "Rubenesque" women, for their lovely plump figures. I was Rubenesque a hundred pounds ago, and I'll take this me, thank you.

Pharaoh's lean cows ate the fat ones and remained lean. The sages of Egypt couldn't figure out the dream. They were stumped. Why were cows eating cows, why didn't consuming the fat cow make the skinny one fat? It simply didn't make sense, and they couldn't devise any scenario in which it did.

The sages hadn't been to diet and calorie/weigh and pay organizations. They hadn't starved themselves to get rid of "sleekness." Nor did they have the benefit of OA and the twelve steps. If they had, they might have realized similar mysteries. You can live on few enough calories to damage your health and the weight stubbornly stays in place. But with a spiritual approach to the steps, you can eat full, satisfying meals, and amazingly the pounds slough off.

So, how do you get there? By surrendering. By turning off the analytical mind telling you the whole idea is absurd. By simply doing what you're told to do, whether it makes a whit of sense or not. By delving into your past to learn who you are and find your strengths while admitting and accepting your past. By letting God guide and following his lead without questioning.

When I was young Daddy would say, "When I say jump, you better jump and you can ask how high on the way up." That kind of obedience of our Heavenly Father can turn fat cows into slender ones and miserable cows into happy people. Promise.


Are you analytical? Is it possibly a character defect? Remember, all character defects have a good side as well. How can you turn your will and your actions over to God?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December 26. Relief.

It was a good Christmas, peaceful, pleasant. Yesterday I visited with both sons and both daughters-in-law and spent the day with extended family near home. But it was a delight to go home last night and fix a pot of turkey chili, my staple food, one I eat probably six to eight meals in a typical week. Having turkey chili didn't wipe out the fact I found myself sneaking into the kitchen for a crumb or a taste of this or that. It didn't mean I didn't realize all over again how addicted I really am, how harmful my "closet" eating is. But it was a good Christmas. And this is a GREAT day after Christmas, back at work, comfortable, unchallenged by omnipresent food.

I'll share a poem I wrote Monday night. It sounds depressed, but really, it isn't. Just realistic I think.

Christmas Eve
Why write a Christmas poem?
After two thousand years
the subject's saturated,
glorious songs by
Handel, Wesley, the bigs.
Besides, why me? I've
decked no tree these last few years.
Writing checks passes for giving
and keeps me out of malls.
It's Christmas Eve--I sit
with my computer. But earlier
I went to church, sang carols,
felt "in." And I care.
In a grinchy kind of way.
I'm thankful. For computer
peaceful nights, for people
I care enough to write
checks to. For an account
that doesn't cringe.
For God's love, as much tonight
as last night, last month, a week from
Tuesday. I'm glad earlier years
torn between competing parents
have passed, dissipated, ended.
I'm glad for hope for peace on
earth for me, for others, for
people who let go and let
God grant us glory. For the Word
that's God who gives us words.
For Grace. Thanks, God.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's 7:20 in the morning. We're dressed and ready to go when our 5 year old niece wakes. My boys and their wives are with their newer families. Excuse me. Christmas calls.

Merry Christmas!!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Consider Psalm 51

We compulsive eaters certainly understand the despair, the misery and hopelessness inherent in the psalmist's cry. We've cried it as well. "God help me!" In my case, the prayer that resulted in God's taking away my compulsive eating was simply talking aloud to God as I've done for years, saying, "This is stupid!" Whatever the cry, whatever the circumstances of our sin, whether we know exactly what they are or just have the vague notion that God doesn't hear us, we know the sentiment. That's what sin is, you know. Separation from God. And he didn't separate himself. We caused the rift. 

My misdoings aren't exciting, just devastating to my own sanity. I once considered a friend of mine, how he must feel about a situation which resulted in legal proceedings:

    I wish to God I could unknot the mesh
    that is my life, to rectify the sin
    constraining howls within my soul, confess
    the blackness haunting me from depths within.
    Would that the soul who huddles from the ghost
    of my misdeeds could grasp the peace I've lost,
    could find a haven, knowing countless hosts
    of demons foist repayment of all cost.
    For justice through a system made by man
    is travesty compared to that by guilt 
    repaid. And bitter might-have-beens will pan
    society's responses 'til they wilt.
    So lock the doors, confine this worthless soul
    for even full release won't make me whole.
The regrets, whether for legal felonies or moral turpitude obvious only from the inside, result in intolerable distance between us and God. What can we do to fix it? The psalmist suggested scrubbing with hyssop. What's that? It was used in biblical times for cleansing--the temple, and people with leprosy among other uses. And the hyssop branch lifted to Jesus on the cross carried vinegar for thirst. Scrubbing with hyssop or antibacterial disinfectant or lye or any other cleanser won't fix sin, no matter how much we may want a solution. 

It's not the cleansing with hyssop that makes us clean, nor can washing make us whiter than snow. It's the willingness to be cleansed, the acceptance of the washing done by God. Once that acquiescence happens, then God can create a clean heart in us and renew--or create--a steadfast spirit in us.

At that point, with joy and a willing spirit, we are able to move on to the twelfth step, to teach others in our situation, other "transgressors" God's way and turn other compulsive eaters to God and the joy will be passed on and on and on. Thank God!


How contrite are you? Have you received God's assurance of your acceptance? Are you passing on your joy and peace?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Human Doing

Consider Psalm 37, especially verses 3 through 7.

The meditation from The Recovery Group this morning says something about before recovery being a human doing, not a human being. Neat! And right to the point.

Today is December 22, Christmas Eve Eve Eve, my daughter-in-law says. "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him" is a Herculean task in the days of rush and purchase, cook, eat, wrap, eat, run back out for the forgotten present, trek back for wrapping paper, watch the weather, we need to leave now or we'll not get there. And it's an even tougher time for many compulsive eaters, whose solace in food has been denied them, perhaps by the miracle of it's being removed, and else by the commitment to another person to follow our food plan despite the additional pressures and temptations. Add to the omnipresence of our trigger foods the reunions and time spent with the people with whom we interacted to become the mixed up crazy individual who first walked through the doors of OA.

We're reminded, at times, that "Jesus is the reason for the season." Yet there's another reminder for compulsive eaters necessary on such stress-filled days, joyous though they may be. That is that God can and will remove the burden of stress. All we have to do is let go and let him take it. Sometimes it's a bit more complicated, since we've held on so tightly and for so long we have no idea what we're holding--so enter steps 4, 5, and 6. But simply the willingness to let God take "our difficulties" whether we understand or not will lead to peace and serenity, a state of being (not doing) exquisitely more beneficial to us--and to those around us--than anything we can become as a human doing.

On this day it's good to stop, think, and pray.
God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always! (AA Big Book, page 63)


Are you a human doing or a human being today?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I found myself looking for somebody else's words to help me write my words to a woman I sponsor. Instead I found words that cannot be matched, the words of Terry Heaton. The essay is entitled "How I know God loves me."

Taking Stock

Consider Deuteronomy 8:2-3.

Like the Hebrews, we compulsive overeaters would gripe about manna from heaven, but we'd gripe because there was too little, and we couldn't stash it away for "tomorrow." Besides, according to the best information available, it wasn't sweet enough for my taste.

What do you gripe about? Don't limit this to words coming from your mouth; what do you feel cheated about? What are your grudges?

And your thankfulness? What brings joy to your heart? What (and who) makes your life easier? Name your blessings.

You know, "they" say Heaven is like floating around on a cloud all day, playing a harp, a life devoid of deadlines, responsibilities, worries, and hurts. Peaceful, huh? For how many days would you like to engage in that bliss? Depending on the complexity of the harp and how long it takes to master that, I could make maybe six months, tops, more like one, really. Thirty days. Thirty months? Years? Decades? Millennia? OUCH!

Stress. Trouble. Adversity. Complications. Aggravation. Friction. Enigma. Impediment. Burden. Are these such bad words? A constant stream of them can be maddening, but a constant diet of manna and quail would get pretty darned tiring as well. Okay, okay. I'm sitting here with a computer, with all my needs met, with the money and ability to get most tangible things I might want. I can minimize the benefit of a life of ease. But isn't it all relative? I don't have the money a professional football player gets for a game. I can't sign multi-million dollar contracts for my acting, singing, or even my excellent writing skills. (Insert smiling emoticon here.) I have much more than many, but much less than others.

In John 14:27, Jesus says he leaves us peace, he gives us peace. He doesn't give us what the world gives us, but instead leaves us with the ability to claim untroubled hearts. How do we get the peace, claim the untroubled hearts? Look to the steps.

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. (AA Big Book, 83-84)


  • What are your wants? List them without thinking of the next two questions.

  • What are your blessings?

  • What are your needs?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Birthday, Me!

How many people blog on their first birthday? Well, probably most bloggers in recovery before the event occurs. Today is my first OA birthday. I'm going to take the occasion to say what it was like, what happened, and what's happening now.

Short answers: Ouch! Whoa! Whee!!!!!

I could close the post with some thanks, but you know I'm not going to.

My life had become unmanageable. I was powerless over food, computer games, procrastination, resentment, piles and piles of stuff to get around to, and hate. For the food I had tried:
  • Weight Watchers (3 or 4 times),
  • carb blockers,
  • amphetamines (way back when they were discouraged but still legal),
  • a metal pin in my ear at an acupuncture point I was supposed to massage when the urge to eat happened,
  • South Beach Diet,
  • a diet from Woman's World,
  • counting calories,
  • counting carbs,
  • Metabolic Research Center,
  • counseling (3 times, years at a time),
  • hypnotism,
  • motivational tapes,
  • new years resolutions,
  • goals for certain major events,
  • Weigh Down Diet,
  • lots of books, both directed at weight loss and at co-dependency and dealing with misogynists
  • partners in person and on the Internet, and
  • probably that many more things I can't come up with right now.

From October, 1996, through November, 1997, my "hell year," family medical and emotional crises brought me to my knees, and I decided to start taking better care of myself. I had an appointment once or more often weekly for an hour of stress relief, both physical and mental, and I seriously examined the possibility I might not live if I didn't reform. So I worked hard at reforming. I was taking Coumadin by the end of the year, which necessitated regular checkups, and of course you can't go into a doctor's office without being weighed. Part of my rehabilitation evidently was softening the edges of my pain with food, for in the spring of 1998, in the doctor's office, the scales yelled my weight at me in big bold numbers: 300. Ouch!

That scared me enough to let some of the tools work, and I got about 35 pounds off, probably more, but I maintained a 35 pound loss for the rest of the time, never getting (much) above 265. And never getting below 235, despite the best intentions and plenty of time to get ready for a formal wedding as the mother of the groom.

The third attempt at sorting through my psychoses (my term, not a clinical diagnosis) had been producing softening of my protective wall. The gift from my counselor of the book Overeaters Anonymous, 2nd edition, finally cracked through it. I read the whole book, thought it would be something I would look into after the busy holiday season, and plowed ahead. Until December 17, 2006.

I was driving to Sunday school where I'd been teaching the same class for more than 20 years. I stopped as was my routine, both Sundays and (with variations as to where and what but not if) weekdays, got my routine cup of cappuccino and a sweet roll. I got back in the car and, talking aloud to God which is my custom when alone, said "This is stupid." So, I threw it out, yes? No. I ate it all. But, had I known it would be the last, I would have held out for an apple fritter from AM Donuts and Croissants, not a greasy old convenience store sweet roll. That afternoon I Googled Overeaters Anonymous, found the OA site as well as The Recovery Group, and joined the Newcomers' loop in TRG. I found a wonderful food buddy in California and several other supportive OA members and started my recovery that day. It's now 10 AM, so it's about the hour of my last thoughtless bite as well.

Who starts weight loss a week and a day before Christmas? God. I didn't take another thoughtless bite, reporting what I ate daily, reading, learning, growing (and shrinking) through Christmas. But after one Christmas celebration with my family, I was back at my home where husband had been ill more than a month, working in the kitchen for his family's gathering the next day, and on December 24 I fell in my kitchen, injuring my left rotator cuff. Badly. I knew what I did because part of my hell year included severing the right rotator cuff in one fell swoop, that time not by falling but by sheer stress. I was hurt badly, but husband was in no shape to do anything to help. I could have driven to the emergency room, or gotten family members to help me, but I didn't. I toughed it out, even finishing my baking. The next day I got through the meal not eating anything I didn't think through first. I could have gone to the doctor on Tuesday, the 26th, but I was scheduled to leave the country on the 27th and I was afraid the doctor would say I couldn't go, so I didn't give him the opportunity. My husband remained sick enough he passed up the pre-paid trip to London, and I went with my son and daughter-in-law. I was separated from the on the plane, in an inside seat, and getting in and out of the seat was excruciatingly painful, but I got there, and we had a good time in London despite my pain. It was delightful to be with the kids on their first European trip. And every time I could find an Internet cafe, I emailed my OA buddies reporting back, telling them I'd allowed myself bread pudding, which was stupid because even then I knew it was one of those foods I should have on my trigger food lists, but I didn't go back for seconds at least, which I would have otherwise. And my husband and I had a favorite cafe in London where I knew I had to take the kids for tea and scones, and I ate them, but I reported back to the email team. And when I got back and weighed, early in January, I'd gone through Christmas and a week in London with no change in my weight. What a victory!

I didn't get to a fact to face meeting until January 24 because I had to change a standing appointment with my counselor to make time to go to the meeting, and I got my 30 day chip at that meeting. I remember their looking at me on the desire chip, hoping I'd take one, then the grins when I said I got the 30 day one. The group means so much to me. I look forward to Wednesday and the year chip. How can a little piece of plastic mean so much?

I've worked through the steps all the way, and I'm on my second time through, leisurely, working with the bunch of people I'm sponsoring. I've had two sponsors, one in Israel, and the other in my state though about 5 hours drive from home. They've both helped me as have the people I sponsor, my local face to face group, my friends from TRG, and my friends here. I readily tell people I'm in OA, and it's delightful to have people not recognizing me. The scales now start with a 1 instead of that awful 3. I used to wear 28's and now I'm wearing 14's. I lack another 50 pounds or so, but the weight isn't the big deal. The big deal is I have a life, a life that's large and marvelous, awesome! I'm pushing my comfort levels, discovering the talents I've worked to hide to keep from overshadowing people. I've been told for years, "I can't believe you do all the things you do" and that has embarrassed me tremendously. Now, finally, I'm DOING what they thought I was doing before, and I welcome the comment. I can't, either. And I'm not. God is. Thank GOD!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Well! Are You Proud of Yourself NOW?

Consider Galatians 6:2-5.

It's a familiar question, "Well! Are your proud of yourself now?" Actually, the expected answer seems usually to be "No." But does it have to be? Just what does pride in self mean?

Pride certainly runs with an obnoxious crowd, including vanity, conceit, vainglory, arrogance, and egotism. Yet sometimes it chums up with self-esteem. We compulsive overeaters, whose constant companion has been low self-esteem, can't very easily see that combination as bad. Still, just what does the word pride really mean? Perhaps pride is deep pleasure or satisfaction from your own achievements, or maybe it means the consciousness of one's own dignity, as in swallowing pride. 

Les Carter, author of Enough About You, Let's Talk About Me, observes:
Humility is the opposite of pride because it reflects a lack of self-preoccupation, a willingness to serve, an acknowledgement that we are limited in our ability to control other people and circumstances, and an understanding that we cannot demand favored treatment.
Humility we know about as we work Step 7, "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." Does this mean we have to approach Step 7 without the remnants of self esteem we may have preserved? Do we give up our dignity in this step? Do we have to believe we have no worth, no merit?

No. We do not give up our dignity, for we are God's children, and how dignified is that! We have worth, we have merit. And we have self-esteem. But pride? No, we don't have pride in ourselves by any of the definitions, for the best option of a definition for pride in ourselves is a feeling of deep pride or satisfaction derived from our own achievements. Hey, look back up there at step 1! We admitted we were powerless over food, and that our lives had become unmanageable. That means we realized we have nothing to be proud of, for we can't pull ourselves out of this muck. 

But pride? Oh, yes. We've got pride. We have the shield of Abraham, the fear of Isaac, the mighty one of Jacob. With the writer of Psalm 47, we see ourselves as the pride of Jacob, for whom God chose our inheritance and to whom he gives his love. 

When you're asked, "Are you proud of yourself now?" answer with awe and honor, "I'm proud of God who made me what I am now!"    


What does humility mean to you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Neither Life Nor Death!

Consider Romans 8:38-39.

Neither life nor death will separate me from God's love. I know. I've loved this passage for a long time, I've used it for theological arguments where mine is a minority position, I've rested in the firm conviction of salvation. My life or my death, it's in God's hands.

It doesn't say that! There's no limitation saying "Neither my life nor my death nor [lots of other stuff] will separate me from God's love!" What about the death of other people, those close to us we rue, regret, or blame on God, or those of our enemies, on whom we wish a quicker one. What about other peoples' lives?

Consider the passage in the Big Book about our directing the play.

Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits.

What usually happens? The show doesn't come off very well. He begins to think life doesn't treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. (AA Big Book pages 59-60)

I knew I tried to direct little things, when I occasionally thought about
this passage--one act plays, or even just scenes. What of epic dramas, though? That never occurred to me, but I'm absolutely guilty of that one, perhaps even more than the mini plays. I know best when people should bow out--die--or when God/Fate/Chance is too cruel in ripping a person out of the play too soon. Foolish me. I'm wrong.

My parents have lost their dignity and quality of life. After sixty-six years of marriage and more than ninety years, enough is enough. Let us remember them as they were! That's not my decision to make. It's God's, and he doesn't need my input. I know a lot of OA's consider suicide. While I never have, murder has crossed my mind and wishing people dead has dwelt there for long stretches. No more, with God's help. I'll leave that in his hands. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference! Amen, so be it!


How do you direct life's plays?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spiritual, not Religious

Consider Matthew Matthew 23:2-33

Religious history isn't pretty. Consider the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch burnings, the immoral lives of the clergy including the papacy, war in our own lives between protestants and Catholics in Ireland--these merely scratch the surface. Still, I am and will continue to be a member of the great organization that is the Body of Christ. I believe in the church, but oh, so much more I believe in the God and the Christ whose story and essence has been handed down through the centuries by organized religion.

Looking at the Big Book chapter "We Agnostics" I'm certainly NOT drawn by the title. On the other hand, the truth inherent in the message of "We Agnostics" brought to me more clearly and more personally the great principles of the Christian faith far better than sixty years of study, church membership, and teaching all the way from kindergartners to nonagenarians. OA pulled the information from my head and planted it firmly in my heart.

The third step principle asks, "Is God everything, or is he nothing?" If God is everything, which is the easy answer for Christians to voice, then NOTHING can stand between you and God. Nothing. Not your stubborn pride, not your ambition, not your husband, wife, father, son, mother, sister, brother or daughter. Patriotism has a huge role to play, but allegiance to your country cannot come between you and your God. The church has a huge role to play. But where does it fit when it comes to your relationship with God? The answer is the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR LIFE MUST be a closer relationship with God!

I'm a United Methodist. I find myself sponsoring other United Methodists, a Seventh Day Adventist, a Buddhist, a Jew, two Catholics, a Church of Christ, and several others. One had a problem on her resentment list with a doctrine of her church. The old me would have debated theology with her. The OA me was stymied. I prayed about it, then went to bed listening to mp3's from There Mark H. said, "The minute I put God in a box, I can’t know any more nor will I experience any more about him.... Please lay aside what you think you know." He quoted God as telling him, "Why do you keep telling people you understand me? Who do you think you are?"

"You shall have no gods before me." That includes organized religion. The church has a place, but it's not higher than your being open to what God tells you.


What is your relationship with the church? Can you listen to God for firsthand knowledge and not rely on the church to give it to you secondhand? What is the role of the church after you have established and continue to maintain your relationship with God?

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Permanent Response to Temporary Problems

In the 19th chapter of I Kings, Elijah, afraid, ran from the king's evil intentions. He wanted to live enough to flee danger, but after walking a day alone the desire to live that had sent him on the trip had vanished, and he prayed for his own death. He went to sleep, but an angel woke him, fed him, and led him into his life's work.

I've never considered suicide. Homicide? Yes. I've protected myself from succumbing to my anger by drafting a book showing my preferred method of committing murder, knowing that would be found if anybody looked into my motives and thoughts after the contemplated death. Still, I know many in this program who have contemplated suicide rather than homicide as a way out.

Today I went to the funeral of a talented personable 26-year-old professional who took her own life. Her work was redirecting troubled teens, kids I work with as well, though on a less personal basis. Sometimes, knowing a youngster is on suicide watch, I tell them they are loved, that suicide is a very permanent solution to temporary concerns and problems. I don't know if I've ever had any effect on them. I doubt the woman who died ever heard me say that to the kids, but another who's heard me often expressed the desire the conversation might have taken place. I wish it had, too, though I certainly don't expect she could have been stopped by my words. I feel compelled to write here, though, should the reader need the reassurance.

The neat part about OA is the people. No, not the neat part; an important neat part of OA is people like me and people like you, a family, a home. If you walk into the rooms of OA, you are loved there. And, through that experience, you can find you are loved by many others as well. Through the love of others, you can grow to love yourself. You are loved. I love you. God loves you. Please please, let OA people love you. 

The last three verses of Romans 8:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
NIV, Romans 8:37-39

Remember. You are loved.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mirror, Mirror--Don't Look at ME!

Consider James 1:23-25.

The fourth step takes courage. Looking in the mirror, either a physical reflection or a self-examination of our lives, sends rampant shivers for compulsive overeaters. We tend to be harsh on ourselves, but certainly not exclusively. We're mad at the world, and we've taken it and taken it and taken it for years. We want to scream with the character in the movie Network "I'm mad as H__ and I'm not going to take it anymore." Is it any wonder so many of us waltz through the first three steps, only to pause and start again? 123-oops-123-oops-123.

For some of us, our fourth step list of resentments spews out easily. Others stutter through and end with a short list. Ask those low resentment folks about fears or anger or people who have wronged them, though, and sometimes they, too, spew hurts.

Once the resentment list is made, the second part, writing why we resent that person, is easy. We could write pages about why this person, idea, or institution has earned our contempt. Moderation, though, marks the best course. Limit the pages to a pittance--less than 20 words each.

How our fourth step revelations emerge depends on our various ideas about life. We're so similar in many ways. We're low in self-esteem, though some express that by demanding attendion and respect while others deny they possess the human dignity for anybody to do anything for us. We feel we've been treated like doormats, some angrily trying to trip the next offender and others desparately trying to lie flat and still to facilitate the abuse. Still, as we work throught Step 4, we find ourselves face to face with ourselves.

What we face are our hurts, our wounds. What is wounded can be our self-esteem, our security, our ambitions, our personal relations, or our sex relations. For some of us, though, these tags feel wrong. None fit exactly. Fear? Oh, yes. That one fits. And fear can be described with the other words. Fear is our self-esteem threatened, our security lessened, our ambitions inhibited, our relations hindered. But how, exactly? Let's look at the words and what they mean.

Self-esteem confidence, dignity, morale, self-assurance, self-respect, self-satisfaction, worth
securitypeace of mind, feeling of safety, stability, certainty, happiness, confidence
ambitionsaspirations, desires, dreams, goals, hopes, wishes
personal/sex relationsDealings, communications, relationships, connections, contact, interaction

Finally, we face the real issue. Just how did all this happen through us? What did we do? We've focused always on the wrongs to us, which may have been horrendous. But we can't change the persons we resent. We can abandon ideas or institutions, but we continue to live with ourselves. Compulsive eaters know guilt and shame all too well. Some of it we've imposed on ourselves. Some, though, we've earned, and it's time to pry out the details so we can be healed. Do you know how you contributed? Maybe. If you don't, one way I've found helpful in leading people through this step is to ask them to step into the shoes of the resented person. Then they write about themselves from the other point of view. In the end, we see the whole picture, probably for the first time.

Is that awful? Maybe. Temporarily. But it's awe-full as well. It's a source of wonder, of release, of finally letting go. The Big Book says:
This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most Good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.

Like the woman brought before Jesus, our accusers drift away. Knowing all our frailties and faults, God loves us. He doesn't condemn you. Don't condemn yourself. Walk triumphantly through the arch to freedom.


Look at your fourth step. Do those parts you haven't tried yet. Finish those you played down. When you've finished, write what you've learned about yourself.

You are who you are, and you are a loved and valuable child of God. Love yourself.