Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Igor Ego

Consider Job 20:4-7

We admitted we were powerless over food, believed God could remove the insanity, decided to turn our lives and will over, inventoried, admitted, became willing, asked for defects to be removed, listed and made amends. We’re through. We’re not through.

A friend of mine wrote, “After 2½ months of abstinence I had just a bite of candy, one of those bite sized candy bas, and went many days. I pushed the recurring thought, “I can control this sugar” from my mind repeatedly. Well, soon I found I was binging on sugar. So I started over. I now have six days of abstinence. My boundary with sugar is no sugar at all.”

I know exactly how she feels. I quit computer games cold turkey September 1, turned it over to God, and realized the immense relief and new time formerly spent wallowing in spider sol, Sudoku, Yubotu, Tetris, the game of the moment. Mid-December, my computer having crashed and the reboot having virtually nothing on it but an Internet connection, I opened a game. Shortly after, I got a new computer, loaded it with programs and my projects, had plenty to do. And weeks passed again. But the last couple of weeks, itty-bit by sneak-a-peek, I’ve let insidious games sneak in as a way to “think about” the project at hand. And itty-bit by sneak-a-peek, they’ve robbed me of my time.

Ego has surfaced. Igor the Ego. Igor Ego. God, save me from my character defects. Again. Bill Wilson in a speech said, “Ego deflation at depth is today a cornerstone principle” of the twelve step program. Igor, prepare for deflation.

We overeaters have ego problems. They may or may not show from the outside to the causal observer. We can be (and often are) egomaniacs with inferiority complexes, but ego reigns before we come into recovery. And even when we rid ourselves of the parts of ego that come out as resentment, fear, wounded pride, and rage, it springs back again. “I can handle this.” “I don’t need to be that strict.” “Oh, for goodness sake, I’ve been good. I deserve this!”

Ego deflation happens when we need a new adjustment, a new infusion of humility and empathy. That takes restructuring over the long haul, not the quick fix we hope for when we come into the program. We need to build up the self that is the seat of God in our lives, to recognize we do deserve the very best—and stop settling for a piece of candy, a round of Sudoku, or a bite of birthday cake. We are still addicts, despite having worked the steps. But God willing and us keeping out of the way, we’re addicts in recovery.


What can you do today to fine tune your relationship with God? How has ego wiggled back into your life?

Monday, January 21, 2008

My Truth, Not Hers!

Consider Matthew 18:1-4 

I made a mistake. I promptly admitted it when called to my attention. She'd asked what could be done to stop such mistakes, and I reminded her I'd already asked for help in that area. The response back lacked a direct offer for help (one I would have had difficulty drumming up the humility to accept anyway) but gave suggestions for getting assistance. No rancor or recrimination came enclosed with the advice. Still, I sit here, chastised. I admitted my fault. The advice is sound. So why do I resent it so?

Forty years ago a teacher asked me to talk to my sister about being a disruption. I decided to quit my leadership role in the extracurricular activity he led, walked home to get the record book, and trudged back, a trip of less than half a mile total. He was not there when I returned, and I never resigned. I could bicker with my sister all I chose, could call her bossy and fight with her. An outsider had no such right!

Resentment. We inventory it, work through it, and find it right back there, smeared in our face. We've worked the steps. We know how to release the poison from our system. But can't I indulge it just a little longer?

Become as a little child. I'm like a child. I'm self-centered, egotistical, fiercely independent, wanting to do it myself!! Become as a little child. Jesus didn't want a childish temper-tantrum. So how do we get back to the kingdom of heaven, that oneness with God we accomplished through the first nine steps? Become as a little child. Whoever humbles himself….
God, grant me the humility 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 does a child's approach to life resemble the alignment with God we achieve through working the steps?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Send Leanness among the Fat

Therefore will the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness; and under his glory there shall be kindled a burning like the burning of fire. – Isaiah 10:16 (ASV) 

God will send leanness among his fat ones, and under his glory kindle a burning like that of fire. A prediction of OA? Probably not. But what an image!

We read in the forewords to Alcoholics Anonymous of the amazing growth of AA in the early years, half never drinking again, another quarter becoming non-drinkers in time. This doesn't happen in the OA I know. Still, for me and countless others, the recovery found in OA is well worth all the misery before if that misery enabled the surrender to such glorious recovery.  

I write with cold air around me, the thermostat set lower than my real comfort level, but I'm wrapped in warm clothing and an afghan. Outside cold reigns supreme and unchecked. My discomfort seems greater this year, but the knowledge it's caused in large part by a change in my metabolism and the lack of the blubber padding me for so many years makes tolerating the chill even enjoyable.

Inside me God's glory has kindled a burning like the burning of fire. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, told of his conversion experience:

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter to nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. - (John Wesley's Journal, May 24, 1738)

Strangely warmed, indeed. My heart's on fire with joy that God's in charge now, that my life finally has meaning and depth I could not have imagined before my "conversion experience" December 17, 2006.

In God's good plan, he sent leanness among his fat ones, including me! Thanks, God!



We tell of stories, what it was like, what happened, and what it's like now. Lest we forget, tell me. What was it like for you, what changed, what's it like now?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Thorns in the Garden

Consider Mark 10: 35-37, 41-45 (NIV)

The email conversation involved a mutual friend's insisting on her own way in meetings and writing scathing attacks on those who questioned her right to decide all matters in issue. "And this part bothers me. Never got it that she could be so threatened.   As we've mentioned before, she has a fine life of her own. Why would she be jealous???"

Why, indeed? Why did James and John (and in another gospel their mother) want favored treatment when they already were among the top tier, two who went when the select of the select were chosen to accompany the Christ. Greed raises its ugly head in such diverse situations! With our friend, financial security, wide recognition and influence in her chosen field, and success after success, might seem to be sufficient from the outside--or, in recovery, from the inside. Many of us in the rooms weren't always so quick to recognize our blessings either. We spent out lives craving more whether we had much or little, grappling up the ladder of success, more than willing to knock off competitors and companions to clear more room for ourselves at the top.

Our friend thrives on attention, craves it, demands it. Any room becomes filled with her presence from her entry (late and dramatic) to her exit, breathless to reach the next center stage. She's earned a permanent perch on my resentment list. I pray her off and she swoops back again. 

The Big Book tells us to do our own inventory, not that of any other person:

Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? Though a situation had not been entirely our fault, we tried to disregard the other person involved entirely. Where were we to blame? The inventory was ours, not the other man's. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 67)

Sometimes, though, looking at another's motivation can be a matter of finding not fault but forgiveness. If a person grew up in an abusive home, in poverty, or separated too early from the nurturing adults, of if later in life adversity seems to hone in on them for target practice, they may develop problems like those leading us to Overeaters Anonymous. Whatever the recovery needed, the person is sick, and we must see them as a prospect for recovery. Our message helps not just alcoholics and compulsive eaters but about a hundred other identified classifications of problems. We have a message of hope to spread. It doesn't have to be to strangers. If we simply love the people who seem frequently to be the thorns in our lives, we're working the 12th step just as surely as when we visit with a newcomer in a meeting. The message of hope is for everyone, no matter how obnoxious. You just might bring greater peace and serenity to your own life as well as the other's.


Who are the thorns in your life? Pray they have all the hope, peace, serenity, joy, self-esteem, success, and recognition you want for your own life. And love them off your resentment list as many times as it takes.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The God Kit

God, how can I turn my will and my life over to you?
How, God?
Mama said when sis drowned, just four years old,
you needed her more than we did.
Uncle Jess said that tsunami was your doing,
an Act of God he called it.
Preacher says you sent Jacky to Hell
cause he messed up and shot himself
to keep from going to prison.
I can't do that third step thing, God!

That makes sense.

Who said that? Where are you?

Who were you talking to?
I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob
—and David, Peter, Paul, Martin Luther, Mother Teresa….

Holy Shit!I mean Jesus Christ!

That too, in a circular kind of way.

Great God Almighty!

That works. I am who I am.

Wow! That's what you told Moses—
with a burning bush.Why don't I get a burning bush?

You started this conversation.
I didn't need to get your attention.

Oh. Yeah.
But you told him take off his shoes,
the Holy Ground bit.

You're not wearing shoes.
And the cultural meaning is gone, too.
These days I'd be more likely to
ask for clothes that cover.
But that's beside the point.

What point?

Like I said, you started the conversation.
I think the language is
"Made a decision to turn our will
and our lives over to the care of God
as we understood Him."

Oh. Yeah. I guess I was pretty smart aleck.
So, are you going to zap me?

Certainly not.
At least it's real, not just rote recitation.
You got my attention with your passion.
You care.
That means something.

Why did you need a four-year-old, then?

I need all my children,
but that doesn't mean I reach out and
pluck them from lives and families.
I would have chosen she have a long life,
that she experience more of the give and take
of being human.

But she died.
She died.

I know, and I felt your pain,
your parents',
I gave you all the comfort you could accept.

You could have closed the gate.

I'm not a puppeteer.
People have free will.
I watch, but I don't meddle.
I watch and sigh and hurt and wait for an invitation in.

Oh. And my griping was enough invitation?

Oh, yes. Anything real.
Anything thought and felt.

I'm honored.

Actually, I'm honored.
A real communication honors me.

Even gritching?

Even gritching.
So, what kind of God would you trust?

Oh, never mind. I can trust you.

You expect me to believe that?
You're not sure.

I've got to think about this.

There you go again.

What do you mean?

You don't find me by thinking.
You find me by knowing me,
by talking with me,
by walking with me.
Get out of your head and into your heart.

Okay. I'm talking with you.
I can't believe it, but I'm talking with you.

So, what kind of God would you trust?

One who knocks Jerry off his high horse and loves me.

Would you really trust that kind of God?

I guess not, I'd be afraid Jerry would start praying.

So, you want a God who loves you, what else?

How about one who makes me not react
when Jerry pushes my buttons.

That's doable.

Well, obviously I need a God with a sense of humor.
You're certainly that.

Yes. All the somber faces and resignation sadden me.

Well, I don't want you making me
do things like handing out pamphlets on street corners.

What else?

I'd like explanations with orders.
And respect my intelligence.
Don't treat me like a child.

Speaking of orders,
it sounds like you're doing that
rather than describing the God you want.

I don't want a God who sends people to Hell.

Tell me where the bible says that’s what I do.

Preacher says so.
Go to the source. What else?

Lead me gently. Don’t push.

I’m not a puppeteer.

Did you get pissed off at that Gideon guy,
not being able to figure out what you were telling him,
asking for proof? Three times!

Honest communication doesn’t anger me.

Sorry. Anger you. It’s not my usual vocabulary.

I know. What else?

Wise a…. Smart aleck.

Good choice.


Okay. What else?

Can I save some wishes for later?
Do I have to do it right now?

I’ll be here.

How many choices do I get?
Are you kind of like a buffet line?
I can pick and choose and
come back and get more or something different?

Maybe a buffet line is a poor analogy
for a compulsive eater.
How about a tool box?

Yeah. Can you take away my binging in buffet lines?

But guiding you away from that eating establishment
could come into play as well.

I guess I need a God who gives abstinence
and wipes out my cravings.
No more buffets.

I didn’t say that.
One day at a time.

One day at a time.
Every day?
I'll be here.
So. What kind of God would you trust enough to turn over you life and your will?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Your Father's Good Pleasure

Consider Luke 12:29-32 (KJV):

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

"The Father's good pleasure." Isn't that neat? Fear not! How great is that? God knows we think about food and drink obsessively. He knows we desperately want to be able to control how much and what kinds we stuff into our bodies. He knows our illness, that our willpower, so strong in so many aspects, vanishes with craving creating foods laid out before us. He knows we need control and can't beg, borrow or steal the discipline we need. It's not for sale at any price and it's as rare as the everybody-must-have widget on December 24.

So what does he say? Don't look for it. Don't worry. Fear not! First, last, and always seek the kingdom of God, that special place where his presence is omnipotent, omniscient, and obvious. Walk in the garden with God. Relax. Let go. Forget the world, forget the deadlines, forget the donuts and fudge by the office coffeepot. Charles Austin Miles (1868-1946) captured it:

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

You can't buy this peace. You'll never attain it by working for it. You don't earn it by being good and following all the rules. It's GRACE! It's divine love and protection granted freely by God. It's a favor for coming to the party! "For it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Wow!


When have you experienced God's grace?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Comfortable Abstinence

I tried to post this by email Sunday morning, and it didn't work, so I've cut and pasted it the "old fashioned" way.

Since Thursday I've been visiting my son and daughter-in-law. The occasion for the visit, by far my longest in their home to date, was my son's knee surgery. We arrived at the hospital before six Friday morning and stayed there until about 3:30. He is doing well, able to navigate around the house well, the biggest difficulty getting to his feet. He has a CPM machine to use six hours a day, two injections in his stomach twice a day, a breathing machine, leg exercises, and a bevy of pain and other medications, but he's doing well. Still, it's been a stressful weekend. My abstinence? Imperfect. But not for what I ate--for not getting in everything I needed to eat on my food plan.

My daughter-in-law was clipping coupons this morning and found one for Cold Stone Creamery. Pleased, she clipped it. I said I had intended to eat at the rather new Cold Stone Creamery in the town where I lived, but it wouldn't happen now. She said they were open on Sunday, and I answered it wasn't in my food plan. She and her mother discussed how wonderful Krispy Kreme donuts are when they're fresh. I never experienced that, know now I never will. And neither conversation even remotely triggered my longings. I found the weekend remarkable in the ease with which abstinence has become a way of life. What a difference in my life in every possible way! Wow!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fear Facing

I decided to start 2008 fearlessly. Using a method described by Clint H, first I listed everything I could think of I was afraid of.
  • I'm afraid of my husband's being mad.
  • I'm afraid of stopping doing things just because my husband will be mad
  • I'm afraid of my husband's controlling me.
  • I'm afraid I'll put my very best out before the world in the best possible venue and it will be ignored.
  • I'm afraid I'll succeed so much I don't know how to deal with it.
  • I'm afraid I'll fall off the "water wagon" and gain it all and more.
  • I'm afraid I'll be so successful I won't be able to tolerate my husband and his attitude and his eating.
  • I'm afraid I'll be exposed. I'm not sure what that means.
  • I'm afraid I'll be in the vise between what a nice girl does and what the emerging me needs/wants.
  • I'm afraid I'll die of boredom.

Now, I'm supposed to do a column with each of those and figure out the bottom line.

  • I'm afraid of my husband's being mad.
  • If my husband's mad, what happens?
  • he belittles me
  • If he belittles me I lose my confidence
  • if I lose my confidence I need affirmation from someone
  • the only one I can get affirmation from is my husband
  • If I make my husband mad, I'm a little child with nobody to guide me, care for me, protect me
  • if my husband's mad I'm on my own.
  • If I'm on my own I am responsible for guiding me, caring for me, protecting me
  • if I'm on my own I have to rely on God or me and I might not rely on God.
  • if my husband is mad I'm alone
Now to the second fear....
  • I'm afraid of stopping doing things that made my husband mad.
  • If I stop doing what makes my husband mad, I'm being who he thinks I am
  • if I stop doing what makes my husband mad, I'm nothing but his robot.
  • If I stop making my husband mad I'm nothing.
The pattern's getting pretty clear....
  • I'm afraid of my husband's controlling me.
  • If my husband doesn't control me I'm alone. 
Moving to other issues....
  • I'm afraid I'll put my very best out before the world in the best possible venue and it will be ignored.
  • I'm afraid I'm nothing.
And the opposite....
  • I'm afraid I'll succeed so much I don't know how to deal with it.
  • If I succeed I'll have crushed my husband and I won't be a nice girl and I'll be alone.
  • I'm afraid I'll fall off the "water wagon" and gain it all and more.
  • I won't be any better than my husband who lost weight and is gaining now.
  • but I won't be alone. I'll just be nothing.
  • I'm afraid I'll be so successful I won't be able to tolerate my husband and his attitude and his eating.
  • I won't be a nice girl and I'll be nothing and alone.
  • I'm afraid I'll be exposed. I'm not sure what that means.
  • Obviously it means nothing and alone.
  • I'm afraid I'll be in the vise between what a nice girl does and what Barbara needs/wants.
  • I'm afraid I'll die of boredom.
The last two are pretty obvious.

My fears are I'll be nothing and I'll be alone.

Now I need to go meditate and ask God to remove my fears. I ask God to remove my fears (nothing and alone) and to tell me what he wants me to be, to direct my attention to what he wants me to  be.

What follows are notes, going back and listening to the mp3 I was basing this on:
  • fear is volitional. self-reliance leads to fear.
  • my fears area always a lie, my ego's way of keeping me in familiar territory.

My meditation. I'm not good at meditation. In 2008 I will become good at it, if I can get me out of God's way for it to happen. This one went well.

I kept listening to the parade, wasn't far enough away, but I put my fingers in my ears and got in touch. 

I'm not sure I  feel free of fear, but the feelings lie, especially when I've spent so many years trying not to feel. I accept that the fears have been removed and that will become obvious in the days to come. The words as to what God wants me to be were "receptive" and "aware." The receptive goes with "nothing" and "aware" goes with alone. I think.


What are you afraid of?