Saturday, April 5, 2008

Is God at Fault for Not Giving Me Abstinence?

A woman says struggling for abstinence says, "I just seem to be struggling so much and this morning my mind kept wondering if I was confused about the program. I keep thinking that I truly believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity and I thought I had turned my life and will over to that HP."

My response would be, "Your questions, of course, are tough to answer, but I'll try. First, let me say don't give up. Give the steps a chance. Each week do your work on the WTS, and keep it up. You can't control your food, but God can. That's too simple, though, so let me just work through your comments then add some of my own.

"I just seem to be struggling so much and this morning my mind kept wondering if I was confused about the program. I keep thinking that I truly believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity and I thought I had turned my life and will over to that HP."

"I think you've got steps one and two done, though I do want you to read chapter 4 of the AA Big Book, 'We Agnostics.' Don't let the name throw you off. It's not valuable only to agnostics, but it's absolutely the best description I've ever seen of who God is and how he relates to us. So read it, and stop and answer the questions that it asks."

"The problem becomes I keep thinking that when I ask God for help I'm not receiving that help. Does it then become God's responsibility that I cannot control my eating? Have I not truly surrendered myself to God? Am I asking and praying for help in the wrong way? If I truly surrender to God should it then become easy to say 'No' to my cravings?"

"There are plenty of people who try hard in OA for a good while without finding abstinence. But if they keep coming back with an open mind and, more important, an open heart or if they're just WILLING to have and open mind and an open heart, then eventually the find the magic of the program.

"I'd like you to click on this link, which downloads an audio file, and listen to it. The part I'm thinking about particularly is near the end of the tape, but it's a fun tape to hear, and it won't hurt anything.

What it's going to say is don't ask God to DO anything. That's your taking over the direction, the steering wheel. You're trying to make the mistake of that old bumper sticker, "God is my co-pilot." That's NOT the way it should go. He deserves to be in the drivers seat. What you pray in the 3rd step prayer is this:

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!"

THEN it says: (ironically)

We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.

But look at the prayer. You're not telling him to do anything. You're offering yourself to HIS control. He can do what he wants--build with you, do as he pleases. You don't ask to be removed from the bondage of food but from the bondage of SELF. that means get the heck out of the way. You ask him to take away your difficulties, yes, but why? SO IT HELPS OTHER PEOPLE! All you specifically ask is "May I do your will always."

The 7th step prayer says:

When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen."

You are there asking that he take away your defects of character, whether they be overeating or over-TV-ing. But way? He's to take away those character defects which stand in the way of your usefulness to him and other people. You do ask for strength for yourself---to do HIS bidding. Not to control you food, but to do what you know he wants you to do.

When we get to the 11th step, our daily prayer is...

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought- life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

When Bill W wrote the AA 12 and 12 he got even more specific. Read it on page 102. He says lots of good stuff, including this sentences: "Our immediate temptation will be to ask for specific solutions to specific problems, and for the ability to help other people as we have already thought they should be helped. In that case, we are asking God to do it our way." He says all we need do is ask for the knowledge of God's will and the grace by which we may carry it out."

Grace. That word. unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b: a virtue coming from God c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

A free gift. Gift. Not wages, a gift.

Ask to know God's will for your life and to be given the power to carry it out. Don't worry about the food. Now, don't take control and eat what you want to. Follow to the best of your ability knowing you do not have the ability the course of conduct you believe God's leading you in. And listen constantly in case you're wrong. And the abstinence will come. Promise.