Sunday, September 28, 2008

Salvation is home?

Reading this morning from the stories in the Big Book, I found this wonderful quote:
There is another meaning for the Hebrew word that in the King James version of the Bible is translated "salvation." It is: "to come home." I had found my salvation. I wasn't alone anymore. (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th edition, page 206)
What a two week marathon I've had! I took my "home" with me in the form of literature and the constant presence of God, my new affirmation and prayer being simply, "I trust you." But now I'm physically home and with no unusual meetings scheduled this week, just sitting here dog and laptop in my lap, ready to get dressed and get to church. But I'm home, safe, saved, content, serene. And it's time to clean house. Those bushes outside, the patio, the cobwebs around the garage entrance... Yes, but more than that back to step work and diligently working on growing in this marvelous program.

Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

An ordinary day.

Consider Luke 9:23.

Take up your cross daily. And follow Jesus. 

Can you get bored carrying a cross? Sometimes it's exhilarating, being with the Master in the midst of adoring crowds. Sometimes it's terrifying. Sometimes it's wearying. Sometimes it's just plain heavy. And boring. Day after day after day. And we of the addictive personalities don't enjoy boredom. After Step Eleven the Big Book predicts:  
We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.
Some of that sounds very good--less fear, less anger, less worry, relief from self-pity and the self-loathing that follows foolish decisions. But it starts out with excitement. Do we really want to be free of excitement? Isn't freedom from excitement boredom?

It's been a good week. I've been busy. VERY busy. In non-job related situations I've spoken in public eight times, to audiences probably averaging more than 30 people, and on four totally unrelated subjects with audiences from 5th graders to writers to Toastmasters. I've been featured in the local paper twice and my name mentioned several more times. How can I be sitting here writing about boredom? Well, the week is over. I'm through, with no such outside-the-norm events scheduled next week. And looking at a week of less excitement. 

Excitement: A feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness. Take it another level, and the definition of enthusiasm comes back to eagerness. And that says wanting to have or do something very much. And that sounds like addictive behavior to me. Let's see what else the Big Book promises as a result of living the life the steps direct:
  • amazed
  • new freedom
  • new happiness
  • feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear
  • our attitude and outlook will change
  • other pretty fun stuff. 
Sounds good. And not boring. Maybe the opposite of excitement isn't boring. 

Look at that quote from after Step Eleven. It doesn't stop with no more excitement. It says we're not so easily tired because we're not wasting energy worrying about staging our lives. You know what no more excitement means? It means energy. It means being energized, not being bored. Okay. I can deal with that. And I'm ready. I was feeling pretty tired, but it's gone. I'm not excited any more.... Oops. I'm not bored any more.

Thank God!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Consider Proverbs 23:7.

As I traveled the other day, I listened to Chuck C, the tapes from which the book A New Pair of Glasses was compiled. He said, "We think and ourselves become that which we think about." I realized the truth inherent in the statement--and that he was far from the first to have said it. King James Version says, "For as he thinketh in his heart so is he." 

I've struggled with the concept of "recovered" or "recovering" or simply, "I'm a compulsive overeater." I've shied away from "recovering" and would feel like a fraud to use recovered, but I'm well aware the Big Book says they're 100 "recovered" alcoholics. I still protest alcohol has to be easier to recover from than food, but that's part of what I'm talking about, the point I'm aiming at (and not hitting very well it seems.) But am I reinforcing failure by saying I'm a compulsive overeater? Does the suggestion or assertion of saying I'm recovering become a self-fulfilling prophecy? I know this program isn't about mind games. But I also know I can use mind games to cripple the program, and I think I'm doing that. 

I once got license plates that could have caused officers to be more diffident about enforcing speeding violations. I found they worked. I didn't drive that fast with the fact I was an official proclaimed on my license plates. They did become a good way to keep from getting tickets--because my behavior justified it. (I'd gotten only one in 40+ years of driving at the time, so it wasn't really a huge issue.) 

Another AA speaker, Patti O, says, "Rationalization, justification, and denial. When I'm explaining it to you, I'm hearing it, and when I'm hearing it I'm believing it." So, does it work the right way as well as the wrong way? We'll see. Hello, I'm OAStepper and I'm a recovering compulsive overeater.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Self Serving is Not Selfish

Consider Matthew 7:3-5.

My Mac computer's internal dictionary defines self-serving thus:
Having concern for one's own welfare and interests before those of others : public accountability is replaced by self-serving propaganda
While the definition doesn't shout disapproval, the exemplar of use certainly does. We almost mentally equate self-serving and hypocritical. Or at least I do. That's the disease, my putting my thoughts in your mind. Sorry. But Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount wasn't saying not to talk to the fellow about the grain of sand in his eye; he just said see to yourself first, heal thyself! That was a proverb in Jesus' time, one he knew and quoted, because he figured the people there in Capernaum were thinking it. Unlike me, though, Jesus didn't need to heal himself first. I do.

We do. Look at the Twelfth Step. "Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps...." We can't give it away if we don't have it. Chapter 8 says:
It is not the matter of giving that is in question, but when and how to give. That often makes the difference between failure and success.... Some of us have taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job -- wife or no wife -- we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God.

Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house. (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 98)
Clean house? That doesn't mean cleaning somebody else's house. It means we clean our own. In a 1966 letter Bill W says:
Well, any theologian will tell you that the salvation of his own soul is the highest vocation that a man can have. Without salvation -- however we may define this -- he will have little or nothing. For us of A.A., there is even more urgency....
We are of no value to anyone, including ourselves, until we find salvation from alcohol. Therefore, our own recovery and spiritual growth have to come first -- a right and necessary kind of self-concern. (As Bill Sees It, page 81)  
But I'm supposed to give service. We're told anytime anybody asks us to do something in program the answer should be yes. Yes. I'm supposed to give service. It's a basic premise of the program, that the way I keep my recovery is by giving it away. But even more basic than that premise are those that say I admit powerlessness, believe God can restore me to sanity, decide to ask him for sanity, look at my life, my character, my patterns of behavior, admit those to another, become ready to change that character where it's defective, ask for the change, identify others I've hurt and fix that then keep doing that and keep doing that and keep doing that AND do service. So yes, I'm supposed to give service. To myself first, then to my "fellows."

And I've given service to you and me both by reminding us of this basic truth I so often set aside because of some of those pesky character defects that make me want to please everybody else to my own detriment.