Working the Steps: Step 8

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. ~ Step 8


In the previous steps we’ve been focusing on our own stuff. Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our dependency. Step 2 and Step 3: We came to believe in God and made a decision to turn our will and lives over to Him. Step 4 and Step 5: After taking a fearless moral inventory we admitted our wrongs to God, ourselves and to another person. Step 6 and Step 7: We became ready for God to remove our character defects. 

After all the searching and confessing it’s now time to take responsibility for our actions. Much like Step Four’s moral inventory, in Step 8 we will list all the persons we harmed when acting out in our addiction or dependency. In fact, using our inventory list can help us determine who belongs on our amends list.

Reliving past behaviors and looking honestly at how we have harmed others is hard work. But with God’s help we can recall the names and faces, making notes as thoroughly as possible we prayerfully examine each person and our relationship with them. 

Three categories to consider how we may have caused harm to others:

  1. Material Wrongs: Actions that affected an individual in a tangible way ( borrowing money not repaid, withholding money to gratify ourselves, damaging personal property, etc).
  2. Moral Wrongs: Inappropriate behavior in a moral or ethical action or conduct (setting bad example for children, infidelity, broken promises, verbal abuse, lying, etc.).
  3. Spiritual Wrongs: Neglecting our obligations to God, ourselves, our family, or community (avoiding self-development such as health, education, recreation, being inattentive to others in our lives)
Step 8 prepares us to continue the work of making amends. After making our list we are ready to ask God to give us the willingness to make those amends. As God helps us work these steps we will have the strength and the tools to heal our broken relationships. 

Do to others as you would have them do to you. ~ Luke 6:31

Take this journey Step by Step with @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM


Resource:
The Twelve Steps for Christians.

Coming in August on Reaching Hurting Women!

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WORKING THE STEPS :: Step 8


Throughout the previous steps we’ve been dealing with our own stuff. In Step 8 it’s time to grow up, consider others and take responsibility for our actions like a mature person.


BOOK REVIEW :: 

Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn 


Ten decisions that will transform your life and ten lies that can prevent you from making them.








Virtues ~n~ Vices :: RESPECT  


At the heart of all relationships lies the issue of respect. But if we don’t respect ourselves first we can’t and won’t respect others.







HEALING HURTS :: Self-Hatred

Self-hatred takes on many forms… From drug and alcohol abuse all the way to the most serious problem of cutting. As with all sin, self-destruction has escalated over time. How can we get past the need to inflict pain to feel alive? 








Removing The Mask

Who are we underneath the masks we wear? Do we dare to look? The truth may be painful but with Truth comes healing.  











Look for these articles each Wednesday in August on Reaching Hurting Women!




Healing Hurts :: Creating a Healthy Self-Image

self-image:: noun 

1. the idea, conception or mental image one has of oneself;

2. a mental picture that depicts how we believe others see us (height, weight, hair color, gender, etc.); 

3. things learned by us about ourselves from personal experience or by internalizing the judgments of others.


Basically how do we answer this question:  

What do I believe people think about me?


Many women, including myself, struggle with their self-image. Self-image can be about our body image or our self-esteem, either way they are both related. If we have a low self-esteem it will affect how we see our body image. If we have a poor body image we probably have a low self-esteem. Because they are so closely related, by working on one we help both.


As I was preparing this column the research material seemed to go on and on… blog columns galore, endless books and YouTube videos. It was overwhelming and shows how rampant the problem is not only in the world at large but in the Christian church, too.

Here are some shocking female body image statistics:

  • 7 out of 10 women get depressed and angry when looking at thin female fashion models.
  • 2 out of 5 women would give up 3-5 years of their life if they could reach their goal weight.
  • In the U.S. approximately 7 million girls and women experience eating disorders.
  • 51% of girls between 9-10 yrs old say they feel better about themselves when dieting.
  • 80% of women when asked are dissatisfied with their own appearance.
  • 88% of girls admitted they feel a need to “look perfect.”
  • Young girls are more afraid of getting fat than nuclear war, cancer or losing their parents.

Culture Beauty Standards Then and Now

  • In 1917 the “perfect” woman was 5’4″ and weighed 140 pounds.
  • Today’s average fashion model is 5’11” and weighs 115 pounds.
  • Beauties of yesteryear like Marilyn Monroe would be considered fat by today’s standards.
  • Today the average American woman is 5″4 and 140 lbs

Poor self-image can be the result of many things:

  • Criticisms – Accumulated through childhood from parents or peers.
  • Personality type – Type A personalities are prone to perfectionism and over achieving. 
  • Media influence – Television, magazines, billboards, Internet all push the “perfect look.”

The technical term for self-image used by psychologists is “self-schema.” A schema by definition is a diagram, plan, conceptual framework, or underlying structure. If our schema, our underlying structure is built on what we believe the opinion others have of us, what a shaky foundation that is!  



Is their hope for change? As with most struggles the first things we must check is our inputs.


What ‘s influencing our relationships, our lifestyle, our relationship with God?


What’s holding our framework together today? The opinions of others or the Truth of God’s Word? 

Are we maintaining our self-image at the cost of putting others down in our mind?

What image are we projecting, the happy mask or the reality of who God made us to be.



If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself! I challenge you to take note of every negative or anxious thought you have about your body over the course of one full day. You may be shocked at how mean you are to yourself. Stop the meanness! You deserve better than that. 

Let my words and my thoughts be pleasing to You, Lord, because You are my mighty rock and my protector. ~ Psalm 19:14 CEV


To reprogram our minds we must replace old thoughts with new ones. Take the anxious negative thoughts you have about yourself and turn them around. Create a series of affirmations and resolve to use them throughout the day. Print them on 3 x 5 cards and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Read them out loud with enthusiasm and positive emotions. I know it’s hard, believe me. But you can do it, and with practice it gets easier and easier! Here are a few that have helped me over the years:
  • I like myself!
  • I am a positive person and I have a positive life.
  • I am loved by others, valuable, smart and creative.


Remember, God doesn’t make junk! When He created man and woman God said, “It is good.” When we put ourselves down or wish we looked differently we are insulting the Creator of this universe. He made us the way we are for a reason. If we all looked the same what a boring world it would be! 


How to Love The Body You Have Today

  1. Silence your inner “mean girl!”
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  3. Celebrate your body for the marvelous things it can do.
  4. Stop weighing yourself. Focus on how your clothes fit and how you feel.
  5. Surround yourself with people who have healthy relationships with their bodies.
  6. Nurture your inner self with bubble baths, massages, prayer, meditation, inspirational reading.


Watch this powerful video with music by The Barlow Girls.  http://youtu.be/jHjAjjcKm2k 

Resources:
Wikipedia
EzineArticles.com
Christianity.com
CHReader.org

VIRTUES & VICES: 6 Steps to Humility




These last few months I’ve been reading books written by revered monks in Christendom: Saint Augustine of Hippo, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint Benedict of Nursia, Saint Thomas Aquinas, along with modern Christian mystics Thomas Merton and C. S. Lewis to name a few. I’ve learned that no matter what century people live in, they have the same personal issues and temptations we have today and those start and end with pride and humility.


VIRTUE: excellence of character that helps us live well as human beings; holy habits.


humility: noun 

1. the modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance.


Humility is ultimately about our struggle to be fully human; to be rooted in our earthly self vs. deceived by our prideful false self.  


This becomes clear when we look at the origin of the word humble. The root is the Latin word humus, which means “soil” or “earth.” From this follows the practical definition: to be humble is to be down-to-earth. This root connects humility to humanity because to be human is to be made from the humus. After all God created the first man from earth. 

When we examine relationships gone wrong, we usually find a lack of humility or an excess of pride at the root of the problems.

VICE: corruptive habits that undermine our character and ability to live well.

pride: noun

1. an inflated sense of one’s personal status; the love of one’s own excellence.


Pride seen as the original sin is really the root of all vice. If we let it take hold, pride can get us in a world of trouble. 


Pride wants to be “number one,” head of the class, superior to others. Climbing over others in our ambition, we’re often acting out in greed, wrath, lust or other vices. Pride can also be a false front designed to protect an undervalued self.

How can we replace pride with humility?


Like most things connected to the inner workings of our heart, humility isn’t something we can make happen on our own; it’s a process that takes time and must start with God. Here are a few things I’ve learned to help us get started…

  1. Center Our Lives on God: By recognizing God’s presence in our lives and accepting His will, we learn our place in the universe and can embrace awareness.
  2. Find Power in Weakness: Appreciating others in the universe and learning from their wisdom and gifts, we find spiritual direction and gain strength to persevere.
  3. Shed False Images: Acknowledging our faults and living simply, we’re free to drop the masks and ignore the social pressures of consumption and indebtedness.
  4. Bond Our Relationships: Once we stop pretending to be what we’re not, we find the freedom to accept ourselves and others as well; creating harmony in our relationships.
  5. Quiet the Noise: Silence enables us to hear the noise within, brings us face to face with ourselves, tempers our arrogance and makes us kinder to others.
  6. Live in God’s Presence: A gentle presence brings a sense of the sacred to life. When we walk with God others are able to experience our serenity. 

As you can see, humility begins and ends with God at the center of our lives. Unless and until we have His presence present we will be miserable within and without. Humility seems like a simple thing because it’s a common word. Though simple it’s not easy, but so very important to our world.

“Humility connects us to the world and makes the world connected, a good and gracious space. Humility calms us and and calms others. It inspires, assures, enriches and enables. Humility gifts us with happiness and graces the world with peace.” ~ Joan D. Chittister 



God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) When Christ came He brought grace. So the humble person who knows the Truth will be given grace. Grace is also another word for favor or reward. Here are a few rewards for our humility:

Wisdom: Humility gives us the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom.

Wealth and Honor: The humble person has God’s favor which often means wealth and honor. 
Long Life: A humble person is teachable and more willing to live a healthy lifestyle.

As we listen to The Maranatha Singers http://youtu.be/sU8MAQKSbEI let’s ask God to reveal what’s keeping us from being the humble person He wants us be. 



Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up in honor. ~ James 4:10 NLT

Resources:
Christian Virtue by Patty Woodmansee
Virtue and Vice: A Dictionary of the Good Life by C. S. Lewis
The Heart of Virtue by Donald DeMarco
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
The Rule of Saint Benedict by St. Benedict edited by Thomas Fry
The Greatest Virtue: The Secret to Living in Happiness and Success by Pat Robertson
Biblical Counseling Keys: Pride and Humility – The Prescription for “I” Strain  by June Hunt
Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humility  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pride 

Photo Courtesy 123rf.com

BOOK REVIEW :: Feminism: Mystique or Mistake? by Diane Passno

Feminism: Mystique or Mistake? (Renewing the Heart)      

FEMINISM: Mystique or Mistake?
by Diane Passno
Tyndale House Publishers 2000

After all the book reviews I’ve done, this will be my first negative. I’m not sure if it’s my past life as a liberal addict that’s affecting my opinion, but for some reason I didn’t get a lot out of this book.

I ordered Feminism: Mystique or Mistake to aid my research on self-image and identity, which is a struggle for many women. While it did address things related to those issues, there was too many stories and not enough life-changing information to suit me.

Although I agree with much of what Ms. Passno writes, her book didn’t hold my interest. Honestly, I was quite disappointed especially since I had already announced an upcoming blog review. 


Oh well, I guess you can’t like all books, even if they are written from a Christian perspective.

Working the Steps: Step 7

Step Seven:  We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.



Step Seven is critical to the cleansing process and prepares us for the next stages of recovery. In the first six steps we became aware of our problems, looked at ourselves honestly, revealed hidden parts of ourselves, and became ready to change.




Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove the hidden areas that need changing.If you’re anything like me, your list is long and painful to reflect on. That pain may bring us to our knees, but what better place to begin with the Lord than in prayer.


If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. ~ 1 John 1:9

Don’t hold anything back. It’s only in surrendering everything to God that we will find healing and freedom. With our inventory list in hand, we prayerfully give each item to God. This is the painful beginning we must experience to reach the peace and joy we seek.
The list of shortcomings may cause us to dwell on our self. Meditating on Christ’s presence in our life helps change our state of mind. Soon we begin to care more for others and put our self in proper perspective. As we accept who we are today we find joy in becoming the person God wants us to be in the future.
To humble ourselves we must see ourselves as God see us. This can be difficult when our entire life has been spent seeing our self as a worthless piece of dirt. By reading and meditating on God’s word regularly we will find the value God sees in us and His plan for our life.
It takes faith and courage to ask God to remove our shortcomings. We must trust that God hears us when we pray and believe He wants to answer us. We may not feel or sense an immediate change, but in thankful expectancy we go forward confessing that God has heard our request and has begun the change in us. In time change will manifest itself visibly.
Empty of self, surrendering to God’s will and serving others; we fulfill His plan for our life.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. — Psalm 51:10-12

Find strength to work with our theme song video by @Bryan_Duncan http://youtu.be/swNgb9ya6WM

Resources:
Life Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Follow The Solid Rock Road: Pathway to Radical Recovery by Jamee Rae Pineda and Sherry Colby
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice by Rami Shapiro

Coming in July from Reaching Hurting Women!

————————————————————————————————————-

Working the Steps :: Step 7

In the first six steps we admitted powerlessness over our dependencies, turned our life over to God, looked honestly at ourselves, revealed hidden weaknesses, and became ready to change. Step Seven is the opportunity for God to remove our weaknesses. 




Feminism: Mystique or Mistake? (Renewing the Heart)

BOOK REVIEW: 


Feminism: Mystique or Mistake?

by Diane Passno


A candid look at today’s feminist movement and how it has affected every level of society.


                                                                                  



Virtues ~n~ Vices :: HUMILITY

Next to love, humility is one of the most important virtues. Without humility it’s impossible for us to grow, simply because we don’t think we need to!






Healing Hurts :: Damaged Self-Image

What do you base your self-image on? Media influence, peer pressure, latest fashion trends? I think it’s safe to say most women struggle with their self-image. Let’s confront this battle head on and find answers that will lead to healing.







Look for these articles punctuated by beautiful music each week in July! 


Blessings… Tamara

HEALING HURTS :: 7 Truths to Overcome Inadequacy

Inadequacy, Inferiority, Low Self-esteem, Poor Self-worth, Self-loathing… 

These and other related emotional issues are prevalent in our society today not just among young girls, tweens and adolescents, but women of all ages from all walks of life.


Feelings of inadequacy usually have their roots in childhood hurts and wounds, a dysfunctional family environment, emotionally abusive parents, critical or shaming authority figures, and cruel peers.


The media and culture has created unattainable standards of beauty, power, wealth and fame that also trigger feelings of inadequacy. Even though we’re healthy and have all our basic needs met, we obsess over our body, clothes, job, and possessions, worried that they don’t measure up.
Inadequacy causes us to drift along in life with no purpose or meaning. We build our lives on philosophy, self-reliance, human morality, ethics, wealth, power, or self-interest and find ourselves on a shaky foundation with nothing of substance holding us up.

Do you struggle with inadequacy, low self-worth, inferiority? Are you…

  • Self-critical
  • Fearful of failure and avoid taking risks
  • Desperate for approval from others
  • Unable to set boundaries
  • Ashamed of your background
  • Unhappy with personal appearance and achievements
  • Constantly comparing yourself to others

How can we get off this treadmill of torture, depression and despair?

Overcome self-defeating statements, acquire a positive self-image and learn to value yourself as God does. 

Read aloud and receive the following 7 truths about yourself:

  1. I accept God’s Word that I am created in His image. (Genesis 1:27)
  2. I accept myself as being acceptable to Christ. (Romans 15:7)
  3. I accept what I cannot change about myself. (Romans 9:20-21)
  4. I accept the fact that I will make mistakes. (Philippians 3:12-14)
  5. I accept criticism and the responsibility for failure. (Psalm 32:5)
  6. I accept that I will not be liked or loved by everyone. (John 15:18,20)
  7. I accept the unchangeable circumstances in my life. (Philippians 4:11)

Looking at life through eternal lenses changes our whole outlook. Seeing God’s purpose and plan in all things daily can help us accept who and where we are, to be more stable in the now – for the future.  

The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, his treasured possession. ~ Deuteronomy 7:6

In 2005, fresh out of addiction and feeling completely unworthy of God’s love, I was blown away with the revelation that I Am A Friend Of God. This is still one of my favorite worship songs. I hope you enjoy this music video by @IsraelHoughton as you soak up God’s love for you! Blessings! http://youtu.be/ZXFi6lUUz5s



Resources:
Biblical Counseling Keys: Self-Worth by June Hunt www.HopeForTheHeart.org
Life Recovery Bible
www.bible.org

Virtues ~n~ Vices :: GRATITUDE

Virtue: a valued principle of good moral behavior; a holy habit.


Vice: a practice of wrongdoing, corruption of virtue; an unholy habit.

GRATITUDE: the gracious response to a kindness performed or gift given. 


ENTITLEMENT: the state of being entitled; believing one deserves certain privileges.


We don’t hear much talk about gratitude unless it’s near Thanksgiving, then it’s an expected topic. What does it say about our culture, when gratitude is only discussed once a year?

On the other hand, entitlement is rampant, in conversation or not, it’s everywhere… big corporations expecting the government to save them from consequences of poor management, individuals filing for bankruptcy to avoid paying off debt, single mom’s having multiple babies to get more government subsidies, students expecting new cars at 16 and full college tuition from their in debt and over-worked parents.

This may be a soapbox topic, but it’s no laughing matter, it’s a serious problem in our culture, government, businesses, schools, and families. Most importantly, what is it teaching our children?

Addicts are some of the worst with a sense of entitlement and a lack of gratitude. Many addicts are dependent on others, rarely does an addict supply their own drug of choice. The worst thing is taking life for granted, escaping from reality by slow suicide in some form.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity… it turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. ~ Melodie Beattie

When we are grateful we take nothing for granted, we are constantly awakened to God’s goodness around us. Gratitude cannot be feigned or faked, it in itself makes us sincere. It comes only by personally experiencing the hand of God’s love and mercy working in our life.

Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love. ~ Thomas Merton

Many traits and emotions are important to our well being, but gratitude is unique. In studies it’s been found that people who are more grateful are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and relationships. Grateful people are less likely to avoid problems, blame themselves or cope through substance use. They sleep better because they focus on positive thoughts before going to sleep.

Amazing that such a simple thing, an attitude of gratitude, can effect so many areas of our life!


How can we live with Gratitude?

  • Thank God every morning for the new day, commit to live it well.
  • Focus on the good in our lives and on the good in others.
  • Recognize all the good we have in ourselves and while trying to improve daily.
  • Don’t complain about what we don’t have or what we’re not.
  • Think of others and use the gifts we have to help them.
  • Thank others for the work they do.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thess 5:18

What can you do today to improve your Gratitude quotient?


Enjoy this video as you Give Thanks with a grateful heart! http://youtu.be/IBpv-ZzcQD8

BOOK REVIEW ~ Strength in Weakness by Andrew Comiskey

Strength in Weakness: 

Healing Sexual and Relational Brokenness

by @AndrewComiskey

InterVarsity Press 2003






I first read Strength in Weakness in 2007 when I was in the throws of understanding my struggle with same-sex attraction. It helped explain the roots of my pain and answered many questions.


Although Andrew Comiskey writes about his struggle with homosexuality, this book isn’t just for people who are overcoming same-sex attraction. Strength in Weakness is for anyone, male or female, who have experienced broken relationships and need sexual healing.

We all suffer the consequences of the Fall and often don’t understand how that affects our relationships.


In Strength in Weakness, Mr. Comiskey lovingly navigates the wounded to identity, an identity not found in what our culture says we should be, an identity not found in who our childhood wounds tell us we are, but an identity found at the foot of the Cross.

Only through Christ will we find healing for our brokenness, only then will our weakness be transformed into Kingdom Power that reaches others with God’s love.


Are you hurting because of broken relationships? Struggling with areas of weakness?


Instead of falling backward into further sin, fall forward into Christ. 


Read Strength in Weakness by @AndrewComiskeyI found healing in its pages, you can to.