The 12 Principles of Recovery :: OPENNESS

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS, ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP TO LEARN THESE CORE VALUES AND PUTTING THEM INTO PRACTICE. 



STEP FIVE
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of or wrongs.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: 
Openness

KEY QUESTION
How do I trust?




Addicts have a sordid history with trust issues. We’ve trusted people we shouldn’t have. We didn’t trust people we should have. We violated our own values. We invaded other people’s space. We didn’t do what we said we would. We weren’t faithful to our partner. We kept secrets. We didn’t trust ourselves. We weren’t trustworthy. 


Most of us were deprived of bonding with our parents as young children causing us to feel unworthy. The ability to trust is closely linked to feeling wanted and having a sense of belonging. 

Even after nine years in recovery I still struggle. Maybe not every day or even every week, but when the struggles come they sometimes hit hard. One thing that has made the biggest difference over these years is having a trusted friend with whom I can share my challenges. 

It’s most important to find a friend or mentor with whom we can share our pain. We must seek out a fellowship community or recovery group where we can make trusted friends. There we can begin to bond, open up and heal. 

Learning how to trust others isn’t a quick process. We’ve had bad examples most of our lives so we will need to walk this path slowly. When sharing our story we must not over share but yet not hide things God is trying to bring into the light where the healing can start.

When we honestly ask ourselves which [people] in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness that is a friend who cares. ~ Henri Nouwen **



RESOURCES:

A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes **

Copyright: pinkstudio / 123RF Stock Photo

12 Steps of Humility :: ACKNOWLEDGING OUR FAULTS

EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St Benedict

THE FIFTH STEP OF HUMILITY: a monk should not conceal from her abbess any evil thoughts entering her heart or any wrongs committed in secret, but rather confess them humbly.  

Centuries before the psychology industry built their fortunes on our troubles Benedict of Nursia knew the power of confessing to a spiritual guide or mentor.


One of the most difficult things to do is to admit our faults to another person. But as long as we keep our wrongs hidden they have a hold on us. The recovery community says, “We are only as sick as our secrets.” 

We destroy ourselves by failing to confess the germ of greed, ambition, anger, and lust at the very moment it is growing in our hearts. We give ourselves life by working through our problems with the wisdom figures in our lives who are stronger at that moment than ourselves. ~ Joan Chittister**

Declaring our faults aloud begins the healing process. Once we do share them we can forgive ourselves, begin new behavior and let the past go.

Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. ~ Psalm 32:5

Lord, remind me that when I refuse to confess my faults to you I am miserable. But when I stop trying to hide them, you are quick to forgive and all my guilt is gone! AMEN

RESOURCES:
The Rule of Saint Benedict Edited by Timothy Fry O.S.B
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan D. Chittister**
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
St. Benedict’s Toolbox by Jane Tomaine
15 Days of Prayer with Saint Benedict by Andre Gozier, O.S.B.
Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbot Christopher Jamison

Image credit: icetray / 123RF Stock Photo

Celebrate Discipline :: CONFESSION

IN OUR CELEBRATE DISCIPLINE COLUMN EACH MONTH WE ARE LEARNING A NEW SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, HOW TO APPLY IT AND HOPEFULLY GROW INTO THE PEOPLE GOD WANTS US TO BE.

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES: habits that nurture spiritual growth; exercises unto godliness.

CONFESSION: an admission of misdeeds or faults to God or another person.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24

Since God desires to give and forgive, He has put in place the process of redemption which started at the Cross and was confirmed with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is because of Christ’s holy work and through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can make our confession and know that forgiveness is possible.


The Spiritual Discipline of Confession is a difficult one for us because we often choose to see our community as one full of saints rather than a fellowship of sinners. All the more reason for confession to be a priority in our lives. When we are able to help someone struggling with their lives it helps us to know we aren’t alone in our struggle with sin. If I am left alone in the confession of my sin, I stay in the dark. It is in the light of mutual confession that healing power is released and lives are transformed.

In some Christian traditions there are formal printed confessions spoken as a congregation or to a confessor. There are many advantages to this method.

  1. No more excuses or blaming. We confess that we have sinned by our own fault. 
  2. Forgiveness is expected and given. With words from a brother or sister our forgiveness is sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  3. Remorse is experienced. We use this time to consider the seriousness of our sin against God.

Confession journalling is another avenue to consider. As we go about our daily lives we can process our various sin struggles in a diary or journal. This can be a sweet time of self-examination with the Lord at the end of the day.

The most common view of confession is that spoken to another person. But before we run off and start sharing our deep dark secrets we must take care to find the proper person. Key qualifications we should look for are: spiritual maturity, compassion, wisdom and the ability to keep a confidence. 

Having found a confidant there are three things we must check before we begin.

  1. Our conscience ~  We invite God to show us where we need healing and forgiveness.
  2. Our sorrow ~ We are taking our confession seriously because we know we have offended God.
  3. Our desire to sin ~ We ask God to help us live holy lives from this point forward.

The Spiritual Discipline of Confession breaks all pretenses over our life. We are now free to walk in our God given grace and forgiveness with the hope of making a difference in the lives of those around us.


“Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change.” ~ Richard Foster


If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful song to meditate on.

RESOURCES:

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

The Road to Recovery :: STEP 5


In The Road to Recovery column we’re working the Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery that are based on Beatitudes and the traditional 12 Steps of Recovery as they align with the monthly calendar.



STEP FIVE: We admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ~ James 5:16

PRINCIPLE FOUR (Celebrate Recovery): Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” ~ Matthew 5:8

We’ve lived a life of secrets and lies, denying the truth of the pain we were causing to ourselves and to those we love. It’s time for the lies to stop and for truth to prevail. And often times the truth hurts.

In Step Four we began the process of coming clean by writing our spiritual and moral inventory. Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. All our baggage, the good, the bad and the ugly, is going to come off the page and into real life as we share inventory aloud with another person.
Step Five consists of three parts: admitting to God, to ourselves and to another human being. Each part adds a new dimension, a deeper level of intensity to our confession; one reverential, the next personal and finally the painful reality. Let’s look at each level.
ADMITTING WRONGS TO GOD allows us some distance from our wrongs, a sense of objectivity that keeps us from feeling too much pain. However, there may be a time during our confession when words can’t express our feelings. We may need to allow the Holy Spirit to take our prayer of confession from the sounds and groans of our pain. 
ADMITTING WRONGS TO OURSELVES seems redundant after having just written them down in Step Four.  But repeating the inventory, this time out loud to ourselves, helps cement our confession. This brings home the truth of what we’ve done and what we are capable of doing to our prideful ego. 
ADMITTING WRONGS TO ANOTHER HUMAN BEING is probably the most painful and even embarrassing part of Step Five. While there is no perfect way to work this step the most important thing is the trustworthiness of our confessor. Whomever we choose, we must make certain this person will never use what we tell them against us. We can’t make our confession unless and until we feel safe.
During this painful process we can look forward to the freedom we will feel after unloading our long carried burdens. We can rest assured the Biblical promise of healing will come after confessing our sins. And having shared our personal inventory with another person we will gain the support which frees us from our sense of isolation, our false pride, and denial. 

Lord, my inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for your help in admitting my wrongs to another person and to you. Assure me, and be with me in this step, for without this step I cannot progress in my recovery. With Your help, I can do this and I will. 

Show me who can hear my confession and not hurt me.
Show me who can stand my story and not condemn.
Show me who can listen and honestly care.
Show me who can be a human being and still show mercy.**
 

Click here for The Road to Recovery theme song.

Resources:

**Prayers for the Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey
Celebrate Recovery Bible
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice by Rami Shapiro
The Twelve Steps for Christians

Are You Hiding Behind Your Baggage?

When we hide behind our baggage we limit ourselves, our relationships and our future.


How much baggage do you have? Can you carry it with one hand or do you need a handler to assist you? Either way you’ve come to the right place!


This month we’ve been dealing with a lot of tough issues. We started by working Step 5 Admitting to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Next we reviewed Anne Paulk’s book Restoring Sexual Identity. In week three we focused on the Christian Virtue of Integrity, pressing against the hypocrisies that creep into our lives. And last week we learned how to overcome Identity Crisis

Today’s topic relates to all the above issues. If we: can’t confess our wrongs to another person, aren’t confident in our sexuality, walk with hypocrisy in our daily life, have doubts about who we are or why we’re in this world, then we’re probably carrying some seriously heavy baggage!

What are you carrying in your baggage? 

  • Childhood hurts and wounds
  • Addictions overcome or recurring
  • Poor choices with painful consequences 
  • Failed relationships
  • Beliefs of inadequacies, insufficiency, entitlement
  • Hurt feelings, loneliness, anger, resentment, disappointments
  • Unhealthy coping skills,  etc, ad infinitum…


How are you handling your baggage? 
Hiding it in the closet, hoping it will disappear on its own?
Buried and smashed by the weight to the point of severe depression?

A few tips for baggage handling…

  • Face it. By accepting the truth of the past, we take away its power over us.
  • Call a trusted friend or family member. Talking it out relieves much stress and pressure.
  • Turn to Jesus. There’s no one more qualified to carry our burdens than Jesus Christ.

If you’re tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28 

Our past and its baggage has made us who we are today. So we mustn’t live with total regret. We can choose to have a new perspective on our past. Rather than focusing on the negative, identifying ourselves with our shameful mistakes, we can look and see where God was at work. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. ~ Psalm 23:6 


God was there. Even though we might have made terrible mistakes that forced us and our family into bad consequences; even in our darkest days of sin, God was watching us. He knew our heart’s deepest desires before we did. He knew that one day we would want out of that mess. So He gave us His Grace and Mercy. When we look back and see Grace, God’s goodness and mercy instead of the darkness, pain and mistakes, we’re able to see God’s Presence in all things.

So where do we go from here? Let’s choose to...


Live a life of greatness not mediocrity!
1. Step Out. Don’t make God have to drag you out. Receive what He has for your life!
2. Step Up. Encourage yourself in the Lord. Choose to believe in yourself!
3. Step In. Don’t wait for something to seem official. Destiny calls for faith!

When you look at your past where do you see God? Can you see His mercy at work?


See God’s goodness in your life. Enjoy @Israel Houghton’s video: http://youtu.be/OKs0aPWGTVk


Photos courtesy 123rf.com

Working the Steps : STEP 5

Step 5: 

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 

This step is probably one of the most challenging. It’s one thing to take our moral inventory in Step 4, but it’s quite another to admit our wrongs to another person. While living an addictive lifestyle, we’ve gotten very good at keeping secrets, hiding our shame in lies and denial. Now it’s time to come clean with God, ourselves and another human being. 


Here are some tips to help with each area of Step 5…


Admitting wrongs to God:
It’s easy to justify not really working this part because after all, doesn’t God know everything I did already? Yes, that’s true. But not the point. We need to sit down and have a personal conversation with God, using our listed inventory from Step 4 if necessary. But more importantly, be open and honest about the things we did, that caused harm to ourselves and others, directly to God. It will probably be emotional, but that’s part of the healing.


Admitting wrongs to ourselves:
OK, didn’t I do this when I wrote out my inventory? Yes, and no. Most likely your inventory was taken in silence, with pencil and paper. This work needs to be audible. Sit down in front of a mirror, looking at yourself, going through the inventory list, honestly admit to yourself the wrongs done. If you’re anything like me, dealing with myself in the mirror is always painful. But often pain comes before healing.


Admitting wrongs to another human being:
The first two parts of Step 5 were rough, but this one is the clincher. Start first by carefully choosing a trustworthy person who won’t use your past against you. Find someone dependable, who will provide unconditional acceptance and not be shock or offended by what your reveal. When you’re comfortable with the person, sharing will be that much easier. Refrain from unnecessary detailed explanations. 


Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.~ James 5:16

You make be tempted to procrastinate on this painful step. Don’t. The sooner you get Step 5 behind you, the faster you’ll be on the road to full and complete healing. Don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions. 


Also, here are some excellent resources:


Life Recovery Bible
The Twelve Steps for Christians 
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice
The Solid Rock Road




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

Confession – The Road to Freedom

Not long ago I heard a song called Between You and Me by DC Talk. The song sparked a blog in me and goes beautifully with my Twitter devotions for May focusing on Step 5…

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

All 12 Steps are important, but I believe this one to be critical. Those of us who’ve had obsessions, compulsions and addictions, understand the power held over us by our secrets; a power that can only be broken with confession.

Because the nature of our addictions can be very personal and sensitive, it’s essential to exercise care in choosing the person with whom we share. This person should be detached from our situation (not a family member) but a trustworthy, compassionate female friend, pastor or therapist.

In confession we’re able to be honest about our past and express deep seeded grief; our long carried shame is finally relieved and the barriers of isolation that we’ve had between God and others begins to break down. With the courage to acknowledge our wrongs comes a new energy that will motivate us to change our lives. 

Do you have a secret that’s holding power over you?

Don’t wait! Contact a trusted woman to share your burden and find freedom today!  

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. ~ James 5:16 MSG

Don’t Take No When God Says, “YES!”

Last week I had an opportunity to travel with my husband to meet our new company’s board members and investors. During our stay in Dallas I caught up with my small group from Gateway Church, reconnected with my friends Susie, Cindy and Mary, and met new friends Tonya, Monette and Diane. God always shows up in this group and this day was no exception. Cindy shared what God continues to speak to her: “We must not take no when God says, Yes!” She has shared these words with us on more than one occasion, but this time it came to me with a fresh meaning.

Let’s do a little grammar and look at the tense of the word. It isn’t said, in the past tense, but in the present tense, says. Meaning, the promises in the Bible were not just for the people in Old and New Testament times. The Power of God’s “Yes” is for us today!

God says, “Yes!” to so many things that I think we sometimes take it for granted. Maybe we don’t even realize what He says, “Yes!” about to begin with. He says, “Yes!” to marriage and family restoration; emotional, mental and physical healing; financial breakthroughs; deliverance from low self-esteem and freedom from addictions.

Our problem is that we choose instead to believe the voice in our head that continues to repeat messages from the enemy; messages of doubt and unbelief, confusion and uncertainty, discouragement and defeat.

QUESTION: What are you saying no to today? Physical healing, your marriage, addiction recovery…

CHALLENGE: This Christmas say “Yes!” to God’s love; love that was brought to a hurting and lost world in the form of a baby boy that Holy Night 2000 years ago. No matter what may be troubling you, there’s no hurt, no problem too big for God to overcome. Don’t wait another minute, say no to the enemy today! Open your mouth and tell him God say’s, “Yes!” Yes to your body being healthy and whole. Tell the enemy God say’s, “Yes!” to your marriage being fully restored in Christ. Tell the enemy God say’s “Yes!” to your freedom from all addictions! Don’t take the enemy’s no; God has given you The Power of His Yes! Believe it and receive it today!

Working the Steps: Step 5

Step 5

We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I think this step for me was one of the most challenging. Getting to the place where I could openly discuss all the terrible things I did was really hard. The shame attached to my behaviors was very painful and could have easily given me an excuse to not follow through. Fortunately, I worked this step with a wonderful Christian counselor, so it was a little easier than it could have been with someone else.

If we have properly worked Step 4 we have a balanced inventory of not only our mistakes but our strengths as well. This will provide a good foundation on which to build our recovery. In preparing for Step 5 schedule some uninterrupted time with God to prayerfully search for the person with whom you will share your inventory. Admitting our wrongs to ourselves is one thing but sharing them with another human being is quite another. We have worked very hard in our addiction to hide these truths from others so this will be a huge step towards healing. Step 5 is our path out of isolation and loneliness toward healing and peace. It is very humbling to get past the pretending and to reveal our true selves to someone else. Telling our story to others can be a frightening experience and may cause fear of rejection. But it is essential that we take the risk and confess our wrongs. God will give us the courage if we lean on Him.

One of my favorite recovery resources The Twelve Steps for Christians has some great insights for working Step 5 that I would like to share with you.

  • Begin with prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in what you are about to experience.
  • Choose your 5th Step listener carefully. Find someone who is accepting, patient, sympathetic and understanding. Possibly a clergyman, counselor, another Twelve Step member, trusted friend or family member.
  • We are only asked to admit the nature of our wrongs. Don’t discuss how the wrongs came about or how changes will be made. You are not seeking advice.
  • After completing your fifth step, take time to pray and reflect on what you have done. Thank God for the tools you’ve been given to improve your relationship with Him. A cornerstone in your relationship with God is you commitment to honesty and humility.
  • Congratulate yourself for having the courage to risk self-disclosure and thank God for the peace of mind you have achieved.

Having admitted our wrongs to another human being is no guarantee that we will not slip up again. But we have the assurance, in those moments of weakness, that God will be with us and give us the strength to overcome. If we truly want to change God will continue to give us the courage and the strength to persevere down the path of sobriety to wholeness and healing in Jesus Christ.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. –James 5:16

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