the difference between me and most people in 12 step recovery programs

1 samuel 7: 3-4

3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.

People were designed to worship God. That is the purpose for our existance. We yearn to passionately serve and reverently look up to a higher power. We were designed to want to be significant; great- to live a life of purpose. We were made to have passion and to fill our hearts up with the joy of the Lord. Sadly, in our fallen world so many people do not know the truth. They live imprisoned in the effects of sin- depression, addictions, worry, anger. They have deep holes in their hearts that were made to be filled with the Hope and Joy of the Holy Spirit. Because they choose not to fill their voids with God, they turn to other means to fill these holes. In a sense, these things become their gods, because they fill the place that God is supposed to have. When we come to the Lord we are called to get rid of these gods and to begin to serve and worship only the living God. We cannot serve both our idols and God… we have to make a choice… God is a jealous God and wants our whole heart… only when He fills us can live in joy and peace. We begin to see that all of those other idols are meaningless- whether positive or negative according to the views of the Lord. Serving God is the only thing that matters.

The idols that the world serve vary in their appropriateness in the eyes of the world… Some idols are looked upon as ok to live for- or even normal and positive. Some of these are things like sports, fitness, friends, music, and even “social eating”. Other idols are looked down upon by society as they can harm the worshipper or those around the worshipper in some way- overuse of food, drug abuse ect… When a person gets hooked on serving one of these gods they often wake up one day and realize that they are destroying their lives and the lives of those whom they love. In a frantic depressed state they seek out help to get out of their self-destructive life-style. There are many programs and therapies out there to help people who have somehow chosen the wrong god to worship and then gotten entangeled in a painful life because of it. Without God, many of these people despairingly find, it is near impossible to “recover”… and really what is the motivation… to find a happy but meaningless relationship? to be able to function at a job and make money to… spend on worthless meaningless things? When these people are strong enough to get out of these lifestyles, they still have the need to worship something… to fill those voids that have been once again freed up in their hearts… so they have to find something else to fill it with. They can turn to a more appropriate, less destructive passion to fill their heart… but nothing can fill the deepest voids of our heart. nothing except a relationship with our creator.

The 12 step model of recovery is used by countless people to recover from various addictions. The aspect that sets these programs apart and leads to such success in recovery is that the sufferer must look to a power great than themselves for healing… it doesn’t necessarily have to be God, but I believe that the founders of the program did look to the True God for their recoveries so the program is rooted in Christian principles.

Because it is so rooted finding God, so many desparate people who have hit a “rock bottom” in their lives come through the doors of programs such as NA, OA, AA seeking recovery. When they quickly learn through program literature that they need God’s help if they hope to successfully recover, they then begin searching for God as a tool for help. They think of God like a magic power… “maybe if I found God… then I’d do better”… they are curious but feel that others find God, but they can’t.

Yesterday I attended an overeaters anonymous meeting. We in chairs that circled the room and read from the book that explained the 12 steps. One of the paragraphs read aloud by a woman really struck me as it made me realize that I have a different calling as a Christian than most of the other women who struggled with food addictions.
The paragraph in the book says:
“At this point most of us had trouble for one reason or another with step two. Some of us did not believe in AGod. We despaired of finding a solution to our problems if that meant we ahd to “find God.” Some of us walked out of our first meeting when we heard that three-letter word mentioned and didn’t return until years more of compulsive eating had made us desperate. Those of us who stuck around made a wonderful discovery. OA doesn’t tell us we have to believe in God- only that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We are invited to define that power however we wish and relate to it in whatever way works for us. OA only suggests that we remain open to spiritual growth and show tolerance for others by neither criticizing nor promoting specific religious doctirines in OA meetings”

I realize that most people who step foot into the overeaters anonymous program hope to recover from their compulsive eating that is destroying their life… and they realize that a higher power is the best way to this… they are powerless… that is the 1st step of the program… realizing your powerlessness over your addiction. They make up a convenient god as a tool or a stepping stone to removing their idol of food… but in reality- it is just removing one God and transplaniting another meaningless god… it might not be destructive, but it still is meaningless.

As a Christian, that very power that I am trusting to restore me to sanity, is the one for whom I am healing. I realize that I want to serve my higher power- my Creator with all of my heart, and my addiction is standing in the way… As I choose to give my whole heart to the Lord- He delivers me… I fill my void with Him- the one who it was meant for. When we give our everything to Him-only then will we find true peace and joy and meaning- the things we long for. In many ways I have a higher calling as my Maker’s child… I hope to somehow share my message of truth with other people who fill that void for God with other gods. The message of the TRUTH that is the only thing that can set the world free and give them meaning, peace , truth, hope… the only thing that can truly entangle them from the bondage of their idols.
If we want true deliverance, as Samuel said, we have to serve Him only.
Whether or not we serve seemingly harmful or seemingly harmless gods we must put aside our Baals and Ashtoreths and serve only God.

It is a choice.

We must serve Him and praise Him before the “gods”.
Psalm 138:1
1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

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mend this porcelin heart of mine…

“Creator… only you take brokeness and create it into beauty once again. Mend this porcelan heart of mine…”

Tonight I went out to cool beans with Natalie and Mrs. Lagar… After some nice discussion about what God is doing in our lives (mostly about the Rebecca situation), me and Natalie went over to the piano. It was such a gift to just sit around and sing praise to God after feeling so disconnected from Him.

One song that we sang is called “Porcelin Heart”… it is about how God can pick up the pieces of brokeness and create beauty and wholeness out of what the devil has snatched and ripped apart. Recently God has been trying to teach me some very difficult lessons and singing the words of this song really hit me in a special way as they related so well to this lesson… “Liz… give me your whole heart… your mind… your body, your spirit…” “do not hold anything back… and I will make you beautiful- for me- for my glory”… “I will mend your broken porcelin heart… I will take back and restore what Satan has taken and use it”… I need to be willing to give up my idols and live for Him… This is hard for me to hear, but i know that this is my only option if I do not want to live as a broken tool forever… a broken vessel of porcelin… only He can make us beautiful and usable. We only have 2 options… to live in surrender to Him and place ourselves wholly in His gentle, strong hands and walk daily in His power and comfort, or take matters into our own hands and live in our “safe” but miserable brokeness… He promises us peace and joy if we just surrender… taking matters into our own hands will not do us any good, even though I so often am fooled into believing that I am safer if I spend all of my waking hours worried and thinking about little details of my wellbeing… God clearly states in His word that He will take care of us… “who by worrying can add a single hour to His life???????????” I need to place my heart in the hands of the one who created the entire universe… what better are there to let hold my heart than the hands that hold the entire world? If I place myself in His hands he will restore me and put together my broken pieces and make me a beautiful usable woman. If I don’t surrender I’ll stay forever as broken pieces of porcelin scattered all over the floor…

So often on days like today when i have unbarable anxiety, discouragement, or find myself in an all too familiar negative trap that I have been in seemingly a thousand times before it’s like I examine myself and see all of the work that still has to be done before I am mended enough to be used in a deep way. I get discouraged and question God’s hand on my life… all I can see sometimes are the broken pieces and not the picture of the beautiful masterpiece He has begun. I begin to question my faith… stop looking to God and then grow weary… “what’s the point of trying?”… “Of surrendering?” I feel so weak and like I need to put myself together because I will always be shattered… “maybe I’m as shattered as I was before I even met the mender”… Satan whispers lies into my head to the point that I have urges to just break myself more and shatter myself into more parts… it’s almost fun to shatter ourselves when we aren’t looking to God- I mean… that is what the world does for fun- that is what our natural instinct is as humans who live in this fallen world… We are so good at creating disorder… Only by looking to God can we be “fixed”… mended. Even the best of self help programs cannot mend… I believe God can use these things (and medicine… possibly?) but only when we look to God can we be made whole… Can we have lives of meaning… Can we live free- of guilt… fear… in peace… can we have our shattered pieces put together into a beautiful porcelin tool. That’s what I want. I am going to place my whole self into the hands of my creator so that He can mend my porcelin heart. I don’t see any other option…

“Creator… only you take brokeness and create it into beauty once again. Mend this porcelan heart of mine…”

weak… but strong in Him

Hey there!!

I am going to continue my life story another time as I have something to share with you all today… Just some thoughts from my life.

Here is a verse from the Bible that is one of my favorites:
Romans 8:15
So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

So often I live as a slave to myself. A slave to debilitating fear that sometimes makes sense but very often doesn’t. I live in the lie that I am still a slave to all of the things that God has set me free from.

I have many prisons that I have been entagled in, but food and anxiety (which often go hand in hand) are two of the biggest ones. I am learning that if I want to be free… free to live as a child of the light radiating His love and joy to those around me. I need to take the thoughts captive that lead me basically offer the parts of my body back into slavery to those old patterns. Satan is cunning. He can use many different things to make me start tuning out the soft, tender voice of truth that is so powerful and is the only thing that has and will set me free.

Romans 6:11-14

11So you also must consider yourselves(A) dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12Let not(B) sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13(C) Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but(D) present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For(E) sin(F) will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
This very morning these were the words of my heart that I typed out. I knew that I was in a place of great anxiety and could slip. Recently I’ve been having so many changes in my life and have been having lots of anxiety. I so often believe that I am a slave to fear and that the only thing that can bring me comfort is my god of food… unforunately this god is an abusive god… it keeps me from having purpose. It hurts my body. It brings me guilt. It cuts me off from my God. By default though, I so often give my life over to that god.

First I feel weekened by something. Maybe a bad interaction. Maybe a depressed feeling. Very often by anxiety… then the thought comes… the food… sometimes I can see a picture in my head of a food… sometimes I just go madly into the kitchen and any sanity in my brain seems to shut off. I open the kitchen and then might grab anything i can find… often i’ll eat with my hands or in a sick way and always have a way to justify it… i just stuff myself out of sheer compulsion. I always end up feeling sick and guilty. I am always just one thought away from this pattern… this way of life. I am powerless over it and the only thing that can give me strength is my Jesus.

This morning, unfortunately, even after being given almost supernatural strength over this addiction in the past week, I fell. In the past I would have justified it easily… It wasn’t that much food. I haven’t done it in a while… Really it wasn’t that much food… in the past it would have been practically a normal breakfast… I think i ate some nuts in a sane manner… i carefully measured out 1 oz (actually because I didn’t want to eat too little today… how funny was that). Then actually i was writing and my mind started to wander to intensely anxious thoughts… maybe I had a brain tumor… there was a slightly tender spot on my head when I pressed on it. Maybe I had a terrible disease. Maybe heart disease…. maybe… i was… losing my mind… hmmm… I stopped writing… and funny thing was it was about spiritual warefare haha… I guessed I lost that spiritual battle… I dunno… I opened the fridge and it was not in a sane manner… I had some oats some oat meal, peanut butter, a few carrots, more oats some raw some cooked, umm… and that might have been it… I went into the living room and felt… ok… calmer… my mind was off my anxiety… but boy… was it in my own world… my sin world. I wanted to and well could have eaten more…. So I contacted Andrew… and somehow God gave me the strength to get my lazy ass off of the couch and go into the car and call him.

Thank God… because soon after this I began to feel terribly ill to the point where I couldn’t breathe well I was so full. It hit me more than ever that I was abusing God’s temple with my compulsion… but even worse I was dissobeying the very God who was setting me free! I was overtaken by shame and guilt… and gratefulness because I knew I could have made myself extremely ill if I ate all that I know I would have if I stayed in my house. I deserved punishment. I wanted another chance. I was so done with this insanity. I believe in my heart that there will be another time that I feel so completely driven to this behavior, but I also believe that if I fight with my spiritual armour on, my God will give me all of the strenght I need to be strong for Him… He promises to not test us beyond what we can bear and i believe in His promises. I want to live in that place of trust. I have no reason not to trust.

I went to school and am now just extremely tired but am feeling better. I want to be strong in the Lord.

The more I am stripped of my idols, the more that I feel that there is not much meaningful in my life at all. I really just wanna serve God… be deeply involved in the lives of other people. When I fill up on all of the empty stuff I do not realize this, but when I’m not filling up I just see how empty I am… I want Him to fill my life with meaning for His kindgom… use me… I believe He will if I just surrender, but sometimes it’s hard to trust that He could use me… little Liz… little incompetent me… but… He made me… He has set me free and has been shaping me almost miraculously… of course He can use His little Liz…

I’m at Dunkin Donuts with my dear sister right now… had a lovely iced coffee… I’m going to get going now…

Here is our picture:

Yes… I am back… 2 posts in one day… yes indeed =) I’m having one of those free kind of anxious nights, so I thought I’d keep going with my story from earlier today…

So.. i stupidly told my ever so desperate mother that I had met wonderful Tracy at an OA meeting and she said she could sponsor me… so my mother would, whenever she saw me struggling, force me to call Tracy, making it almost seem like a punishment. Once she even dialed Tracy’s number and put me on the phone… I feel bad putting her in a position like this when I barely knew her…

But anyway. Somehow after being forced to call Tracy for a while I was tired of being controlled in this way and causing problems… I decided to really become motivated to take responsibility for this. I was sick of my relationship with my mom… of the problems that I caused. Of my life.

I remember it took me a little while to grasp the first step of OA… “We admitted we were powerless over food and came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”… Basically Tracy said that just meant “do I want a deeper relationship with God”. I said yes… I felt that I wanted that and realized that clearly my disorder stood in my way.

I began to pour my heart into knowing God and seemingly quickly things got so hopeful. I was cheerful, friendly, and happy for the first time in a long time and things seemed to make sense. I spent hours every day for a while pouring out my heart in journals… reading the Bible… it all seemed so alive and real… I felt like for the first time in my life the Word of God really did seem “living and active- sharper than any 2 edged sword”… I prayed for healing and I felt that healing and felt like I was being transformed. And I was grateful! I thought it couldn’t get any better… I’d definately say I was on a spiritual high during this time. I was so passionate and really felt His power…

Well… during my eating disorder years I blocked out my need for all people. Around 9th or 10th grade I started to feel like a worthless loser so I stopped being close with people. I pulled away from my friends, stopped making new friends, and then eventually believed that no one would actually want to be close to me and that I was stupid and boring and that I had no ability to make friends or be close to people. I didn’t want friends and forget about a boyfriend… I didn’t have any desire for one. No one would like me… I didn’t want to and couldn’t be close to people… and I was never even really into boys… I’m not the romantic type, I always figured. I guess I always thought I was meant to be single… maybe one of those loner ladies with 10 cats or something. I don’t know… I clearly remember in mid October or so having a terrible binge stretch after a long good stretch. My mom was driving me home from an OA meeting that she drove me to. For some reason the topic of marriage and relationships came up. I remember telling her that I could never see myself in a relationship and didn’t want one and really never wanted to get married. I don’t remember much about the conversation, but I remember that that is what was said.

I bet God looked down and laughed when I said that… because He well knew that just 2 weeks later He would send a guy into my life who would not only change my views about relationships, but also would completely change me as a person…

more to come… promise =)

Surrender…

Wow… it’s been a long time since I’ve posted and I really want to start writing more… sharing my journey and story. God has so been healing me in crazy amazing ways and has been doing so much in my life and has been changing me so much…

I don’t even know where to begin…

I think I’ll begin with the words to a popular worship song “voice of truth”…

Oh,what I would do to have
the kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I’m in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is,
And he’s holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
“Boy, you’ll never win,
You you’ll never win

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the Voice of truth says “this is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

Oh, what I would do
to have the kind of strength it takes
To stand before a giant
with just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound
of a thousand warriors
shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out
my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times
I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
time and time again
“Boy you’ll never win,
you’ll never win.”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
and the Voice of truth says “this is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

But the stone was just the right size
to put the giant on the ground
and the waves they don’t seem so high
from on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
when I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus
singing over me

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
The Voice of truth says “do not be afraid!”
And the Voice of truth says “this is for my glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me (calling out to me)
I will choose to listen and believe (I will choose to listen and believe)
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth

I will listen and believe
I will listen and believe the Voice of truth
I will listen and believe
‘Cause Jesus you are the Voice of truth
And I will listen to you.. oh you are the Voice of truth

Recently I”ve felt alot like Peter from the Bible. Jesus is calling me to surrender… to reach out my arms to Him and walk on the water. To let go of some things I’ve been holding onto for so long. “I’ll carry you, my dear child”… He whispers softly and peacefully into my ear. “I love you”… “I died for you and have great plans for you”… just… surrender yourself… your whole self to me- your heart, your soul, your mind to me… and I’ll make you into a woman who i can use for great things that you can’t even comprehend. Just let go and cling to me.

I so often cling to fear… I cling to my old ways. It is more comfortable to live in the old ways and the problems that we have known even when we know that Jesus has better for us. Sometimes I see Jesus, but I also look around me and see the huge waves… I know in my head that I cannot walk on water- it is impossible… but in my heart I know that with God all things are possible. Amazing things happen when I place my faith that is often only the size of a mustard seed in Jesus and listen to the Voice of Truth.

I have seen the power of that freeing Truth in my life so clearly in the past year and a couple of months. Growing up in the church I always knew about that truth and saw it in other people’s lives, but it wasn’t until becoming entagled in a life of isolation, anxiety, depression, harmed relationships with my family, and an eating disorder that I realized I needed healing and could not continue on the path that I was on. At a real bottom place, I walked into a prayer meeting and had some people pray over me. i lifted my hands up in surrender and faith to the Lord and believed in His healing and had tears streaming down my face. The people who prayed over me said that they sensed in me a heart of compassion… of creativity… after serving lies for years I felt so far from all of those things. They sensed that God would use me. I felt a peace that night that I hadn’t felt in a long time or ever. Maybe everything would be ok… maybe there was hope…

I wish I could say the next day I woke up and wallah! no more problems… but no… that was just the beginning of a good work that the Lord began to do in me… just a small seed that would need time and lots of “Son” light to develop into a plant. But He promises that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Me and my family began to be more open with my issues and people began to pray for healing for me.

I had been in various programs and therapies for eating disorders that I was forced to be in that sort of helped temporarily but always felt like pushing a boulder up a hill… plus… i wasn’t that motivated to do better… There was also overeaters anonymous which my mom often made me go to out of desperation when I was lost in my disordered world and she didn’t know what else to do. I have many memories of being dragged into the car and driven to a meeting and dropped off and picked up… at age 17 or 18… i felt very stupid… plus OA often felt stupid and I felt like a misfit… being a ninety-something pound 18 year old in a room full of middle aged overweight women I couldn’t help but feel out of place… but around the spring of that year I, for some reason, felt compelled to go to these meetings on my own. At a meeting in a small church basement that I went to one May morning I saw a young-looking, thin woman sitting on a couch with her little son playing with legos by her feet… For some reason I felt compelled to say hi to this lady after the meeting. We talked for a bit and somehow it came up that we were both Christians. In the next week or two I started seeing this woman who I learned was named Tracy, at several other meetings. Eventually I asked her, sort of without much thinking, if she’d be willing to sponsor me… In OA a sponsor is someone whose recovery you admire whom you ask to guide you through working the program. I really wanted what Tracy seemed to have. At meetings she’d always say things like, “God has really brought me to a good place”… I remembered thinking something like, “I’ll never be able to say that”… Anyhow… Tracy gave me her number and told me that she’d be willing to sponsor me.

Anyhow… it’s getting late… I shall write more tommorow… I need to run to the mall with my mother… We are having a family situation where my family has to go to court due to a conflict with my sister’s education and my mommy needs a court dress… I will write more tommorow…