5 Things to Help Your Recovery

Being around the recovering crowd can be difficult at times. Mainly because most topics used for discussion, are often a moaning session. For obvious reasons, as you may guess. If someone happens to say something positive, the whole room may go silent from shock. The groups aren’t used to that. If they say too many positive words, it has an adverse effect, they think the individual is a lunatic.

I understand, as do all who attend meetings of recovery, that it is tough to stay positive with the many consequences we have to eventually deal with. But if we are bent on freedom from the sickness that enslaves us, we listen to what works, take it to heart, and do what it takes no matter how hard or how long. The positive may be elusive at first. But a little effort can produce positive results leading to the freedom desired.

Here are some simple suggestions to help you in recovery. These are not written in recovery literature, per se, but will help when used in collaboration with such.

1. Read, just a little, but read. This may be the most difficult for most in recovery. I have an idea as to why, but that idea is an entire essay. Many people here in the USA have little gratitude for the gift of reading. They state how they hate to read. Globally, illiteracy is staggering. People do not have any education because there is none available.They would give all they have to be able to read. Some are in areas of the world that suppress education. Here, in the US, we have the opportunity and the ability, but “just say no” to reading. Read anyway. Start with a small paragraph and build from there. Oh yeah, read recovery literature, not a romance novel.

2. Exercise. I know, I’m 0 for 2 in likable things to do to help your recovery. There again, do just a little. Merely getting up and walking to the mailbox, or down to the corner and back. Get your blood flowing and your mind works better. You can get positive results in a short time.

3. Change the station(s). Something I noticed from myself and reinforced by statements in meetings is; songs, TV shows, gaming, and movies, may have a dramatic effect on the addicted, to trigger a relapse. Especially, the music you listened to when using. Nobody likes silence, but try music you find tasteful, or tolerable. Try games to exercise your brain, documentaries on the tube, and movies…skip. All of these aren’t permanent changes, maybe they should be. But for a time early in returning from a relapse or new to recovery, try this.

4. A short inventory. This is not listing a 4th step, nor doing the 5th with your sponsor. This is a list, or maybe a name of someone you carry a resentment for, you cannot seem to forgive, or you need to ask forgiveness for a wrong. Take the name, or names, and pretend you are with them, and practice what you need to say to them. If that is uncomfortable, write them a letter expressing how you feel. Don’t hold back…let er’ rip! Do it again but pretend God, (Jesus), is there mediating the event. This may be a game changer to some who may be talking to awol parents, spouses, the officer or judge that sentenced them.

5. Fix your language. Really, seriously, start talking like an adult. You are wanting to recover from your addiction, right? Recover from your gangsta way of talking. Can you? F-bombs fly out in meetings and have become the accepted way to talk, some say. But if you are sitting in an interview for your dream job, I am sure you won’t use foul language in that meeting, will you?
It isn’t that your way of talking made you an addict, but that was the way you talked when you were using and boozing. Change that, bring dignity and honor to your life for being different. People will notice.

Give these thoughts a shot along with meeting attendance, daily prayer, service work, the steps with your sponsor. You may be the positive lunatic in the meeting, or the one who brings some shock and awe to the group where you attend. Just do it.

“Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites ruin.” Prov. 10:14

Leading the Drunk to Water

More than likely, you have heard the saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” No matter how many times I have heard the adage, and have used it, I sometimes think that I can make it happen. Not the saying above, rather the message of leading others to a life, clean and sober, of following Christ, and serving others selflessly, I try to convince with conviction.

What makes me think I somehow am the measure of what is the right? I am not. What I do know has merit from experience, study, and spiritual practice. What I have experienced isn’t what brings others into a life of sober living, nor convinces an unbeliever to see Jesus as the Savior of the world. It is not my job to argue with others in AA or NA meetings that they have a distorted view of God, when they say something completely unholy regarding Him the way I personally know Him to be. I do not have a degree that makes me a word cop. I also must remember, who’s talking, where they are in recovery, and where they came from in life.

It happened again in a small meeting a couple of nights ago. A man I felt was highly educated, and certainly has a dynamic message of his coming into recovery, with the help of, and by the grace of God, made some false statements regarding the Bible. I didn’t oppose him in the meeting, but tried to “kindly” correct him afterwards. No argument ensued, but neither did I convince him of his error, and the ripple effect on others hearing him tumbling into total disbelief because of his blunder. The reason for no argument…God, I’m sure. To argue with him could kill any future opportunities with the thirsty, wanting to find the water hole.

“The main reason people in recovery do not grasp the message, is they don’t reach for it.”  Author

AA’s Big Book warns members not to play the evangelist to those still actively drinking. Doing so may hinder any chance of helping those you are targeting to share your new life with. I believe that goes for attempts to exhort others in the program to drink deeper, raise their standards of behavior to a greater height around all of those watching them in their recovery.

In other words, maturing in their sobriety, become a real example. That’s change, what we hate the most. Fear of losing friends in recovery is at risk to the ones bold enough to accept and change. Sadly, most get just enough water to make them not want to drink, (booze or use dope). That is, the water being God, and the grace He bestows that leads them to recovery. There is more.

What should I do or say to get the horse to keep drinking? Talk and pray. God didn’t ask me to be His personal sheriff in recovery. If I trust Him, I say what He gives me to say in meetings, or to sponsor-ees, and nothing more. For those spreading a distorted view of God, I am to do two, no, three things: say nothing, love them, and pray God will enlighten them, bringing them into a deeper understanding of the incomprehensible power He has to change lives those no one imagined could ever change.

The warning to me, and to you if you are viewed as a leader in recovery, perplexed by what you hear in meetings, If we truly trust God to use what we give, do not forget His purpose in us is not to judge, but to serve. We only correct, or redirect if asked for help. If I try to play the know-it-all, and believe me, I know little, (that isn’t false humility, I learn as I go, how little I know), I will ruin any chance of influencing others to follow me to the streams of Living Water, the main Message of man’s existence, and living above addictions with God’s help.

Ordering the Miracle

Have you placed your order for the miracle you want? Do you have enough to pay for it? Maybe you didn’t see the price tag when you requested it. Maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about…which I’m sure you don’t. Let me explain.

 Miracle defined:
An extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

Everyone wants to see a miracle. None more than those who have tried everything to get clean and sober from addictions. They know nothing short of a miracle can free them from the enslavement. It would have to be a miracle of biblical proportion, an act of God. Alcoholics and drug addicts that land in AA, NA, or CR, often give up way too soon before the miracle happens. Their reason may be they don’t believe in God, or if He does exist, He wouldn’t help them anyway. After all they have done too many wrongs, He would never help them anyhow.

 “If there were no God, there would be no atheist.”
“It isn’t that they cannot see the solution. It is that they cannot
see the problem.”
G.K. Chesterton

Most who give up aren’t ready recover yet. They haven’t experienced enough pain, nor inflicted enough on others. They will, bank on it. Those who do hang in until “it” happens knew their estate before they arrived broken and beaten by substance abuse, whether the drink, or drugs. They also realized the price to pay for their miracle. I have seen men and women come into AA meetings with their chins on the ground, whipped, hopeless, and even facing consequences enough to choke a horse. They stayed, lingering long enough until the light came on. Then the miracle happened.

Having tried everything, or thinking we have, there was a constant committee meeting going on in the gray matter. They yak constantly, the majority telling us multiple reasons we could never give it up. A few brain committee folk are saying, think about your spouse, kids and family, your friends and your job. It is maddening.

Yet the individual remained, the committee adjourned, and they faced their consequences, working the program in total surrender of their will to continue self-serving and quit. The impossible happened, their chins were no longer dragging the floor, even their countenance changed. Some go even further and continue meetings giving back what they were given, long after the miracle of sobriety happened.

For these, gratefully remaining to help others, see things return to their life that they thought never to experience again, a home, new car, money in the bank, the return of friends and family, and a deep spiritual relationship, in many cases. There are some side-effects from recovery, too. Laughter, a song in the heart, and return of having feelings and thoughts of how to actually decipher right and wrong, truth and lies, and wow, what a difference. I know, by the grace of God, I am one that stayed for the experience. Life is far from perfect, troubles still come and go. The trade off, however, is worth the price.

You may have given up yourself. Perhaps someone you love threw in the towel long before the miracle arrived. If they swallow pride, or if you do, life will return, finally asking God’s help to do for you what you could never do for yourself. Miracles do happen, God is real, come and find both where hope is really realized.

Finally Getting It…after many failures

Resolution to Stop Drinking and Doping…finally, I Will, I Think
Why resolutions fail may be answered by experts offering generalized pat answers from polling questions, or case studies. Unless you read their articles, their advice is moot, you will set yourself up for another year of failure to accomplish desired goals. The problem with resolutions is they are future goals, based on self-reliance, or willpower. Future goals are just that, the future, putting off trying because you are not ready yet. Willpower may work in some ways for you, but not in all things, or for what your resolution is aimed at to accomplish.

Insanity Defined and Sanely Accepting
You have heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, using the same methods, and expecting different results. All of the different things I tried to stop drinking came to nothing because I tried to do this by willpower. I am sure AA, NA, CR, rehab, or church would not have helped me then, or now, if my intent was to do it my way. What worked for the masses in getting clean and sober, in living for Christ, in any endeavor, would work for them, but not me. I am, (I used to think), unique, above the under-the-bridge-drunk, or the back-alley-addict.

I knew I was alcoholic, but refused to bow to “How It Works,” rebelling, desperately looking for the easier, softer way of getting free. Others who refuse to comply to what works, do so feeling they have crossed the line, have went too far for God’s grace to reach them, or for anyone to want to help them get well. No matter if you feel unique or unworthy, there is hope, you can resolve to stop, and achieve a sober life. Here is how.
(Two things: One, many say AA or any 12 step program doesn’t work for them because they do not want to get well yet. They are looking for your pity, hoping for another hand-out, or just trying to get you off their back, making you hopeless in their ever being normal. Second, this can work in many, even most areas of making resolutions, not just overcoming addictions.)

Finally Getting It
The experience I had to get sober is echoed throughout recovery groups. We all need to understand what WE means. Everyone who finally get it readily admit they needed help. Where the majority started, or first action, was looking for help from God. Some do not remember until time passes and they come out of compulsions fog. Eventually in their growth, suddenly they remember a most trying desperate moment they said…O God, please help me!
They may have thought the prayer went unanswered because it was much later, that the answer did come. It wasn’t God’s timing, you often hear so many say. It was a sincere prayer alright, but the intention was…help me out of this jam right now. You weren’t finished experiencing and dishing out pain on yourself and others. Yet, He heard your cry, and began pulling strings and manipulating situations. Perhaps you ended up incarcerated, hospitalized, or homeless, before you finally came to, but you did, because He did what you asked, helped you…just not how you expected.

Willpower has a distinct odor. A stench, actually. Anytime someone says they quit by willpower years ago, I nearly want to puke. Good they quit on their own, but their life is a dry-drunk existence. They didn’t experience growth in life from others help, maturing into seeing life in an adult manner knowing it is not all about them. I know of some that merely traded drinking for greed. They leave in their wake, a terrible message…”you don’t need to do anything but just quit like I DID.” SHOO-WEE, that stinks!

Prayer is the first action to a sober life, help from others is second.
We pray, God leads us to AA, NA, CR, OA, GA, or any of the many step programs where we receive help from others….and the program in turn, leads us back to God. We learn how to succeed from humbly following their direction, after all, it worked for them. In time, we find an individual we feel can mentor or sponsor us, so the recovery process goes to a new level, in most cases.

The next action in finally getting it is realizing I screwed my life up, I am unmanageable to stop the madness of addiction, and everything else in my life. The drinking wasn’t the problem, but turned on the light for what the real problem was...ME. When I saw this reality, I ACCEPTED my inability to change on my own. I CAME TO BELIEVE my need for help from others, by God’s grace via those place by Him in my path. They show gratitude for their recovery by giving back what they were given. (If you have benefited from your recovery program but do not give back in any way, you are ungrateful, living in the danger zone. I thought I ought to let you know.)

The last thing I want to add isn’t the last action in recovery. There is no last action. Don’t let that discourage you. The action is awesome, the challenge is life-altering, taking little-ole-me-and you into a new, higher dimension in life. We enter the cony-island way of life. Life, when we submit to God’s ways, in sober livings steps, may be like a merry-go-round, or roller coaster life, full of ups and downs. But we learn to enjoy the ride with enthusiasm, and actually remember it. The last action; MAKE A DECISION to turn your will and life over to God.

The worst mistake many in sobriety make is they only want enough of God to stay sober, get a job, a mate, a car, a home, etc. They only want Him as their personal genie, to fix their junk and their life reflects it. They only want to practice sobriety principles in some of their life, not in all their affairs.

Choosing Not to Finally Get It
Tonight is New Years eve. Many may see this post and save it for later, after tonight’s bash. Others may not see it until they are hungry for change tomorrow. Whatever the reason you do read this, whatever day your eyes fall on this page, know this: You do not have to follow the advice on the way to finally get it, written here, or from experts explaining resolution failures, or from anywhere anyone offers to help you SEE. But ask yourself this, how has doing things your way worked for you so far?

ADDED bonus for reading 
To summarize; I have been praying this prayer that I think may help you if you struggle with how to pray, or what to pray. It also covers what I have covered here, which are steps 1-3 in AA’s Big Book:

  ‘God, please help me stay sober today, I am helpless without you, my life is unmanageable. I believe you can return my sanity. I turn my will and my life over to your care, your will. Amen.”

Happy New Year, to you all! Thanks for reading. And if any of you go ahead and booze it up tonight, be careful, and I pray you have the worst time you ever had, the worst hangover, and puke your guts out…but also that God protects and keeps you alive, giving you one more chance. To you, it’s a crap shot, but He knows the end from the beginning, gracious to all!

How to Enjoy Christmas

How does one enjoy Christmas? For many Christmases in my life, I was fed up by the hustle and the bustle of the holidays. Sometimes I was outright angry at secular disbelief, insisting how offended they were by “religious symbols” or live nativity scenes invading their darkness…the true Narcissists of modern times. A few times at Christmas, I loathed my inability to lavish unnecessary gifts on my children and family members. And finally, often, the holidays passed while I boozed through them.

I should never judge how people see the Christmas season, but pray they get the point. I never want to be disappointed that I will be working and not with family, missing the family gathering and meal, watching the children beam when they open their gifts. That is precious, and should burned into thoughts or memories forever…with gratitude. That isn’t the point. So, what is the point?

The point I see today, as a follower of Christ, is the purpose of His visit, my gratitude and acknowledgement of that. I am transformed by believing in Him, His virgin birth… His life and teachings… His sacrifice on the cross… His blood destroying my sins past, present, and future… His resurrection guaranteeing mine from eternal death… and His continual intercession as advocate, defending me from accusations by the evil one. I am lifted when my belief turns to gratitude as I see the real Gift of Christmas, He gave Himself.

The point is seeing entire world is different because of His coming. Invention, exploration, and discovery may have been a part of mankind’s history, yet because of His coming and commission to His disciples to “go ye into all the world,” was catapulted as the Gospel spread, especially through the nations that accepted the message.

In fact, within modern history, from the past 150 years, technology has grown exponentially. I’m filled with gratitude, knowing He is the reason for this, His Spirit, Jesus promised, would come in His stead. The Holy Spirit brought the light of understanding and knowledge to people for invention, exploration, and discovery where His message is freely expressed and received. Where the message is rejected as truth, There is practically no invention, and the people would be living as people lived a millennium or more in the past without the discoveries from others.

How Christmas can be truly good, even wonderful, is refusing to allow the holiday to be about all you have done for others. You may have worked hard to cook, get everyone together, and to find that perfect gift for family and friends…and they don’t offer thanks for your toil. Think about what He has done for you, and be grateful by not expecting accolades…just give.

One last thought, and this is a “biggie.” You may not have time to go serve at a “drop-in,” or soup kitchen-meal-station for the homeless. Take a moment, pause and say thanks for what you do have. Ask God to bring comfort to the homeless, the widow and orphaned, the addict, the alcoholic, those trapped in darkness. Don’t forget to ask for our men and women serving the country, away from their families. Ask God to protect them from danger, from evil, comforting them in their loneliness…and their family the same.

Bonus thought. While you are asking, ask Him to foil the plans and schemes of the grifter running scams, preying on the elderly and weak. May God protect them all.

Merry Christ-mas to all, God grant you light to see His Truth…for His glory!

Relief for Holiday Depression

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Right. “Maybe for you, but not for me. I can’t even afford presents for my children. We plan to have a bowl of corn flakes and toast for Christmas dinner.”
“If my husband would just quit drinking for the holidays, then we may be grateful.”
“How can the holidays be happy when your child is clinging to life after an overdose? Christmas will never be the same.”

These are some of the laments of families facing personal problems during the holiday season. I empathize with them. My heart goes out to those suffering depression brought by outside forces, or household divisions from addictions. I also have sorrow fro the lonely, those who have no one to enjoy the season with. The unmarried, widowers, orphaned children in foster homes that do not celebrate, etc.

There are also people so caught up in their work so deeply, or in so much debt, they cannot see celebration or purpose in Christmas. This form of depression hides itself from its victims, and renders killer-stress eventually. Where is relief for the many problems?, how can we celebrate and get free of depression during this time of year?

Pat answers are many in number; be grateful for what you have, pray, get counsel, go to an AA or NA meeting, (for those in recovery), etc. But none of these seem to help at our darkest moments, which may compound around this time of year. I want to offer something different to the mix of answers. This will take minimal effort but I know this works.

Many families read the Christmas story found in Luke 2 as an annual tradition. Try this, read around that story. Luke 1 is the story behind THE story. The angel appearing to Mary with the message of her selection, being the mother of the Promised One.
…”let it be to me according to your word.” was Mary’s response in verse 38, and the angel had said to her in vs. 37, “for with God NOTHING shall be impossible.”

These two passages are two sentences, as a person believes them, and speaks them, have tremendous power to affect the attitude with faith, in replace of the inward fears resulting in  depression. The pit of depression is a place of hopelessness. Saying prayers may seem unthinkable to the depressed and hurting, having tried to pray already, getting no results. But praying what is written, what the Word says, causes faith to rise and fear to run.

Here are two short passages, read them aloud every day until Christmas. Along with that, read aloud, or even better, pray aloud the Magnificat, Mary’s praise to God in vs. 46 through vs.55. Make it personal, saying to God in prayer:

“My soul magnifies You Lord, and my soul rejoices in You, my Savior. For You have regarded my lowly state, and from now on, people will call me blessed…You are mighty and have done great things for me”….

Continue this praise to God through verse 55, and do this aloud until Christmas Day. Get alone by yourself, sit in your car, or in a secluded place in your home. Take this serious, do it in praise and thanksgiving to God in your dark moments, in spite of the problems you face, or the challenges ahead that seem impossible…nothing is too hard for God. Scripture reveals the heart that is broken or fearful, will be liberated as that person praises God. (i.e. 2 Chron. 20, Nehemiah 1)

It is okay to doubt this. God is not angry at you for doubting. You’ve tried everything else, things of physical, or mental in nature have not worked. Let’s move over to the unseen, the spiritual things, bringing The Savior into your situation. Whether you doubt or not, put praise to God in your day and He will invade your world with life, joy and celebration.

Let today be the day you have the courage to believe in Christ’s purpose, and find your purpose. One more thought; read more of the stories around The Story, chapters 1-2 of Luke. The whole story is great and faith-building.

How to be Grateful…(when you don’t want to)

The question I had to ask myself was, “what in the world has happened to you?” The past two years has been nothing short of a real smack-down of sobrietal reality. Depression? Frustration? What is going on, and furthermore, what did I do to deserve this garbage? All I wanted to do was help others get, and stay clean and sober. Yet, here I am struggling to do the simplest tasks in every area of life.

We alcoholics and addicts tend to look at everything external to find who, or what to blame. Eventually with God’s help, the message is clear…look in the mirror and you’ll see the problem.
It is me. I look at the inward self and see how I am seldom prepared for battles life delivers. The core of this onslaught is ingratitude. If I see gratitude as an action word, then ingratitude is a lack of action, not giving back what I’ve been given.

How can I stay grateful when I don’t feel it? 
It’s words. Not a fake-it-till-u-make-it way. I have to look beyond the veil of deceit that this existence offers through mankind’s fall from grace. That is, count blessings, say words of thanksgiving to God, and DO little actions to cause zeal for service to others to return.

I was so grateful to God early in my recovery that I wanted to give back any way I could. I was willing to clean the men’s room, empty trash, both at church and at AA. When I felt down, or felt old behaviors trying to rule me, I went to the AA meeting place, having a key, and cleaned. I cleaned and prayed. God heard and answered, not because I cleaned, but because I put faith and gratitude into action. Things changed, I was restored and refreshed with those little actions, giving back without anyone knowing but God.

Those early experiences catapulted me to spiritual fitness, hungry to serve, thirsty for knowing more because….this really works! Expressions of gratitude filled my conversations and prayers. I understood what people had said in meetings, how the grateful souls are those who DO gratitude, not merely say it. Those who express gratitude, live with purpose and experience joy, peace, and confidence in God’s ways, that are far beyond human comprehension…I mean, how can being thankful change my situation from distress to feeling fulfilled with purpose? It is a God thing altogether.

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s decree. “For as the skies soar high above the earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, the way I think is beyond the way you think….the words I come out of My mouth will not come back empty handed. They will do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Is.55:8-9,11. (The Message)

God Does Nothing like humans. Our gratitude is nutty to people’s way of thinking. People think being grateful for anything they cannot eat, spend, possess, etc., is foolish entirely.

Gratitude may be hard when I don’t feel grateful. But if I say what I hear others say; “well, that’s just how I feel, I’m just being honest,” I will not come out of this funk until I stop saying junked-up words from that trashy attitude. To know “this too shall pass,” is a nice saying, and true. When I stand up and thank God when I do not want to, and every thing is going wrong, He is pleased, making changes in me. Those changes lead me from that funk, to a clear and meaningful peace, a joyous way of living.

Think today of what you are not grateful for, write them down. Think today of what you are grateful for, write them down too. Then thank God for both for one week. See how the things you were not grateful for change,or ratherhow you view them. Will you be grateful for bad things? Will you see them as lessons in life? Maybe, maybe not. You will feel differently, I’m sure. For me, I know gratitude changes me from the inside out. I am grateful. Time to express it with action, and be healed.

Recovery Killers, 5 Things to Watch Out For

If you are recovering from addictions and attend meetings on a regular basis, you are aware of triggers that lead many to relapse. Most of the effort used to help those in danger of relapse is focused on individuals new to recovery, or perhaps those going through difficult times at present. For any and all in recovery, relapse is a real threat. Whether that relapse returns us to actually using what ensnared us, or to returning to old thinking and self-service. Recovery is getting your life free from addiction. Sobriety is living life, personal growth, having ambitions to strive for, seeing life with a sense of purpose.

We have all experienced shock when someone with many years in recovery suddenly fell and returned to using, boozing, and doing what landed them in recovery originally. We were sure they were cognizant of what to watch out for, so why did they relapse?

There are many considerations as to why that were obvious, or not so obvious, and some not even considered. Here are a few to give pause and consider…and they are killers.

1. Forgetfulness
I’m forgetful, you’re forgetful, all God’s children are forgetful…that’s not a song. Forgetting how you felt when you first landed in recovery meetings can do great damage to ones sobriety. Remember that first meeting? Remember those first few weeks, months and learning how to accept what you became. From what may have started innocently, brought you to the bottom. That memory can keep sober living fresh, and you enthusiastic about sharing “how to” with others. To forget is saying to self, I’m really not as bad as I thought, having a drink or two won’t do me harm…I am not a foolish teen any longer.
2. Remorse
No matter how many meetings some people attend, or rehab, or church attendance, they never seem to get over what could have been. They had aspirations, perhaps were well-known athletes, musicians, or brilliant academically, but became addicted, and hit their bottom in shame. They cannot forgive themselves even years later. They dwell on their lot in life until they just give up trying to recover.
3. Personal Pride
This is something everyone needs to be aware of in recovery. Somehow, as time passes, we learn how to speak well in meetings, newbies and others look up to us as knowing our stuff about clean and sober living. Getting free of addiction then having a lack of humility, to a realization that we are leaders, with the most sober- time in the room, is a fall in process. Never take the “what you need to do is”....as though we have every answer to every problem.
There are many unique situations, i. e. mental disorders, difficult upbringings, some grieving from personal loss, etc. Though twelve-step recovery works for all that have the mental capacity, none of us unique, there are unique situations. Have enough humility to listen before suggesting.
4. Criticism 
This is a recovery killer we all may struggle with. I nearly quit attending meetings early on, criticizing, and over-analyzing every thing I heard in meetings. On one occasion, I had enough of hearing one individual’s story in every meeting. The same story took ten precious meeting minutes that I could have used to speak, though nothing I said had value. I knew little.
At the boiling point I told a friend I have had it with this guy, when another came to join our conversation saying, “wow, did you hear that dude’s story…that was awesome! I slowly learned to stop criticizing and to listen with the heart as well as the ears. The change was dramatic. That experience also helped me stop the gossip of others in recovery.
5. Ingratitude
To a point, we all have gratitude, or maybe a sense of relief that led us to be grateful for finding our way to the sober life. When in the depth of addictions, we are grateful for little, and have a sense of entitlement that makes us obnoxious for the most part. Learning the importance of gratefulness for every little thing is a addiction-breaker.
Taking a hot shower with a clean towel, clean clothes to put on, water to drink, food to eat, things we never gave thought to be thankful for become a point of grace to us. In time, we may go from feelings of that’s all behind me now, it comes natural to stop being grateful, feel entitled, after all, we may think, I worked to have these things. But without recovery, help from God and others, you and I wouldn’t have a job to afford the food, clothing, and roof over our heads.

These killers may not top the list in our thinking. Be aware, they are real, and the list not nearly complete. There are many others not mentioned here or in meetings. The idea is to keep the principles and process fresh in your thinking. Don’t allow people, places, and things to be more important than personal growth through sober living, service to God and others. Stay small in your own eyes with gratitude for everything. Forgive yourself because you are forgiven. If you cannot jump that hurdle, seek professional help.

And one last thought, don’t gossip or criticize. Talk others up, especially those who get under your skin. Say good things and compliment them with sincerity will help you mature to see them in a different light. Stay critical and you will face from others what you gave to them.

Laugh as much as you can and enjoy everyday of your recovery, and sober life, remembering your first visit.

Choosing Where to Live

It is nice to live in a place where the climate is always suitable, the neighborhoods are friendly and crime free, and of course, everywhere you look you see beauty. That would be ideal, a Shangri-la, I suppose. That is totally non-existent, I believe. Where we live in this physical world may not be our choice, but how we live in our environment mentally, is a choice, mostly. That is, even in captivity from our enemies, and placed in prison, we still have a choice to dwell there in tranquil state of mind.

I know that is really a stretch. I say this living in a “free” country, in my home (the banks home), with electricity and running water, and gratefully healthy and mentally stable…I believe. I can refer to the stories of men and women imprisoned for their faith in Christ, for POWs, et al, coming through extreme difficulty, or ending in a martyrs death, yet through it all, had peace, had joy.

From my own experience, I have known great difficulty since arriving in recovery from alcoholism. Some of these experiences may have mentally crippled anyone, including myself, if not for God’s grace. Whether those who I mentioned, or myself, or others in similar situations, our choices now are paramount to survival and sanity. Preparation is key in any case. Prior to self-incarceration in our mind’s prison, or imprisonment from war, or beliefs, or whatever, filling the mind with good, with knowledge and understanding, can make us free in chains.

There is a place in the that may cripple the strongest of wills. That place is knowing truth, then for pleasure’s sake, rejecting truth, ending up in spiritual confusion, an unholy bondage.

By the rivers of Babylon we wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land? If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. Psalm 137 (regarding Judah’s captivity in Babylon)

Many people arrive in recovery from addictions, find hope and recover. They find, as it were, a new life, a new song, moving to into a new neighborhood in their hearts and minds. They learn to live in gratitude…a truly lovely place. They begin to see beauty in nearly everything, as God takes them each step forward. They still face major obstacles and unbearable situations. The choice to leave the old neighborhood of self-service, where crime ruled and misery pressed every thought, brought liberty and order.

Others prefer their captors chains, for now. The song-less life in darkness, hung up on the “good old days” misery, trying to recapture the feeling of that first high, their first drunken experience, and sexual experience. It never returns, forget it. There, joy and peace are exchanged for drama, for turmoil, phoniness, hoping for the next buzz to “get right.” The songs there point to rebellion, or to  enlargement of self thinking, “Now everyone will know who I AM.” 

Before evil raises it’s ugliness, make the choice to move to that neighborhood of wonderment where God creates new things just for you. Refuse the self-way preferring His way. Fill your mind with God, your actions be Christ’s, your direction of His Spirit, guiding you to discover living free of chains in your neighborhood. There is no limit in where He will take the surrendered will.

When Plans Go Awry

I normally anticipate getting to church on those Sundays I don’t work. In fact, every long weekend I get, I plan for church, recovery meetings, and visiting grandchildren. Saturday’s plan is to do all of the household chores and shop for food and necessities. This being spring, outside windows and screens were scheduled, mowing for the first time, etc. Judy and I rolled up the sleeves and went after the work with gusto. We worked, really worked hard to get everything done…but didn’t.

I figured after church Sunday, I would be able to see the grandchildren, then finish our work. We were exhausted. I showered, laid down nearly comatose, and aches and pains with restless leg syndrome paid me a visit. I had to get up and take ibuprofen to sleep. It worked.
I awoke Sunday morning too late to even attempt to get ready for services. Guilt, my arch-enemy’s favorite tool, paid me a visit. I also saw that someone with a serious issue had tried to text me when reviewing my messages. For about an hour we talked over his problem. God gave me words to help him and I believe he was helped. I figured that since the day’s plans were already ruined, I would get back on the chores, so she and I went back at it.
As we were doing work, our neighbor, and elderly gentleman in poor health was riding his mower on a slant about ten feet behind us. We waved and yelled hello, as he did our way. Simultaneously, Judy and I saw the mower’s wheels tip, and the neighbor’s eyes flashed a big uh-oh. We darted over Judy grabbing the back, I holding up the front of the huge mower, the neighbor slid off of the mower, killing the engine.
He threw it in neutral and the three of us steered the mower to flat ground. I believe he would have been killed or permanently maimed in that short tumble had we not been there.
We went about our work. I didn’t get to see the grandchildren, go to the NA meeting, or the evening AA meeting. I sat on the bed thanking God for the great weather and apologizing again for missing services. The thought immediately came to my mind, “had I accomplished my plans today, my friend would not have received the help, my neighbor, well, I believe his wife may be making his arrangements today.” 
God is good all of the time, never doubt that. After God energized me to recognize His presence always, and guilt slithered away from me, these passages came to mind:
ADONAI directs a person’s steps and He delights in his ways. Ps.37:23 
A man’s steps are ordered by ADONAI, so how can a person understand his own ways? Prov.20:24
A person may plan his way, but ADONAI directs his steps. Prov.16:9 
                                                                                (Complete Jewish Bible)
My plans and every intention I have may be good, but good for who? Me, ultimately. You may have the same good intentions, but you find yourself on a complete opposite path, a different job, suddenly moving or in a different church, or even in a bad place you didn’t plan. Stop, thank God for where your feet are that moment, then listen and think with your heart. This is the place your spirit may see God’s goodness in Christ, you surrender, and healing comes to your body and mind.
Don’t stop going to church, recovery meetings, or planning. But when plans fail, remember He is present with a better plan for you.