Hypocrite

Most of my life I’ve lived in a zone of hypocracy. I’ve made myself different on the outside to mask what was going on inside. I’ve longed to be pure and right before God, but I’ve always felt I’ve not been good enough. I’ve not measured up to the expectations I imagine others have for me and ultimately to the one’s I thought God has for me.

I tried coming at my self from a different perspective. I’m not perfect but no one is and we’re all sinners after all. This way of thinking became a protective covering over my heart and my conscience, so when my addict showed up, I’d follow him once again into hiding who I really was from everyone important to me. Of course shame and guilt were part of this cycle for me, but as my heart grew harder and my thinking more entrenched, I brushed off shame and guilt more easily by some sort of faulty rationalization. I thought because I was working so hard for God in helping His Christian organizations, that I deserved to act out. It became a reward for hard and extremely difficult work.

At the time though, I did wonder why I did not have the capacity to continue on in leadership positions. I would last 3-5 years and then feel beaten up and unable to continue. I now believe that, because of my addicition, I operated in mostly a self-centered way when dealing with tough relationships. I was not what my pastor calls, self-differentiated, and I think in some weird way, I was taking on ther characteristic that I so wanted to fix in the other person. I was the ultimate hypocrite.

Thank God I am in recovery, not just from a wicked addicition, but from old ways of thinking about myself. I’m slowly beginning to recognize when I’m having an intense emotion, or maybe just any ordinary one. I still find myself getting worked up about something, usually something I see in someone else. But I can say to myslef, “Oh, it’s happening again.” I can change my thinking to be about myself and what is going on inside. I can ask God for help. Instead of getting angrier and angrier at someone else, I can “sit with” the emotion I’m having and know it won’t kill me. I can write about what just happened, and I can leave Starbucks without having already connected with someone to schedule a time to act out.

This is liberty, this is freedom, this is life relieved from the bondage of myself that I may better do the will of my higher power.

Thanks be to God.

Come unto me . . .

Matt. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Self-consciousness is the first thing that will upset the completeness of the life in God, and self-consciousness continually produces wrestling. Self-consciousness is not sin; it may be produced by a nervous temperament or by a sudden dumping down into new circumstances. It is never God’s will that we should be anything less than absolutely complete in Him. Anything that disturbs rest in Him must be cured at once, and it is not cured by being ignored, but by coming to Jesus Christ. If we come to Him and ask Him to produce Christ-consciousness, He will always do it until we learn to abide in Him. – O. Chambers

When we are caught up in our addictions, it’s common for us to deny the truth about our situation with grandiose thinking. We may believe that we’re above it all, a god unto ourselves, accountable to no one. – Recovery Bible

I am amazed that I believe that I can fix my problem of addiction. It is pride and certainly not humility that keeps this lie alive in my life. I am learning to live with emotions that I used to aviod at all costs. I would run and hide from the way I was feeling. I’d isolate myself from others, from my wife and family, and soothe myself by acting out. This insane, destructive cycle is being broken in my programs of recovery. For this, by God’s grace, I am forever grateful to the One who gives me rest.

This past week my wife shared some difficult news with me. We were having one of our regular check-in times and at the end she said, “D. and R. have said the same thing to me. They report that I’m better when I’m not around you. I think you should think about where you might go to stay a week a month or so.” I told her that her statement made me sad but also that I was in some way at peace for her. Our converstation ended and I went for a walk.

In the past I would have allowed the resentment I felt to well up into anger and rage. I remember some of my walks in the past to be so full of furor that my breathing would seeth from me. This time was different. Although, I didn’t initially identify my resentment, it did not produce deep anger. I walked for a while and went to bed.

The next day I went to a support meeting and afterwards a friend asked how I was doing and I told him about my conversation the night before. He listened and shared some insight that gave me resolve to talk again to my wife.

That evening my wife and I reopened the conversation from the previous night. She explained more about what she was feeling, and I was able to better express how I felt, and also how, in the past, I would have responded very differently. It was a great example of how my recovery was influencing my life and making me a better person.

This morning I shared this story at another support meeting. I shared how recovery was making me a better person, how I could look my resentment in the eye and not let it overtake me, and how I was grateful that I was learning new and better ways of handling life’s difficulties. I am so grateful that I handled this situation without isolating myself, entering a dark space with my addict, and acting out.

Instead of trying to be god, I was able to surrender and come unto Him. This was at a subconcioius level. I did not think, Oh, I need God right now. But that is exactly who I did need, and only because God’s Holy Spirit is in me, instead of being self-conscious, I became God-conscious. I’m glad that through my readings and prayer today that I became aware of my progress in recovery. I pray it will lead to more sobriety.

When I am God-conscious, trials produce steadfastness and the full effect of steadfastness is a completness so perfect that it lacks nothing.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 ESV http://bible.com/59/jas.1.2-4.esv

Two Roads Diverge, Part 2 Revisited

In His presence is fullness of joy . . .

I’m still figuring this one out and think it is one of those life long learning opportunities.

Sometimes I feel like I’m addicted to everything. I use stuff to avoid my emotions, especially the strong ones. I hide from fear with food. I suppress anger with gambling. For resentment or stress, there is acting out sexually. Sometimes I find myself even trying to ignore feelings of deep joy.

My counselor is helping me to understand myself. I’m in the middle of a formal presses of full disclosure to my wife about my acting out sexually. Talk about strong emotions. I was suggesting that I just have a beer before or after the upcoming session where I will be telling my wife the nitty gritty of my past. The counselor smiled, like she does, and said I don’t want you to drink before the session and I’d prefer you sit with your emotions after. WTF does sit with my emotions mean? We talked it through. Emotions won’t kill me; they are not good nor bad. They just are.

So for the second time today I sat – we’ve got this great new chair that is perfect for this – through my emotions. Funny thing, today I felt a rush of an emotion that I identify as full joy. I was thinking about a couple. They are some of my best friends. We have cycled across the country together. Tomorrow is Steve’s birthday. Tears ran to the corners of my eyes and down my cheeks. My breaths were deep like the ocean. Complete gladness welled up inside me. And I sat there. Before, I think I would have tried to shake the feeling off, like there was a spider on my hand. Instead, I sat with my own feeling and bathed in the joy. I was surrounded by water that was soothingly warm and my muscles relaxed. It was refreshingly cool and exhilarating at the same moment.

This is another example where I’ve come to believe, “Above all, trust in the slow work of God . . . Only God [can] say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ

Grace and peace to you in Christ who gives mercy sufficient for today,

Henry