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God, grant me courage in my spiritual distress. Use my struggles to bring about healing in my relationship with you.
Recovery is a spiritual journey. Unfortunately, we sometimes are poorly prepared for the twists and turns this journey will take. We are caught by surprise when we experience spiritual distress is part of the recovery process.
The struggle to face the past pain--or to address issues of addiction and codependency--lead to an honest examination of all life. We ask difficult and searching questions about God and about our faith. The spiritual distress that comes from this struggle can be confusing and frightening.
But spiritual distress is not an indication of spiritual failure. It is more likely a sign that God is growing in us a new capacity for relationship with him. Times of distress are often the first steps towards spiritual healing and growth. They are often times when we realize acutely our desire to know and be known by God.
When we protest God's absence, we are experiencing our deep longing for closeness with God. When God seemed silent, we learn again how much we need to hear his voice. When God seems distant, we realized afresh our strong desire to experience his presence. Spiritual distress may actually serve to prepare our hearts to hear and receive from God.
During recovery we uncovered some major struggles in our relationship with God-anger, pain, doubt, longing. If we hide ourselves from these thoughts and feelings when they surface, we may be running away from some of the most important healing that we can experience.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2019 - TRANSITIONING FROM ONE YEAR TO THE NEXT Audio for TRANSITIONING FROM ONE YEAR TO THE NEXT
In just a few hours the new calendar year will be upon us. On what basis do we hope to have a better year in the coming one than we had in this year which is almost gone? Often, we feel overwhelmed at the start of a new year because we have so much stuff to wade through, so many unanswered questions in our minds, and so many painful things in our hearts. If we have come and gone from recovery in the past, then we are often concerned about our ability to maintain peace and joy in sobriety in the future for any length of time.
God's answer is very positive, very simple and very direct. It comes in the form of an invitation: Repent!
Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit.(Ezekiel 18:30b-31 NIV)
This year will very quickly become the old year and we are unable to change anything that happened in it. As we wait for the countdown to the new year, it’s good to reflect on what God offers to give us going forward – a new heart and a new spirit. In fact, God says we will become a new person. Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion(2 Corinthians 5:17b NLT, Philippians 1:6b NIV)
This coming year is a fresh opportunity to improve our conscious contact with our powerful God who can restore and maintain our sanity. We can’t fix ourselves, but God can. “God could and would if He were sought.” This is the hope shared by one recovering friend to another. This is the promise that God makes to us on this New Year’s Eve.
Prayer: Loving God, As I enter this new year, I choose to commit my past to you. I lay down my fears and resentments. I receive Your comfort, Your forgiveness, and Your healing. I have hope and confidence in Your assurance that You will complete the good work you have begun in me. Amen
Praise report! It's my twelfth intentionally sober New Years Eve, in a row! Have a Happy sober New Years if you can… 1 Peter 1:13"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming." NIV.
"We keep what we have only with vigilance..." Basic Text, p. 60
How do we remain vigilant about our recovery? First, by realizing that we have a disease we will always have. No matter how long we've been clean, no matter how much better our lives have become, no matter what the extent of our spiritual healing, we are still addicts. Our disease waits patiently, ready to spring the trap if we give it the opportunity.
Vigilance is a daily accomplishment. We strive to be constantly alert and ready to deal with signs of trouble. Not that we should live in irrational fear that something horrible will possess us if we drop our guard for an instant; we just take normal precautions. Daily prayer, regular meeting attendance, and choosing not to compromise spiritual principles for the easier way are acts of vigilance. We take inventory as necessary, share with others whenever we are asked, and carefully nurture our recovery. Above all, we stay aware!
We have a daily reprieve from our addiction as long as we remain vigilant. Each day, we carry the principles of recovery into all that we do, and each night, we thank our Higher Power for another day clean.
Just for Today: I will be vigilant, doing everything necessary to guard my recovery.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020 - THE FIRST DAY OF THIS NEW YEAR Audio for THE FIRST DAY OF THIS NEW YEAR
Happy New Year! This is the first of 366 days we have in this leap-year to enjoy life and do good. Will we allow today to be one more day of the “same old same old” or will today be a day we choose to enjoy the love of God and live in response to that love? You have now become a new person and are always learning more about Christ. You are being made more like Christ. He is the One Who made you. (Colossians 3:10 NLV)
We can enter into this new year with joy and hope because it is God who says that when we invite Him into our lives, we become new. The old goes and the new comes. God does it. Prior to God living in us we are dead people walking around not knowing how to do life. When God makes us alive, He not only shows us how to live but gives us the desire and the power to do things His way. God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Don’t be angry with each other but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14 ERV)
THURSDAY, JANUARY 2, 2020 - BUILDING UP OUR SELF-ESTEEM Audio for BUILDING UP OUR SELF-ESTEEM
Low self-esteem is a negative sense of one's worth or ability to cope or do well in life. There's plenty of literature that links substance abuse with low self-esteem. The pity is that substance abuse doesn't solve this problem but only adds to it in a very major way. What does God, who made us and who planned a meaningful and satisfying life for us, have to say about our self-worth?
God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Genesis 1:27, Isaiah 43:4b, Jeremiah 29:11, Philippians 4:13 NLT)
The devil loves to tell us lies when we don’t feel good about ourselves, our circumstances, or our future. He tells us we’re defective and we need something to make us fit in, be accepted, or help us feel better. God's view is different and His perspective of us is the ONLY correct one. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We don’t need to fear our weaknesses or try to hide them just because they are different from someone else’s. God’s promise is that when we feel weak, His power will strengthen us.
God says: My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.(2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT)
In difficult times it’s good to change our mind-set and lift our spirit by rejecting negative thinking, helping others, forgiving ourselves and focusing on what we can do rather than on what we can’t do. It's even more important to keep things simple by remembering that our value isn't based on our successes or failures or on the opinions of others or even our own feelings. We are who God says we are. We have a wonderful future because God says we do, and God will help us. We can get through whatever difficulty we may face because God promises to make a way where there seems to be no way. Prayer: Loving God, help me to live today in the joy of being the person You created me to be, trusting that You are with me and providing everything I need to live with dignity and honour. Amen
January 02, 2020 . . . Take a deep breath and talk to God . . Page 2
"Sometimes when we pray, a remarkable thing happens: We find the means,
ways, and energies to perform tasks far beyond our capacities." . . Basic Text, p. 46
Coping successfully with life's minor annoyances and frustrations is sometimes the most difficult skill we have to learn in recovery. We are faced with small inconveniences daily. From untangling the knots in our children's shoelaces to standing in line at the market, our days are filled with minor difficulties that we must somehow deal with.
If we're not careful, we may find ourselves dealing with these difficulties by bullying our way through each problem or grinding our teeth while giving ourselves a stern lecture about how we should handle them. These are extreme examples of poor coping skills, but even if we're not this bad there's probably room for improvement.
Each time life presents us with another little setback to our daily plans, we can simply take a deep breath and talk to the God of our understanding. Knowing that we can draw patience, tolerance, or whatever we need from that Power, we find ourselves coping better and smiling more often.
Just for Today: I will take a deep breath and talk to my God whenever I feel frustrated.
A friend of mine used to say: "The biggest room in the world is the one for improvement."
Lord may I see myself as you see me -- lovable, valuable, and competent to serve you and others.
When we were children, our parents and other important adults served as mirrors for us. They taught us who we were by the way they mirrored reality. We then internalized these perspectives and carried them with us into our adult lives.
If we experienced neglect, abuse, criticism, or smothering as children then we are likely to see ourselves in negative ways as adults. Neglect teaches children to they are uninteresting and unimportant. Criticism teaches him that they are never good enough or that they are valuable only if they achieve perfection. Smothering teaches them that they are incompetent and valuable only as an extension of the parent. Abuse teaches them that they are powerless and that something must be terribly wrong with them.
In order to heal from distorted images of ourselves, we need a positive frame of reference outside of ourselves. Healing begins when we allow ourselves to see ourselves as God sees us. God's point of view is independent of our own. He can mirror reality for us. The good news is that God does not neglect or criticize or smother or abuse. He loves, respects, and values us as no parent has ever been able to do. He can provide a new and very different kind of mirror for us. We gradually internalize the attitudes God has towards us, will begin to view ourselves in new and healthy ways.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 3, 2020 - GROWING UP Audio for GROWING UP
When we accept Jesus’ death as payment for the sins we have committed, we are freed from the punishment of sin and are given a fresh start. Thankfully God did not stop there. By raising Jesus from the dead, God demonstrated He is the Higher Power on whom we can rely to help us successfully live in this fresh new way.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has great mercy, and because of his mercy he gave us a new life. This new life brings us a living hope through Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death. (1 Peter 1:3 ERV)
January 03, 2020. . .Our greatest need. .Page 3
"We eventually redefine our beliefs and understanding to the point where we see that our greatest need is for knowledge of God's will for us and the strength to carry that out.". . Basic Text, p. 48
When we first arrived in NA, we had all kinds of ideas of what we needed. Some of us set our sights on amassing personal possessions. We thought recovery equaled outward success. But recovery does not equal success. Today, we believe that our greatest need is for spiritual guidance and strength.
The greatest damage done to us by our addiction was the damage done to our spirituality. Our primary motivation was dictated by our disease: to get, to use, and to find ways and means to get more. Enslaved by our overwhelming need for drugs, our lives lacked purpose and connection. We were spiritually bankrupt.
Sooner or later, we realize that our greatest need in recovery is "for knowledge of God's will for us and the strength to carry that out." There, we find the direction and sense of purpose our addiction had hidden from us. In our God's will we find freedom from self-will. No longer driven only by our own needs, we are free to live with others on an equal footing.
There's nothing wrong with outward success. But without the spiritual connection offered by the NA program, our greatest need in recovery goes unmet, regardless of how "successful" we may be.
Just for Today: I will seek the fulfillment of my greatest need: a vital, guiding connection with the God of my understanding.
We wants our minds to be developed so we know what is right and wrong, and know how to solve difficult problems. This is what we are promised when we regularly read and apply the practical ideas we find in Proverbs. These are the proverbs of Solomon, the son of David and king of Israel. They will help you learn to be wise, to accept correction, and to understand wise sayings. They will teach you to develop your mind in the right way. You will learn to do what is right and to be honest and fair. These proverbs will make even those without education smart. They will teach young people what they need to know and how to use what they have learned. Even the wise could become wiser by listening to these proverbs. They will gain understanding and learn to solve difficult problems. (Proverbs 1:1-5 ERV)
Our growth in any area of life is not gained by self-effort alone. It is based on the principle that on our own we are powerless. We need a higher power who can restore us to sanity. It’s as we turn our will and our life over to God that we find a new and successful way to live each day. To be wise is to get to know God’s word and do what He says. We are foolish if we do otherwise.
If you really want to gain knowledge, you must begin by having respect for the Lord. But foolish people hate wisdom and instruction.(Proverbs 1:7 NIRV)
For too long, we have lived in our destructive and addictive lifestyle. As the saying goes, “If nothing changes, nothing changes.” Today we have a chance to learn the best changes to make and to experience God’s power in putting them into practice.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I acknowledge that I don’t know enough to live life on my own. I need Your wisdom. I need Your power. Help me to live with humility and learn a new way of life by reading Your word and putting Your ways into practice. Amen
There are two powerful emotions that motivate people to make dramatic changes in their lives:inspiration and desperation. It is often the case; a person finds their greatest inspiration in the most desperate of situations. When a person hits rock bottom, and they reach the lowest point in their lives, they are awakened to the reality that their lives must change.
God’s word is full of examples of men and women who hit rock bottom:
My Lord, you heard my groaning. You can hear my sighs. My heart is pounding. My strength is gone, and I am going blind. Because of my sickness, my friends and neighbors will not visit me; my family will not come near me. My enemies say bad things about me. They are spreading lies and rumors. They talk about me all the time. But I am like a deaf man and cannot hear. I am like someone who cannot speak. I am like those who cannot hear what people are saying about them. I cannot answer to prove my enemies wrong. Lord, you must defend me. Lord my God, you must speak for me. That’s why I prayed, “Don’t let my enemies smile at my pain. Full of pride, they will laugh if I stumble and fall.” I know I am guilty of doing wrong. I cannot forget my pain. (Psalm 38:9-17 ERV)
Many of us have come from an environment that is described above by the writer of this Psalm. When we began to make unwise decisions, we never dreamed they would take us to where they did. We never gave a thought to why our behaviour would turn our family, friends and neighbours away from us. We never thought we would get to a place where we could not bear to hear what people were saying about us.
We know that we are not alone. Many people in the world of addiction are like us. Most made foolish choices and were naïve to the way their dependency led them and how far it took them down. That’s why the writer of the Psalm turned to God for help. When we get to that place where we hate what we are doing and call on God, He will be there to help us. The significant question for each of us to ask ourselves is, “Do I hate what I have been doing or just hate the suffering I have to endure?”
Like the Psalmist, we must come to God and admit that we are guilty of wrongdoing. We cannot deal with our pain on our own. Our Heavenly Father waits for us to turn our hearts towards Him. When we do, He adopts us as His children, and we have all the power of the Kingdom of Heaven to help us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I confess that my life is a mess of my own making. I have done wrong things and made poor choices. I want to leave all that behind. I want to be born again into Your kingdom and follow Your ways. Please help me! Amen