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As we seek to do God’s will daily, which is essential to maintaining sobriety, we must also think about the future. After all, planning ahead is an important part of life. To be sure, there are times when all a recovering person can do is make it through the day. I understand this, but days like those usually occur early in sobriety.

Once the desire to drink is no longer a daily obsession, the recovering alcoholic can actually plan for the future—free from the debilitating behavior that created and perpetuated alcoholism.

Even better, we can be free from alcoholic thinking. We can recognize that in Christ our capacity to produce good behavior has greatly increased. We are no longer creatures of the night—tossed about by self-destructive cravings that bind us to failures of our past. We are becoming much better people than this. Thus, we can actually come to the place where we ask God about His plans for our future, rather than repeatedly begging Him to forgive us for our past behavior.

Instead of continuous failure, we can look forward to living an honorable life filled with worthwhile activities. We can actually think about how we can become the person God intends for us to be. When we reach this point, which takes a while but is more than wishful thinking, the principles of sobriety will enter our souls. This is what makes our natures truly sober—not just our behavior. When this happens, and it will, fulfilled in life can occur.

Recovery Prayer


Father, I know who I am.

My past is ever before me, weighing me down.

I see my shame and cringe at the things I have done.

O, how I regret my greedy willfulness,

And how I have hurt others with no other

Purpose than to enhance my pleasure.

My sin is ever before me,

Grinding me down and keeping me

From being a better version of myself.

Is my remorse to be my lot in life forever?

Or, can I finally divest myself of the poisonous

Attitudes that have made my life a wasteland,

Filled with purposeless self-destruction?

In my heart, I know the answer,

But I have difficulty letting go of my guilt.

In my head, I know You have forgiven me,

But in my heart, I have refused to accept

Your forgiveness—not completely.

Father, I need You to change my heart—

To renew my spirit, so that I can

Be free from the shackles of my past

That have tied me to my repeated failures.

Create in me a clean heart, Lord,

So that I can smile at the future—

No longer be hobbled by my transgressions,

Amen. —Jack Watts

Making Amends


Father,

I have walked the wrong path for so long,

Often hurting others and causing them pain.

I deeply regret my actions and self-serving ways.

Now, with Your help, as I try to straighten out

All that I have done that has been so destructive,

I want to get past this phase of my recovery

Quickly and easily, but I know life doesn’t work

This way; nor is it a good idea that it should.

I recognize this. I understand that the way back

Will require as much concerted effort

As I am capable of mustering.

 

But I want more for my life than just getting beyond

All the pain and suffering I have caused others.

I want my life to be filled with love, joy, peace and kindness.

With Your help, I want to learn my life’s lessons

From all the pain I created, so I will never do it again.

I know that, with Your help, I can make amends

And finally set the record straight with others.

Allow me to feel the pain and heartache I have caused,

So that I can grow from this and become a better person.

Father, allow my future good to far eclipse

The willful and callous destructiveness of my past.

Walk with me, Lord, side by side, and help me

Begin a bold new chapter in my life,

Amen.

Jack Watts

RECOVERY FROM ALCOHOLISM


In the weeks and months to come, I will be writing about addiction, but not just about what it is or ways to stop it. That part is important, obviously, but it is also elementary. Although each addict must take life one day at a time, it is equally imperative for every alcoholic to realize this: There is more to life than living not to drink. If you simply exist from one day to the next with no higher aspiration than making it through the day without drinking, then your problem is greater than alcoholism. An expectation such as this creates a very low bar for fulfillment. Life has much more to offer, and God doesn’t want you to miss out on all of the richness awaiting you. To think of grinding out your days—just doing your best to stay sober—eventually becomes negative and self-defeating.

At the beginning of sobriety, when the physical craving for alcohol is still a major issue, taking things one day at a time is all a recovering person can do. That’s a given, and it is absolutely necessary. During this phase, frequently all an alcoholic can do is take things an hour at a time—perhaps even less than that. When this time passes though, and it does, so should the limitations of an alcoholic’s expectations. Unfortunately, for many this never happens. They become stuck in their alcoholic mindset and continue to live day-to-day, never moving beyond their original problem. Consequently, they limit their worldview and their vision for the future. Believing they have little to offer, based on their past behavior and experiences, many in recovery continue to believe their potential for achievement remains low, but this isn’t true. It is exactly the opposite. Unconsciously, alcoholics allow their past failures to continue to define them. Although it doesn’t need to be this way, and shouldn’t be, it does.

In recovery, our aspirations need to be much higher than living not to drink. We simply cannot allow our past transgressions to define who we will be for the rest of our lives. This simple truth should be obvious, but recovering alcoholics miss it routinely. Weighed down by shame and guilt, they never free themselves from the bondage alcoholism has placed on them. For them, being an alcoholic becomes a permanent limitation, rather than a significant but temporary setback. Although alcoholics can never drink again—not under any circumstances—this is their only limitation. Nevertheless, because of the shame of this one handicap, they put a lifetime burden on themselves, carrying it around like Jacob Marley carried his chains.

This is completely unnecessary, and it is certainly not God’s will. Most people are ashamed to admit they are alcoholics. This is why the word “anonymous” is part of the name, but there’s an unintended consequence that comes from this. The stigma of admitting openly that one is an alcoholic continues to shame people for years after they become sober—sometimes decades. They think that remaining in the shadows is a good idea, but it isn’t. What it does is solidify their problem and make it a lifelong issue—one from which they never fully recover.

I realized the enormity of this problem when I wrote my memoir, Hi, My Name Is Jack, which is the story of my family and of my recovery. Essentially, it’s a massive fourth step, but it was much more than this for me. When Simon & Schuster published the book, it was my open, public admission that I was an alcoholic. There were those who thought I was wrong to have even written it, but I published it anyway. Although it was difficult, it freed me from my past like nothing else ever has, including counseling and thousands of AA meetings. —Jack Watts

PRAYER FOR REPENTANCE


Father,

Having wasted so much of my life pursuing folly,

At the core of my being I have felt so ashamed—

So unworthy of Your love or of the love of others.

I believe You have forgiven my transgressions.

You have said so in Your Word, but this doesn’t

Seem real to me—not after what I have done.

I know that I have allowed my past failures

To cloud my thinking and my judgment,

But I’m tired of living like this—

Of spinning my wheels, getting nowhere.

I don’t want to live like this any more; I can’t.

Since Your forgiveness has freed me

From the debilitating guilt of my past,

I want to accept what You have done for me—

Without reservation—once and for all.

I want to be free—to be able to enjoy

The abundant life You desire for me to live.

To make this real, I ask that You

Forgive me, for I have fallen short

Of being the person You intend for me to be.

I accept Your forgiveness, which I do not deserve,

But which You have generously provided.

Since You have expunged all of my misconduct

For eternity, so will I. Thank You for freeing me

From my past, allowing me to walk into the future

Unencumbered by my painful, debilitating memories.

Thank You for restoring me to wholeness,

So that I can become the person You want me to be.

Out of gratitude, I will make myself available

To help others who have strayed

And wandered far from the path of Truth,

Amen.

http://www.mcgeeandme.net/books/

If Alcohol Is Your Problem


If Alcohol Is a Problem

It has always amazed me that the United States is by far the most powerful and successful nation the world has ever produced, while simultaneously being populated by multiplied millions of dysfunctional people. When you think about it, isn’t this amazing? How can so many of us be messed up and yet be such a strong, resilient, and successful nation? Have you ever thought about our situation like this? Can you imagine how strong we would be, if we were able to put our act together?

I certainly have pondered this, and it has led me to think about ways to tackle one of our greatest national problems—alcoholism. It’s a problem that not only destroys the life of the drinker, but also of every member of his or her family, especially the enablers and the children of alcoholics. Kids who grow up in families, where alcoholism is a problem, start out life with two strikes against them. Sometimes, they have no chance at all.

Since alcoholism is what has been modeled to these kids throughout their formative years, many also end up becoming alcoholics—just like dear old Dad or dear old Mom. But it doesn’t have to be this way; it’s a problem that has a solution.

If this is your problem—or you think it might be a problem—you needn’t lose hope. Help is available—right here, right now. The answers are simple, but getting from where you are to where you need to be certainly isn’t. Achieving sobriety is like swimming against the current, with everything in life impeding your progress. Getting sober requires perseverance.

So, if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and if you are ready to make some fundamental changes in your life—changes that will help you become the person God created you to be—you can become that person. This is not “pie in the sky” wishful thinking. Your life can be transformed. It can happen, and it will happen, if you are willing to work for it.

So, if alcoholism is the problem, if it adversely affects you and your family, you’ve come to the right place. Following Jack’s Path will help. If you will allow me to help you, which I am qualified to do, I will. The reason is simple: I’ve learned from my journey, and I intend to bestow the wisdom gained through my experiences upon you.

I’ve been sober for nearly twenty-three years, which is quite a feat for an Irish-Catholic kid reared in Boston—where drinking was part of nearly every social occasion we had. At my father’s wake, for instance, everybody was drunk except for him, and he would have been, if he could have. I’m not kidding. This is the way it was for multitudes and still is.

My mom was an out-of-control alcoholic. She got drunk and passed out twice a day—not once, twice. Neither my brother, who is one year younger, nor I could count on her for anything. If we had to go someplace, and she was drunk, we would have to hitchhike. By the time I was twelve, hitchhiking was my primary means of transportation and remained so for years. I did it thousands of times until I finally purchased a car after college.

Decades later, just thinking about such behavior, with so many predators lurking, is scary; but at the time, it seemed perfectly natural. I didn’t resent doing it either. It was an adventure. For me, hitchhiking was a regular part of my life; so was my mom’s drinking.

At the same time, having such a distorted view of what was normal created many problems when I became an adult. Because of what my parents modeled, drinking to excess seemed like perfectly acceptable behavior. I felt this way even after I invited Christ to come into my life at nineteen.

Having been raised by a poor role model, I chose women who were troubled rather than those who weren’t. Like all kids, I said I never wanted to be like my parents, but this is exactly what I became, although I didn’t recognize it for years. It was how I was programmed. I didn’t like the results it produced, but I didn’t know how to reverse the pattern.

Despite this, in my self-awareness, I realized I would not become the person Christ wanted me to be by following the patters of my family-of-origin. It just wasn’t going to happen. I had to renew my mind and become someone I had not been programmed to be.

This is when I started making some fundamental changes, including picking up a white chip at AA, which signaled my desire—coupled with my commitment—to stop drinking. This was essential, but it was also just one step. To become useful to the Lord, which I knew was God’s will, I had much more work to do than just remain sober. I wanted to achieve fulfillment, and I have, although I continue to be a work in progress. Aren’t we all?

How I have accomplished this is the purpose for this article and those that will follow in Sonoma Christian Home. If you choose to follow, doing the necessary work, I’ll help you to become the person you have always wanted to be—the person God intends for you to be. If this is something you want as well, let’s begin. Join me in the following prayer:

Father,

I want to be who You want me to be—

Not the person I have become.

When I was young and looked toward the future,

I had great hopes, with high, noble aspirations.

Now, those dreams have faded, and the outlook

Doesn’t seem nearly as positive as it once did.

But my past does not have to determine my future.

You can change everything. You can make me whole.

You can restore the years that have been wasted—

Eaten away by debilitation, dysfunction, and dissipation.

Help me, Father. Help me now—this very minute.

Do not tarry. Change me from the inside out,

So that I can once again smile at my prospects.

Help me stop my downward, self-destructive slide

That has caused me so much pain and loss.

Be there for me, as I take the broken pieces of my life,

Bring them to You—one by one—and have them redeemed.

Instill in me a willing heart, as well as the energy

To become the person You intend for me to be,

Amen.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He will make your path straight.

—Proverbs 3:5-6.

 

Jack Watts

PRAYER—Forgiving Others


Forgiving Your Abuser

 

My daily sobriety is contingent on my spiritual condition—AA Slogan

 

Father,

Now that I’ve opened up completely,

Being as honest and transparent as I know how to be,

Having also admitted my faults to another,

I ask that You heal my pain completely.

Change anything in me that You desire.

You are Almighty God; and I am not.

I know how powerless I am to control

What will happen in my future.

Father, I’m weary of walking a path

That has not been ordained by You.

To complete the process of purging my life

From all that remains toxic to my soul,

I recognize there is one final step I need to take.

It is the step I intend to make right now.

 

Father, I forgive those who have abused me—

Totally, completely, irreversibly, and forever.

Just as You have forgiven me—I forgive them,

Releasing them—just as I have been released.

I have churned anger and bitterness in my soul

For far too long, paying a heavy price

For maintaining a grudge and refusing to forgive.

Foolishly, I believed I was chastising my abusers

By spitefully withholding my pardon,

But the only person I have punished is myself.

I realize this and no longer desire bitterness to nurture me.

Give me the strength to lay aside my anger and my acrimony.

Allow me to walk into the future unencumbered

By the debilitating shackles that have enslaved me for so long,

Amen.

 

How great is Thy goodness, which Thou has stored up for those who fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for those who take refuge in Thee, before the sons of men! Thou dost hide them in the secret place of Thy presence from the conspiracies of man; Thou dost keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. (Psalm 31:19-20)

Jack Watts

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