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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


When the Answer Is “No”

 

Change is a process, not an event—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

For those who wait patiently for You,

For those who come to You for guidance,

Rather than taking matters into their own hands,

You promise they will mount up with wings like eagles—

That they will run and not grow weary—

That they will walk and never faint.

In the depth of my despair, in my intense heartache,

Your promises seem so ethereal and remote,

So obscure, so meaningless and unattainable,

That I was certain they were beyond my reach.

I didn’t consider them to be real or tangible.

They were nothing more than sappy, poetic platitudes.

In my pain and heartache, which at times was so intense,

All I wanted was relief for the suffering I thought was endless.

I begged You to answer my insistent demands,

Which You never did, adding to my distress.

I felt so unloved and abandoned—even by You,

Which magnified my pain tenfold, maybe twenty.

 

Now, I realize You did answer. You just said, “No.”

You loved me enough to prevent me form consequences

That were clearly not in my best interest.

In my disquietude and short-sightedness,

I couldn’t understand or fathom Your will, as I now do.

But, because I chose Your path, instead of the willful

Self-destructiveness I desired to ease my pain,

You have brought me to a higher plateau—

To a place where I am now capable

Of mounting up with wings like an eagle—

Just as You promised in Your Word.

Because You restore the years the locust have eaten,

I feel refreshed and invigorated—with a determined resolve—

That has increased my energy dramatically.

As my strength and faith continue to abound,

I feel empowered to run and not grow weary.

Thank You for caring enough to refuse my foolish demands,

Amen.

 

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am you God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10-11)

Jack Watts


I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired—AA Slogan

 

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 your 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

Remain Humble


Grandiose Aspirations?

 

 

Refer to Step 5: I recognize the only way back to a productive life is exactly the way I came. I have to repair my relationship with God and make amends with everyone I have wronged along the way.

 

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

—George Elliott

 

Quite often, when a person invites Christ into his or her life, developing a relationship with God is perceived as having God as an ally—having Him in your corner so to speak. In the person’s simplicity and naiveté, their perception is that Almighty God is there to help them further their ends—to help them achieve their goals in life. They operate under this delusion for a while—sometimes for a long while—until their carefully constructed world begins to crumble.

Many things can shatter a person’s world, including religious abuse. More than anything, religious abuse can knock the legs right out from under a person. When this happens, all of their grandiose aspirations seem to go with it. It’s like blunt force trauma to a person, stopping them dead in their tracks, changing everything. It also knocks the grandiosity out of a person.

When this happens, the abused person no longer has ends of his or her own to achieve. Their illusions about themselves have been dashed on the rocks, especially after having been subjected to shame, ridicule, and caustic criticism.

Such a crushing experience impacts a person’s core emotions, producing bitterness, resentment, and a hard heart. Just when the person believes that nothing else good will ever come into their lives, Almighty God comes calling again. Beginning with a gentle whisper, He lets the person know that they were traveling along their own road with their own goals, which were not His.

When that happens, at first the person is shocked, never having considered that he or she had been pursuing goals that were not aligned with God’s. As time goes on, however, and the relentless heartbreak of abusiveness takes its full toll upon the person’s soul; they become much more willing to listen to the voice of Almighty God.

 

 

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” (Isaiah 65:1)

Jack Watts


Reaching Your Full Stature

 

I don’t always know what God’s will is for me, but I always know what it’s not—AA Slogan

 

Father,

I am grateful for all that you have done—

So honored that you would love me—

And would pay attention to my needs.

On my best days, which seem to be rare,

When I am peaceful and tranquil—

When I am confident that You are in charge

And that I need not worry—

I know how blessed I am.

 

Help me live in this truth each day.

Help me show others that You care

And that You are always available.

Let people see by my actions

The depth of my confidence in You;

Let them be convinced Your ways are the best—

And that You are always wise and prudent.

 

Teach me to refrain from boastful arrogance;

And let pride be far from me.

Do not let this be my witness; Do not let me

Push those who seek You further away,

Rather than help them draw near.

Teach me to be mindful that

Whatever I do, whether positive or negative,

It reflects on me, but it also reflects on You,

Amen.

 

 

Come and hear, all who fear God, and I will tell of what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear; but certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His lovingkindness from me. (Psalm 16-20)


For most people, after being subjected to a pattern of verbal and emotional abuse and—occasionally physical, sexual or financial abuse—life never really returns to health and normalcy. Deep emotional scars cripple the abused person to the point that his or her life never regains the richness, fullness, or contentment it once exhibited.

It doesn’t have to be this way, however, and this type of outcome is most definitely not God’s will. God loves you exactly the way you are—in your brokenness, in your despair, and in your uncertainty. He has not given you a spirit of fear. That comes from being abused and not from Him.

He has given you a spirit of love, power, and of a disciplined, sound mind. It resides just below the surface of your troubled heart, waiting for you to do the work necessary to appropriate the inner power that rightfully belongs to you—just as it does with all of God’s children.

It’s not easy regaining your composure after experiencing deep wounds from being abused; but if you do the work necessary to heal, you will not be as good as you once were. You will be better—perhaps much better.

Joy will return to you but in a different, far more meaningful way. It will be tempered with humility, discernment, and wisdom. This is not an idealistic outcome. It can be your experience, if you allow God’s healing touch to restore you. You’ll be more valuable than you ever imagined.

I’m not guessing about the outcome. I’ve seen it happen repeatedly. The choice is yours. You can go through life crippled by your debilitating abusive experience, or you can allow God to use it to become everything He ever intended you to be.

If you want to change, from the inside out, join me in this prayer:

Father,

I know You want me to trust You completely,

And I do—at least, much of the time.

Because of what has hurt me so much

And my feelings of worthlessness,

 

I still struggle to believe that You love me—

That You accept me just as I am,

Regardless of how awful that might be.

I don’t see how You could—not really.

Perhaps that’s why I whine and remain timid,

Even though You desire for me

To be resilient, joyful, and self-assured.

I desire inner strength, but that’s rarely an option.

Father, how can You love somebody like me?

That You do is something I cannot fathom.

Such love and acceptance is beyond my grasp.

You say that you love me despite everything,

Even when self-defeating ways overwhelms me,

Which seems to happen far too often.

As You display Your faithfulness,

My trust in You increases, ever building,

But it still isn’t where it should be.

pretend to be strong—to be supremely confident,

But I’m not nearly the person on the inside

That I appear to be on the outside.

I pretend to be what I am not—

To be far more secure than I really am.

I even try to fool myself, but You know

My frailties, which I attempt to mask.

I don’t know why You care so much,

When I don’t even care about myself.

This is a great mystery to me.

In my quiet moments, which I attempt to avoid,

I try to fathom such love and caring,

But I simply cannot.

Amen.

Jack Watts


When Darkness Recedes

 

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

 

 

Father,

I can sense that the dark season is passing,

That my soul-weary depression is lifting,

And despair will no longer be my lot in life.

My travail is not finished yet—not quite

But, like the tide that inevitably recedes,

Leaving a great wide expanse of clean, bright sand,

The same is true for my soul.

My days have been filled with gloom for so long

That I thought joy would never return to me,

But it has—with the best yet to come.

Like the relentless surge of the waves,

New life and new hope increase daily.

You assured me this would happen,

Comforting me with Your Word,

But my pain undermined my confidence.

In the depth of my despair,

Regardless of how deep my pit became—

You were there with me,

Providing nuggets of nourishment,

Which replenished my starving soul.

It was all I had and it wasn’t much,

But it was enough to sustain me.

Without Your gentle hand nurturing me,

I’m certain there would be nothing left.

But, because You have been there,

I am a better person than before—

More resilient, more caring,

More compassionate and more confident.

As joy returns to my soul, it reminds me

That You are always by my side—

In times of bounty and in times of lean.

Whether joy abounds or dread consumes—

Each reminds me that my days are numbered.

They are not my own; they belong to You,

Amen.

 

 

O Lord my God, I cried to Thee for help, and Thou didst heal me. O Lord, Thou hast brought up my soul from Sheol; Thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:2-5)

Jack Watts

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