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Changes in Your Circumstances

 

If you turn it over and don’t let go of it, you will be upside down—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

When You want my attention,

You know how to get it.

There are times when I feel

Like You aren’t really there,

Like You don’t really care,

Like my life has little meaning, value or purpose.

Then, through my circumstances,

You shake me to the core, and I am undone.

That’s when You begin your relentless pruning.

At first, I don’t recognize what is going on,

And I cry out, ”Why me, Lord?”

I don’t like what is happening,

And I resist Your efforts to make me

Into the person You intend for me to be.

I want to be your man,

Strong, resourceful, and successful,

But I want it to come easily, with little effort,

But it never does—not for me, anyway.

I chafe, as You prune my immature ways,

With precision and focused determination.

When I recognize what is occurring,

I bow me knee and acknowledge,

That Your hand has been hard on me,

But Your purpose has never wavered.

When You have finished, You seem pleased

With what You have pruned, knowing that

I will become stronger, more fruitful person.

 

I am the vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. (John 15:1-4)

Jack Watts


The self-worth of alcoholics and addicts is very low, even if their outward behavior appears to be confident, self-assured, and upbeat. This is an illusion. Their lives are filled with guilt, shame, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. Some choose to blame others for their lot in life, doing their best to excuse themselves from being responsible for unacceptable behavior, but this doesn’t work well. Blaming others rarely does, and it certainly isn’t emotionally healthy.

Many live in denial, refusing to admit who they really are and what they have become. They desperately try to convince others their situation is not as bad as it is, going to extraordinary lengths to do so—often comparing themselves favorably to someone who is far worse off than they are. Somehow, this makes them feel better about themselves—at least for a while. They do this, even when the destruction from their lifestyle is obvious to everyone around them, especially to those who refuse to take their delusional thinking at face value.

Whether people trapped by their addictions are willing to admit it or not, their self-talk is nearly always negative. Even if it doesn’t appear to be this way outwardly, negativity reigns in their hearts, regularly informing them they have no worth. Believing they are of no value is a constant theme for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents—it’s never far from their minds. They routinely accept self-condemning disaffirmations as being accurate, whether self-imposed or from others.

Addictions are destructive, especially to a person’s body, but physical health isn’t all that is destroyed. Inwardly, because addictions wound a person’s soul, the damage can be even more extensive. Addictions empower negativity, feeding low self-esteem. They disaffirm a person’s self-worth constantly, making meaningful recovery virtually impossible.
In their minds, alcoholics, addicts, and codependents repeatedly tell themselves:

—I’m no good.
—I hate myself.
—Nobody cares about me.
—I have no value.
—Life has no meaning.
—I don’t want to go on like this.

Wounded people repeat these messages in their mind regularly. Such destructive thinking, which addictive people firmly believe to be accurate—regardless of what they say outwardly—makes it more difficult for them to break free from their enslaving lifestyles.

An addict’s only freedom from negativity comes while he or she is using. Booze and drugs make addicts feel okay—even if it’s just for a short period. It’s why they use. It’s their way to escape the realities of life. It’s also why they gravitate to the seamier side of life, where their dysfunction is accepted as normal. Sometimes, it is even be championed.

When an alcoholic or addict’s standard “fix” stops working, they use more, believing this will do the trick, which it does for a while. Then, it doesn’t. Finally, fixes stop working altogether and never work again.

This leaves alcoholics and users in a desperate situation. This is when their lives spin out of control, and their behavior reflects it. Despite the negative consequences of their actions, the addict is powerless to stop drinking or drugging. They have become ruled and enslaved by their addiction or cross-addictions. They need help, and Conquering Negative Self-Talk can help provide it.

 

Coping with Adversity


CONQUERING NEGATIVE SELF-TALK—with a THROWBACK THURSDAY photo:

Life can be very difficult, especially for someone who is using. That addicted people need God’s help is obvious, or at least it should be. Nearly everybody who has been in recovery for any length of time acknowledges this. Living life on life’s terms can be tough for anybody, but especially for those trapped by their addictions. For these people, adversity can become overwhelming and debilitating. Their coping skills simply do not allow them to deal with life’s problems in an effective way.

Instead of accepting the responsibility for their actions, they make the choice to use—to act out. By not dealing with their problems appropriately, they create additional problems. This isn’t what they want, but it is what happens. As a result, family dysfunction and work related difficulties inevitably follow, creating a vicious, destructive cycle that affects people’s lives adversely.
Unable to cope with stress and difficulties in healthy ways, millions medicate their problems with alcohol, drugs, excessive prescriptions, inappropriate sexual relationships, over-eating, over-spending, and numerous other addictive vices. As they see it, it’s their only solution, their only alternative, and their only way out of intolerable situations.

Drinking and drugging provide these people with an unhealthy way to cope with life—a one-day reprieve from facing their troubles. It’s a quick fix that works for the moment, but in the long run, it creates far more problems than it solves. Those who choose to pursue this path cease to live lives that are meaningful. Instead, they simply exist from one day to the next, and the destructiveness of their behavior creates dysfunction for everyone who loves them. It also makes healthy people codependent by the millions—an unintended but predictable consequence.

The self-worth of alcoholics and addicts is very low, even if their outward behavior appears to be confident, self-assured, and upbeat. This is an illusion. Their lives are filled with guilt, shame, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. Some choose to blame others for their lot in life, doing their best to excuse themselves from being responsible for unacceptable behavior, but this doesn’t work well. Blaming others rarely does, and it certainly isn’t emotionally healthy.
Many live in denial, refusing to admit who they really are and what they have become. They desperately try to convince others their situation is not as bad as it is, going to extraordinary lengths to do so—often comparing themselves favorably to someone who is far worse off than they are. Somehow, this makes them feel better about themselves—at least for a while. They do this, even when the destruction from their lifestyle is obvious to everyone around them, especially to those who refuse to take their delusional thinking at face value.

Whether people trapped by their addictions are willing to admit it or not, their self-talk is nearly always negative. Even if it doesn’t appear to be this way outwardly, negativity reigns in their hearts, regularly informing them they have no worth. Believing they are of no value is a constant theme for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents—it’s never far from their minds. They routinely accept self-condemning disaffirmations as being accurate, whether self-imposed or from others.

 


 

We must lose our fear of creditors no matter how far we have to go, for we are liable to drink if we are afraid to face them—Alcoholics Anonymous

 

Father,

I know You have not given me a spirit of fear.

Your Word assures me that You haven’t,

But that doesn’t mean I’m not fearful. I am.

Sometimes, my fear is so consuming

It sends a cold chill through my body—

Through my soul—through the essence of my being.

On the outside, it doesn’t show, but on the inside,

Where my insecurities make me vulnerable, I am undone.

Every fiber of my being quakes with foreboding,

Immobilizing me, consuming me with dread.

When will it end? When will my heart know peace?

When will terror of the unknown and of economic insecurity

Cease to grip my soul? They toss me about,

Robbing me of sleep, robbing me of purpose,

And robbing me of a productive life.

 

You know me intimately, Lord.

You know my thoughts and all my imperfections,

But I can’t find You in this dismal pit,

Which has become my daily existence.

Assure me that I will experience joy once again—

That I will regain my confidence—that I will smile confidently.

Don’t allow fear of the future to be my lot,

My portion, and my destiny for the rest of my life.

 

Father, You know my course, but I do not.

What will my future be? Will my disquietude ever abate?

Will tranquility be mine again, or just a distant memory?

The answers are not in my possession.

I have no control of events, even though I pretend I do.

My fearfulness robs me of my faith in You, and I don’t have

The strength to overcome this limitation.

You see me as I really am and not how I pretend to be.

I need Your help. Rescue me, Lord; rescue me quickly,

Lest apprehension consume everything of value in me,

Amen.

So your life will hang in doubt before you; and you shall be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see. (Deuteronomy 28:66-67)


 

Father, I Need Your Help

 

Faith is not belief without proof but trust without reservation—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

I feel like a wounded gazelle,

Unable to fend for myself,

As hungry beasts surround me.

My demise seems certain,

And there is no place to hide.

My friends, those who call upon Your name,

Are nowhere to be found—

Just when I need them the most.

My love has abandoned me for another,

Never looking back—not once.

I am undone and badly crushed,

And those who seek what little is left,

Fight over the scraps of my being—

Over the pieces of my shattered life.

How long will You leave me exposed—

Vulnerable to ravenous predators—

To those who seek to destroy me?

Tell me, Lord, when will it be enough?

When will You protect Your wounded child?

When will You move Your mighty hand to help?

If You do not rescue me soon, there will be nothing left.

My head, which was once proud, now hangs in despair,

And my countenance is greatly diminished.

Terrifying apprehension of the future

Overwhelms me, and dread has become my lot.

I fear that my adversaries will have victory over me.

Provide me with a way through this thorny maze,

To a place that is safe and secure—

Free from turmoil, pain, and despair.

 

How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God; Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. Let my enemy say, “I have overcome him,” lest my adversaries rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13)

Jack Watts


Scrupulous Honesty

 

There is pain in recovery; misery is optional—AA Slogan

 

Father,

When I come before You,

I dutifully pay lip service

To how awesome You are.

When I say it, I mean it—sort of.

I know it’s true, but I must admit

That what I’m really interested in is me.

I acknowledge Your sovereignty because

I want “things,” from You—lots of things.

I want You to bless me—

To make my life easier and, most of all,

To rubberstamp my will as Your own.

Nearly all of my prayers focus on

What You can do for me.

I’m interested in Your blessings—

Not in getting to know You better.

This is the truth, and I need to be honest.

I wish I were a better, more selfless person.

I wish I had more character than this, but I don’t.

Admitting the truth about who I am embarrasses me,

But You know my heart and what I’m really like.

I need You to continue making changes in me.

Teach me to seek You for Yourself,

And not simply for what You can do for me.

Give me a heart to yearn for wisdom,

Rather than just Your generous benevolence.

Teach me to look beyond my limited world

To think about the needs of others.

Give me a heart for someone other than myself.

I recognize my selfishness; it is ever before me,

But You are changing me from the inside out,

Helping me to become a better, more thoughtful person—

A person worthy to bear Your name,

Amen.

Jack Watts

 

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I the Lord search the heart. I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results on his deeds. (Jeremiah 17:9-10)


Taking Responsibility

 

A winner is a loser who keeps trying—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

I don’t just believe I’ve been mistreated,

I know I have been mistreated.

And You know I’ve been wronged as well.

I’ve told You what happened repeatedly.

Everybody in my life knows my story.

Now that it has been a while since my wounding,

Everybody seems to have progressed

With their lives—everybody, except for me.

I remain stuck in my debilitating mindset,

Which has not changed appreciably,

Despite the passage of so much time.

It’s infuriating and unfair that I’m the one

Who continues to experience so much pain.

Those who used, misused, and discarded me

Should be the ones to pay, but they haven’t.

At least, I can’t tell that they have.

I’m the one that continues to churn in anger,

Languishing in bitter despair.

By refusing to move forward with my life,

I know I’m not hurting my abusers—not one bit.

I’m only hurting myself, and those around me.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all,

But I can no longer live like this.

I don’t want to waste my future harboring resentment,

Rehashing my drama repeatedly in my mind,

But it’s going to be difficult to get back on track.

I didn’t realize I had drifted so far from You.

I didn’t realize how willful I had become,

But now I do. It becomes clearer each day.

I have blamed others for my plight for so long,

That bitterness seems normal—even comfortable,

Which frightens me for what lies ahead.

Show me how to find my way back to You.

Because, without Your active, healing guidance,

My life will never amount to anything of value,

Amen.

 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Jack Watts

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