Archive for February, 2010

Refer to STEP 10: I believe that God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

My world was turned upside down in 1998 when I discovered I had been the victim of a massive embezzlement. When everything was pieced together, my loss was nearly $700,000, which one of my good friends described as, “a lifetime of net worth.” At the time, it was impossible to understand why God would allow such a thing to happen.

I wasn’t mad at God about it—not really, but I was devastated, especially because my economic situation has been tenuous ever since. I went from being very prosperous to being economically marginal, virtually overnight, with no chance to ever recover what I had lost.

With no other choice, I began my life over again. As part of my new beginning, I had to learn to find enjoyment in ways that didn’t cost money, which was difficult at first. As time passed, however, I became better at it because I chose to view my difficulties as an adventure—not as a burden, not as my cross to bear.

I didn’t whine—not for long, anyway, which was counterproductive. I just did the best I could with what I had. One thing I learned to do was blog, which costs nothing, and it benefitted those with real needs and real problems. There were no more luxurious vacations, which meant I had more time to spend with people. In many ways, my life became more rewarding. Having spent the last 20 percent of my life living one day at a time economically, it has become a lifestyle and not a temporary aberration.

With the downturn in our economy and with our financial future in peril, having learned from my experiences, I now have more to say than most. I’ve found value in simplicity and worth in scarcity. Not having substantial discretionary income isn’t the end of the world. There is life beyond affluence—a better life, in many ways. You don’t need money to be happy. It’s not your security; God is. If He isn’t, then material scarcity will drive you to Him. Either way, you’ll benefit and come out at the other end a better person. I promise you will.

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Refer to STEP 11I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with God, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

What is the role of a recovering person in the Great Commission?

Most Christians feel guilty because they have been badgered by their church leadership to “witness for Christ,”going so far as to prepare canned three-minute testimonies, which are supposed to have a dramatic impact upon the lives of those forced to listen to them. Most shun giving their testimonies and experience guilt for having done so. Others obediently do it and make fools out of themselves all over town, sounding more like pyramid marketers than anything else.

Those of us in recovery have learned to conceptualize in a different way. Our part, despite what’s been drummed into us, is not to spout pious platitudes or meaningless drivel. It’s to walk in the light and, by so doing, to lift up the Lord as the power behind our recovery—behind what has transformed our lives and made them meaningful. When I lift Him up, He draws people to Himself. When I push Him, which over the years I’ve learned not to do, nothing worthwhile happens—nothing, nada, zip!

The difference is not a nuance, but an entirely different thing. It’s the difference between promotion and attraction. The former makes people want to avoid you; the latter makes people want to seek you out. Nothing good comes from the former; nothing bad comes from the latter.

As someone in recovery helps another, with neither ulterior motive nor desire for personal gain, good things happen. Lives are changed, and people are restored to fruitfulness. One more thing happens: it makes your “witness” a living witness and not stale religious sentamentality, which nearly everyone eschews.

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Refer to STEP 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with God, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

Praying only for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out, those of us in recovery march into the future, one day at a time, doing the next right thing. That’s all we have the power to do anyway. To think that we—or anybody else—have control of the future is an illusion. What we do have is the power to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason—nothing else.

That power comes from within, because we are God’s children and He has bestowed that power to us. Being shamed and ridiculed by our abusers, nearly all of us have operated in fear and defeat for a long time. It’s a byproduct of abuse, universally experienced by abused people, but it need not be your experience any longer.

You can put it away forever and never allow it to diminish your self worth again. You can cast aside the condemnation you’ve experienced in the past and walk forward with a smile on your face, knowing that regardless of what has kept you down, you don’t have to stay down any longer. You’re free because God has set you free, and the negative message that has debilitated you for so long, need never do so again. You’re free; and the person God has set free, no abusive religious leader has the right to enslave ever again.

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‘Praying for God’s Will’

Refer to STEP 10: I believed that God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

Regardless of the type of recovery a person is in, whether  for alcoholism, gambling, drugs, overeating, sexual compulsivity, or another I’ve missed; there are some similarities between all of them. One common element concerns the purpose for a person’s recovery—what they do with their life, one day at a time. That’s why millions pray everyday, asking God to know His will for them and the power to carry it out. For those who are recovering from spiritual abuse, it’s the same thing. Your purpose is to know God’s will for your life and to have the power to carry it out.

In evangelical Christianity, in particular, believers are told their purpose is to “save the lost,” which is the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Because it was the last thing Christ ever said on earth, it has been a significant part of Christianity ever since.

But, what exactly is the Great Commission? Well, it isn’t “saving the lost,” but “discipling the nations’,” which is an entirely different thing. This means it’s our responsibility—those of us in recovery—to help others who have been used, abused, and discarded, just like we have been. The difference between the two is considerable, especially for people like us.

If the primary purpose of the Great Commission is to witness to the lost, then few of us will do it. For people who have been abused, witnessing to strangers is very unappealing. If, on the other hand, it’s God’s purpose for us to help someone who has been wounded—like we have been—then that’s a much more attractive proposition, isn’t it?

How many people do you know who have had negative experiences with Christianity—five, ten, fifty, or a hundred? Helping them in their recovery process, which most would welcome, doesn’t feel like such a difficult assignment, does it? Best of all, while you’re doing it, you can be exactly who you are. You don’t have to pretend, which never works anyway—not really.

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