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Archive for June, 2015


Self-Defeating Behavior

 

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

 

Father,

Having been wounded at the core of my being,

I have stopped seeking You—

Stopped praying, stopped looking to You

For discernment, guidance, and wisdom.

I haven’t wanted anything to do with You.

I have been so angry, hurt, and humiliated.

In my pain, I have acted in shameful ways,

And I have tried to hide my behavior

From You and from everybody else.

I didn’t want my life to be like this—

I didn’t want to become like I am.

My sins have gone over my head,

And I am unable to control them,

Which I foolishly believed I could.

They control me, and I know it.

I can no longer hide from the truth from You.

I am weary of concealing my face in shame,

Of churning my anger and my bitterness—

Of medicating my pain with dissipation.

I don’t want the wounds from my past,

Which I have unwisely nurtured with alcohol,

To control my future as well.

I want to stop my downward cycle.

I want to change my behavior completely.

 

Father, I am in a deep pit and I know it,

And there is no easy way to extricate myself.

I have routinely blamed others for my plight,

Choosing to embrace the role of being a victim,

Convincing myself that I have been faultless,

But I can no longer maintain my delusions.

I have to admit the truth to You and to myself.

I need Your help. Without You,

My life will have neither meaning nor value.

Help me end my self-defeating behavior,

So that I can once again be clean in mind and body.

Only You can estore me to strength and sanity.

 

For I joyfully concur with the Law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25)

Jack Watts

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Writing an Honest Account of Your Life

 

Faith is our greatest gift; its sharing with others our greatest responsibility—AA Slogan

 

Father,

I’ve come before You so many times,

To tell You about my life—

About my woes, my heartaches and my failures.

I have come to tell You who I really am—sort of.

I want You to know me, but only from my perspective,

Which certainly is not an accurate picture.

I know this. It’s why I only tell You

About myself in bits and pieces.

But now that my situation has become

Too much for me to bear—too much for me to shoulder;

I’m forced to be completely honest and forthright.

Until now, my admissions have been begrudging.

I’ve refused to consider that more was needed—

That a complete cleansing of my soul was required.

 

As I continue on my journey of recovery,

I want to unburden myself from all of my shame,

All of my guilt, and everything that has enslaved me.

Doing so, though, seems like such a daunting task.

There is so much there. I know it, and so do You.

Father, this is why I need Your guidance.

Only You can help me be completely forthright

With myself, as well as with others in my life.

As I begin to journal my unvarnished inventory,

Provide me courage to be thorough and transparent.

Give me the grit and determination I need get it all out.

Also, give me the discipline necessary to be thorough.

As I begin this process, my insides are churning.

Because I’ve loved the darkness rather than the light,

Even though I pretend to others that I do not,

I have to force myself to be straightforward.

Father, without Your help, I cannot change a thing.

I know this. I am completely clear, but with You

Empowering and guiding me, I’ll can be strong,

Strong, courageous, forthright, and thorough,

Amen.

 

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord;” and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:3-5)

Jack Watts

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Making Amends

 

The lesson I must learn is simply that my control is limited to my own behavior, my own attitudes—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

I have wandered so far from You—

From Your ways, from Your leading,

From Your purpose, and from Your love.

At first, it didn’t seem like a great distance,

But, over time, I have come to realize

My departure has been far greater

Than I could ever have imagined.

I know I need to return to You,

But now that I see how wide the gap has become,

The way back seems daunting and perilous.

In my reaction to being wounded,

I have behaved in ways that have

Not only injured me but others as well.

I know this is true, and it grieves me.

I am so sorry for having been so hurtful,

Which I acknowledge I had no right to do.

I can see how wayward I have become.

 

As I begin my long journey back to wholeness,

I know I need to make amends to those

I have harmed along the way.

It never occurred to me that I might have

Treated others in the way I have been mistreated.

Just thinking about this makes my heart ache.

Father, I am grieved because of my behavior.

Forgive me; restore my relationship to You and

Be with me as I reach out to those I have wounded.

Help me learn from my egregious errors, so that

I may never feel the desire to drift so far from You again,

Amen.

 

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and thee remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering thee before the altar, and go your way, first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Jack Watts

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Half Measures Availed Us Nothing—AA Slogan

Recently, I posted an article about being honest with yourself, which is something no practicing alcoholic is willing to do. A friend of mine saw it and messaged me. Concerned by how forceful my article was, she wrote, “I hear what you are saying, but my (alcoholic) friend may not be ready for this one. What do you think? Is it maybe too hard hitting for a fragile lady or would it be good? I usually pass these on, but I’m not sure she could handle this one.”

I responded by saying that I thought she should pass on the post to her friend. As I thought about it further, I realized this concept might be a significant problem for a lot of people. We want to help, but we also want to be careful not to offend anyone. While this is a nice thought, our attempts to be kind and gracious often become counterproductive. By couching our terms, to make them more acceptable, we may actually be enabling the alcoholic.

What they hear is that their problem drinking isn’t really that bad. Their situation is unique, and they require much more latitude and tolerance than others. Because of the difficulties they are experiencing in life, medicating their pain with alcohol is okay, even necessary. They are grateful for supportive friends who understand their situation and accept them exactly the way they are, which includes drinking abusively.

So, the message you are trying to convey isn’t the one being received. Remember, alcoholics are deeply deceitful, especially with themselves. If there is even an inch of wiggle room, they will take it. They do not want to admit who they really are, and they will go to extraordinary measures to avoid the truth. In dealing with them, if you diminish the truth in any way, making it more palatable, you have become part of the problem and not part of the solution. In an effort to be kind, you’re enabling their disease to progress. Don’t do it. If you’ve been doing this, stop. It doesn’t work.

Think of it this way. If you have a friend who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and you see that person smoking, would you tell them that it’s okay for them to smoke? Would you say? “I understand your situation. Go ahead and smoke. It’s not that serious. You’ll be fine.”

Of course you wouldn’t. You would be giving them the wrong message. Then, what would make you think it’s all right to enable an alcoholic in the same way? It isn’t okay. It’s never okay. Whenever you think it is okay, remember this: alcoholism is a deadly disease, and you don’t want to help someone kill themselves. If you think I’m overstating this, you’re wrong. Half measures never work with an alcoholic, and they never will.

Obviously, you do not want to be needlessly cruel, but you must always be straightforward with the truth.

Jack Watts

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On Facebook, I saw the photo of a handsome young man, sporting a cheerful smile on his face. Underneath the photo, his obituary was posted. Wondering if he died in a car accident or overseas fighting our enemies, I opened the obituary and read it. When I did, I was deeply grieved. He died of a drug overdose while drinking—just like so many other young people in America.

This is something that happens far too often in our society. We’ve all known someone who has died from an alcohol or drug related death. Perhaps you’ve known someone like this. I’ve known quite a few. In my twenty-three years of recovery, it seems like I have heard of situations like this on an average of once a month. Because these deaths happen sporadically, it’s always shocking, but it shouldn’t be. Instead, they are predictable, and we need to recognize this for what it is.

In Alcoholics Anonymous, we say alcohol kills. We believe it, but few take this aphorism seriously—not as seriously as they should, not until it’s too late. There’s a reason for this.

Alcoholics and drug addicts engage in magical thinking. Regardless of how far down the ladder they have gone, they believe they will beat the odds, learn to drink or drug successfully, and live to a ripe old age. They all believe this, but it’s almost never true. Pointing to one person who has made the news by living to 105, while drinking bourbon everyday, alcoholics believe they will be that person, but it’s far more likely that they will die decades before their time by choosing to pursue a path of self-destruction. If you think my admonition is hyperbole, think again.

Because we live in an era where foolish political leaders—those who are anxious to be popular among millennials—champion personal indulgence—the problem is getting worse rather than better. Like the lemming rushing over a cliff, believing the ocean is just another lake, we are headed in the wrong direction at breakneck speed, producing a wake of destabilization, destruction, and death. In this legislative and administrative game, where fools legalize folly, your children and grandchildren are being put at risk. Oblivious to the heartache and suffering at the other end, the welfare of our youth is not the number one priority.

Because our nation glorifies alcohol, especially in music and on TV, minimizing its potential destructiveness, kids by the millions start drinking before have a clue about life. Now, marijuana is getting the same type of glorification. Meanwhile, obituaries like the one I mentioned continue to pop up across the nation—day after day, year after year.

You can listen to all of the music you want or watch TV shows that minimize the destructive effects of alcohol and drugs, but none of it is true. Just ask the families of those who have lost a son or daughter to alcohol or drugs. They will tell you, “Alcohol kills”—just like we have learned at AA.

 

Jack Watts

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If you want something different for your life—or for the life of someone who is at risk—join me in the following prayer:

 

Father,

I see the way our society is headed,

Racing pell-mell toward certain destruction,

But this is not what I want for my life.

I want something different—something better.

I have been so misled and confused,

Believing lies that champion the path of destruction,

But I no longer want to pursue the foolishness of folly.

To create change that will last a lifetime,

I will need Your help to cement my resolve

And make it permanent. On my own, I cannot do it.

 

Father, help me see reality for what it really is,

Rather than believe the deception of others.

Let me enjoy life and get a natural high

From loving and serving others, rather than

Pursuing the selfish path that has brought me

Nothing but heartache and a wasted life.

Thank You for being there for me, never leaving,

Amen.

 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

Fools despise wisdom and instruction—Proverbs 1:7 (NAS)

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