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Archive for the ‘AA’ Category


MY PRAYER: Father,
In my pain and my anguish—
When my heart was broken
And darkness threatened to overwhelm me—
I felt so lost and abandoned, but I wasn’t.
Despite my anxiety and my trembling heart,
You were there, never leaving my side,
Diligently working within my heart,
Stripping me of all of my pretense,
Scourging me of all of my arrogance,
And revealing each of my self-serving ways,
Which have made my life a wasteland.
For so long, I had no concern or awareness
About anything You desired for my life.
My only purpose was to find relief from my torment,
But Your determined pruning has run far deeper
Than anything I could have imagined or even conceived.
I thought my anguish would never end,
And I would never be able to smile at the future again.
In my distress, I enumerated the desires of my heart,
Repeatedly asking You to grant my wishes,
But You never would, which compounded my sorrow.
What I have gained through my loss, though,
May have been the most valuable lesson of my life.
Out of my pain and ennui, You have raised me up,
Placing my feet on solid, immovable ground,
Strengthening me with power in the inner man,
And made me sound at the core of my being.
No longer fearful or timid, I am peaceful and confident.
Instead of filling my hours with fretful apprehensions,
My state of mind has become peaceful and serene.
None of this would have taken place,
If You had not changed my heart’s desire,
Irreversibly transforming my perspective.
Without Your loving, consistent attentiveness,
I would never have learned my lessons.
Instead, I would have been destined
To repeat my mistakes endlessly,
Like an unreasoning animal
Rather than like a beloved child of the King,
Amen.

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MY PRAYER: Father,
Understanding Your leading is not always difficult.
You are crystal clear about so many things—
About honesty, fidelity, and caring for others.
With these, it is impossible to misunderstand Your will,
But most of life isn’t this simple—
Nor is Your will that easy to discern.
It is not always crystal clear—
Not black and white—which I wish it would be.
Instead, it is varying hues of gray, making choices perplexing.
It seems like I am never clear about Your leading,
And yet You expect me to follow You blindly,
Putting my trust in You without reservation.
As I try to discern Your purpose, I have been forced
To step out in faith and be bold many times,
Without any idea of what the future might hold,
Or of what the results of my actions would be.
Nothing ever seems to end the way I think it should,
Or the way I thought it would, forcing me to wonder
If I have understood You accurately. Instead, I wonder
If have I done nothing more than project my desires,
Calling them Your will, when they really were not.
As I walk by faith, I rarely receive the answers I expect,
Which You could easily disclose but never seem to do.
I look at my situation, demanding to know the outcome,
While You already knowing what that will be.
Your ways are beyond my capacity to discern.
As others view my life, scornfully mocking,
Delighting at what seems like my certain failure,
I can count on the assurance of Your guidance.
You know what You have planned for my life.
No matter how contemptuously others view my plight,
From the depth of my soul, Your voice
Reassures me that You are in charge.
You are God Almighty, and I am not.
As I acquiesce, my soul is quieted, and I become still.
When I obediently release the outcome to You,
I accept that I may look foolish to many,
Especially on the outside; but on the inside—
Where it really counts, I’m becoming incredibly strong
In ways that are destined to have value for me and for others,
Amen.

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Bottoming Out

 

I can’t handle it God; You take over—AA Slogan

 

Father,

My soul aches, and my spirit is weak.

Heartache has consumed me,

And I’m fearful of the future.

Those who know your Word much better than I,

Have rebuked me, chastening me

With contempt, ridicule, and shame.

In my heart, I have cowed before them,

Never questioning their motives or intent.

Slinking away in defeat and despair,

I have vowed to never return—to remain aloof

From them, from You, and from their religiosity.

I have wandered from You,

To a place where there is

No joy, no kindness, and no future.

Time has not been my friend.

My mistakes have brought me low.

My accusers know your Word,

But they don’t know your forgiving Spirit.

Father, I need Your help to return home,

To come back to where I belong,

To nurture a real and substantive relationship with You.

Strengthen me with power in the inner man.

Allow me to stand strong;

Allow me to be bold and confident;

Allow me to be the person you created me to be.

Don’t allow my accusers to continue having dominion

Over me, lest my future be as bleak as my past,

Amen

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Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 129:1-4)

 

Jack Watts

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God is interested in us being forthright—not in us being piously pretentious. God loathes hypocrisy—just like most of us do. He definitely understands adversity though, having experienced it through the suffering of His Son. This means God can and does empathize with each of us. This makes Him fully capable of meeting us exactly where we are, regardless of our situation, despite the level of our dysfunction. As difficult as it may seem to believe, He loves each of us exactly the way we are.

Recognizing this, while also coming to terms with it, is why I wrote Conquering Negative Self-Talk. It’s for wounded, hurting people—people just like you and me. It’s for those who believe they have very little to offer. It’s for people who have been crushed—for those who have had life knock the wind out of their sails. It’s for people who are in pain—for those who desire to reach out to God but lack the necessary words to express their deepest heartaches, apprehensions, and misgivings. Actually, this self-help workbook can benefit just about anybody, but it is especially useful for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents. So, if you are looking for something that will improve your life—a resource that will point you to God in the midst of crushing circumstances, when your self-worth is virtually non-existent, Conquering Negative Self-Talk is definitely for you.

 

 

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A Battle of the Wills

 

Not My Will but Yours—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

I’ve wanted relationships and possessions

That You have not intended for me to have.

I’ve wanted them so badly

That I’ve come before You

Numerous times—pleading and begging—

Beseeching You to grant my desires.

And all You have done is to say “No.”

Refusing to accept Your answer as final,

I have continued my relentless complaining,

Insisting that You make my will be Your own.

In my stubbornness, I have maintained that

Right was wrong, and wrong was right,

While deceiving myself into believing

My purposes were noble—even altruistic.

I have ascribed righteousness to my desires,

As if seeking my goals was the pathway

To wisdom, contentment, and fulfillment.

In my foolishness, I have done my best

To convince myself that my way has been right,

But You remained adamant, refusing my demands.

Still unwilling to accept Your will over my own,

I have manipulated events until frustration

And exhaustion have overwhelmed me,

But You never budged nor wavered—not once.

Now, at the end of all my stubborn willful fretting,

I bow my knee and accept Your decision.

“No” it is, and “No” it shall be forevermore.

There are still parts of me that regret Your answer,

But You are in charge, and I am not.

Now that I have submitted myself

To Your purpose and direction rather than to my own,

I have begun to see things differently.

Finally, at the end of my stubborn willfulness,

I acknowledge that Your way is superior to my own,

Amen.

 

 

You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)

Jack Watts

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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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

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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)

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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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MY PRAYER: Father,

I’ve wanted relationships and possessions

That You have not intended for me to have.

I have wanted them so badly that

I’ve come before You repeatedly—

Pleading, begging, whining, and carping—

Beseeching You to grant my desires.

But all You have done is say, “No.”

Refusing to accept Your answer as final,

I have continued my relentless badgering,

Insisting that You make my will be Your own.

In my willfulness and stubbornness, I maintained

That right was wrong, and wrong was right,

While deceiving myself into actually believing

My purposes were noble, honorable, and altruistic.

In my foolishness, I have done my best

To convince myself that my way has been righteous,

But You remained unmoved, refusing to acquiesce.

Still unwilling to accept Your will over my own,

I manipulated events until frustration

And exhaustion finally overwhelmed me,

But You never budged or wavered in Your decision.

 

Now, at the end of all my peevish fretting,

I bow my knee and accept Your decision.

“No” it is, and “No” it shall be forevermore.

There are still parts of me that regret this,

But You are Almighty God, and I am not.

Now that I have resubmitted myself

To Your leadership, rather than to my own,

I have begun to view my situation differently.

No longer reluctant to be submissive, I acknowledge

That Your way is superior to my own,

Which I should have done from the beginning,

Amen.

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MY PRAYER: Father,

Nothing is how I planned it to be,

As I thought it would be,

As I believed it was promised by You.

Perhaps my aspirations were nothing more

Than my own self-serving, wishful thinking,

But the despair from my failure is real.

Nothing could be more real

Than how brokenhearted I am,

Knowing that my life didn’t have

To unfold the way that it has.

 

As a youth, when I turned my life,

My will, my heart, and my purpose

Over to You for Your safekeeping,

I believed I would experience nothing but abundance,

Carefree living, and smooth sailing, but this

Has certainly not been my experience—not even close.

It seems like I have failed at each turn,

With everything I have chosen to do.

Even worse, when I’ve needed You the most,

It seems like You have become more distant than ever.

My enemies delight at my misfortune.

The pain from their sharp, demeaning remarks never abates.

Each one stings, crushing my soul and wounding my spirit,

While derailing my resolve to become strong and purposeful.

Those I’ve trusted have used and misused me,

Rejecting me without cause—never casting a backward glance.

 

Like a fool, I never fathomed what was happening.

As I recoiled from my wounds, filled with despair,

I called upon You, but You were nowhere to be found.

I didn’t want to fail, Father, but I have.

I know I have, and I can’t change the past or what has occurred.

My history is what it is, and it will always remain so.

Many doors have now been closed to me,

But my journey is not yet complete.

Other opportunities will eventuate, but unless

You teach me through my mistakes,

I will never learn my lessons. Instead, I will be doomed

To replicate my errors and remain devoid of discernment.

Help me gain wisdom from my current situation, Father,

Because I don’t want to be in this hopeless, tortured position again,

Amen.

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MY PRAYER: Father,

I’m praying because I know I should,

Not because it is heartfelt.

I can do things for myself.

I always have—always will.

I don’t need Your help—not really.

“Bring it on,” is my motto.

In my heart, this is how I feel—

At least, more often than not.

I’m certainly not trying to hurt anybody,

But I really don’t trust people either—

Not even You, Lord, not even You.

As I grit my teeth obstinately,

With insolence and arrogance,

I convince myself that I can handle anything.

Then, You allow adversity to have full reign over me,

Shaking me at the core of my existence.

Defiantly, I fight You each step of the way,

Refusing to learn the lessons I am being taught.

 

My headstrong attitude defines who I am.

Undaunted by my inflexibility,

You increase the pressure on me,

And I wince and whine at the discomfort,

But I will not yield—not yet.

I still have too much fight left in me.

I cannot submit; I will not submit!

Then, You double the pressure, redoubling it again.

Finally, when I can stand no more,

I break—just a little and, in my bewildered distress,

I cry out, “Why me, Father? What have I done?”

As if completely innocent, I whine, “Why is this happening?”

Revealing Your purpose, You allow me to recognize

Just how much my world required shaking.

Finally, coming to the end of my intransigence,

I acknowledge what I should have earlier.

Your will, and not my self-indulged will, is what I need.

Do with me as You please, Lord, I finally acknowledge,

For You are Almighty God, and I am not,

Amen

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MY PRAYER: Father,

The wounds from my mistreatment run deep,

Creating anger, frustration, and an overwhelming

Sense of worthlessness that

Enervates every area of my life.

With my mouth, I refuse to admit

That this is how I see my situation,

But in the deepest recesses of my mind,

I wonder if the castigation of my abusers is correct.

Maybe my life doesn’t have much value, after all,

Precisely as I have been told repeatedly.

It’s a message I have internalized as accurate.

 

When my exploitation occurred,

I was angrier with You

Than with those who abused me.

Because of the relentlessness of their vitriol,

I believed they spoke the truth,

Which was certainly what they indicated.

But now, I have begun to view things differently.

In my woundedness, it never occurred to me

That Your Son was also abused—just like me—

By hateful, self-righteous religious leaders.

You permitted His abuse—just like You’ve permitted mine.

What Christ’s abusers meant for evil, You meant for good,

Redeeming Mankind through his death and Resurrection.

Without the suffering of Your Son, all would be lost.

Thank You for allowing such a tragedy to occur,

On my behalf, as well as on the behalf of others.

 

Father, can You make my life have similar worth?

Can You use my abuse for something that

Has transforming value for others as well as for me?

Can You turn my pain and my weakness into strength?

Can You take my life, which has been shattered,

And make it joyful and purposeful once again?

Amen.

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