Step 3

In the first two steps, we engaged in reflection.  We realized that we were powerless over addiction, but also realized that faith is possible.  Although they required our acceptance, these conclusions did not require any action.  Starting with step three, the remaining steps require affirmative action.  Faith is certainly necessary, however, it will not be sufficient to achieve a successful recovery on its own.  In step three we are asked to make a decision.  This decision is based on faith.  Specifically, a decision to believe that there is a force for spiritual growth that can help us in obtaining and maintaining a successful recovery.  A decision to change direction, to stop rebelling at the natural and logical flow of events in our lives.  A decision to stop wearing ourselves out trying to make everything happen as if we were in charge of the world.  Ultimately, we are accepting that a Power greater than ourselves will do a better job of caring for our will and our lives than we have. 

Prior to becoming sober, our will and our lives were often times controlled by our addiction.  We were trapped by our need for instant gratification that alcohol gave us.  At first, this may have been a pleasurable experience, but after some time, the euphoria wore off and we saw the ugly side of our addiction.  We discovered that the better alcohol made us feel when we were consuming it, the worse it made us feel when we weren’t.  It is at this point that we have to make a decision.  Either we can suffer through the pain of withdrawal or drink more; or we can look for another way.  In step three it is suggested that “another way” can be obtained by turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.  At this point you might wonder what will happen to you if you continually turn your will over to something/someone else.  It is this kind of thinking that takes no account of the facts.  The facts, in this instance, seem to be that the more we are willing to depend on a Higher Power, the more independent we will be.  

We might wonder at this time who our Higher Power is and what our Higher Power’s will is for us.  Our Higher Power’s will for us will manifest as we work the steps, however, it is suggested that we choose an understanding of a Higher Power that is loving, caring, and greater than ourselves.  This could be a variety of things.  Some examples include God, nature, the twelve-step group, the spiritual principles of the twelve-step group, or any personal power or being in which we can communicate.  Once we begin to have an understanding of what/who our Higher Power is, it is important that we begin to form a relationship with that Higher power.  This will include being able to communicate with our Higher Power, being open to communication from our Higher Power, and having feelings about our Higher Power.  As we mature in our recovery, we will begin to form an understanding of our Higher Power that gives us peace and serenity.  At this point, if we are willing to surrender and be open-minded, our fear starts to lessen and faith starts to grow.  We no longer have to fight fear, anger, guilt, self-pity, or depression.  We are slowly beginning to lose the paralyzing fear of hopelessness.   Today you can turn your life and your will over to the God of your understanding.  Today you can shed the weight that self-will carries with it.  Today you can overcome hopelessness! 

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Maintain Integrity

Throughout my journey with alcohol, the decisions I have made, and the consequences that have manifested due to those decisions, have affected me tremendously.  They have also affected a variety of individuals in my life.  For that reason, I believe it is important for them and me that I do what I said I was going to do and remain sober. 

My integrity is also at stake in this instance.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides three definitions for the word integrity; they are a firm adherence to a code of especially moral values, an unimpaired condition, and the quality or state of being complete or undivided.  From a psychological perspective, Erikson’s theory of adulthood asserts that a person achieves integrity when they have established a complete sense or feeling that their life has been meaningful and worthwhile and includes the ability to look back on their life and not dwell on mistakes, or feelings of regret.  The alternative to this, according to Erikson’s theory, is despair.  Despair is defined as an utter loss of hope.

Strictly from reading the definitions, I am confident that a life of integrity would be more fulfilling than a life of despair.  With that being said, I am also confident that it would be tremendously difficult to maintain integrity in active addiction.  In active addiction, we are already starting off with a disadvantage because we will often times be impaired, and at this point, many of our decisions will be far from unimpaired.  These decisions will likely lead to divisions in our ability to make morally sound decisions as well.  In the end, it is hard to imagine that we will look back at life without dwelling on any feelings of regret.  In fact, it is much easier to imagine despair and a loss of hope. 

By remaining sober, you can keep your word and, in so doing, build a life of integrity.  You can one day look back on life without having to dwell on mistakes or feelings of regret.  Today you can avoid despair!  In conclusion, for the day I would like to leave you with a poem I have entitled Intrigued by Integrity:

You want it?  Go get it!  I’m not finished!  Still things left to prove, and not to you!  I didn’t leave it all out there; now I will; no matter what, I don’t care!  After all the hard work I put in, not to try would be a sin!  Many think I will not succeed, and to my anguish, it will lead.  To them, I say this:  I will never quit, no matter what the obstacle, I will push through it!  I’ve faced ambiguity before, through that, I soar!  I thrive on people’s doubt of me, any other way I would not have it be!  I know the odds are against me, but I don’t care, can’t you see?!  If not, then you will, in me there lingers a destiny to fill!  I won’t let myself down; not this time…  Just wait, victory will be mine!

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Honesty

“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” -John Lennon

2 Timothy 2:15- Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Ephesians 4:25- Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Luke 6:31-  Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Proverbs 11:3- The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

Matthew 5:8-  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Being honest is not always the easiest thing to do, but as referenced above, it is always the right thing to do. Personally, I have found that being honest typically leads to better results as well. It can sometimes be uncomfortable and lead to unforeseen obstacles, but is always the right choice in terms of future relationships and consequences. Even in cases when we lie and get away with it, there always seems to be a lingering feeling of uneasiness regarding the dishonest act. Perhaps this is the feeling of shame which is referenced in 2 Timothy. We can avoid such feelings by doing our best to be honest and to do on to others as we would have them do onto us. After all, we are all members of one body and are encouraged to maintain integrity. Today you can maintain integrity. Today you can treat others as you would have them treat you. Today you can be honest!

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Interpersonal effectiveness skill “walking the middle of the path”

Incorporating balance is important in many aspects of our recovery.  It is also an important consideration for us to make in our ability to maintain healthy relationships.  This final interpersonal skill (walking the middle of the path) will help us to consider ways to incorporate balance in our relationships.  The middle path is one of harmony with reality as it is.  It does not mean 50% of one view and 50% of another point of view.  It is a move away from extreme emotional responses, actions, and thinking, and toward balanced and integrative responses toward life’s situations.  It is comprised of:

  • Dialectics
    • Teach us that all things are interconnected and in a constant state of change
  • Validation
    • Communication that involves letting a person know that their feelings, thoughts, and actions are understandable
    • Validation does not mean we have to validate the invalid
  • Behavior change skills
    • Use skills to increase desired behaviors and decrease undesired behaviors

In order to better understand this concept, let’s consider an example:

Upon walking into the lunchroom at work to eat his lunch, John notices that his lunch is gone.  Doug than comes into the lunchroom and says “I saw Carlos eat lunch already.  You know how he is always eating other people’s lunch”.  After hearing this, John walks into Carlos’s office and says, “you ate my lunch again…you must hate me!  I’m done working with you!”.

John will need to recognize the middle path exists in order to avoid further confrontation.  In order to do this, John would first need to accept that his lunch is gone and address the issue with a mindful approach.  While John may be angry with Carlos, he also needs to work with him and find a balance.  This would mean replacing “either-or” thinking with a more balanced approach.  Instead of thinking that he either needs to reprimand Carlos for taking his lunch or let him have it and not say anything, John can come up with a more balanced approach by explaining how he is affected when Carlos takes his lunch and asking him to not do it anymore.

It is sometimes difficult to incorporate balance into our relationships, especially when someone does something you do not like.  It is essential, however, especially if our aim is to maintain healthy relationships.  Today you can incorporate balance into your relationships by utilizing the interpersonal effectiveness skill “walking the middle path”.  By doing so, today you can increase your ability to maintain healthy relationships!

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Faith

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”- J.R.R. Tolkien

Hebrews 11:1- Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

In Psalm 46:10 God tells us to be still and know that He is God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:5 to rest our faith in the power of God rather than the wisdom of men. He goes on to say in 2 Corinthians 5:7, that we walk by faith not by sight.

Ephesians 2:8-9- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

Luke 1:37- For nothing will be impossible with God. 

Staying encouraged about our future and our lives is often quite easy when things are going well. But, what about when things aren’t going well? What about when the road darkens? It is at these times that we must have faith. During these times God tells us to be still and know that He is God because He is taking care of what we are hoping for. I know it is often easier to trust in the wisdom of our friends or our families, but we can never forget to include God in our plans and trust in His power. For by grace we are ultimately saved through this faith. And, all things are possible with God. Today you can choose to trust in God’s power of your life. Today you can have faith in His plan for you.

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Strength

“You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice”- Bob Marley

Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Isaiah 41:10- So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Philippians 4:13 -I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

1 Chronicles 16:11- Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.

2 Corinthians 12:10- That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

The first verse in this post speaks of the strength of scripture. I wanted to touch on that because I often forget how strong God’s word really is. It is so strong that if we lean on it and Him, we are guaranteed to have our paths made straight. Walking this path may not always be easy, and no one ever promised it would be, but if we look to Him during hard times He will uphold us with His righteous hand. He will give us the capability to do all things. Yes, it is often easy to forget to look to him in hard times. The easiest solution is often to try and fix things ourselves. But, when we are weak He gives us strength. In times of weakness, insult, hardship, persecution, and difficulty He can and will be our rock. We need only seek His strength and it will be found. Today you can find strength in the Lord!

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Redemption

“God is the ultimate musician. His music transforms your life. The notes of redemption rearrange your heart and restore your life. His songs of forgiveness, grace, reconciliation, truth, hope, sovereignty, and love give you back your humanity and restore your identity”- Paul David Tripp

Psalm 111:9- He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Ephesians 1:7- In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

Colossians 1: 20-22- And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.

John 3:16- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

According to the KJV dictionary, redemption is the purchase of God’s favor by the death and sufferings of Christ; the ransom or deliverance of sinners from the bondage of sin and the penalties of God’s violated law by the atonement of Christ. To me, redemption is a reminder of God’s unconditional and undying love. Because of that, I am free from the bandages of sin and am able to spend my days absent of a painful soul. God didn’t have to send Jesus to die on the cross, and Jesus did not have to experience that pain and humiliation. But, that is what they did. Through forgiveness, grace, reconciliation, truth, hope, sovereignty, and love we have been redeemed. Because God so loved the world, we have been redeemed. Today you can live in spiritual peace and freedom, because if you believe in Him, you are redeemed!

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