1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions, that our lives had become unmanageable.

#TDJakes paraphrased: Part of the problem with people is that they will define you from the point when they met you.

This statement was within the first few minutes of his sermon. He went on to say that we can’t stand out until we first learn to fit in. If we are on a journey, God may give you the end vision, but rarely the steps in between. I certainly am not where I am, and certainly not where I should be. I am on a journey, continuing to grow and develop in the Spirit. I want to live my life as God shows me how. I want to be obedient to His Word and conform to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-30). That is how I live life. The less of me means the more of God changing me into what He wants me to be. In that process, it was implied that I was now addicted to religion. So be it. A phrase I saw posted online goes like this: I would rather stand with God and be judged by man, than stand with man and be judged by God.

Earlier today (2-6-16), an old friend sent me a text and called me an old bar nickname. It did not upset me, but it threw me off. That bar nickname was given to me in my old drinking and promiscuous days and doesn’t define me at all. I am not that person anymore. It was a humbling reminder of where I came from and who I am not. But it is interesting that people will continue to use those old labels to define who I am not. Sometimes after years of going through the Twelve Steps, the powerlessness and unmanageability days grows more distant until it becomes a fading shadow of the past. When I do go to secular Twelve Step meetings, it is somewhat refreshing to hear the stories and the leads of those who have gone through the challenges of getting sober, during the early days of their sobriety. That rings the bells, jogs the memories, and brings those fading shadows back into the vivid memories of where we came from and where Christ brought us from. Remember that we are new creatures in Christ:

2 Corinthians 5:17 King James Version (KJV) 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

You are a new creature. You are a new person. You are a person that God is molding and making you out to be. Don’t be discouraged. Remember that “Time takes time.” You are a work in progress. Just be warned that those who applied those labels in the past may not be happy about you stepping out of line of their labels. Since I got sober, I lost a lot of drinking buddies. People like to be around those people who are like them. It seems to make them feel comfortable and more secure about themselves. You may lose friends, but remember that God closes doors for good reasons. Don’t take your crowbar and pry it open. Where you are going spiritually, those friends can’t follow. You are at a different spiritual level now. You are a work of art in the making, and God is the Master Builder (1 Corinthians 3:10-17).

I was at a Bible study one time at a traditional church. I can’t remember the verses that we were studying. I believe it was 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. Someone brought up the topic of “Who am I?” Am I a bad person? Am I a good person? I am a bad person because I did this or that. But the conversation went on and most people defined a person by what they’ve done. Their label applied by actions done in the world. The point that I brought up was that God doesn’t define anyone by what they do, but who they are on the inside. Look at this verse:

1 Samuel 16:7 New International Version (NIV) 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

God sees who you really are in the spirit. That gives me a relief. God looks at me on the inside and shows me who I could be. People in the past may have seen the alcoholic, but God sees a person free from bondage of alcohol. He can see you too free from alcohol and addiction from drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, or whatever holds you back from the person that God meant for you to be. Don’t wear the labels that mankind gave you. The other point that I made at the Bible study was that it is also a result of learned helplessness. Those of us who share an Al-anon experience, how many times have we been told that we are stupid or we won’t amount to anything? How many times does it take for us to hear cruel words of others until we start believing them? Those are other examples of labels that mankind puts on us that we may become those things they call us. Don’t listen to them. I heard it shared occasionally that those cruel words are things they think about themselves that they are trying to project on you. Misery loves company. But just remember, God sees you from the inside out. People see you from the outside in.

Being led on a journey can also mean that you may not stay in the same location. Remember that in the book of Exodus, the children of Israel were led through the wilderness for 40 years until they were allowed to enter the Promised Land. The glory of God in the form of the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night led them through. For my personal journey, I submit myself to be led by the Holy Spirit. I may not stay in the same location. The Holy Spirit may lead me to another church, or another town, or another job. I just need to be in tune with what the Holy Spirit of God is saying to me. Transition may not be comfortable, but necessary. Being out of control of where I am or where I am going is the perfect mark of powerlessness and unmanageability. I have no power over persons, places, or things. Soulish (mind, will, and emotions) people want to be in complete control and hate change. They put their faith more on themselves and how they want to run things, rather than the Spirit of God. Here is a good verse about trusting God:

Proverbs 3:5-6 King James Version (KJV) 5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

This Reflection is brief, so I will summarize it in these few points: -You are a new creature in Christ. Old labels don’t apply.

-As in learned helplessness: don’t listen to or believe the cruel words that people call you.

-Life’s journey takes time. Nothing happens over night. Don’t worry. Trust God. You are in good hands with Him.

-Trust God and be led by His Holy Spirit. Stay in tune with His Word through prayer and meditation. And just think, you don’t have to wait until Step 11 to pray. It can start immediately.

-Sometimes you may be reminded of old labels, but that is only natural to other people. Remember where you came from and where you are not going back.

I hope this Reflection blessed you as much as it blessed me to write. I had no intention of writing anything tonight but the Holy Spirit had different plans. I aligned this Reflection with Step One, but could have also aligned it with Steps Two and Three. I just saw that the label of who I was and the journey of where I am and where I am going is perfect for the vulnerability we feel as we are powerless and unmanageable over our situations. We were powerless when we acted out in addiction and we are powerless going through transitions. The only difference is that we have a bigger hand guiding us through it all. Trust in the Lord in all things. He won’t let you down.

Be blessed in all things, through Christ Jesus.

(Originally written as a reflection for the Facebook group Serenity-CARE, "Christian Addicts Recovery Experience" on February 6, 2016. You don't have to be an addict or alcoholic to join or like the Serenity-CARE group. You can be an ally, friend, and advocate of someone who is going through the torment of the bondage of addiction. The Twelve Steps may be a good road-map for life and living (integrated with Scripture), but the Word of God is a great road-map to prepare you for eternity. Forever is a long long time. Don't be caught in eternity without the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Follow after Him and walk with Him daily.

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