Friday, December 13, 2013

Gospel Thoughts on Repentance Brought About by OA

Post Number: 69
Review of Yesterday's Progress
     Daily Points Left: 59 of 71 (Goal: 31)
     Weekly Points Left: 49 of 49 (Goal: 49)
     Pedometer Reading: 7292
     Meetings Attended: Overeaters Anonymous
     Exercise Completed: None Scheduled

I only ate twice yesterday. I had some lunch meat and the Krab from a Krab salad that MBWM left for me from her Tropical Krab salad. I added it up to be 12 points, but it was probably much less. I used 8 points for the salad because that is the amount for half a cup of tuna salad. And then there was the lunch meat, which I calculated at 2 points per ounce for the remaining 4 points. I'm just not that interested in food. I have been contemplating if it is a physical bug still or has evolved into a mental bug. The idea occurred to me that I might be compulsively not eating. You see, fasting teaches acceptance of and familiarity with hunger. Being hungry is no big deal for me. But it is about the worst way to lose weight. I will be pondering on this some more today.

I hope to be also pondering yesterday's OA meeting. It centered around the following passages:
This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.
When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed  His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.  - AA Big Book, pg 62-63.
I didn't comment tonight. There were more than enough comments to go around concerning this topic. It was interesting to hear people speak using their choice of language for the idea of a Higher Power, as they understood Him. They used the terms Higher Power, Creator, and God, among others. It was clear to me that some were comfortable with ideas like blessings, prayers, salvation, and revelation, though they didn't use the last two words. I was paying attention to people's language and words in their comments because I didn't really want to face my immediate past. The immediate past where I didn't turn my will over to my understanding of my Higher Power, My Father in Heaven. Turning my will over to Him would have helped me to avoid SO much of the pain I inflicted through my supernova of selfishness. And it would have circumvented SO much repairing and repenting. Repairing and repenting that has been, is, and will be going on for quite some time. Supernovas destroy a vast expanse of space.

And while I was reviewing the meeting on the way home, I started thinking about repentance. The Twelve Steps are a process for bringing one's will in line with God's Will through the power of repentance. But the more I read the AA Big Book, the more I feel that it is teaching me the watered-down version of building my relationship with God. There are some topics only hinted at, like agency and its use. There are some topics that are completely missing, like the process of salvation or how prayer and revelation work together. They are missing for the obvious reason that it would force conforming to a specific understanding of God.

But I do have a very specific understanding in my direct and personal relationship with God. It's much more tenuous right now than I have experienced in the past. A minute portion of that has to do with not seeking out the Godly Sorrow that leads to repentance for thing in the slightly distant past. I know that I always have need of repentance, but sometimes, my Heavenly Father has to remind me a few times. A large portion of my weakened relationship with my Lord has to do the way I chased away the Spirit in the supernova of selfishness. So while I pondered much of what was said in the meeting, I pondered more about how I need to follow the path of repentance I know.

The 5 R's of repentance that we teach our kids and still applies to me now are:

  1. Recognize that you have done something wrong (a sin or transgression). This recognition frequently comes as a sense of Godly Sorrow. Human sorrow for mistakes is all too often feeling bad for being caught. We cannot hide from God when we sin or transgress, which are two different things. Sin is knowing God's Law and knowingly disobeying. Transgressing is when we disobey God's Law without knowing it. When we break God's Law, He withdraws His Spirit. This may lead to feelings of Godly Sorrow, the same sorrow God feels towards us when we remove ourselves from Him. He never leaves us. We leave Him. When I experience this, I recognize I have done something wrong.
  2. Remorse must be felt, as a reaction to the recognition as described above, and remorse needs to be expressed. First, it is expressed to God, then to the person injured. This can be difficult. We may not want to face the person we injured for any of a wide variety of reasons. But like the sin that led to the need for remorse, not facing the person injured is merely an expression of selfishness. And there are extremely few victimless crimes. This becomes even more true in a relationship like marriage. This expression of remorse must be not only genuine, but must also be an expression of Godly Sorrow. Saying your sorry and coming across as being sorry for being caught does not accomplish true remorse. And sometimes the world makes it difficult. There are times were society says I do not need to be sorrowful because of the wrong committed against me. But the Gospel teaches that if I have enmity towards the person that wronged me, I am in the wrong, too.
  3. Resolve to change. This resolution is not only a desire, but a deep seated yearning that drives one away from committing the sin again. That is not to say that I will not be committing that sin ever again. I pray not to. I sing hymns to bring the Spirit into my heart. I look for opportunities to serve, which abound in a family, a church, and a community. But I must fight tooth and nail (spiritually speaking) to gain ground away from the selfish desire at the core of the sin. I battle the desire until I reach the point that when I see myself turning away even ever so slightly away from God, I eagerly start the repentance process right then there. That desire will then be weakened until it is easier to ignore. And then it will be on to a new facet of the same selfish desire or a completely different selfish desire.
  4. Reform yourself under God's direction. When the resolve is applied energetically, selflessly, and willingly, time and time again, the resolution becomes reformation. The earliest success of reformation is as described above, the slightest turning away from God triggers in me a desire to repent stronger than the desire to sin. As the reformation continues, there is a strong desire to repair others through service. This reformation makes repenting familiar, which makes repenting desirable. And as I desire to repent and express myself this way before God, He will point out where my next effort needs to be applied and frequently, how to apply it.
  5. Restitution must be made for the wrongs committed. There must be restitution before God and the ones injured. Restitution may or may not include expressing recognition of the sin to the ones I have injured, but it must include expressions that I have wrongfully injured them. Restitution must be of a nature that soothes and repairs according to the desire of God and the one injured. I may consider a bandage enough restitution, but a gauze strip may be what is necessary to begin to heal the hurt inflicted when a bandage merely exacerbates the wound. And as part of the restitution, continual heartfelt service to God and my fellow being will be the ultimate expression of repentance.
Repentance is a life long process that doesn't even stop when life stops (that is a discussion for a later time). There will be depressingly familiar back sliding. There will be repetition of repentance for the same sin, which will require more of me to achieve the forgiveness I received previously. There has been and will be glorious moments when the desire for a specific sin has been cleared away and has become sickening to me. But having had the cleansing experience, I can uplift and support others having the problem I was once having. I can show empathy in the case of the same battle someone else is having. And I can express sympathy for those fighting against their own sinful nature. And I hope that concern expresses itself as a genuine loving concern when I interact with anyone.

My apologies for launching into what is clearly a Gospel oriented discussion. But since I am having issues of angst in attempting to fulfill my responsibilities to Overeaters Anonymous, I wanted to run through the mental hoops somewhere outside my own brain. Maybe I am fooling myself. Here are the Twelve Steps of OA, listing the spiritual principle associated with each one.
  1. We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable. (Honesty)
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Hope)
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Faith)
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Courage)
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Integrity)
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (Willingness)
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. (Humility)
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. (Self-discipline)
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Love for others)
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. (Perseverance)
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (Spiritual Awareness)
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (Service)
These are very powerful statements with purpose and meaning behind the principles. But consider, for example, Humility (Step 7). I know I am not very humble in many respects. And why should I be humble? I am frequently being praised for my intelligence by so many people. But I know I have fallen short of the Glory of God. Before Him, I am nothing. Even the dust obeys Him better than I do. And when He reaches out to me, often, I fear His Presence and turn away. And still He beckons to me. Who am I to be anything prideful when dust is more obedient? But still He pulls to me, draws me into His Presence, building an incredibly strong desire to repent before Him so I will be able to enter His Presence. And when I walk again among my brothers and sisters throughout the world, I am in awe that He has sent me, sinner that I am, back into the world as His Servant. How can He trust me so much? How can He allow me to care for so many of His Sheep? I know the answer is simple. He loves me enough to let me try again to do His Will. If that isn't humbling, I don't know what is.

I have to get going. I am short on time this morning if I am going to go swim. I am attending Weight Watchers this morning at 9:30 am instead of my usual Saturday session. That start time is slightly less than two hours away as I type this line. I will miss Robin's presentation, but we have a very full Saturday planned that will cover 6 am to 6 pm. My weekly review will still be accomplished on Sunday and posted on Monday. Since the review process is much longer than what I post, it spend quite a bit of time over several sessions at the computer before posting it the next day.

Yours in the joys of better days that will come,


P.S.: Never hold on to anything tighter than you're holding on to God.

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