Thursday, April 26, 2012
Leaning Into God
I received some questions on my last post from a person in recovery but while I was writing my answer I thought, dang, here is another post, so here it is:
My acceptance of Proverbs 3:5 developed slowly. You need to understand that when I came to the 12 step fellowship, I was spiritually broken and empty. I thought God hated me because of some struggles that he allowed. I thought God was punishing me by NOT letting me die. And then I just figured that there must not be a god and that this life is hell.
So when I got to the 12 step fellowship, I could not deal with the "g" word. It was more vile than any curse word because it contained all that I should have had but never did-a childhood, safety, a future, hope, love.
Through working with a sponsor, I began to understand that there was Something. I was growing and becoming more grateful that my prayers to die weren't answered. But god wasn't a part of the journey. No, my first higher power was an alarm clock, then a door knob, mostly out of rebelliousness. It took a while, and a lot of fighting with my sponsee sisters, to open my mind to the thought that there might be a Higher Power (HP). When I began to pray, I prayed to my sponsor's HP because I could not claim a HP yet.
In my 5th step, I shared a secret that I had kept and had planned to take to my grave. It was a very shameful thing that I believed made me unlovable and unacceptable. In this step we admit the exact nature of our wrongs to ourselves, another person and God. When I had finished speaking, I had this sense that my HP was totally present, that I had already been forgiven, that I was loved by my HP. I accepted that, even relaxed into that understanding. The one who was withholding love and forgiveness from me was ME.
That was the really the beginning of my journey with my HP.
God was with me while I was taking that hard look at my defects and then fumbling thru amends. My faith grew thru the actions that I took, thru those scary steps of having to trust. This journey has continued.
In time, my husband wanted to try church. I had been praying for God to work on his heart, but I did not think church was the answer. We eventually did begin to go to church, but this weird thing happened-the principles of the steps were there. And besides that, the God that I had barely glimpsed in recovery was there in full. Sort of like seeing something move in a blur out of the corner of your vision versus seeing them posing for a portrait.
It was weird, and believe me, I resisted!
As time passed, as I listened, as I began to grow, I saw the God that I knew in their stories. I didn't drink the kool-aid, tho. I listened critically. I thought about what I heard. I began to believe that the HP that I knew was caring for me was the same God of the Bible. That the broken-ness that forces us to seek relief in 12 step fellowships is just one symptom (sin) of the broken-ness of humanity due to our separation from God. I cannot be better because no matter how hard I try to do better, there is that broken-ness that is just part of me. But I also saw that the God I was getting to know wanted to heal me. Jesus was sent by God to heal the broken-ness which he did by suffering the ultimate sacrifice-him being broken to death to pay the price for our sin (which has always been death of something), then coming back to life thru the power of God to prove that death and sin have no place in God's realm. I saw that the Bible was not some stupid rule book written by irrelevant old people but God introducing himself, revealing himself, to me, letting me know about his character, who he is. God's character is revealed in Jesus.
And then "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."
Yeah, I know you heard it: the God of my understanding earlier in my journey was not the fullness of the God that I came to believe in. Lean not on your own understanding made a lot of sense to me. God had been gently revealing himself to me in ways that I could tolerate. Sort of like introducing yourself to a wild animal (which I very much was). You start slowly, maybe using treats or nourishment to slowly develop trust, gradually bringing them closer and closer to you. I no longer had to have my own understanding. My God has drawn me to himself. It isn't so much a contradiction of the recovery idea of a God of my understanding as it is the fleshing out and experiencing the fullness of God.
The other piece of it is that I am not trusting in myself (the MY understanding). This has been a weird journey. I have been put in situations that I would have run from, except that since I am not holding onto my own understanding anymore, I don't. I have faith-not just in a program or a sponsor, but in the God who has been pursuing me, for whom I have finally declared myself as his-that God is giving me an opportunity to join his adventure. I have been given opportunities to speak and lead and share...not just my message of hope as shown in my own progress of recovery, but in my God who had this all laid out before I was using the "g" word. Instead of running, I have faith, that those opportunities, as frightening as they are, will grow me, so I run into them. The worst that could happen is that I have a God to hold onto.
If you are reading this, God has been calling you, too. Maybe he is calling you to come hang out with him. Maybe he is calling you to hang out with someone who is broken and needs hope. These sorts of blogs and messages don't just happen in our lives. I am grateful that you took the time to read this. Now, please take a moment to listen to him...