Wow! We’ve been busy! In lessons 1 through 13, we’ve:
1. Admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, and admitted that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
But now is not the time to stop, settle down, and get lazy! In fact, our recovery is not inert. Our recovery involves constant motion, constant activity.
Lesson 14: Ready, is a compilation of Principle 5: Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” Matthew 5:6.
And Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all those defects of character. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. “ James 4:10.
A lot of the Celebrate Recovery material refers to this Lesson as where the children separate from the adults, because up until this point, we’ve done a lot of admitting to ourselves and before God, of our wrongs.
But now? We must give up, and let go, of some of our very own personality traits that make up our character. Even though we are very willing to have certain character defects go away, some are hard for us to give up, and after all, involve CHANGE…which is one of our biggest fears.
And some of our character defects are hard to give up, because we don’t see them as defects. For instance, as a victim of abuse, PRIDE, I felt, helped me stand up for myself, take action, not be a doormat.
GREED made me protective of my income, my home, my job, but also isolated me my own prison of solitude—the very thing I was afraid of!
LYING, I thought, helped me reassure family and close Christian friends that I did not have any addictions.
There was that time in my life, my moment of clarity, when I wanted to die, and instead reached out to God…but was I ready to stop lying? Ready to stop being greedy, ready to HUMBLE myself?
We’ve all spent a lot of time indulging our character defects, whatever they may be. In fact, that is why we’re attending Celebrate Recovery! It’s all an effort to remove these character defects, so that God’s glory shines through.
Now, however is not the time to indulge those defects. Now is the time to humble ourselves and admit to ourselves PRIDE, GREED, LIES, whatever your defect ARE INDEED defects, and they are stifling and disabling our healing, and our efforts to lead purposeful, God-filled lives.
So we’ve done a lot of work, and have come to this principle, lesson, and step.
You and God, together, are going after those defects. ALL of them.
I am a word person, I love words, semantics…so the first word that popped into my mind about lesson 14 was: Humility. So tonight, let’s try to remember: Humility is not a character defect!
When you think of the world humility, what person comes to mind? I don’t know about you, but I always think of Jesus, and I live to be more like Jesus, so I must be humble.
Let’s put this thought in our hearts and minds: Father, I am nothing, without Jesus, who is everything.
And with that in our hearts…let’s go to the first letter of Ready.
R: RELEASE control. I call this The Codependents NIGHTMARE.
In Principle 5, you must be willing to let God into every area of your life. He can’t come in and clean up an area until you are ready and willing to ask Him.
In much of the CR material, I found the following quote. It’s never referenced, so I don’t know where it was generated, but it’s a good analogy.
“Willingness is the key that goes into the lock and opens the door that allows God to begin to remove your character defects. “
Listen to what David says in Psalm 143:10: “Help me to do your will, for you are my God. Lead me in good paths, for your Spirit is good.”
God is a gentleman. He doesn’t force His will on us. He waits for us to invite Him in.
RELEASE control. Let go and Let God.
E: Easy Does It! This would probably be the prideful person’s nightmare!
These wonderful principles and steps are not quick fixes. We must learn to apply them day by day, or in my case, minute by minute, thought by thought. God needs time to work in our lives. And we’re not just stopping our bad behaviors and habits, our sins.
Our sin is a symptom of the character defect.
Let’s think about that for a moment: our sin, is our addiction, be it alcohol, drugs, sexual integrity. Imagine your “sin” as a weed in a garden. How do you get rid of weeds? You don’t just address the surface and make it temporarily disappear. You must pull it out by the roots.
The roots are the actual defects of character that cause the sin. In my case, the major sin in my life was alcohol. That was the act, the sin. The defect of character that caused the sin was lack of a positive self image, and mainly FEAR that cause me to sin by abusing alcohol.
It takes time to dig beneath the surface of our sin, to uncover the character defects that cause us to sin. And it’s more difficult to let go of these character defects, especially since we’ve given up the sins…but giving up the sins is only half the battle! If we don’t let go of the character defects, we will continue to sin.
So go easy, but do go forward. Allow God time to work. He will do it. He promised! Again, who better than David knew this:
Psalm 37:5 says “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him to help you do it, and HE will.”
A: ACCEPT the Change
Yes, I said ACCEPT. Change is tough…we think we’ve mastered our sin when we see the need for change, but that is simply not so.
Seeing the need for change and allowing the change to occur are two different things.
The space between recognition and willingness can be, most assuredly will be filled with fear. And, FEAR triggers our old dependency on self. Right?
Again, remember humility. This principle will not work if we are still trapped by our self will. We need to be ready to accept God’s help throughout the transition.
1 Peter 1:13-14 says: “So then, have your minds ready for action. Keep alert and set your hope completely on the blessing which will be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant.”
James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
All we need is the willingness to let God lead us on our road to recovery.
D: DO Replace Your Character Defects
Again, we’ve spent a lot of time with our old hang-ups, compulsions, obsessions, and bad habits…we’re comfortable with them. So when God in His mercy and grace removes one, we need to replace it with something positive, such as church activities and volunteering.
If you don’t, you open yourself up for a negative character defect to return.
After living in more than one domestic abuse environment with a psychopath, and seeing craziness and disorder occur in front of my own eyes, and directed toward me…I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you that I developed hypersensitivity to nuances, temperatures, and auras circulating.
I’ve expressed to many of you, that, since I have been in recovery, I’ve become very aware of being in a situation, be it conversation, or environment, that was not Godly, in fact, that may be ‘bad” for me.
So…I got cold chills when I read Matthew 12:43-45: “When an evil spirit goes out of a person, it travels over dry country looking for a place to rest. If it can’t find one, it says to itself, “I will go back to my house.” So it goes back and finds the house empty,…then it goes out and brings along seven other spirits even worse that itself, and they come to live there.”
Since we are in recovery for sins that took up a lot of our time, it’s important to fill that new time on our hands with positive, healthy, Godly things, that bring us closer to him. I was fortunate to have married a Godly man, who I enjoy spending time with, and finding a church where God is definitely in da house!
Giving up my pride and my fear, has put me in the presence of more Godly people and environment…I will be forever grateful and humbled by His work in my life.
Y: YIELD to the Growth.
Speaking of being sensitive to nuances, feelings, you are at war with yourself.
The Holy Spirit is working in you.
But, Self is telling you that you’re not worthy of progress. Low self image will tell you that you are the ugliest of uglies, the dirtiest of dirties.
So, you think your sins are too big for God? How prideful is that?! Don’t listen! When has your low self esteem ever been right about ANYTHING?!
Stop being a whipping post, instead listen to the Holy Spirit who will tell you: “The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning, because now God’s life is in him; so he can’t keep on sinning, for this new life has been born into him and controls him—he has been born again” 1 John 3:9.
Give in, yield to God, and embrace the changes He is making in your life.
Wrap it up: the question is, Are you entirely ready to voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in your life?”
Are you humble enough?
Are you ready for the powerful work God can do?
If you are, then pray this prayer with me:
Dear God, thank You for taking me this far in my recovery journey. Now I pray for Your help in making me be entirely ready to change all my shortcomings. Give me the strength to deal with all of my character defects that I have turned over to You. Allow me to accept all the changes that you want to make in me. Help me be the person that You want me to be. In the name of Jesus, your Son, I pray, Amen.