Breaking Chains

The best advice that I’ve ever come up with is this – Know who God says you are, know how he loves you; don’t take less than that. What would He say yes to for you? Who would he be happy for you to date (or marry)? How would He treat you? Any human in your life should do the same. You should accept no less than what God would give you, do for you, want for you, etc.

This is the advice that I have learned to live by and it is the advice that I give to you today.

I’ve been thinking about the way that the twelve steps work together with the principles that I’ve learned by reading the Bible and other commentaries. There are some standard principles in the recovery community and those are evidenced in the twelve steps. There are standard principles in Christianity and those come from two commands. Together these make a set of principles to live by which are changing lives in a miraculous way.

The two biblical principles: 1) love God with all your being 2) love others as you love yourself. All of the familiar Ten Commandments flow from these two commandments. This means that if we keep these two, we will not break any of the other ten. We’ve already reviewed a list of the twelve steps in another post.

Command two above is where you and I struggle. We don’t know how to love ourselves which makes it difficult, or impossible, to love others. Loving God and loving ourselves is how our chains break.  The twelve steps are the stepping stones that help us get there.

Steps 1 to 3 are the entry level things we must do to begin making a change in our lives. For example, we can’t fix a problem without acknowledging that there is a problem to be fixed. We can’t fix something that doesn’t exist. These are the steps where we meet God. Well, really, he comes to meet us where we are. We have a desire for something different and we see our need for God to help us get there.

Then in Steps 4 to 9, we make realizations and say them out loud. We do this so we don’t repeat the past and we say them out loud to remove their power over us. I believe that the evil in this world likes to whisper in our ear to influence us in ways that God would not. So in these steps, we address that evil directly.

We learn to identify what we believe and why. We learn to use introspection to learn and understand how we feel and why. We speak out loud the things that influence us and shame us in order to remove the power those things have over us. We learn who God is, who Jesus is, who we are because of them. We also meet others who are like us, get a sponsor, and maybe a group. We get a counselor to help us work through the trauma. We make a lot of recovery progress.

Then in steps 10 to 12, we maintain and continue progress. We don’t want to backslide into old habits. We are different people and our goals are to do better and be better. Better than who we were. We believe we are who God says we are. We become stable in those beliefs. We know who we are, who God says we are, and we live into that belief. We have community to help us when we need it.

As a result of all of these things, we can now help others because we know that God loves them and he has commanded us to love them as we love us. Because we know how he loves us we can love ourselves and we can love others.

It is after we’ve made all of these massive shifts in our life that we can have better relationships. Walking through the twelve steps is like living in an earthquake. We are constantly shifting our paradigm so that when it’s done we have a beautiful kaleidoscope that is our life. Things are not what they were, things are not an orderly rainbow, things are not perfect. Things are just beautiful.

If we’ve done all our work, we have healthy relationships with other people. We forgive ourselves, we forgive God, we forgive others. We have received grace and we experience giving grace to others. We have love in our lives in all its facets.  We are better reflections of who God made us to be. We are better reflections of who we really are on the inside. We know joy. We know hope. We know faith. We know God.

It’s a long road that lasts our whole life. It’s worth every bit of all the struggle. I hope you continue to make this journey with me.

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