I was counseling with the men at our Good Shepherd Recovery House this week, and from the conversations we had, God had me write up and post on the wall there the most important things to remember while moving through your recovery process. If you will practice these things every day (and you are definitely capable of doing every step every day), then you will succeed.
- COMFORTABLE is the ENEMY of RECOVERY. Comfortable means you are continuing to do things as you always have, and that is most likely unhealthy. Comfortable means you are on auto-pilot, responding with learned behavior from past events instead of turning on your brain and problem solving the issues that are actually in front of you. Strive for UNCOMFORTABLE, because it means you are doing something different, something new, and hopefully something healthy for a change. If you can convince yourself that UNCOMFORTABLE equals GROWTH and HEALTH and is a good thing, then you will continue through the process until you have victory in your area of struggle.
- REDUCING STRESS in your BODY is KEY. When your stress level is spiking (or is too low), your brain turns off. You lose your ability to problem solve, and will immediately fall back on knee-jerk reactions, responding to previous events instead of the current event. Learn to breathe when you sense stress coming on – 8 deep breaths through your nose to decompress your body, get out of fight, flight or freeze mode, and be able to think through the situation at hand. If you practice this even when you are not stressed out, it will produce a cumulative effect and keep you calmer all the time.
- You don’t have to be ANYONE but YOURSELF. God made you with unique strengths, weaknesses and needs so that you could fulfill His purpose for your life and bring His Kingdom to pass here on earth. There is nothing wrong with how God made you, so there is nothing wrong with who you are, regardless of how other people have expected you to act. You simply need to acknowledge your God-instilled strengths and weaknesses, learn to work with them, and meet your needs in a godly and balanced way.
- Believe God exists, He loves you unconditionally, and He has the power to help you recover. God truly is here with you. God truly loves you just as He created you to be. God has promised that HE will complete the work that HE started in you to accomplish HIS purposes. He is using the same miraculous power He used to raise Jesus from the dead. No matter what your circumstances, no matter how you feel, God is powerful enough to change you, and yes, He WANTS to change you, and WILL change you – if you surrender to His leading.
- Push yourself to meet the needs of whoever God puts in your path every day. God made you specifically how you are for a good reason – He needs you to accomplish the purpose for which you were created. But He also expects you to expend the energy to push yourself beyond your natural design to meet the needs of others. He doesn’t ask you to change who you are, or to remain outside the boundaries of how He made you permanently – just spend enough time to meet the needs of those He has placed around you. Maybe you aren’t naturally affectionate, but someone around you needs a hug – move beyond yourself to meet their need. Maybe you like to be alone, but someone else needs company – move beyond yourself to meet their need. Giving of yourself for the benefit of someone else is called LOVE. So give of yourself for others in the same way you would like others to give of themselves to meet your needs.
As I said, you can do each and every one of these things. You don’t have to do it all perfectly – you just have to apply these steps, and you will find the joy, peace and righteousness for which you are striving.
Your sister in Christ,