What to Do about Night Time Temptations

When it comes to addiction and compulsive behavior night time can be a nightmare

For many of us, night time can play havoc on our discipline, temptations, habit control, and triggers. Why is this? There are a few reasons

  1. Night in when a lot of us fall to temptation. Why is this? Because nighttime is when our willpower is at it’s lowest. Willpower is more like a muscle than constant energy flow. It gets fatigued and needs rest.
  2. At night we away from our routine. Often alone and undistracted our mind naturally fills us with an awareness of inadequacy, anxiety, discontentment. Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote the acclaimed book Flow, did a study with thousands of people finding out what their minds were doing at various random times. He concludes, “When we are left alone, with no demands on attention, the basic disorder of the mind reveals itself. With nothing to do, it begins to follow random patterns, usually stopping to consider something painful or disturbing. To avoid this condition, people are naturally eager to fill their minds with whatever information is readily available, as long as it distracts attention from turning inward and dwelling on negative feelings.”
  3. We have trained our self to use our addiction at night. We are like a dog that gets excited when you shake the box of dog treats. They know a treat is coming. It is as if they are enjoying it already. That is why they call the dopamine a pleasure hormone. But the dog is not exhibiting PLEASURE but rather ANTICIPATION. Think of smoking. The excitement leads up to the lighting the cigarette. I don’t hear anyone on the third puff saying, “Man that is the best thing I have ever tasted!” Rather it was in the early days of smoking that our brain got wired and learned that cigarette smoking did something for us. It is those early experiences that primed the striatum to excrete Dopamine in order to get us excited to pursue the next fit. Our brains have learned that night time is when we get that reward and the dopamine is pushing us to get it.
  4. Two key neurotransmitters that our brain uses to send messages back and forth are dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine excites us and moves us into action like the gas pedal in our car. Serotonin calms us down like the brakes. These both are key when it comes to addiction. Dopamine starts pushing us to get our evening reward when it was triggered earlier in the day. The trouble with nighttime is that serotonin is naturally lower at night. This helps us sleep. The trouble is that a high dopamine and low serotonin state is the perfect craving environment. Under normal circumstances serotonin tells the body and brain, “I have it!” versus the dopamine’s “I must have it!” message. However, when dopamine is high, and serotonin is very low, the result is an irritation coming from the desire for food, a safe place, sex, drugs, whatever our body and brain say it needs. This lack of SATISFACTION causes our serotonin to drop. It is this HIGH DOPAMINE – LOW SEROTONIN state that causes us to become obsessional in our “I MUST HAVE IT” mode. We just can’t let the thought go. THIS IS A CRAVING! It is an extremely uncomfortable, painful state. THIS HIGH DOPAMINE AND LOW SEROTONIN “STATE” CAUSES US TO SEEK A SOLUTION.

What gets our opiate circuit going?

Excitement – video games, gambling

Sexual content on tv, video, or more erotic Sex and porn

Our own sex night.

Rich foods and sweets

Drugs and alcohol

Adrenaline activities

We have trained ourself to have an opiate fix at night. Like an entitlement.

Think about our day. We keep busy; we have routines to help us cope. How much of our childhood was emotionally surviving and coping. Trouble is nighttime comes and there is no more coping unless we are a workaholic.

TRUTHFULLY WE HAVE DEVELOPED A LOT OF CUES

Where we sit, seeing the tv remote, our chair in front of a computer, the driveway when we pull up, the corner where we turn right in order to get to our house. All of these can be triggers turning on the dopamine. When it does the cravings begin!

If we are going to win we must know about these triggers and try to do everything we can to prevent them from happening. We can do this by working on our environment, making changes to our routines and setting up good boundaries.

Night time maintenance

So what can I do about nighttime temptations, triggers and cravings?

How do we fight this?

  1. Believe, that we don’t need this!

We don’t need this opiate fix to survive, to be happy, to feel fulfilled. (It feels that way, but we are not going to die!!!)

  1. Feel the anticipation and tell it is faulty wiring and you DO NOT NEED IT. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE!!!
  2. Substitute satisfaction and comfort for excitement

We think it is comfort but it is not. It is short lived excitement that leaves us wanting more.

What really satisfies and excites you? What do you like to watch or read? What kind of games do you like? What hobbies would you like to start? The best way to beat an addiction is to find something that can distract you long enough for any urge to dissipate.

What good substitute brings comfort. Comfort comes from the other hormone, oxytocin. This comes from intimacy, play, hobbies, from reading a good book, learning new things, things that interest us, or fulfill us.

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit for help

The Holy Spirit is the true Comforter. Remember the fruit of the Spirit is SELF-CONTROL!

  1. Become more social

Isolation is a bad idea. There are many kinds of groups or places you could go. Health club, church function, meetings, dancing, reading groups, hobby groups.

You could be deliberate in making a list of people you want to call and see how they are doing and call some of them.

  1. Call someone who can listen

Do you have a sponsor or someone who could take a phone call from you? Someone who you can tell about your boredom and they will listen? Communicating will help it pass. Being heard will comfort you and cause the uneasiness to go away.

  1. Extinguish its power

Each day you resist it gets easier, you habit loses its power.

  1. Systematically win the race

Do it in baby steps. Start a new habit for 3 days. Think of it as a fast. You can do it. Then go to  10 days. Call this a detox. Then go for 60 days, call this your new lifestyle.

Fast – Cut out your bad habit or add a new one for only three days – This is doing it sacrificially for a limited time

Detox – This is the next 7 days. It is a deliberate choice to purge your system. You want to plan the evenings and have things around you that will help you change. Good book, listen to our program.

  1. Go to meetings – Support groups can really help when you are starting out. Don’t do this alone.
  2. Reset your environment -take away the temptations. Substitute a better way. You want to clean out your mind.
  3. Remember this craving is faulty wiring

It is hard to believe because it is your normal. But the fact is it is nothing more than a false signal that you need to ignore.

  1. Practice emotional motivational

Say to yourself, “I don’t want to be that guy”, “I want to be that guy.” “I’m not going to die!

Nighttime doesn’t have to be a losing battle. Follow these steps and free yourself from the nighttime nightmare!

Advertisements

Are You Mature?

Maturity Is A Process, Are You Maturing?

The goal of maturity is to go from a very dependent baby into a full grown adult. We usually think of maturity with the idea of going from “dependent” to “independent”. But this is not maturity. We were not meant to be totally independent. Rather we are to be an adult that lives in community with other adults in an inner-dependence. We are social beings and maturity is more about living “socially” and ‘emotionally” with others that it is about being independent. Now granted much of maturity is learning to take care of our self. It is about accepting responsibility and fulfilling our obligations. In that respect we are independent. No one can be mature for us. We need to be responsible. But as social beings, maturity is more about relationships and handling the day to day struggle with life’s pressures and emotions. In this respect, we go from being a child that handles people, pressure, and emotions immaturely to an adult that deals with this very differently.

Maturity Needs

As a child, we have needs at different stages of development. If these needs are met, then we move on to maturity. If they are not met, then we struggle with maturity and growing into adulthood. Rate your level of need fulfillment on each one below on a scale 1-5. (1 being low fulfillment, 5 very true for me)

As a child…

We need to have safety and security with those we trust and love                                                 1   2   3   4   5

We need to know that love is constant, unconditional and always there no matter what                 1   2   3   4   5

We need to know that we are loved, special, valued and unique                                                   1   2   3   4   5

We need to have the capacity to return to a peace and joy from painful emotions                          1   2   3   4   5

We need to know that we belong and are connected to others in a special way                              1   2   3   4   5

We need to be loved for who we are without having to perform                                                   1   2   3   4   5

We need a bond with our creator and life in His Spirit                                                                              1   2   3   4   5

We need a purpose, meaning and freedom to use our strengths for good                                       1   2   3   4   5

We need to know that it is NEVER too late to have loving, nurturing relationships                            1   2   3   4   5

How do you see yourself? Rate yourself as a mature adult?

Handling my emotions (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Fulfilling my responsibilities (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Living with relationships (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Being healthily assertive (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Saying “No” to unhealthy boundaries (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Being intimidated by others (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Handling pressure to people please (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Delaying gratification (very immature) 1….2….3….4….5….6….7….8….9….10 (very mature)

Immature Beliefs

Immaturity is being locked into childhood interpretations of traumatic events. These interpretations are distortions of reality. They are lies and half-truths, negative and defeating beliefs about life, relationships, our own self, and God. These distortions affect our worldview and predictions about outcomes stunting our ability be mature in situations. These distortions need to be challenged and dwelt with over time. Look over the following list of negative beliefs and check off the ones you struggle with.

Negative Beliefs

___ Others must approve of me or else I am bad
___ I am inferior person
___ I must please others to be liked
___ I am bad if I speak my mind and disagree
___ My opinions are not as important as others
___ I must not question authority
___ I must get permission from others
___ I cannot fail or else I am no good
___ My feelings are not important
___ I will never succeed
___ I must do what I am told
___ If I disagree, I am wrong
___ I cannot do it by myself
___ I am not capable to manage on my own
___ Feeling aren’t important
___ I will never be good enough
___ It is bad to be average
___ I must be liked
___ Other people’s opinions are more important
___ I must not fail
___ I must hide my mistakes
___ They have no weaknesses
___ Things are easy for others
___ My beliefs aren’t as important as yours
___ I’m the only one that feels this way
___ They know everything
___ Others are not as afraid, mad or sad
___ I must be nice to everyone
___ I must stay in control
___ If I do something wrong, I will be abandoned
___ God says I must obey everyone
___ Christians do not question authority
___ God disapproves of me when I fail
___ Christians do not get mad
___ I can’t disagree with leaders
___ I cannot choose my own values
___ It is a disgrace to lose
___ If I disagree I will be banished
___ If people knew the real me they would reject me
___ Conflict is dangerous for me
___ If I please others, I will be liked
___ I cannot say what is on my mind
___ If I get angry I will lose control
___ If I do what they say, I will not be rejected
___ I must do it myself
___ I cannot trust others to do what they say
___ Others will only let me down
___ I will only let others down

If we summarize the above negative beliefs we will come up with key symptoms of immaturity. Look over this list of key symptoms and check off the ones you struggle with

___ Fear of failure
___ Feeling inferior to other adults
___ Need to please others
___ Fear of abandonment and rejection
___ Inordinate guilt
___ Anxiety
___ Feelings of being broken and shameful
___ Fear of expressing myself
___ Fear of God
___ Over competitive

These negative beliefs can result in immature behavior and attitudes.
Look at the symptoms and rate your level of struggle on a scale 1-5.
(1= little struggle, 5 Having a very difficult time with it). Check off the ones that are a 4 or 5.

___ Judgmental 1 2 3 4 5
___ Defensive 1 2 3 4 5
___ Passive/aggressive 1 2 3 4 5
___ Standoffish/withdrawn 1 2 3 4 5
___ Self-absorbed 1 2 3 4 5
___ Right/wrong thinking 1 2 3 4 5
___ Clingy 1 2 3 4 5
___ Dependent 1 2 3 4 5

In order to overcome immaturity, you will need to re-parent yourself. You will need to have others who are mature, love you, mentor you and help with the re-parenting process. Maturity is a process and it is never too late to begin it.

Taken from Ron Ovitt’s class, Emotional Resilience, Living with the Fruit of the Spirit

What Do You Want To Change?

WHAT IS YOUR GOAL? What do you want to change?
It is surprising how many people try to change a habit and never stop to think about the goal they are setting before them. Let’s see if we can zero in on what you want to change.

1. Be specific – What is the actual Habit you want to add or take away?

Many times, our goal is too general, for instance, “I want to be healthy.” Okay, what does that mean? What habits does that effect? Exercise, eating, sleeping, reducing stress or nutrition? Be specific and write down your goal.

2. What reasons do you want to drop this habit or start a new one?
This is key. It will help you when the going gets tough. Write down why you want to pursue this goal. What are the rewards you will get from it?

3. Be realistic – How difficult will it be?
Is this your first time? Have you tried before and relapsed? Either way, as you think of this habit you are going to break or new one you are going to add–rate the difficulty on a scale 1-5 (1 = should be a snap, 5 It will be a very difficult challenge).
Circle the level of difficulty 1…2…3…4…5

Do you need to start with a mini-goal?
A mini-goal can help you get going. Here is my rule of thumb. If you are stopping a habit, jump all in! It is difficult to wean yourself from a habit. If you drag it out over an extended* period, it only continues the habit longer and keeps the craving coming. Your habit may be the exception, but most people are better off going cold turkey.

*If you want to progressively wean yourself, then go into it with a schedule and stick to it. Don’t fool yourself.

Where a mini-goal really works is when you are adding a new habit.
When I first started running, my goal was to eventually run 3-4 miles a day. However, I started with a ½ mile on the first day (after all, how far do you need to run to be a runner?). In my mind, the first ½ mile qualified me. So, I began! The first few days, I ran ¼ mile–sat down, and then ran back a ¼ mile! I got stronger every day and since that humble beginning, I have logged over 20,000 miles, either running or walking!

What is the goal you want to add? Start off with small, achievable increments, then increase until you get to your goal.

Here are some of the ways I approached my habits
Running – Started with a mini goal and worked up
Lifting weights – mini-goal – light weight, low reps, built my way up.
Quit caffeine – Cold turkey
Quit sugar and carbs- Cold turkey
Quit biting nails – Cold turkey
Daily devotions – Mini-goal, read one chapter of the Bible a day, worked my way up

What is your goal? What would be a great starting mini-goal?

How long will you give yourself to get up to your goal? _______________________________

4. PreLive it.
PreLive™ is an exercise where we imagine accomplishing the task at hand. We use all our senses. We visualize it, hear it, taste it, feel it, touch it. Whatever senses we can incorporate–we use them to create a vivid and realistic vision of accomplishing the goal.

STOP! Take 3 minutes and visualize yourself accomplishing your goal. See it, feel it.
Feel the excitement and satisfaction of accomplishing it!

If You Are Going To Change You Have To Manage Your Relationships

One of the hardest things to do is make a change if your friends and family are not on board. It’s like trying to canoe upstream! What can you do? Here are three ideas.

1. Sit down and ask them for help – Share with them how sincere you are about making a change. Explain to them that you need help with triggers and temptation. Hopefully, they will cooperate with you and not trip you up in your effort to overcome your habit. If they seem cooperative perhaps you could enlist them to be an accountability partner, an encourager or even a participant in the same program with you.

2. Change your patterns – Sometimes it is hard for our friends and family to change. For example, you may be trying to stay away from drinking, yet going out with your family and/or friends on Friday nights to the bar is a long time tradition. The best solution is to keep the friendships tight but see them a different place or time. If you have stopped sugar and processed flour and everyone is eating your Aunt’s favorite pie she baked for you, thank her for her kindness and respectfully decline. Hopefully, they will understand. Remember this is your survival and it must come first!

3. Be prepared for fallout – You are an adult and as one, you may have to make choices that have unpleasant consequences. Every home has some dysfunction and your family and friends just may not understand why you are making such a drastic habit change. That is their problem. You have resolved to make this change and it must come first. You can love them without giving into to behavior that activities that will cause you to relapse. As you change and your new habits stick you will find that your loving attitude will allow a continued relationship.

What do you think? Have you struggled to try to change and have had friends or family become a hindrance? What did you do?

Why Do Most Attempts At Change Fail?

Anger

Relapse is when a person who has stopped or started a behavior lapses back into their old ways. A person who has been sober suddenly is using again. A person who has been losing weight is binge eating again. A person who bought a health club membership quits going. They have relapsed back into old behavior.  Relapse is a serious problem with habits and cravings. People quit a program thinking that is the end of their problem only to find out that within months they are using all over again. In fact, many people find themselves relapsing several times (some many more times) before they are able to maintain their new lifestyle. Does this mean you don’t have a chance? No! We believe you can go through this program and maintain your habit changes. Part of that reason is that we take relapse seriously. That is why we are talking about it right in the beginning. As we have done research here are some of the reasons that people fail at changing habits.

People fail in programs because…

  1. They commit to a program not a way of life. They looked at habit change as an event, a destination instead of a journey

Change is not a magic formula. It is changing a way of life. It is a routine, a paradigm shift, an attitude adjustment. There are ways of changing things by using desperate measures and gritting it out with pure willpower. But how long does that last? Instead, we are teaching principles for living. Not techniques but disciplines that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life. Programs are good but what happens when the structure is gone? There needs to be a change in the way we see things. In what we believe.

  1. They don’t change their environment

There are too many triggers that have not been changed. The proximity of those triggers were also too convenient. Friends did not help either. They often coaxed the person into doing their habit again.  If we are going to succeed, then we need to work on our environment. The who and what, the people, places and things of our habit.

  1. They don’t like the discomfort of change

This is often because they have taken on too large of a habit. We mean well but starting with a large objective can become or own worst enemy. It is better to start a habit with something that you can do and build from there.

  1. It’s their normal and hard to do live any other reality

Many habits are birthed and sustained in a person’s normal lifestyle. Now it may be far from what should be normal (A person who living high everyday) but it’s their normal. It feels right. Change is needed but moving from their normal feels like jumping from a plane. Soon they find themselves back in the comfort zone.

  1. There is some emotional reason in staying where they are.

Fear is a strong motivator. Many of us are fear or shame based. When you are that way, the last thing you want is another test. You don’t want to fail. You have worked hard at being acceptable, a success at what you do. (At least not worse than you already are) We think, “We are as good as we are going to get.” This is a “fixed” mindset, and the thought of trying something and failing is frightening. Instead we need to develop a “change” mindset. One that says, “I have all sorts of potential. Learning and trying different things is fun. I do not have to be perfect. It is okay to grow and mature. There are no failures, just learning opportunities.”

  1. They have unrealistic expectations

We want a magic pill, an easy answer, an instant solution. When it doesn’t happen we get discouraged and quit. The truth is that habits are stubborn and are not going to give up that easily. Some changes will happen quickly but most take time and discipline. It will take time to make lasting changes.

  1. They chose to change a habit on an impulse, no preplanning

Good intentions are not enough. In order to succeed you need a plan. There is a lot involved in changing habits and there is no need to rush into failure. Instead, we want to set a date and prepare for lasting change.

  1. They do not have an accountability partner, coach or group

Changing habits is not a single player mode. It is too easy to fail by our self. Things are the way they are for reasons and in order to succeed you will need to have a team to support, encourage and challenge you.

  1. They worked out of guilt or fear not positive optimism

When it comes to changing a habit it is also better to run TO something instead of running FROM something. Optimism is key in keeping the patience and endurance you will need to make change happen. Here again, we must fight the temptation to have a fixed mindset that says, “It must come easily to me. I must succeed.” When we think that way and failure comes all that is left is guilt, fear, and pessimism. Instead, we need a “Change” mindset that says “growth and process” are the norm. Be your own detective, your own scientist as well as the subject and enjoy the journey of discovery as you become all that you were meant to be.

  1. They did not go deep enough

Some programs just work on behavior. Others on people, places, and things. Often that is not deep enough? It will not produce lasting change. If change is to be lasting then we need to help change our emotions, attitudes, beliefs, lifestyle, and environment behind the behavior.

  1. They did not work on emotional lies behind triggers

There is a difference between a simple trigger and a craving. A trigger is to a craving like anxiety is to a phobia. It is much more intense and comes from a different place. Often what is triggering us comes from sensations that are similar to those left behind from our implicit memories of childhood trauma. The self-beliefs associated with those memories had severe consequences. To be unlovable means you will be abandoned if you don’t behave and being abandoned to a child is a death sentence. It is a scary consequence of being unlovable. So when a sensation that is similar to that event triggers in us that we are unlovable, we go into a habit that is sure to make us feel better, give us relief or help us escape the emotional pain. It is true that we engage in many of our habits in order to regulate our emotions.

  1. They did not include spiritual treatment as part of our recovery

Many people do not succeed in their habit change because they have not taken advantage of the spiritual resources available to them. This is much more than acknowledging that there is a Higher Power. It is having a relationship with God. Spirituality provides the hope and resilience needed when it comes to making a change. A relationship with God is foundational to making the kind of changes we want. Think about it. Who better to help you with change than the one who designed and created you? That is why, along with sharing the latest in change science, we will be having you go through Spiritual exercises in order to draw upon all the Spiritual resources of change that God provides.

When you consider the list that we have just discussed do any of them resonate with you. How have you done in the past with changing habits? Have you experienced relapse in some of the changes you have made? Have you lived with the yo-yo effect where you succeed at a habit change, fall back to old routines and then rebound again, over and over? Be your own detective. As you consider the list above, why do you think this happened to you?

 

Change The Way You React To Anxiety

A lot of our habits are fear based or the result of anxiety. Anxiety is so pervasive. It creeps into all areas of our life. Just like the weeds in my garden! But I have to wonder, how much of it was invited? Okay, maybe not invited but certainly the door was wide open and no one was there to stop it. I believe we can get into the habit of anxiety! Or at least the habit of not doing anything about it. We can’t always help what comes into our head, but we can do something with it once it is there. The pie is on the table cooling and your dog gets on its hind legs and sniffs at the table. Two more seconds and there will be no dessert for dinner. What do you do? You yell, “Get down from there!” and the dog leaves. Likewise, we have more control over our anxiety than we think we do. Here are three things you can do when you feel anxiety coming in the door.

1. Shut the door! – Most of what we get anxious about is not going to happen. I like to think of it as faulty wiring or at least premature timing. Like the kids in the back seat shouting out five minutes after you leave the house heading for vacation, “Are we there yet?” It’s the proverbial Chicken Little crying out, “The sky is falling!” As a child we had no choice. As far as we knew, there WAS a monster in the basement! But today we are an adult. Even if it feels like there is a monster down there, there isn’t. I had to face that. I was a “phobic” child. I had all kinds of obsessive fears. I had to come out of a lot of immature fears as I matured into an adult. So can you. Standing up to the anxiety, calling it “faulty wiring” and distracting yourself while the sensation (that really is what emotions are in the first place) dissipates will help you with a lot of anxiety.

2. ReLive™ – This is what I call visualizing a time when we have done something positive in the past. Think of a time when you were not anxious in a similar situation. Picture it in your mind. Feel it in your body. Take a deep breath and as you exhale let your body sense the peace you had in that moment. Now switch to PreLive™. This is where you visualize something before it happens. Take the same feeling you just had and transpose it onto the situation you are going into. Feel the peace, the freedom of going through it without fear. But what if you still have the anxiety? You can contain it.

3. Contain it – Once you know that you have successfully went through this experience without fear before, then you can begin to understand that this is just a sensation. Sure, it feels real. It shouts, “You are going to die!” But, this is important, “You are NOT going to die.” Remember, you didn’t die before, have never died and you are not going to die this time. Feel the sensation and then contain it. Picture the area in your body where you feel the sensation like a strong metal container. Picture the sensation exploding and you being able to contain it. I usually say out loud, “CONTAIN! I am not going to die if I ignore this!” I then feel the sensation dissipate. Then I do it again. I would encourage you to do the same. Take deep relaxing breaths as you do it and let your body know that it is true. You are not going to die! This is also when I bring God into the picture. He is with me. He is my protector. He will not leave me. I am safe in Him.

I am going to spend a lot of time on this blog talking about anxiety, shame, depression and anger. I hope you join me and let others know.

Share a time when you overcame anxiety.

Is Your God Big Enough?

As we consider change in our life, as we wrestle with habits, craving and life direction it is wise to consider Spiritual wisdom and guidance. As a minister I have talked with many people seeking spiritual guidance and have encouraged them to consider how great and good God is and to build a deep and lasting relationship with Him. I was asked to share about Spirituality at an addictions treatment center’s graduation. I challenged the audience to consider if the God of their choice was big enough. Here are the thoughts I wrote down as my outline.

I am so glad to be here tonight. I love the spiritual emphasis in the twelve steps. Consider the following steps:

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
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.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Tonight I want to challenge us as we look at the spiritual implications of the 12 Steps, to look at number three, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” and consider this…
Is your God big enough?

You see I appreciate what the authors were doing. They were being sensitive to the fact that people have the freedom of choice when it comes to spirituality. I get this. However, we are not talking about dessert. “Let’s see I think I will have a piece of pie instead of cake.” No we are talking about God. So here are some things for us to think about.

1. Is your God the one who created you or did you create God? Yes, it is a God of your own choice but is it a God of your own making? It seems to me that the very definition of God would preclude that God would be the creator or life force behind all things.

2. Is your God one that chooses you? Yes you have a choice. A God of your own choice but what about a God who has initiative? I would look for a God who has chosen to love me, create me, sustain me and help me.

This brings up another strong attribute –
3. Can you have a personal relationship with your God? Is He a God who is there? Is He a God with a presence that can be approached? Do you have a connection that is real and vibrant?

4. Is your God all powerful, benevolent, all knowing and omnipresent? When we consider God we must consider God like attributes. Often we are tempted to give to God more human like characteristics. Ask yourself, is my God like…
A. A benevolent Santa Clause ready to give us presents based on our merit– looking to see if we have been naughty or nice.
B. The bloodhound of heaven – The austere judge low on mercy but high on justice chasing us down without mercy.
C. The aloof watchmaker – He created the galaxy and mankind but like the watchmaker, once the watch is made he abandons it to run on its own.
D. The critical parent – A God who is always criticizing, never satisfied, high on demands, low on acceptance and unconditional love.

Finally, ask yourself,
5. Is your God one that can forgive and absolve you of all guilt? Are you able to bring your humanness, your past, all your faults, wrongdoing to your God and find, understanding, love, forgiveness and encouragement? After all, what loving parent would not have a deep love, forgiveness and acceptance toward their child? How much more would the creator of humankind?

As a minister I have spent my life sharing with others how they can find God through the study of the scriptures, the Holy Bible. That they can have a personal relationship with God because of the work on the Cross by Jesus Christ. I would encourage you to also let this be part of your consideration. Whatever you do, seek Spiritual understanding. We were not meant to face this life on our own power. I encourage you to examine your faith and what you believe in and make sure that the God of your choice is big enough.

What do you think should be considered in a quest to know God?

.