Inner beauty: you can’t sell it, but it’s your most important feature. Every month on magazine covers, we buy into the promise of “ten steps to…” a better body, bank account, romance, and more, but we hardly focus on the one thing that really matters, which is our souls.
Real happiness is found on the inside. However, we rush off to the stores in an effort to buy our way to true bliss, and this is what keeps us perpetually trapped in the advertising illusion. Things are not bad, neither is wanting to be beautiful, but our minds, souls, and emotions are precious, and they make up the foundation to which all other forms of joy grow. If our minds are out of balance, then how can we expect to ever be truly happy? If we fail to nourish our souls first, then we will never see ourselves as truly beautiful, and we may constantly look to others to validate us.
I searched for myself
inside of bottles, liquids
pills and powders too
I took my pain
and numbed it with food
’till I was nearly dead
Then one day
as I lay broken on the floor
a man appeared before me
“Are you ready to be healed
take my hand
All you have to do
is accept me.”
We have now arrived at the twelfth and final step of the recovery program. Congratulations! Give yourself a huge hug and relish how far you have come to reach this point. Your recovery is the cornerstone of the success for the rest of your life.
Step twelve touches on what is single-handedly the most important part of daily recovery. Although all of the steps are essential for a healthy soul, mind and body, the twelfth step is crucial because it instills the importance of giving away what you have been given. After all, where would we be if recovery, support, and guidance had not been given to us by others all along the way?
Helping other people get their life back on track by sharing our experience, strength and hope can be done in the form of sponsoring up to the level of your recovery or by being an accountability partner. Just being kind to others and allowing positivity and love to flow through your personality to the world around you enables all kinds of continual healing to take place. When we don’t pass on the knowledge that we have received, we run the assured risk of falling back on our own recovery and becoming selfish and proud.
The steps need to be repeated for the rest of our lives. We never become “too good” for program; rather, our success in life is dependant upon our daily surrender to God and being willing to work on ourselves. Recovery is a beautiful thing; how will you pass it on today?
Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for the following questions.
Our Mission Isaiah 61:1-3
1. How have I passed through the pain and despair of enslavement to addiction and moved into healing and freedom?
2. Having had a “spiritual awakening” after being set free from my addiction, am I excited or hesitant to share my experience, strength, and hope with others who are struggling with addiction? Why?
Our Story Mark 16:14-18
Describe the story of your spiritual awakening and how the first eleven steps have brought spiritual principals, truth, and healing into your life. Describe what you were like, what happened, and what you are like now.
Sharing Together John 15:5-15
1. Am I connected to the vine? How do the Twelve Steps help me to “remain” in him?
2. Is my recovery attractive to other addictive/compulsive people because I am becoming more loving rather than condemning those who need my help?
3. What am I doing to reach out with Jesus’ love?
Listening First Acts 8:26-40
1. What is my attitude about sharing my story of recovery? Am I reluctant to tell my story, or am I the type that wants to share too much, too soon, with too many people?
2. From either extreme, am I willing to wait for God’s timing for sharing recovery?
3. Do I see my story as valuable to God’s plan? Describe how.
Talking the Walk 1 Timothy 4:14-16
1. Paul encourages Timothy to “throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.” What changes in my life can others observe since I have been sober and working the Twelve Steps?
2. Paul wanted Timothy not only to teach others, but to be an example. When I share my story with others, am I preaching, or sharing my experience, strength, and hope.
3. Am I able to let the other person make his or her own decision by relinquishing control and letting God do his work?
Never Forget Titus 3:1-5
What do I remember about my last drink or my last binge? Describe that last time, including actions, feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that led up to it and followed it:
The Narrow Road 1 Peter 4:1-4
1. Peter pointed out: “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy-their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties” (1 Peter 4:1-2) the pains of recovery.
2. Does the approval or judgement of others keep me from sharing recovery? Do I fear negative rumors?
Step Eight requires tremendous doses of humility and courage as we ponder over the courses of our lives who we have hurt while living in our addictions. Sometimes we have mistreated others and were not even aware that we had done so. As we begin to meditate on those who had been affected by our irresponsibility we quickly find that we can list a slew of of people we had hurt.
This was a tough step for me the first couple of times I went through early recovery and now I really try not to hurt others. I may not always be where I need to be but with God’s help thank God I am not where I used to be! Take heart and know that although your healing journey may seem difficult or like a long road to walk on, that it is a path filled with healing and with healing comes many blessings and happiness. And we all deserve to be happy! Most importantly we all need to learn how to treat other people with kindness and love so this is a very important step to accomplish but with God’s help you can do it one day at a time.
Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for the following questions.
Making Restitution Exodus 22:10-15
1. How have I failed to respect the property of others.
2. Have I been so harmed or condemned by others that I have avoided responsibility for myself. By whom and when.
3. What excuses have I used for not looking at my behaviors.
Unintentional Sins Leviticus 4:1-28
1. In what areas have I unintentionally harmed others with my words/moods/self-pity/depression/anger/or fears.
2. In what ways have I acted thoughtlessly without regard for others’ needs or feelings. When; To Whom;
Scapegoats Leviticus 16:20-22
1. Have I been putting off making a list because I am afraid of some responses. Whose.
2. Have I held on to shame about a certain incident or relationships. What am I willing to do to let go so that I can become willing to make amends.
3. Is there someone I am having trouble forgiving who blocks my willingness. Who.
Overcoming Loneliness Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
1. How have I allowed isolation due to shame and guilt to keep me from supportive relationships.
2. What is the role of shame and guilt in my isolation.
3. Am I willing to forgive myself for the hurt I have caused others. Write a prayer of willingness to forgive and ask for God’s grace to heal these relationships.
Forgiven to Forgive Matthew 18:23-35
1. Are there people on my list that I am having trouble forgiving for their part in our relationship. Who and Why.
2. What keeps me from letting others off the hook. Fear/Resentment/Caretaking.
3. What blocks me from forgiving others for the wrongs done to me.
a. Fear of what others would think of me. (Pride).
b. Fear of letting others see my hurts.
c. Fear of conflict. Protecting others feelings to avoid conflict.
The Fruit of Forgiveness 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
1. Is there anyone on my list whose behavior I do not approve. Who. Why.
2. Am I willing to let go of judgement and disapproval to open myself to working this step.
3. Have I been so afraid of rejection that I have delayed willingness to make amends. Who could reject me and why.
Reaping Goodness Galatians 6:7-10
1. What “crop” did I sow while practicing my addiction.
2. Describe the correlation between healthy living and acceptance of the consequences for my addiction/behavior:
My nine and a half year old niece *Colette loves to sit with me in the bathroom and watch me fix my hair in the mornings and put on my makeup. The other day we were spending time together while I was doing just that, and I frequently stopped to dance around the room with my hairbrush and sing songs on the iPad that she knows almost every word to. We just laughed and laughed until a hour and a half had passed and she was half silly and I had half of my hair and makeup on still, ha ha! These are precious memories and ones that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
After we had finished our mini concert in our jammies, Colette became pretty quiet and started to stare down at the floor. “Are you ok, Colette?” I asked. She didn’t really answer even though I knew she had understood what I was saying, and instead she went over to the weight scale that was over by the sink and promptly put her two feet firmly on the face of it. I carefully but discreetly watched as her face fell and she immediately became disheartened. Again, I repeated to her to tell me what was wrong, this time in French to make sure she understood. “Qu’est-ce que c’est ?”, I asked her beautiful, tiny face. After one enormous huff of a breath, Colette pointed to her belly and implied that she was overweight, and by her face, that she felt horrible about her body and appearance because of the number on the scale. I was shocked! A nine and a half year old child!! A child, so concerned about her weight and appearance already! What in the world is happening to our society?
Right away I took her and looked her straight and lovingly into her saddened eyes. “Colette, you. Are. Beautiful. Jolie. Do you know?” Obviously my French is terrible, but I could see in her expression that she understood because she peaked through with a microscopic smile. “Bon, now I want you to come to the mirror, look straight into it at yourself, all of you, and repeat after me, I. Am. Beautiful. Just. The. Way. I. Am.” Well, my first attempt failed. She could not even look at herself, let alone repeat the words. This was a total learning experience for me, and I was just so heartbroken that this incredibly gorgeous, inside and out, talented, bright, sweet, charming, gracious child was deep down full of intense self-esteem issues because of a number on a scale. And where in the world did she pick this up? How did she even know to go and weigh herself and what these numbers mean? Ooh, I was just so infuriated!! And then subsequently all of the feelings that I had as a child came flooding back to me all at once. I had the same emotions, fears and knowledge of myself and body at her age and had already developed serious, serious body and food issues at the age of eight! Eight! Imagine, the psychological effects and damages that society can have on a child, with all of the messages it sends on what it is to be acceptable. This is plum ridiculous!
I gently repeated it to Colette over and over until she said it to herself in the mirror. “I. Am. Beautiful. Just. The. Way. I. Am.” And you know what? She finally had a smile on her face, and she had a face of confidence where she could at least say it and look at herself in the mirror at the same time! It is so important the words that we speak to children, and the words that they say to themselves and how they see themselves. Growing up, I did not really have any encouragement directly at home. Abused in my childhood in many ways from some family members, I had zero self confidence and in fact I hated myself from as early as the age of eight years old, when all of the abuse started to take on a more serious turn. There is so much power in our thoughts, our mind, our actions, and the words we say to ourselves and others. Just the kindest and most gentle sentence can help to change someone’s life. I often wonder what would have happened if instead of constantly hearing words of discouragement and disapproval, I would have been raised in an environment of positive reinforcement, encouragement, kindness and concern for my well-being, as every human being deserves to hear and know from childhood.
Believe it or not, I struggled for seventeen years of my young life with body issues, self esteem, weight control, and loving myself, the real myself; and in fact, I don’t think I ever even knew who I really was because I never started my life with any kind of a healthy foundation on which to grown on or to have guidance from. When you are eight years old and start having deep-psychological food issues and base your worth and value on how you feel when you look in your kid jeans in the morning, there is a serious, life-altering mindset that takes place; And child, it’s not pretty.
Needless to say, when Colette started to talk negatively about herself in the bathroom and play the “blame game” with her body and the weight scale, I knew that I could not and would not let her leave there without trying to get her to see herself and speak to herself loving, caring words the way that God sees and loves all of us. It is important to share with you all how I was treated as a child and the problems I went through, but it is much more important and exciting to shout from the rooftops what God has done for my life! God took a messed up, broken, abused and helpless woman who had a hurting, angry little girl still living on the inside of her; a victim of her own perfectionism. He took me, when I had finally had enough of living like a victim and decided I wanted to live a victorious life, and in fact, He came running with open Arms to me, picked me up, carried me, and gave me a totally New Life that could only be found In Him! When I surrendered every single area of my life to God, it was not easy, it was very challenging, in fact, but I began to see myself the way that God saw me, as I first learned from His Word. In the Bible, there are four key adjectives that are used to describe how we are seen in God’s eyes, and although there are many more I want to share the following with you, and invite you to repeat these powerful phrases in front of the mirror, and to yourself throughout the day whenever you need a “pick-me-up.”
I am created in the Image of God. In the Book of Genesis 1:27 it says that, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Well, this verse really changed a lot for me. If I am created in the very image of God, and God is supposed to be All-Seeing, All-Knowing, All-Capable, All-Powerful, Always in Control, just PERFECT, then right here and now I should understand that I should NEVER, EVER, EVER say another bad thing about myself ever again! If I know that I am created in God’s very image and He did so ON PURPOSE because He loves me, and He has an amazing future for my life, then speaking and thinking bad things about myself would be just like slapping Him in the face, never-the-mind all of the damaging effects it would continue to do to myself. So the next time you feel like you are ugly or not worthy just the way you are, that is total crap and hurtful to God because He. Made. You. Unique. And. Precious. In. His. Sight.
I am accepted. Ephesians 1: 3-8 says, “I have been chosen by God and adopted as His Child.” Wow! You mean all of this time I did not have to have feelings of abandonment, loneliness, unworthiness and shame for not having my family there for me? NO! As children, we tend to idolize our parents, and see them as being perfect and incapable of making mistakes. When we become adults, we tend to blame all of our problems on our parents and our childhood, but what we really should be doing is accepting the fact that all our parents really did was give us life, bring us into this world, and raise us the best that they knew how to with the resources they had. The only One perfect is God, therefore, we have to learn to forgive our parents, even if we never even had any, even if they mistreated us, even if they left us as children. Why? Because we are not perfect either, and we can never point the finger because that is being hypocritical and God is not a hypocrite. When we understand what God says above in Ephesians 1:3-8 then it takes all of the pressure off ourselves having to constantly live in regret for not having the “perfect” childhood that maybe we would have liked to have. For we can discover that having a personal relationship with Christ gives us something far beyond and better: a Loving Father Who is with us Eternally and Who has a Home for us on Earth and in Heaven, and Who will never Leave us Nor Forsake us. So it does not matter what your childhood was like, the next time you feel sad about your family, feel comfort in knowing, “I. Am. Accepted!”
I am secure. 1 John 5:18 states, “I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.” Safety is critical to a child’s wellbeing mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. How many times have you seen a child act out in anger or frustration or how many times have you done this yourself, all the while knowing that the root of the action was fear? Fear is a joy-killer because it is not something that is valid, but it is something that we tend to believe. Fear is the opposite of faith, and when we live in fear, we can act out in all kinds of negative emotions on ourselves and to other people, places, and things. Deep rooted fears of gaining weight, past traumas, fears of not getting approval from others, etc., can be a main cause of eating disorders that start in children, and can develop into more severe problems if left untreated. Perfectionism and People Pleasing are very common “disorders” that, myself included, hundreds of millions of people struggle with, and it all really stems from childhood, the lack of feeling accepted and secure, and trying to make up for it all as adults by doing way too much for the sake of everyone else, when on the inside you are dying. God gives you unlimited security, safety and rest in His Arms, when you begin to study His Word little by little you will find that you do not ever have to feel afraid to take another step in this life and beyond alone. You are valuable and you have unbreakable security bank in the Kingdom of God. When fear starts to creep up on you, you pray, “Devil, shut up! I know who I am and what I have with God. God is with me always and I will not fear. I am secure. You cannot touch me, fear.”
I am significant. 1 Corinthians 3:16 clearly says, “I am God’s Temple.” Our body is God’s Holy Temple, and how dare we disrespect, destroy or disregard what God made! Whatever size, weight or shape your body is, you need to embrace or love that! The number on the scale should be left there, and should not follow you throughout your day, determining your value and significance. Your significance is found in Jesus, and what He says about you, that you are HIS Temple, His Body, and You are FREE to love your body! So you should not go by the world’s standards of “measuring up” and obtaining worthiness from a certain dress or pants size because you are important enough in God’s eyes just the way you are!
So throw away all of your worries, take deep breaths and release them, go and look in the mirror, and I mean really look in the mirror. Now see yourself the way that God sees you.
Aaahhh. Now say, “I. Am. Beautiful. Just. The. Way. I. Am.”