The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Celebrate Recovery - Steps And Principles

1). We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. That our lives had become unmanageable. Romans 7:18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable. “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor”

Step one tells me that I’m in bondage. I’m a slave to sin. I cannot control my emotions, desires, and hurts that lead me to wrong behavior. I was very shame based growing up. I was abused growing up as a child and this cause me to hate myself. This shame would lead to drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol would cause me to act crazy and this would cause more shame. Even sober I was awkward. I was a shame based outcast. Shame produced sin and sin produce intense shame and anxiety. This is what is known as a shame spiral. I couldn’t communicate or look others in the eye. Shyness turned into social phobia and social phobia turned into a paranoid psychoses. My psychoses is just an intense fear and shame. When I’m having psychotic delusions I’m experiencing high intensity shame and anxiety. I turn inward and experience self-consciousness to the extreme. With a highly sensitized focus on myself the self conscious shame and fears cause me to have a psychotic break. Step One is surrendering and accepting my powerlessness. I cannot control my desires and emotions that lead to sinful habits. I stop trying to control them and admit complete defeat. I accept myself and my emotions and let them be. I let go and flow as I relax and rest.

  1. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, and that he has the power to help me recover. “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”

The next step is coming to believe in God and have faith that He can restore me to sanity. The Bible says God promises to work everything together for good for those that love Him. My God is all powerful, All loving, Infinite in wisdom and knowledge, self-sufficient. Sovereign and in control, Omnipresent, and Holy. Compared to God I’m nothing but valuable to Him.

  1. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. “Happy are the meek”

This step is letting go and letting God have control of my life. I surrender and place my faith in God. I trust Him as I turn it over to God. I accept that I cannot control my desires and emotions that lead to sin and this loosens their grip over me. By giving up control I gain self-control as I abandon myself over to God. I’m turning my whole self over to god past present and future. God promises to work all things good and bad together for my good. I surrender and trust God. I’m more at peace with my faith in God for my past. Having faith in God brings me into union with Christ as I have eternal significance and worth. The fruits of the Spirit are love joy peace faith patience kindness goodness and self control. The purpose of my past was to transform me into the likeness and image of Christ. This happens when I let go and trust God or have faith in God. Surrendering (letting go) and focusing on God in worship through music, writing, poetry and helping someone else got my attention flowing outward and the self-conscious shame/anxiety was released. When you lose yourself you find yourself like people do when they go for a walk noticing the scenery and environment, exercise, listen to music, read, write, blog, play games like solitaire, work, color, worship and praise God, watch a wholesome or educational T.V. show, serve and help others, doing a hobby that focuses your attention like painting, putting models together, and socializing. Anything that gets the attention focused and flowing outside of self gets rid of the intense self-conscious shame and fear and grandiosity. The idea is to develop new habits after losing the old ones that turn your focus outward not inward.

  1. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself, and to someone I trust. “Happy are the pure in heart”

In doing my inventory I wrote down my entire life story. I started at the beginning and wrote down all the wrongs I’ve done and all the wrongs done to me and how it made me feel. In writing my life story I got my focus flowing. After a long process of concentrated writing I sat down with a trusted friend and in confidentiality I read it to him out loud. This is when the focus flows outside and the shame and anxiety are released like a dam breaking free in flow. It took awhile because I couldn’t cover everything at once. But I’m able to look people in the eye and communicate with them now. In doing my life story I also not only talked about the bad but the good as well. We let go of the shameful past not the good memories.

  1. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

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”

In doing these steps I prayed with my trusted friend for God to remove my bad habits. I simply let go and let God. In letting go I shift focus off of old habits onto new. The Bible tells us whatever is good, beautiful, lovely and pure meditate on it. Replace old habits with new as we shift focus. Christ is our focus now. As I stated previously, focusing on God in worship through music, writing, poetry and helping someone else got my attention flowing outward and the self-conscious shame/anxiety was released. When we lose ourselves we find ourselves like people do when they go for a walk noticing the scenery and environment, exercise, listen to music, read, write, blog, play games like solitaire, work, color, worship and praise God, watch a wholesome or educational T.V. show, serve and help others, doing a hobby that focuses your attention like painting, putting models together, and socializing. Anything that gets the attention focused and flowing outside of self gets rid of the intense self-conscious shame and fear and grandiosity. The idea is to develop new habits after losing the old ones that turn your focus outward not inward.

Here’s a book the philosopher Dr. J.P. Moreland references and endorses called “You are not your Brain”. It’s on neuroplasticity and how we rewire our brain by refocusing. Written by two psychiatrists it helped J.P. Moreland overcome anxiety, panic, and depression.

After steps one and two you refocus and restructure your brain.

  1. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Matthew 5:23-24 Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Evaluate all my relationships; Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others except when to do so would harm them or others. “Happy are the merciful” “Happy are the peacemakers”

In writing my life story I have all those who have hurt me and all those I have hurt in the past. To be free of the past shame fear and guilt I forgive all those who hurt me and make amends to those I have hurt. Some people we can’t make amends to because they are dead or other reasons. What I did was write letters to these people and then put it in a God box. In this step the past is cleaned up because I’ve received and given forgiveness in all of my life. I’ve let go of the pain of my past harm and abuse caused by others and the harm I’ve done to others. This is where “Celebrate Recovery” says we may owe God amends. While forgiveness is a part of this amends step making amends isn’t the same thing as forgiveness. What “Celebrate Recovery” has in mind here is more along the lines of Catholic penance. Nonetheless, to be released from the shame and guilt, and anxiety I forgave myself and others while also making amends to God and others. No need to forgive God though.

  1. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. 1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out. Colossians 3:16a Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.

Reserve a daily time with God for self examination, Bible readings and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.

It’s real easy to .lose focus and drift away if we don’t keep a conscious contact with God. One way I do this is write in a journal during my quiet time with God. Sometimes I write poetry but it’s good to review the day and see if you owe amends to someone you may have harmed. I usually do it right away because I feel shame and guilt when I mess up. Making amends releases this shame keeping it from spiraling out of control. Another thing that releases shame in simply letting go and focusing on God in worship with gratitude. The Christian psychologist Richard Beck says it wonderfully in his book “The Slavery of Death”:

Those of us struggling with shame, fear, guilt, or even spiritual competitiveness with others should stop and sit for a season with practices of doxological gratitude. We should remain with worship and thanksgiving, singing and prayer, until joy, peace, and loving spontaneity return - fruits signaling that the eccentric identity of Jesus has been rehabilitated and restored in our hearts and minds. page 107

As we see in Paul’s exhortations, singing is a central practice of doxological gratitude. Singing is the practice of “giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” Singing is how we cultivate and express to God the gratitude in our hearts. It’s through singing that we most acutely come to experience our lives as eccentrically grounded. It is through singing that our expressions of gratitude become their most profound, reaching every corner of heart and mind, body and soul. And it is through singing that we learn to experience and received our lives and identities as grace and gift. page 103

The answer, as described in chapters 5 and 6, is letting go of an identity of possession, dying to it, and adopting what David Kelsey calls an eccentric identity - an identity that is received from God and centered outside the self. The eccentric identity is experienced as a gift rather than a possession. ~~ page 100

As Stringfellow explains, because Marsh became secure in God’s love, he “forgot himself” and lost his “self interest” which allowed him to love others. page 96

This is usually what I do for my meditation time. I sing and worship God. I also read spiritual books like the Bible and meditate on them. We can lose ourselves in reading books but we also find ourselves there too.

  1. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs. Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words. “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires”

It’s good to have a support group of people of some kind. I have a few people that I call and talk to about spirituality and we help each other out. When my focus is on Christ and others I’m pulled out of myself. Helping others gets me out of myself and it helps me when I help others. We die to self. We let the evil self go by turning our focus off of self and on God and others. This gets us out of self. We feed the spirit by turning our focus on God. We don’t feed the evil self. We starve it and let it die. According to the psychiatrist Alex Lickerman in “Psychology Today” we get out of ourselves by not focusing on the negative in us. The focused attention flows outward away from us.

Treating others well, it turns out, is the fastest path to a healthy self-esteem. If you dislike yourself, stop focusing on your negative qualities. We all have negative qualities. There’s nothing special about your negativity, I promise you. Focus instead on caring for others. Because the more you care about others, I guarantee the more in turn you’ll be able to care about yourself.

After completing the steps we fold them into our daily living. We practice them one day at a time one moment at a time. In Celebrate Recovery it has the original Serenity Prayer:

If you have attended secular recovery programs, you have seen the first four lines of the “Prayer for Serenity.” The following is the complete prayer. I encourage you to pray it daily as you work through the principles!

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Notice we live in the moment but this isn’t the only thing. We also live with eternity in mind.

I also dealt with shame and anxiety here:

I discussed shame spirals leading to psychoses here:

On Falling in Love with God here:

On self-forgetfulness here:

This book shows what I’ve experienced in my obsessive compulsive addictions. At the core of the obsessive compulsive addiction is shame. That’s not to say that some addictions don’t have a physical component of addiction. But shame is the spiral.

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True in my case:

A shame spiral is when an event triggers your shame and you are unable to control or stop your self-loathing.

I believe shame leads to substance use, isolation, anger outbursts, depression, anxiety, psychosis, cutting, suicidal thoughts/suicide attempts, and other maladaptive behaviors.

Michael - what one book can you recommend that explains the shame spiral the best? I see there is a pamphlet offered at Akua, but at $18 it is not something I can afford. Looking for a cheap paperback, or maybe a library checkout, if you can give me a title. Thanks.

It’s talked about in here:

“I used to drink,” writes John Bradshaw, “to solve the problems caused by drinking. The more I drank to relieve my shame-based loneliness and hurt, the more I felt ashamed.”

Shame is the motivator behind our toxic behaviors: the compulsion, co-dependency, addiction and drive to superachieve that breaks down the family and destroys personal lives. This book has helped millions identify their personal shame, understand the underlying reasons for it, address these root causes and release themselves from the shame that binds them to their past failures.

Key Features

  • This is not just a recovery book. Among other things, it is a classic book on identifying and working through unresolved family issues.
  • Includes affirmations, visualizations, inner voice and feeling exercises.
  • Strong supporting studies make this a popular book with counselors and other professionals.
  • Completely updated and revised

I can definitely relate. My wrong behavior had shame at it’s core as well.

Here’s the way John Piper puts it in Desiring God:

We look away from ourselves to Him, and only then do the manifold emotions of our heart erupt in worship.

Christian Hedonism is aware that self-consciousness kills joy and therefore kills worship. As soon as you turn your eyes in on yourself and become conscious of experiencing joy, it’s gone. The Christian Hedonist knows that the secret of joy is self-forgetfulness. Yes we go to the art museum for the joy of seeing the paintings. But the counsel of Christian Hedonism is: Set your whole attention on the paintings and not your emotions, or you will ruin the whole experience. Therefore, in worship there must be a radical orientation on God, not ourselves.

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