Meditations on the Twelve Steps

Recovery: It's a God Thing
Thursday October 23, 2014

by Teresa McBean

Scripture Reading for today: Ezekiel 46; 1 Corinthians 11; Psalm 75

In yesterday’s devotional, we discussed different kinds of “distress:” self-inflicted, the kind that comes to all who live on planet earth, and other-worldly distress (when God gives to one a burden to bear for the benefit of the community).

There’s another kind of “distress” too. It’s the kind of distress our mind, body, and spirit experience when we hold on to the resentments we form when others mistreat us. This kind of distress can cause us to get so distracted that we are completely unaware of how we may be wronging others.

The Twelve Steps for Christians workbook says:

“We experience a release from resentment when we begin to understand that those who mistreated us were also spiritually sick. We extend to them the tolerance and forgiveness that God gives us. When we concentrate on our own inventories in steps four and ten, we put the wrongs of others out of our mind, and we focus on our faults, not the faults of others.”

I love this quotation, because it provides a way for us to measure how we’re really doing. Effective inventories do the following: they cause us to put the wrongs of others out of our minds, and we focus more on our faults than the faults of others.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:31

Have you ever tried to talk yourself out of bitterness, rage, and anger? How did that work for you? I’ve never once been able to deliver a stern enough “talking” to myself to stem the tide of an impending rage attack. I have observed that when I’m able to stay focused on my own faults, the shortcomings of others do not offend me; in fact, I can usually empathize. This is a huge stress reducer. I don’t have to carry on imaginary conversations with anyone; I don’t have to try to figure out why in the world that person did or did not do something; I don’t have to feel agitated or compelled to manipulate another person to change to make me feel more comfortable. I’m already comfortable. I’m already calm. All we have to worry about is our side of the street. And when we mess up, we know how to take the next right step. I find that when I’m really serious about this personal inventory business, I’ve got plenty of stuff to take care of without getting so hot and bothered by someone else’s.