When I am stressed, I have a tendency to engage in behaviors that will relieve my stress. Duh! I wrote recently about how turning to those behaviors instead of the Lord can be like putting other gods before Him. So what can I do to help relieve my stress while staying abstinent from my addiction? What does it look like to turn to the Lord instead of those other “gods?” I have a number of tools that I have learned about from various 12-Step fellowships over the years, and some that I have found on my own. I am planning to write individual posts on some of the tools, but here is a partial list of the ones I have found most useful. My next post will have the second half of the list.
Prayer and Meditation
The first and most obvious tool is prayer and meditation. If my boss is chewing me out or someone is being rude to me I can, in that moment, say a little prayer in my heart and ask the Lord to take away my anger or frustration and tell me how to proceed. I can ask Him to help me see the other person through His eyes. If someone in my family has pushed me to the breaking point and I know that I am about to do or say something that I will regret, I can go to my room, get on my knees and ask the Lord to take my burden, strengthen me to be able to bear it, or give me guidance. Sometimes when I do this, I tell Him that I am going to remain there, on my knees, until the feeling, craving, etc. is lifted. It is scary to put my faith on the line like that, but the Lord has always come through for me, although on occasion my knees start to hurt while I am waiting.
Going to a 12-Step meeting is an awesome way to remove myself from temptation and recharge my spiritual batteries. In meetings I can sometimes hear the Lord’s guidance to me through the voice of another person when my own spiritual ears are too clogged with the wax of hopelessness or pride to be able to receive personal revelation. I can serve others by what I say, or just by giving someone a hug or a smile. I can receive the same kind of service myself. I always feel closer to the Lord when I go to a meeting. If there is no meeting available, I can go to the ARP website and listen to a podcast of a meeting.
Attending a meeting is one form of service. I won’t even attempt to list all the other opportunities to serve, but here are some ideas. Reach out to someone who might need it, donate time, do family history work, do temple work, take a new mom’s toddler to the park for an hour, mow someone’s lawn. Any kind of service that is given in Christ-like love can get me outside of myself and my own problems and bring me blessings and a new attitude. But I need to be careful that there are no strings attached to my service; that I am not shaming, throwing guilt, trying to control someone, or attempting to take someone’s agency as I serve.
Sponsoring someone, or being a support person to someone within the ARP program, is an awesome form of service. As I sponsor I find myself prompted to say things which are just as important for me to be reminded of as they are for my sponsee to hear. A sponsor is a guide; someone who can hold up a mirror so that another person can see themselves and their behavior more honestly and can learn how the Steps can help them find serenity and recovery.
Sometimes, when I am tempted to use my drug of choice and I cannot seem to find the strength to just turn away, I will make a phone call to someone and tell myself that I won’t act out until after I get off the phone. Most of the time I call someone else who is working the steps and by the time we are done talking, I don’t feel the craving any more. If I still have it, I can make another phone call, or try one of the other tools. Sometimes staying abstinent has to be done one hour or even one minute at a time.
To Be Continued
In the next post I will share more of my favorite tools for staying abstinent and close to the Lord instead of giving in to my addiction for comfort when I am stressed.
Have you tried any of these tools? Please feel free to share your positive experiences for other readers. I hope you will find some more ideas in this post, or the next one, that will help you stay abstinent.
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