Welcome to My Monday Morning Cup! Yes, it’s still morning here in Big D. If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I’ve been in recovery for a good while now. As you might imagine, addiction rears its head quite regularly in my daily life, especially in my work as a corporate chaplain. Last week certainly proved to be no exception. Each day seemed to center on the topic of addiction and recovery. This is not a bad thing, but it can be challenging.
While I am probably one of the most transparent people you’d ever meet, talking about my past still makes me uncomfortable occasionally. You see, I often internalize what people think of me. I’m sure that your experience is likely similar to mine in that you’ve found people to be pretty judgy.
Imagine finding yourself in a discussion about addiction with your boss. There’s definitely discomfort and uncertainty involved in the midst of that conversation. Once it’s out there, it’s there forever. Oh well, it’s only my career and future that we’re talking about, right!?!
Then there are all of those times that I inevitably find myself sharing my struggles with addiction openly with members of my church family. This can be the most harrowing feeling of all because you don’t know how they will view you afterward, except that you know they won’t see you the same. Not to worry. It’s only Eternity that we’re spending together.
When I’m sharing my recovery journey in a room full of people whose backstories I don’t really know too well the fear of being judged by them creeps in. If I’m in a room full of fellow addicts, this doesn’t happen.
One thing that I’ve learned is that judgments reveal far more about the person saying them than about the person receiving them. People who aren’t happy with themselves tend to project their character flaws and defects onto others. Like the saying goes, hurt people, hurt people.
Forgiveness is a challenging and complex subject. As a recovering addict, I’m supposed to be living a life of forgiveness. And to be honest, I fall short a lot. Caught up in the moment, I can forget that God graciously forgave me. Yes, I struggle with people sometimes too. And those that know me will tell you I’m kind of a people person.
Living a life of forgiveness means that you don’t let the little day to day shit ruin your life. There are plenty of major life-altering events that you are going to experience that will challenge every fiber of your being and shake you to the core, so let go of the day to day offenses go quickly.
Living a life of forgiveness requires seeing people the way God views them—as precious and valuable. God gave His son for them just like He gave His son for you and for me. He did that because He delights in us and sees us through the lens of Christ, the way we were intended to be, not necessarily the way we are in the present. In the present, you and I may still be works in progress. But to God, we are precious in His eyes. We have immense value in His heart and mind. All of us. Not just you. Not just me. All.
I have discovered that when I’m feeling particularly hard-hearted, I need to listen to what my soul is saying and hear what the Spirit is speaking to me. There is work going on in me and oftentimes, through me. When I’m feeling harsh toward others, it is usually a good sign I’m not feeling too much love for myself. Remember, we project onto others what’s going on inside ourselves. Especially, those we love most. There are times when I sense that I am off-kilter, not living in forgiveness, and I recognize that God is doing something through me in someone else’s life. The Enemy hates that and tries to impede whatever that work is. I don’t always see it. Often, I don’t know what it is. But, rest assured, that during those times when God is working something good through me, I will face challenges that try to take me out of living life in forgiveness.
A remedy that I have found to work in keeping me on track is prayer. In particular, I try to pray the Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6-13 and Luke 11:2-4, several times a day. Especially, in the morning and at night before I lay my head down on my pillow. I also pray through the Armor of God passage found in Ephesians 6:10-18.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6-13)
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4)
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
Armor of God Prayer (Ephesians 6:10-18)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
I have found that praying the above Scriptures helps me in my daily attempts to live a life of forgiveness. Forgiveness, as I said earlier, is a challenging and complex topic. As we practice it, I think we learn more about what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. You and I grow through the regular practice of putting on our coat of grace and clothes of mercy. We are, after all, not like we once were before Christ, but rather a new creation.
I want God, through the story of my recovery, to draw more people to Him. I want people, particularly men, to grow in their understanding of God, through the story of my recovery from addiction. God has used my addiction and recovery not only to work a miracle in my life but to transform the lives of others. I’ve come to believe we all have a story. What’s yours?
- What story has the Lord given you to share with others so that they may grow in their understanding of God?
- Do you find it difficult to live a life of forgiveness?
- What resources do you rely on to help you live a life of forgiveness?
- Have you experienced God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ?
I pray that during this COVID-19 pandemic you are healthy and safe. It’s a uniquely difficult time for billions of people around the world. May God shine His favor on you and shower you with His love.
The Devotional Guy™
ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Rainer Bantau, a seasoned gospel preacher, church musician, and chaplain ministering to individuals in their workplaces, to the homeless, and wherever he meets them. He shares helps, hope, and insights on his blog, The Devotional Guy™.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (2002). Fourth Edition. AA World Services. New York.
The Minister’s Bible (2007). Hendrickson Bible Publishing. Peabody, Massachusetts.
I believe that to experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, God has made this gift available to all who ask.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”