Step Eleven

1997

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

Step Eleven Contents:

Part 1 and Questions for journaling
Part 2 and Questions for journaling
Part 3 and Questions for journaling
Part 4 and Questions for journaling

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Step Eleven ~ Part 1

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

GREETINGS, LOOPIES!!

My name is Red and I am your Journey Guide for this Step and Month. I am also a grateful recovering (for today) compulsive eater (and co-dependent for good measure) and a lurking reader on this loop. I appreciate the opportunity to walk with each of you this month. I hope we can find new and exciting and enriching things about this step together. I am sure I will learn more from you all than you from me--that is the sign of a good teacher, I think, to be open to learn: knowing for sure I don't have all the answers.

By way of introduction, I have been AROUND recovery for 7 years through other venues; I have been seeking recovery in OA since early April '96 and date my abstinence from 29 April '96. I have been able to maintain my goal weight since September '96. From my top scale tip, that amounts to a 55-60 lb. loss--kinda roly-poly when you consider I'm only 61" tall on a good day! Geography precludes me from attending more than 1 or 2 meetings a week. I give service as secretary of my home group and editor of our intergroup newsletter. As part of my personal meditations each day, I have written on one step a day (7 days per step) since coming into OA. I'm just finishing my 4th run-through of the 12, so I have about 28 vignettes on Step 11 already scribbled out in my journals. Some of those will appear here.

My Higher Power has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams with lessons and delights since my abstinence began. And most days I'm able to say that I give thanks for the horrendous crash and burn bottom that got me into the program--but not every day. At this point, most days is good enough.

Speaking of enough--that is--of my introduction. ON WITH STEP 11!!

  1. Sought through prayer and meditation
  2. to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him,
  3. praying only for knowledge of His will for us
  4. and the power to carry that out.

AHA! You say (:-) --she's going for the old divide it up into weeks gig! Right you are! So for Week One our focus will be:

SOUGHT THROUGH PRAYER AND MEDITATION

Step 11 begins by telling us that our journey, our Yellow Brick Road to the Oz of our Higher Power and thus to recovery, is paved with prayer and meditation. And no one can walk the road for me. *I* have to be the one seeking, *I* have to walk every step, and sometimes my ruby slippers step in %^&*, er, piles of humus and I stink--but the humus is mine, *I* have to own it, *I* have to clean it up and out of my life. But the only way I can even come close to keeping my ruby slippers sparkling (and they never totally are because I am NOT perfect) is through prayer and meditation--conscious contact with my HP.

Meditation is not letting our mind spin up about every thing that COULD happen in the next week or month or year or lifetime, obsessing about every possibility, worrying till exhaustion sets in, trying to control every detail we have no control over. That's the defect of fear harnessing our Horse of a Different Color and leading him down the garden path. Don't go there! Meditation means clearing out the junk, only dealing with what we need to deal with TODAY. Turning off the noise, inside and out. Stopping. Breathing. Letting our mind and spiritual energy be open to the HP connection.

We can't do it if we're uptight, unfocussed, frazzled, harried, bombarded--for the connect, we need to relax as best we can at a time when our own natural rhythms are calmest--or when the clamor of our day isn't clamoring. For me, if I don't meditate before I begin to get ready for work, it's all over. For a night person to make the commitment to get up at 5 a.m. was certainly a test of faith! Fortunately, the benefits have been their own reward and I have kept at it--sometimes even getting up at 4 when my work begins earlier.

But we've got busy days and schedules! you say. How can we stop somewhere and just "do nothing" for 15 minutes, an hour, two hours? A waste of time. A humbug! Well, consider--when you're on the fast track to getting EVERY errand done on your list on the afternoon you actually planned to get it done on, do you consider it a waste of time to stop what you're doing to fill your car with gas? It sure saves time on the side of the road later, and look how much more energy your car has! Without meditation we can waste a lot of time on the yellow-brick-roadside of recovery watching the healthy people go by as we're derailed by defects that suck our energy. Meditation can create more time and energy than the time it takes to do it! Amazing, but true!! At least for me.

Prayer is an incredible tool of recovery. It slows me down to think more clearly. I write most of my prayers down in a journal. It keeps me from getting drifty and letting my schedule and chore planning intrude. And as I write, it's like I'm hearing what I'm saying in a new way, and in the time it takes to write down the words and construct the sentences, HP often uses my pauses to give me insight-bytes and the problem or situation can take on a whole new meaning and awareness--an "AHA!" if you will. It is from prayer that I get PATIENCE--of which I have no natural reserve within myself. If HP ain't givin' it, I ain't got it!

And prayer and meditation are where my serenity come from. The solutions seem to unfold, the inspiration for a new direction, the alternative thinking to look outside my comfort zone for an answer, to look at the little man behind the curtain instead of focusing on the big and loud image directly in front of me. Prayer and meditation are where I learn to and do let go and let God.

The gift of all this is that, as our conscious contact with HP improves, as we look at each yellow brick in the road during our meditation time, during the rest of the day our feet will keep on the path--our subconscious will keep contact, too. And I find that more and more times I become aware of a recovery behavior that I KNOW I would not have done a year or two ago--but it came out naturally now. I find I am increasingly in tune with HP's melody for me if I take time to listen to His station every day every day every day every day....you get the idea.


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Step Eleven ~ Part 1: Questions

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

  1. Do you remember the first prayer you learned? What age were you? Who taught you? Do you ever pray it now? Are you comfortable making up your own prayers? Are you comfortable only with printed prayers? Both? Do you pray only in your head or do you write?

  2. If you are NOT in recovery yet, what are the main topics of your prayers, if you pray? Would you like them to be different? How?

  3. If you ARE in recovery now, what were the main topics of your prayers before recovery (if you prayed then)? What are the main topics now that you are in recovery? What's different? Why?

  4. What's the first idea or image that comes to your mind when you hear the word "meditate?" Is it a stereotype from somewhere outside yourself? Is it helpful towards your recovery? What would you need to do to change it?

  5. What are the obstacles you feel you face in making intentional prayer and meditation a part of your everyday life? What do you have control over? What COULD you change? What are you WILLING to change? Are you willing to go to any lengths--even riding a Horse of a Different Color?

I guess it's no secret what one of my favorite movies is...but it has a lot to say about recovery. Watch it sometime with that mindset and see what insights pop up. Who knows what image may pop up next week!! HP knows, but He's not telling yet. I'll let ya know when I get to that turn-off on the Y-B-R!

{{{{{{{OA HUGS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!!!!!}}}}}}}

Thanks!

Red in GA


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Step Eleven ~ Part 2

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

GREETINGS AGAIN, LOOPIES!!

I'm still Red, still your Journey Guide for Step 11 and still a grateful recovering (for today) compulsive eater. Thanks to so many of you for your wonderful shares during this week. I think "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" wins as the most widely taught first prayer! Not that there was a contest, it just was interesting to me. (I'm sort of a detail person...sort of?? well, maybe for real...) (:-)

Thought I'd get our week off to an interesting start with a quote from one of the foremost authors of recovery literature in our time (HAHA(-:), Albert Einstein, who writes:

"God is subtle, but he is not malicious."

Has always struck me and makes me think.

  1. Sought through prayer and meditation
  2. TO IMPROVE OUR CONSCIOUS CONTACT WITH GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM,
  3. praying only for knowledge of His will for us
  4. and the power to carry that out.

Several of you have made a connect between Steps 2 and 11. When I think of the idea of CONSCIOUS contact, I think of how I've seen Step 2 presented in AA's oral tradition. It is broken up into three parts: WE CAME, WE CAME TO, WE CAME TO BELIEVE. I'd like to focus on the second one for a moment. Before recovery (and admittedly some days even now, unfortunately), I lived a fairly UNconscious life. It was as if I was in a waking coma. I was unaware of so much around me, so much that was within me, so much of what I did, so much of what HP did and could do for me. I was on auto-pilot much of the time. I needed to COME TO!

And, although I had attended church for a large portion of my life (and still do), it was not their practice to call the folks in the pews into a living, breathing, active--well--CONSCIOUS sort of life with God as they understood Him. At least not that *I* ever heard. So I knew there was a God *out there*--I just didn't have Him *in here*. When I hit Step 11 full in the face, it was like getting hit with a freight train. And now that I've accepted passage on that train, I've got the responsibility to keep it on the track. Now, there's no one sitting over me making me stay on board. There is no lock on the door of this train. But HP has gifted me with the memories of what it was like when I was trying to outrun the train on my own. They aren't pretty. They are painful. They keep me on the train. They keep me focused on my HP, on my program, on living a conscious life. All of these daily remind me that there *is* a God, and *I* ain't Him. Thanks HP!

This whole recovery gig is a process of spiritual intensity. I know my physical and emotional sides and my abstinence didn't work at all until I had the spiritual side of my triangle, my 3-legged stool, in place and functioning. The spiritual side is what holds the whole thing up for me. But it's a process that asks us to grow in our understanding of God/HP. So first, we've got to sit down and face what our understanding of God/HP IS, maybe where it came from (that may or may not be necessary, your choice), whether it's constructive or destructive, whether it will keep us in shame and off program, or is it an affirming understanding that will guide us IN our program.

We might even be putting God/HP in the same categories today as the adults that were around us as children when we were first learning about God. Now, if those were loving, nurturing, consistent adults, hallelujah. If they were harsh, judgmental, and unpredictable, then we're going to put up a fuss every time God/HP is mentioned in this program. Sometimes we may have to "fire" the God of our understanding and borrow someone else's God for a while. We might get some better recovery. Work out some adoption agreement during your prayer time!

Also, it is important to realize that we truly CANNOT understand God/HP. Or at least HP in total. We can *know* that the care we are given is unconditional, that we are esteemed just for who we are, that HP is always ready to guide us into the way best for us. But we don't *understand* it--it's beyond our ability. It doesn't make sense that HP loves people who've messed up their lives as much as I have. But I am GRATEFUL every day of my life that my HP does. I'd probably be dead today without that love and care!

As our contact with God/HP increases day after day, week after week, we'll notice changes in our lives. As HP becomes the "centerstage" at our theater of life, we'll find ourselves seeking spiritual solutions to those destructive, unhealthy hungers (literal and figurative) of our lives. We'll make the absolutely awesome discovery that "we will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." (Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 84) We will find ourselves hungering after contact with God as we understand God now. Hooray!

And the more we turn to God, to seek HP's will, to give back an attitude of gratitude, to open ourselves up to the reality of things (not through a fog of sugar, control, manipulation or fear), the more HP acts on our behalf. It's like opening the door to allow someone to enter. We can undo the deadbolt, but still leave on the chain, so the door only opens an inch. We can take off the chain, but plant our foot firmly behind the door, so it only opens a couple inches. We can open the wooden door, but leave the storm door closed and locked. Or we can fling wide the door and let the fresh air, the sunshine, the Friend on our threshold enter freely to hug us in welcome. And that Friend will wait outside that door rain or shine as long as it takes for us to open it. It's up to us how long we want to hold on to our desperate efforts to function as our own higher power. The choice is ours.

My HP is awesome, tremendous, patient, parental, but most of all concerned that I be and have the best that's possible in my life. I can keep the door locked, I can fling it wide. The choice is mine. God/HP has shown me, beyond everything else I have learned in this program, that how "Little Ol' Me" understands God/HP is not near as important as the fact that HP understands *me*. Somehow that's a great comfort to me. It certainly throws a few logs on my fire of gratitude til it blazes hot and ignites my heart...to more gratitude...and to Step 12.... But that's another month altogether! And another Journey Guide.

Thanks for listening, Loopsters!


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Step Eleven ~ Part 2: Questions

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

  1. What are some of the negative image of God/HP that you brought with you into recovery? Which have you worked through and past? What have you replaced them with? (If they were replaceable?) Which do you still struggle with? How are they hindering your recovery? Have you had to deal with any anger regarding those negative image? If so, what have you done with that anger?

  2. Do you remember what triggered your first change in attitude from negative to positive about your God/HP? And it was....?

  3. What are some of the positive image of God/HP that you brought with you into recovery? How are they helping your recovery? Has anyone ever asked to "borrow" your image of God/HP for a while to help their recovery?

  4. Do you remember the first time God/HP guided you through a "situation which used to baffle" you? How did it feel? What did you do? Who did you tell? What did you do differently from then on?

  5. What has been your toughest roadblock to improving your conscious contact with God/HP? What have you got control over? What do you have to adjust to? What COULD you change? What are you WILLING to change?

Well, Loopies, no movie trivia this week. Sorry. Maybe I'm just too conscious!

{{{{{{{OA HUGS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Red in GA


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Step Eleven ~ Part 3

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

GREETINGS JOURNEYING LOOPIES!

Again we find ourselves journeying together on another on-ramp to the serenity and joy found in Step Eleven. Hooray! I must admit to a bit of unfocus, as tomorrow is my birthday and my significant other drove up for a quiet evening (submitting to watching the romantic movie, "Sense & Sensibilities") and tomorrow is my request for a trip to the zoo. He has just left to go to his lodging and it is late. But Step Eleven is an engaging step and feel my responsibility to keep the word I gave to you. So if I get a little drifty, just chalk it up to the early minutes of being 43 for the first time. (Do I get a second chance at it if I mess it up? HAHA(:-))

Speaking of Step Eleven.....

  1. Sought through prayer and meditation
  2. to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him,
  3. PRAYING ONLY FOR KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL FOR US
  4. and the power to carry that out.

OK Now we know we're in the right place.

I heard a sermon this morning entitled, "There is a God, and We're Not Him." It had two points that I can come up with to share with you. First, we've got to "Let Go and Let God." Learning early on about perfectionism, control, and who I could trust (no one), letting go is tough for me. Letting go of my control, my manipulation, my working all the angles 6 ways til Tuesday doesn't come naturally to me. In my job, I am strickly middle management. When the two higher-ups are gone, I am the "Higher Up." And the rest of the staff knows my refrain is, "I hate being in charge!" I don't care for it, but I do it well. The same way with other peoples lives, "I have enough trouble being in control of MY life, I don't need to be in charge of yours!" I don't like to be a controller, a manipulator, but I've got to own the fact that, while I don't care for it, I can do it well, left to my own devices. Devices that don't include my Highr Power. Empty devices.

The second point of the sermon had to do with some guys who were arrested and they didn't know what they'd say before the judge. They were told by a Higher Authority, that they could trust the fact that God would give them the right words based on the readings in the Scriptures, and the prayers, and the fasting (sorry to mention a food thing) they all had done as part of their regular daily routine of prayer and meditation to stay in contact with God. Praying for knowledge of HP's will involves two things: (1) the prayer has to trust that HP does, indeed, have our best interests at heart, even if what we're led to do as HP's will doesn't match what we want; and (2) that trust and faith in our HP will give us what we need to be willing to go to any lengths to carry out that will. Which is the fourth part of this step study, so we'll concentrate on part (1).

So. God's Will. What's up with that? In light of (1), and if I go back and look over my life, I could easily affirm that God's will has most often happened in my life in *spite* of me, not *because* of me. God's will most often comes to me in the quiet time of writing, when I'm paused to collect a thought or a phrase and the still, small voice of my HP gently drifts understanding, awareness, and direction into my mind. And suddenly the clarity of His will shines forth and a peace comes to me about what I'm writing about. It comes at other times, too, of course, but the important ingredient is me being quiet and receptive enough to listen.

Now if I'm in "human 'do'ing" mode, and I'm out there aggressively seeking what I *think* is going to be God's will, second guess Him, searching as though that will were some great mystery for ME to reveal (instead of God revealing it) and when I find it I'll get a prize....but if I don't get everything in the search right, I'll miss it. If I don't walk on eggshells, and say and think and feel and do everything and be in the right place and the right time to find HP and His will then I'll miss out. Tain't like that a tall.

Just like HP isn't at one place and one time only, His will for us can come to us anywhere. It's not hidden like a buried treasure. We don't have to force it or control it. It's right there inside and around us. It is happening. Right now. Sometimes, it's quiet and uneventful and includes the daily routines and disciplines of responsibility and learning to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, it's healing us when we're in a situation that triggers old grieving and unfinished business.

Sometimes, it is grand and magnificent beyond our wildest dreams.

We do have a part. We have responsibilities, including caring for ourselves and preparing ourselves through prayer and meditation and readiness to receive. But we don't have to--indeed we can't--control God's will for us. We are being taken care of. We are being protected. And the Power Greater than ourselves that is caring and protecting us loves us very much.

Trust is the bottom line thing. Where we are is where we're supposed to be. We can make our lives a cacophony of controlling chaos that is our attempt to make the world around us do what we think it should do. Or we can choose to let HP do what HP does the best--take care of us. If it is a quiet day, we can trust the stillness. If it is a day of action, we can trust the activity. If it is a time to wait, we can trust the pause. If it is a time to receive something we have been waiting for, we can trust that it will happen clearly and with power and we can receive the gift in joy,

We won't have to worry that HP's will has passed us by and we've missed it if we allow openness in our lives for the light to get in. And most often that openness comes to us through simplicity. Each day, ask God what God wants us to do today; then ask God to help. A simple request, but so profound and far-reaching it can take us anywhere we need to go.

Then listen: all that we want, all that we need, all the answers, all the help, all the good, all the love, all the healing, all the wisdom, all the fulfillment of desire is all wrapped up in this simple request. We need say no more than *Thank You*.

This simple plan that has been made for us by our loving and caring HP is not a plan of deprivation, scarcity, drudgery, dolefulness or resignation. It is a plan of fullness, joy, abundance and light (but maybe not our vision of what all those things were before recovery and our conscious contact with HP!). Walk into it with open arms. Walk with it. Walk with HP. Trust that this simple plan is sufficient to take all of us to a level of joy and light that was previously impossible to attain by our own reason or strength or efforts to control every thing and every body.

Thanks for listening, Loopsters!

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Step Eleven ~ Part 3: Questions

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

  1. Before recovery, what was the area (or what were the areas) of your life that you worked the hardest to control--where you tried to pull up your bootstraps the hardest? What types of things did you do to control?

  2. After you began to recover, how did it go with this particular area (areas)? What stepping stones did you have to take to Let Go and Let God be God to take over this area of your life? How did it feel to not have to control it anymore? How did it feel to not be in control?

  3. What part has trust or distrust played in your relationship with your Higher Power? Have you noticed places in your life that you don't trust people are more or less difficult to trust HP in those places? How have you overcome that distrust--or have you overcome it yet?

  4. Is your life ever too chaotic to listen to God? In recovery, what changes have you made to make your ears more receptive to what your HP is saying? What changes would you still like to make? What gets in the way of making those changes?

  5. Do you feel you have to do more than the simple plan of just ask and listen to learn God's will? Is it too simple for you to be comfortable with? Is your vision of your HP a complicated one? Do you feel you have to *do* to be loved by your HP? Is it that way with the people in your life, too? Can you risk changing your *do*ing to just *be*ing and trust what happens?

  6. What have been your greatest joys in letting go and letting God?


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Step Eleven ~ Part 4

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

GREETINGS LATE, LOOPIES,

Life has been a zoo, apologies for the late share. Better late than never?

  1. Sought through prayer and meditation
  2. to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him,
  3. praying only for knowledge of His will for us
  4. AND THE POWER TO CARRY THAT OUT.

Well. This part of Step Eleven presents us with a Horse of a Different Color: all along we've been trying to get this "powerlessness" gig going on and all of a sudden we run smack into its opposite: "power." Or have we??? If I'm going to Let God Be God and put His will for me in the driver's seat, then I've got to SURRENDER my will for my life. Give up what I think *I* want, what I think *I* need, what *I* think is *best* for me--and listen to the Still Small Voice that is telling me where I should be, what I need what is best for me. If only I'd stop trying to pull my own reins (or bootstraps, if you want to use the American image) and give HP the reins and be strong enough--have enough personal power--to TRUST God's will for my life.

As it says in a meditation book I use (not OA so I won't mention the name), "Willpower is not the key to the way of life we are seeking. SURRENDER IS." (caps mine) The "power" I need to carry out God's will--once I get the knowledge of it--is the power of the white flag, surrender. I have gotten in HP's way for so many years, I have tried to control every body and every thing around me to *make* my power known or *make* something happen--even when it was clear that the other person, place or thing was in no way amenable to change. I'd get angry when my power didn't work. Or I'd feel like a failure. I'd spent most of my life planting corn in someone else's garden and then trying to make peas come up. I wanted corn in my garden. Peas were what THEY wanted. I'd done all the work (in THEIR garden, remember), so my garden was nothing but weeds from neglect, and I had no vegetables because I was never there to pull the weeds (or plant the corn).

Another thing about power. God has to give it to me. So if I'm at a place in my life where there is no HP yet, then this step (as well as several others) is going to give me pause. Be a stumbling block. Get in the way of my recovery. I can't get recovery until I get this step. Let me be clear. I didn't get recovery until I got this step. And if we're not listening, we're not hearing what God's will is, and then we won't be able to know what kind of power is necessary. Is it sit-still-and-wait power? Is it go-out-there-and do power? Is it the power of my prayers on someone else's behalf (the most powerful power we can have)? Is it the power necessary to let someone else have appropriate power? Is it the power to get out of the limelight. The power to stop asking for attention. The power to be OK with myself when I'm alone, precisely because I know I'm NOT alone. That last one took me a long time. Being OK with me being alone took some big trust on my part, and work on HP's part. He sweat the load and I got the victory over my defect of fear. But the power didn't originate in me, but in HP.

That's the ironic thing about HP and this power stuff. It's like a circle. If we need the power to do the will of God, then we've got to turn in powerlessness to God to get it. God's got the will, God's got the power. I don't have to be in charge or in control, I just have to be open to what God's got for me. It will be awesome if I don't get in the way (a regular occurrence at my house). I go back and forth, giving, taking back. And all the while, HP's got all the power I need, if I'd just let it flow into me and not put up roadblocks. What a little construction battalion I am! Build, build, build. While God wants to share, share, share. I'm my own worst enemy.

Well, Loopies, that's my step eleven story and I'm stickin' to it. I thank you for the opportunity to serve with these questions. I trust they have done what your HP needed for them to do. I don't worry about that because I'm NOT in charge of YOUR program! HP gave me enough to handle just coping with my own!


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Step Eleven ~ Part 4: Questions

"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious
contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge
of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

  1. What would your definition of "power" have been before recovery? Where did you get it?

  2. After you began recovery, did that definition change or become more concretized in your mind. How has your definition affected your recovery?

  3. In your personal time, how much time do you allow for just listening to HP's still small voice? Would you know it if you heard it? How?

  4. What does the word "surrender" do to you? What kinds of feelings, inner pictures, word pictures, bodily reactions, past memories come to mind or body for you? Are they good for your recovery or bad? What can you do with them?

  5. Do you frequently feel like you're the only "one"?--that you're alone in this whole world? If you used to feel that way, how did you get out of it? What triggered the feelings of isolation, what triggered the following after friends.

  6. Would you be willing to go to any lengths to let God's will be the controlling factor in your life? What roadblocks it? What prevents it? Are they legitimate reasons or just excuses to not work your program?

Again, sorry this is late. I've enjoyed reading your shares. Personal thanks for the affirmations in some of the replies. I appreciate you.

Hugs

Red in GA


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