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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

CR Principle 1

Principle 1 says, “I realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.” (Step 1)

“Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.” Matthew 5:3

This principle is also known as the “denial principle,” because it requires us to step out of our denial. Honestly, when I started, I didn’t even know how much denial I had. The truth is I became a Christian not because I was convinced I needed a Savior – but rather because I had become convinced that it was either Jesus or hell … and I figured I’d take Jesus!

I spent most of my life, before and after identifying myself as a Christian, believing that I was basically a good person. I rationalized and justified most of my bad behaviors. More often than not though, I didn’t even see many of my behaviors as bad.

In recovery, I came to understand that I had denial I wasn’t even aware of. It seems that denial works differently than we imagine. One must first be willing to admit the possibility that denial exists before it can be fully identified and stepped out of. That’s precisely how it worked for me. In fact, I think I’m still uncovering bits of denial from time to time that I need to step out of.

Understanding this principle was a little confusing to me. On the surface, I always realized I was not God. But in recovery, I discovered that most of the time I’d tried to play God … manipulating and trying to control circumstances and people around me … as if I were God. (That was some of the denial I had to contend with.)

Admitting I was powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing was yet another challenge. I’d grown up in a Quaker church that was full of dos and don’ts for Christians. I believed that my behavior defined me – and had spent my life trying to deny my behaviors so they wouldn’t get the opportunity to define me.

Romans 7 helped me come to grips with this reality. It’s the chapter where Paul speaks of doing the things he doesn’t want to do and not doing the things he wants to do. I didn’t really understand spiritual poverty, but I could certainly identify with the Apostle Paul. Then he concluded by saying, “Oh what a wretched man am I!” I felt as if I could have written those words myself.

As I pressed into Christ and into recovery, and became much more familiar with the truths of the Bible, I began to know how spiritually poor I am. What that means is that I began to realize how desperately in need of a Savior I really am.

The biggest epiphany I had was one Christmas Eve a few years ago. I sat in church and just sobbed tears of joy --- for I finally understood the significance of this Savior of mine. (Celebrate Recovery had made Christmas much bigger!)

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