Home Gratitude No Stone Unturned

No Stone Unturned

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OA recovery helps me with my relationships with my Higher Power, myself, and other people. Abstinence gives me clarity to be open to my Higher Power’s messages: I listen to the wisdom of my own body and I hear my HP’s voice in my sponsor and in meetings through members’ shares. I pray to see and hear others through God’s eyes and ears. I open my heart to receive spiritual gifts. These gifts are acceptance, forgiveness, freedom, and lightness of spirit. I am healing so I may share these gifts with others.

My relationship with my HP has expanded and deepened in Overeaters Anonymous. I came to OA because the way I felt about myself affected my self-worth and relationships. Through working the Steps in another program, I’d found a personal, loving God of my understanding and learned I had the right to ask for help. But I did not believe God was really interested in what I ate. Eating and exercise were my responsibilities and too mundane to bother God with.

Then that same Higher Power led me to the pamphlet Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight. As soon as I read it, I knew God was directing me to OA for healing. I discovered an OA meeting in my own small town! I really listened at meetings and to my sponsor, and I read newcomer literature including OA Members Come in All Sizes. I prayed for willingness to keep an open mind, and I saw myself in the readings. Denial crumbled as my awareness opened up. I realized that my Higher Power does care about what I eat, the same way a mother cares about what her children eat. That was my first spiritual awakening in OA. What a relief to realize compulsive eating is not a battle I can win on my own. Compulsive eating is a physical disease with an emotional cause and a spiritual cure.

Every morning I pray, “God, I humbly ask you to nourish my body, my heart, and my soul. You know what I need. When I am fearful and powerless, help me surrender me and my loved ones to you and your divine timing. Help me be a channel of your love and peace and do your will today.” Sometimes I pray a gratitude alphabet from A to Z. I dance to my favorite music when I can’t exercise outdoors. When I’m full of anger or fear, I walk briskly or swim or dance furiously to release powerful waves of energy. My prayers are, “Help me release this feeling!” “Let my anger be my teacher, not my boss!” “Take my anger and stop me from fueling it with bad memories!”

You see, in recovery I learn to honor my feelings in my relationship to myself. I’m still working on allowing anger and fear to surface. It’s easy to let them overwhelm me, but feeling my emotions is necessary “heart work” for healing. I am 100 percent human and will have uncomfortable feelings no matter how long I’m in program. Overeaters Anonymous teaches me that how I eat and exercise is affected by how I feel, and how I feel affects how I eat. With my sponsor, I work the Steps to unravel how and why I eat and discover what’s eating me: character defects that harm me and other people. I choose not to feed or fuel my defects, and I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings.

As a newcomer, I read in Before You Take That First Compulsive Bite, Remember . . . that “A decision to be abstinent today will enable you to overcome fears of not getting enough food, attention, or love.” I suddenly identified fear—fears that I am not enough, I do not do enough, I do not have enough. I came to OA because I felt that I was not enough of a person, woman, or attractive spouse. With Step work, I stopped blaming others and justifying my bad behavior. The only one who stops me from becoming the person God wants me to be is me.

Honesty, willingness, and compassion are the keys to accepting others. In the For Today Workbook, there’s a question about this: “What can I do today to improve my willingness to love and accept others and myself unconditionally?” (p. 179).

I remember to keep close to God, and I pray:
I am enough.
I have enough.
I do enough.
And I have always been enough!
I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and so is everyone else.
I am exactly who I am supposed to be, and so is everyone else.

My HP is the only one who can make me feel enough. Only when I see I am a child of the Divine do I have something to offer. I stop looking to others to complete me, and I pray for willingness to discern my motives. With God’s help, I discern whether I act from a character defect or a spiritual Principle. Do I interact out of control or out of love? I honestly examine my expectations. When I engage with others, what do I expect in return?

My feelings play out in my relationships with other people in healthy or unhealthy ways. Emotions can turn up the volume of my character defects or they can turn me to my HP and OA for help. I pray to abstain from unhealthy, excessive emotions just as I pray to abstain from unhealthy foods. I used to justify compulsive eating when my needs were not met by my loved ones in ways I believed they should be met; I felt I deserved to “reward” myself. My feelings related to martyrdom and resentments, but my new awareness directs me to surrender to my HP yet again.

When I was working Steps Four through Seven, during my meditation, God sent a powerful image of a huge boulder. Over the years, I had formed that boulder with my buried anger, resentment, grudges, and fears. I envisioned releasing this huge, heavy stone from my soul as I handed my defects to God. I had to work hard in my Step work, using the Principles of honesty and willingness, to pry this boulder out. I imagined rolling this giant, heavy rock out of my soul and away, and I physically felt lighter as God removed the weight of the burden of defects. I felt tremendous relief and lightness of spirit.

A month later, God made me laugh out loud. My sister and I were walking in her small town, when I stopped abruptly and stared. “My” boulder was standing upright in a roadside garden! It was HUGE—taller than me and even bigger than I had imagined! “So that’s where my boulder belongs!” I told God.

I need to diligently work Step Ten to keep that boulder in a garden and not seduce it back into my soul. I continue my Step work, asking God to substitute a spiritual Principle each time a character defect reappears.

Only through prayer and meditation am I graced with acceptance and forgiveness of me and others. Every day I thank my HP for freedom from guilt, shame, remorse, and resentment. Only when I feel free can I respect others’ freedom to pursue their own spiritual paths. Daily vigilance is necessary for me for spiritual progress, and spiritual progress unfolds in my relationships.

I am so grateful for the program of Overeaters Anonymous. I pray to commit myself to my Higher Power every day so I can be the best Mary Beth I can be. Only then can I serve as a channel of God’s love and peace. Self-knowledge and willpower cannot take me on this journey. Only together can we do what we could never do alone!

— story and garden boulder image by Mary Beth S.

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