Question 3: “Am I reading my Step Zero Bible verses out loud?”
Let me give you a bit of background on this question. Most of you have probably heard of 12-Step programs; Alcoholics Anonymous is the most widely known 12-Step program. I attend a 12-Step group modeled after AA, though you could say ours is really a 13-Step group because we have a Step Zero. Before men in my program are allowed to begin the 12 Steps of recovery they must complete a 90-day ‘detox’ period…this is Step Zero. During this time you are not allowed to watch TV under any circumstances, no movies (except for Veggie Tales movies), and you cannot use a computer for non-work purposes. You could call this detox period a ‘media fast’.
When I entered Step Zero I was desensitized to the sexual content of the media around me, so the first purpose of Step Zero was to re-sensitize me to the world. The second purpose of the detox period was to clear my mind and body of the chemicals I had built up through years of acting out. Step Zero is also where I experienced withdrawals during the first 14 days of my sobriety.
Now that you are familiar with the basics of Step Zero, let’s move on to Question 3. During Step Zero I was assigned three Bible verses to memorize for use in Step 4 of the 8 Steps described in earlier posts:
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)
Ephesians 1:3-8 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 10:5 “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)
However, when I entered the Addiction Cycle I could barely think straight let alone recite memorized Scripture. So I would break out my Bible, turn to one of these verses, and start reading. And then I would ask myself Question 3: Am I reading these verses out loud?
I am not a trained educator so I cannot tell you why the following is true: Reading Scripture out loud is far more powerful for me than reading it only in my head. I’ll bet there’s a fancy name for it like ‘auditory reinforcement’ or something like that. Whatever it is called, it is true and it works. I also suspect that reading aloud works because of my brain’s limited ability to multi-task: It is hard to fantasize and obsess about someone in my head when I am trying to read out of a book.
And while it might be true that reading out of any book would be at least moderately successful for this reason, I believe speaking and hearing God’s promises is the most effective means of breaking out of the Addiction Cycle. Here’s why: I have a lot of ‘shame voices’ in my head, and these voices become extremely loud and pushy when I enter the Addiction Cycle. They shout things like, “You’re just an addict, go ahead and fantasize, it’s the only thing you’re good at,” or, “How could God love someone who’s done the things you’ve done,” or my personal favorite, “You know you can’t keep this up forever, just quit now and save yourself a lot of wasted time and heartache.” But when I read God’s Word He tells me that He died for me, and that He did it gladly. He tells me that all my sins are forgotten; why should I remember them? And He reminds me that I can do all things through Him. But like I said, those shame voices in my head are loud and they drown out my own thoughts during the Addiction Cycle; hence the reason I need to read out loud.
Today’s challenge: First, buy a cheap paperback New Testament (unless you have one already). Find the verses I listed above; highlight them and bookmark the pages. Take this Bible everywhere you go. The next time you find yourself in the Addiction Cycle start reading those verses out loud, over and over, as long as it takes.