Question 11: Are you truly surrendering your “right” to act out?
If you are not a Christian this Question has no meaning for you because you have no higher authority to surrender to. You will live out your life according to the sinful nature you were born into. You may not live by the same code of conduct that Christians choose to live by, so you might not define as sinful behaviors which your Christian neighbors certainly would.
If you are a Christian this is a trick question because you no longer have the right to sin; you gave up that right when you decided to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Of course we Christians go on sinning after giving our lives to Christ, but we are doing so exclusive of any rights.
There is a certain kind of thinking that takes control of a person in the Addiction Cycle and will drive him to do things he ought not do: “Entitlement Thinking”. Entitlement Thinking calculates choices in terms of “I’m owed”, “I deserve”, “My rights demand…”, and so on. Entitlement Thinking says that life ought to grant you a privileged status. This is curious thinking for a people who purport to follow the man who said, “The greatest among you must become the servant of all.”
When in the grip of the Addiction Cycle you will use Entitlement Thinking. You’ll think, “I’ve worked so hard, don’t I deserve a little break?”, or, “God will forgive me, I can go ahead and act out.” In both examples you have incorrectly assumed that you are owed something by God: A break in the first case and grace in the second. If you are even thinking of acting out while in the Addiction Cycle you have failed to surrender your “right” to act out.
Acting out must not be a possibility for you again, ever. As I noted in Question 10, those of us in recovery must be all in, all day, every day. Like the proverbial burning of the ships by Cortez you must never consider acting out as a possibility. That choice must never be on the table.
Let me give you a personal example. I once saw a nude woman walking around her apartment across the street from my office. That day, and the two days following, were the three worst days of my life in the last year. From the instant I saw her everything in my brain screamed to act out. I had trained my brain since adolescence to act out upon seeing a naked woman, so this stimulus-response reaction was perfectly normal. But not once in those three days did I consider acting out, though the neural pathways of my brain were demanding that I do just that. The thing that I had always done, that I had trained my mind to do over years of ‘practice’, I was no longer allowed to consider. I felt more confused that I can express to you in this post. It was as if the addict in my mind kept turning to his workbench to pick up a tool that was no longer there and not finding it, he would go into wild frenzy. But I stayed sober.
Asking yourself this Question in the midst of the Addiction Cycle is not easy, and you will like answering it honestly even less. But if you want to overcome that which has held you in chains you must ask and answer Question 11.
Today’s Challenge: Right now I want you to consider whether you have truly surrendered your “right” to act out, or to gossip, or to overeat, or whatever it is that troubles you. If you are not a Christian, do you want the power to break the chains of your addiction? If you are a Christian, are you ready to acknowledge that you have no rights other than to claim the name “child of God”?