Friday, October 28, 2016

The Unbelief Challenge


There’s a familiar saying out there,Where the mind goes, the body will follow.” And yes, that’s often the tricky part.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

How many of us have gotten into all sorts of trouble by following our mind’s direction?

Our beliefs can either work for or against us. They take us to all kinds of places; some of them are undesirable.

Years ago, a major turning point for me, not only in my eating disorder recovery, but also my relationship with God was the scripture, Mark 9:24:

“Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

That little ditty nailed where my thinking was. Simply stated, I didn’t think I could believe enough in anything: who I was, life, hope and God. Faith- whatever it was and however I went about it- wasn’t “enough.” I was subpar, defective. Indeed, I went to such a great place, all courtesy of my thoughts. And I didn’t know how to get out.

I had reached a place through my eating disorders, be it anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, that I believed God hated me, was finished me and was going to send me straight to hell. My perfectionistic thoughts had completely obliterated grace or room for any error. Add to that, increasing amounts of guilt and shame from my behaviors, which included theft and lying, and I reached a point of no return. I was “un-save-able.” I was hopeless.

So, when I encountered Mark 9:24, it validated my struggles with doubt. Ecclesiastes states “there is nothing new under the sun.” So, when I hit upon that ninth chapter in Mark, uttered by a man, centuries earlier, it sent the reassurance I needed. I was not alone, the only hopeless person to ever think this way. And before Mark 9:24’s zinger, there was the set up scripture of the twenty-third verse:

“Jesus said unto him, ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’”        

Ordinarily, this would have caused me to despair, if I stopped short by only focusing on me. For example, if Jesus was only telling me it was up to me to “believe right,” then, let’s face it, I’m a goner.

But again, way back when, He responded to another person, a doubting person, a person challenged in the area of confidence, so much so, Mark 9:24 was his only comeback.

“Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

Perhaps, this was an early template of the Twelve Steps. After all, it’s about the real state of things. It’s about acknowledging something bigger than us, not us, in our own strength, to be our answer. And it’s about a lifelong commitment to focus in that direction.

1.      We admitted we were powerless over a substance or behavior - that our lives had become unmanageable.

  1. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  2. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  3. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  4. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  5. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  6. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  7. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  8. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  9. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  10. We 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.
  11. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

It’s not perfect; it’s fraught with stumbles and setbacks. It requires awareness. And, long before we were aware of our weak spots or failures, God, however, was.

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”

Psalms 103:14

He’s not shocked or intimidated by exactly where we are and where our thinking has landed us. He knows. And He has it within His control. The key point, however, is to go with, not against, that principle. And it’s a messy work in progress to do just that. It requires us yelling an ancient spiritual word in our lives:


For, as much as we’d like to believe we’re in control, we are not. It IS about asking for help. It covers not only the disasters we may find ourselves in, but also what led up to them. It covers beliefs...and un-beliefs.

“Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief.”

And so, whether it’s a first time revelation or a refresher course, let’s choose, right where are, to recalibrate the focus of our beliefs and turn them to God.

We do believe something, after all. It would probably do us some good, then, to have His help with this reality.

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse



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