Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Prohibition Versus The Holidays


When we think of the word, “prohibition,” what’s generally the first thought that comes to mind? Bootleggers? Moonshine? The roaring 20’s?

Yes, those things have been closely associated with the word. But “prohibition” speaks to much more than alcohol. It speaks to desire, want and our real or perceived unmet needs.

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits. Fanatics will never learn that, though it be written in letters of gold across the sky. It is the prohibition that makes anything precious.”

Mark Twain

Thank you, Mr. Twain.

So, then, what are we to do with the moderation concept? Scripture brings it up, after all.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”

1 Corinthians 10:23

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

1 Corinthians 6:12

But what do we do with that moderation principle if, truly, we cannot handle it?

It’s even more challenging during the holiday season. “Eat, drink and be merry” is the dominant festive theme. And that’s not exactly conducive to recovery.

Therefore, it’s all the more important to be mindful. Notice I said mindful, not perfect. That perfection expectation is a recipe for failure. And it’s anti-recovery. After all, the familiar mantra is “one day at a time,” not “perfection all of the time.”

Still, the holidays are some challenging days to approach.

Years ago, while working on a holiday devotional project, I was blessed with the following resource material concerning the holiday season and eating disorder issues. These points provide a comprehensive “survival guide” to this triggering season. They are as follows:

“Predict high stress times and places; decide which events you will and won't attend, and plan to have some time to yourself to restore yourself and take care of your own needs.

Predict which people might make you most uncomfortable and plan appropriate ways of excusing yourself from their company.

Predict what people might say that would lead you to feel uncomfortable. Plan and practice responses.

Predict negative thoughts that you might have during the holidays, and practice thinking differently.

Carry with you a list of phone numbers of friends and crisis lines, and a list of self-soothing activities.

It may be helpful to realize that the ‘picture-book’ holiday sense is not a reality for many people. Some cannot afford it, there are many single people who are not close to their families or do not have a family, and there are many families that do not fit into the dominant cultural model of ‘family.’ Do not blame yourself for family or friendship conflicts. People are not different during the holidays than any other time of the year.”

For more info:top
NEDIC Bulletin: Vol. 7, Coping With the Holidays ; National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) Used with permission.

Concerning the prohibition issue, especially during the tempting holiday season, it’s not about condemnation; it’s about sensitivity. Each one of us has weaknesses in certain areas. It can be to food, alcohol, drugs, behaviors or compulsions. These things don’t make someone a “bad person.” These things make us human.

Therefore, we need to take an inventory about things which may be “triggers,” either to ourselves or to others.

 “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.”

1 Corinthians 8:9

And, the holidays have a way of unleashing triggers like nothing else. Stress, pressure, financial situations, unresolved issues and close proximity to aggravating family members all work to create a “trapped” environment. We can, all too often, be tempted to crown someone’s head with that orange and carrot Jell-O mold or that stuffed turkey. C’mon, don’t tell me you haven’t thought about it. Nothing says discussion like picking carrot, celery and raisin shrapnel out of our hair. But obviously, we know this is not God’s Will. So, what is?

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

Romans 14:13

We need to be health-minded, working with, not against God in these delicate matters of sobriety, sensitivity and support. Does the way we celebrate the holiday season mindfully concur with that principle?

Recovery is about process- an imperfect, individual and important one. It involves identifying and dealing with issues like desire, unmet need, pain, trauma, temptation and what needs to be “off limits” in our lives.

And, through it all, God is there to walk us through these issues. He IS there to guide us.

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand, and whenever turn to the left.’”

Isaiah 30:21

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”

Psalm 32:8

In recovery, be aware of your own prohibition issues. Is it an unrealistic expectation of “never” doing the determined prohibited thing again? Is it about pressure? Is it about punishment? Is it about failure?

This season, with its excesses, feasts and celebrations is a challenging time for us. Prohibition often pops up. Each one of us has a different definition of what’s in that word.

But each one of us also has a loving God who leads, helps and provides. That includes insight, sponsors, programs, support people and healthy outlets of expressing emotions.

And, from this incredible provision, there, indeed, comes another word: choice.

Whoever-wherever- however we are, we can choose another choice. What will that choice be? Will we say yes to God, life and to our health, no matter how tiny that “yes” may be?

What would happen if we didn’t prohibit that?

Copyright © 2016 by Sheryle Cruse


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