LESSON 1 – DENIAL
Realize I’m not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.
Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.
We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
Today we begin a journey together, a journey down the road of recovery. This journey begins with Principle 1, where we admit that we are powerless to control our tendency to do the wrong thing and that our lives have become unmanageable, out of control.
For many of us, our past hurts, habits, and hang ups hold us back and/or trip us up still today. Many of us are stuck in bitterness over what someone has done to us. We continue to hold on to the hurt and we refuse to forgive the ones who had hurt us.
Some of those wounds run very deep and as a coping mechanism we create a wall of denial.
Working this Christ-centered recovery program will, with God’s power, allow you to find the courage and strength to forgive them. Don’t get overwhelmed here – just make a list, Rome wasn’t built in one day… This is a process…
Sometimes we can be bound by guilt and continually beat ourselves up, trapped or stuck in guilt. You think that no one anywhere is as bad as you are, that no one could love the real you, and that no one could ever forgive you for the terrible things that you have done:
You’re wrong. God can. That’s why Jesus went to the cross, for our sins. He knows everything you’ve ever done and everything you’ve ever experienced
The apostle Paul had a lot to regret about his past. He even participated in Stephen’s murder. Yet in Philippians 3:13 (TLB) he tells us:
No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.
Here’s the bottom line if you want to be free from your past hurts, habits and hang ups: You need to deal with your past bitterness/resentment and guilt once and for all. You need to do as Isaiah 43:18 tells us:
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
That doesn’t mean ignore the past. We need to learn from our past, offer forgiveness, make amends, and then release it. Only then can you be free from your guilt, grudges, and grief!
Let’s face it, we have all stumbled over a hurt, hang-up, or habit. But the race isn’t over yet. God meets us right where we are at!
You may worry about your future and may be afraid to change. We all worry about things that we do not have any control over. And we all know worrying is a lack of trust in God.
The truth is, we can say without any doubt or fear:
The Lord is my Helper and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.
You may have been trapped in your hurt/habit/hang-up for so long that you don’t even recognize it for what it is – Pray, ask God to reveal to you EVERY last thing that needs to be reveal in order for you to recover and be free from all that – Then listen, he will give you the answers – WRITE THEM DOWN (camouflage denial)
You may have been abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, or food. You’re afraid of what you will do without your substance of choice.
You may believe that you are stuck in a relationship and “cant make it on your own” or you may feel like you “owe someone” because they did so much for you. Wellll let me tell you… God doesn’t want you to stay frozen in an unhealthy relationship or a bad habit. He wants you to do your part in becoming healthy.
Even if our past was extremely painful we may still resist change and the freedom that can be found in really working this program. (Sometimes we get comfortable and settle into our pain) Stuck like chuck.
Because of our fear of the unknown or because of our despair, we just close our minds because we think that we don’t deserve any better.
As you work the steps remember 1 John 4:18 (NCV):
Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear.
You are not here by mistake today. This room is full of divine appointments!
You will need to TRAIN YOURSELF to do the opposite of denial and that is acceptance! This will seem like an un-natural act, and may be very scary – I say make a list of these things and then pray, chip away at them, one by one, as you do, acceptance gets easier and denial is a thing of the past….
Denial has been defined as “a false system of beliefs that are not based on reality” and “a self-protecting behavior that keeps us from honestly facing the truth.”
As kids we all learned various coping skills. They came in handy when we didn’t get the attention we wanted from our parents and others or to block our pain and our fears.
For a time these coping systems worked. But as the years progressed they confused and clouded our view of the truth of our lives.
As we grew, our perception of ourselves and our expectations of all those around us also grew. But because we retained our childish methods of coping, our perceptions of reality became increasingly more unrealistic and distorted.
Our coping skills grew into denial, and most of our relationships ended up broken or less fulfilling than they could have been.
Did you ever deny that your parents had problems? Did you ever deny that you had problems? The truth is, we can all answer yes to these questions to some extent. But, for some of us, that denial turned to shame and guilt.
Denial is the “Pink Elephant” sitting in the middle of the living room. No one in the family talks about it or acknowledges it in any way. Do any of the following comments sound familiar to you?
• “Can’t we stop talking about it? Talking only makes it worse.”
• “If we don’t talk about it, it will go away.”
• “Honey, let’s pretend that it didn’t really happen.”
• “If I tell her it hurts me when she says that, I’m afraid she will leave me.”
• “He really doesn’t drink that much.”
• “It really doesn’t hurt when he does that; I’m fine!”
• “Paul drinks more than I do.”
• “Joan has been married three times; I’ve only been married twice.”
• “I eat because you make me so mad!”
• “If you didn’t nag me all the time, I wouldn’t …”
• “Look honey, I have a tough job; I work hard. I need a few drinks to relax. It doesn’t mean that I have a problem.”
These are examples of denial and there are so many more… We have all been there at some point or another.
As I said earlier, before we can take the first step of our recovery, we must first face and admit our denial. God says in Jeremiah 6:14 (TLB):
You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!
Okay, let’s look at the acrostic: DENIAL
Disables our feelings
Isolates us from God
Alienates us from our relationships
Lengthens the pain
DISABLES OUR FEELINGS
The D in denial stands for DISABLES our feelings. Hiding our feelings, living in denial, freezes our emotions and binds us. Understanding and feeling our feelings is where we find freedom.
Second Peter 2:19 (GNB) tells us:
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of destructive habits—for a man is a slave of anything that has conquered him.
For me, the basic test of freedom is not what I’m free to do, it’s what I’m free not to do! I’m free not to take that drink or that drug or whatever.
We find freedom to feel our true feelings when we find Christ and step out of denial.
The next letter in denial is E, which stands for ENERGY lost.
A major side-effect of denial is anxiety. Anxiety causes us to waste precious energy dealing with past hurts and failures and the fear of the future. Anxiety is exhausting
We let our fears and our worries paralyze us, but the only lasting way we can be free from them is by giving them to God. Psalm 146:7 (TLB) says:
He frees the prisoners,… he lifts the burdens from those bent down beneath their loads.
If you will transfer the energy required to maintain your denial into learning God’s truth, a healthy love for others and yourself will occur. As you depend more and more on your Higher Power, Jesus Christ, you will see the light of truth and reality.
Denial NEGATES growth.
We are as sick as our secrets and, again, we cannot grow in recovery until we are ready to step out of our denial into the truth. God is waiting to take your hand and bring you out. The Bible says:
They cried to the Lord in their troubles, and he rescued them! He led them from the darkness and shadow of death and snapped their chains.
As you travel the road of your recovery you will come to understand that God never wastes a hurt; God will never waste your darkness. But He can’t use it unless you step out of your denial into the light of His truth.
ISOLATES US FROM GOD
Denial also ISOLATES us from God.
Adam and Eve are a great example of how secrets and denial separate us from true fellowship with God. After they sinned, their secret separated them from God. Genesis 3:7 tells us that Adam and Eve hid from God because they felt naked and ashamed.
Of course, good old Adam tried to rationalize. He said to God:
The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree.
First he tried to blame God, saying, “The woman you put here with me …” Then he tried to blame it on Eve: “She gave me some fruit.”
Remember, God’s light shines on the truth. Our denial keeps us in the dark.
ALIENATES US FROM OUR RELATIONSHIPS
Our denial not only isolates us from God, it ALIENATES us from our relationships.
Denial tells us we are getting away with it. We think no one knows, but they do. But while denial may shield us from the hurt, it also keeps us from helping ourselves or the people we love the most.
We don’t dare reveal our true selves to others for fear of what they will think or say if they knew the real us. We must protect ourselves—our secrets—at any cost. So we isolate ourselves and thereby minimize the risk of exposure and possible rejection from others. But at what price? The eventual loss of all our important relationships.
What’s the answer? Listen to Ephesians 4:25:
Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are parts of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves.
Remember it is always better to tell the ugly truth rather than a beautiful lie.
LENGTHENS THE PAIN
Finally, denial LENGTHENS the pain.
We have the false belief that denial protects us from our pain. In reality, denial allows our pain to fester and grow and to turn into shame and guilt. Denial extends your hurt. It multiplies your problems.
Truth, like surgery, may hurt for a while, but it cures. God promises us in Jeremiah 30:17:
I will give you back your health again and heal your wounds.
Tonight I encourage you to step out of your denial! Walking out of your denial is not easy. Taking off that mask is hard. Everything about you shouts, “Don’t do it! It’s not safe!” But it is safe. It’s safe at Celebrate Recovery. Here you have people who care about you and who love you for who you are—people who will stand beside you as truth becomes a way of life.
Jesus tells us:
Know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
Step out of your denial so you can step into Jesus’ unconditional love and grace and begin your healing journey of recovery.
There is a root to everything, good or bad, we need to pull out the entire root and examine it, write it down.. Take your time, this is a journey…