When I first began attending 12 step meetings and going to church I was overwhelmed. Why was I here? Who are these people? I had many questions. There were phrases, traditions, customs, and mannerisms to learn and understand. I had to learn new vocabulary. There was a lot to understand that required regular attendance. To be a part of something involves regular participation.
Feeling a part of...
Infrequent attendance can reduce the feeling of belonging. Regular attendance can improve our awareness and understanding of all that is happening with those in the group and help build connections with others. Relationships and knowledge of group experiences build with attendance and participation. When we miss we may feel out of touch because... we are out of touch. There's a saying around 12 step groups, "the more I miss meetings, the more I miss using."
Part of the process in committing to a group is the willingness to help the group. An attitude of showing up to be served or taught is and an attitude of self-seeking. The group is a community created to help each other. Phase one is often on the receiving end of guiding and learning, but each of us can still find ways to be helpful. Cleaning, setting up, and welcoming others can be great help. All that is needed is some humility and willingness.
Our minds learn information through repetition. Information can be overwhelming in the beginning, but over time with regular attendance and participation in Phase One we may come to believe we 'got it!' We can start to think we have learned most of what we want to learn and lose interest in the group. Let's keep in mind this is only Phase One and learning without moving on to other Phases has been limited. There may be a lack of humility or willingness to move forward to new experiences.
After a while, a year or so, we can begin to feel less challenged, bored, or our minds can drift to being critical, self-serving. We may begin to sense a spiritual dullness. This could mean we have reached our potential growth with regular attendance and need something more.
Our continued growth can be limited upon our willingness to step up and raise the bar. If we are not willing to raise the bar and continue to improve, we probably won't. It's not up to the group to challenge us, it's ultimately up to ourselves to step up and take new action.
Moving from regular attendance into Phase Two is to begin thinking and seeking how we can better put God's will into action beyond Regular Attendance. In Phase Two we can seek to grow spiritual character within our hearts and minds through more active learning.
Phase one can be referred to as passive learning.
It's easy for discussions to shift away from topic. Value the time to focus on God's word and staying on topic with gentle guidance. "How can we grow" with the many instructions used in the Bible. The more we pay attention to it the more likely we will do it.
Each of us has an agenda within our minds. We have our schedule for the week with work, school, family, friends, hobbies, habits, etc. As we discuss 'how' we can grow in the scripture topic our minds will begin to process trying to fit that in our agenda. Trying to imagine how to take new action can be the beginning of bringing it to life. We can learn to fit new action within our mental schedule and make it happen.
Each person will have misunderstandings about the Bible and God. No one is perfect. Going to the Bible to learn spiritual truth is a process that involves revealing our misunderstandings. In order to move to Phase Two we must begin making inward corrections with our beliefs.
So many questions can go unanswered due to fear and pride. With humility, faith, patience, diligence, and love we can ask the questions we need answers to for us to grow. Let's make sure to learn more clearly what God wants for us.
It can take some time to sort things out. Sometimes hearing the same message restated in different ways by different people over time can slowly provide enough evidence and information for us to form a new understanding. We all have a learning bias that can interfere with information that goes against our current beliefs, beliefs that may be wrong.
The Bible is filled with patterns. Love is a central theme throughout the Bible. The first commandment of Moses is to love God with 'all' our inward authority. The words 'love' and 'all' are repeated and there is good reason for the repetition. The pattern in the Bible is that people love God in desperate times, humble themselves, praise how good God is, then begin chasing after other things and find destruction. The truth is that this exists here today in all of us. The solution is to apply our inward authority increasingly to grow God's goodness. This takes new action, experience, and continued development. To grow with God we will need to keep moving into the next Phase of development.
Idolatry is a never ending problem and humility has always been part of the solution. Seeking humility can open opportunities.
As we read scripture verses and recognize patterns we can begin to act upon to grow in God's goodness, let's remember to keep our focus upon how we can grow.
We ought to guard against resentment and pride. Resentment can be anger toward others or ourselves. Thought messages within our heads seeing how things are wrong in others or ourselves will need to move toward forgiveness, mercy, and then into love and compassion. We will need to take responsibility for our habitual resentment thinking and correct it. We can correct through prayers. When the thoughts come up we can pray for forgiveness and help to love.
Provided below are sample packets of concordance searches to learn patterns of transformative principles. Remember, regular repetition over a long period of time is how to learn. Patience, perseverance, endurance, diligence, and self-discipline are all part of the process.
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NKJV used for most Bible verses
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