Faith   Leave a comment

I have long avoided discussing this very delicate but important subject.  I think that in a sense it is because of my many years working in the public (state funded) sector, I am limited in what I can and can not say regarding spiritual issues in respect of the “Constitution.” As a result, in my teaching I have often “white washed” spirituality and faith out completely, so as not to “step on any toes.” That being said, I strongly believe that faith and a personal relationship with a Higher Power”, as AA calls it, is paramount for one to succeed in this journey. I reference that title, “Higher Power”, only because it is so widely used. However, I personally believe that there is only one true HIGHER POWER, the God of the Bible. However, though I acknowledge this as my personal belief; I do not wish to make this post or any found hear to sound like a “Turn or Burn” message. I have my opinions and beliefs, but at the same time, I respect that you have your own as well. That being said, believe faith is one of the foundational, concepts that we MUST have in order to truly be successful in our recovery.

 In my previous post regarding hope, I stated:

 Hope is that unseen, unheard, and often even unfelt force that is within every human being that keeps “life moving”. That force that gives us the strength and courage to be who we are, ourselves, despite our weaknesses and faults we can be ourselves and have strength and faith to keeping moving forward in spite of our past, our hurts, our mistakes and circumstances. In spite of it all we must “still have a dream”, some thing to hope for, something goal some expectation that we set our hearts, our minds, our entire being towards achieving.

 My question is, “Where does this Hope come from.”  There is truly only one source of hope, GOD.

He is that “force” and “life” that resides within us. He is our strength in the midst of our weakness.

 Joel 3:10 “…let the weak say, I am strong.”

 The humankind is unique from all other creatures in that we are Body, Soul and Spirit. Healthcare, including psychiatric treatment, has often depended purely on the medical model and for the most part ignored the spiritual component of the human psyche. However, over the last several years, as our society has turned more and more toward materialism and possessions for personal fulfillment, ironically, there has been a significant increase in the interest in the “spiritual”.

 Is it a sign of the times?

 A indication that these “things” aren’t truly fulfilling, and we are still left with something missing?

I found that my own spirituality is not some vague, abstract, esoteric concept. It is a day to day journey and relationship with my God. It is not some mysterious ideal or a simple emotion it is REAL.  It is the essence of knowing that I am a part of something greater than the flesh and bones, breathing and reacting to the world in which I reside. 

I believe that it is this very “connection” with something that is bigger than oneself, something that gives a purpose and gives value outside of our own skin. That being said, if I am connected in this spiritual force, God, and I believe that my fellowman is as well, then consequentially I am connected in this way to my fellowman. Thus, the spirit that is within me desires to relate and share my spirituality in my relationships with others. In our shared faith, we grew deeper and stronger in our faith and in our interpersonal relationship. As each of these relationships is strengthened, with both God and Man, I am stronger and better equipped in coping with my day to day issues and challenges, including my mental illness.

Don’t take my word for it, put it to the test.

In addition, here is a little bit of reputable, published research that supports the benefit that spirituality has on physical and mental health:

  • Canadian college students who are involved with campus ministries visited the doctor less, scored higher on tests of psychological well-being, and coped with stress more effectively. 
  •  Older women are more grateful to God than older men, and they receive greater stress-buffering health effects due to this gratitude.
  • Those with an intrinsic religious orientation, regardless of gender, exhibited less physiological reactivity toward stress than those with an extrinsic religious orientation. They were also less afraid of death and had greater feelings of well-being. (Those who were intrinsically oriented dedicated their lives to God or a ‘higher power,’ while the extrinsically oriented ones used religion for external ends like making friends or increasing community social standing.)   
  • Prayer works for young and old alike. Prayer and spirituality have been linked to: 
    • Better health
    • Less hypertension
    • Less stress, even during difficult times
    • More positive feelings 
    • Less depression  
    • Greater psychological well-being
    • Superior ability to handle stress

So ultimately, I believe that our faith/spirituality is the foundation from which we must build the rest of not only our recovery, but our lives.  Briefly, returning to the Road to Recovery… Our faith is the engine of the car, without it in good working order, we ca not go anywhere.  And if you don’t put good stuff in it, it does not run well either, if at all!

So whether, this article, stirs you to start your spiritual journey; sparks a rediscovery of lost roots, or is simply food for thought, I hope and pray that you find it first and foremost encouraging and hopefully inspiring!

 Until next time, may you find your potholes repaired, and your crooked places straight!

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