Archive for the ‘Chankge’ Category

Two Gates – One Choice   2 comments

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)


Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it. (CEV)

This passage is set in the midst of Jesus great ‘Sermon on the Mount” and obviously gives us direction regarding the choices and direction of our lives. It is also a very clear picture of our journey in recovery. The only difference is that everyday we are faced with that same decision over and over and over again. I once said, Each step in recovery is one step further away from where/who you were and one closer to who you really are, and where you want to be!” Despite that truth, everyday and at times throughout the day, the “Wide Gate” continually offers itself for us to enter in. Thus AA has slogans like:“One day at a time” and “Do the next right thing”. They are all about recognition of this precise challenge.

That being said, I personally began using a new closing in my correspondence, “One Breath, one Step, one Day at a time.” Ever moment of everyday we are faced with situations and decisions, some so seemingly small that we react without giving them a second thought, others are far more difficult and require more processing. The scary part is, the “small” thoughtless decisions have just as much potential for changing our lives for the positive or negative as the “bigger” and more difficult ones.

Let me share with you a brief example: I was running late to work after lunch one day and focused on getting back as quickly as possible. Because I was in a hurry, I quick
ly decided to accelerate through a red light that had just turned from yellow. Because I was not paying attention, I did not see the one-ton Pick-up that had just exited the interstate and he “t-boned” my front end spinning me 270 degrees, and ultimately totaling my vehicle. Luckily I nor the other driver were seriously injured. That one thoughtless decision could have not only altered, but ended m
y life.

So as the author and poet, Robert Frost said,”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.“ From the Road Less Traveled”

So how do I go about making sure that I am taking the right path. One clear indicator is that if you are surrounded by others that all seem to be moving through life as fast or faster than you are, then you are probably not on the right path. Where as when you feel like you are alone and struggling just to take the next step, then you are probably in just the right place. The good news that we are not alone on this journey. We are not left to our own devices and wisdom alone as we travel. First and foremost we have our “Higher Power”. I refer to Him as God, the Heavenly Father; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has provided us with His written and infallible Word and His Spirit He has placed within those that believe. His word on more than one occasion provides instructions for when we do not know “what the next right thing” is.

Matthew 7:7-11“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

When we find ourselves at a crossroads where it is difficult to determine, which path is not just the “right” one, but the “God’ one, all we have to do is ASK!

Even then, if you are still unsure there give you a few simple suggestions:

  1. Love God with EVERYTHING that you have. (Matthew 22:36-39)
  2. Love others and treat them how you would want to be treated.
  3. Examine your actions and thoughts and test them against the “Fruit of the Spirit” – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:21-23)


I can guarantee one thing, at least at the beginning, the “narrow road” will NOT any easy one. But as we overcome one obstacle after another, we get stronger and more confident and the trials slowly do not seem as difficult to manage and overcome. Eventually, sooner than later, if we keep up doing the work, we find ourselves no longer “making mountains out of mole hills” rather we begin to make “molehills out of Mountains”

Rather than mumbling, grumbling and complaining about our situations, let us do as a before mentioned passage of scriptures recommend and

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Have you noticed that having a bad attitude does not help the situation get any better, however, when we keep a positive attitude, we things just seem to “be” better. This scripture and thought reminds me of a comment that I recently saw posted by several friends on Facebook, with some slight wording changes it is:

I am strong because I know my weaknesses, I am alive because I am a fighter, I am wise because I have been foolish, and I can laugh because I have known sadness. I am proud and strong. I made it through the storm and learned to dance in the rain!’

We grow grow stronger and wiser through the trials and hardships. Let me use an analogy: You can’t sharpen a knife by running the blade under water. You must have some kind of sharpening tool with a rough surface which the blade is rubbed against. Rubbing the surface of the blade against the rough surface smooths, straightens and polishes the edge of the blade, sharpening it.

Trials and “storms” are the tools that develop our character, smoothing out our weaknesses and polishing our strengths. When we take the Wide and easy road through life with out these trials we develop no character of our own and never truly define who we are as a person.

So let us be grateful for the potholes, treacherous cliffs (some of which we have fallen off of), and thorn patches because these are the very experiences that have molded us into the strong and capable people that we are today. I know many of you are look at yourself and you do not see strong and capable. I challenge yo to reconsider that perspective of yourself. If you were not strong and capable, where would you be today? One thing I am sure of, it is not where you are!

So, no matter how hard the path seems right now, I urge to wake up every morning and say the following affirmation out loud to yourself:

Today is a new day; I choose to be grateful for all that I have and to follow the narrow road that leads to peace and contentment. I know each step may be difficult, but I will approach each trial confidently, knowing that as I persevere I am become wiser, stronger and ultimately happier!” 

Man in the Mirror   1 comment

We all have someone or something that we want to change. We have tried EVERYTHING that we can think of: ignoring, nagging, yelling punishment, etc. However nothing changes!

We are guilty as charged. It may be a spouse, parent, child, friend, co-worker, but we have all done this at sometime or another.

I want us to spend a little bit of time thinking about this idea of “Changing others”.

I have a simple question, which I believe will actually set the tone for this piece:

“Can we change the behaviors of another person?”

 Ultimately, there is only one answer, and we are not going to like the answer.                 The answer is:“NO!”

That is not to say that our reactions and responses have no effect on the behaviors of others. We have seen that, all too many times. Let me share a brief example:

 An adolescent male is hanging out with a group of peers who  are partying, drinking and using other drugs. Mom and Dad have grounded him, taken away his car, his phone, and yelled, but nothing. In fact, the more that they hound him or tried to restrict him, the more intent he is to do exactly what they do not want him to do.

Are the mom and dad impacting the son’s behavior? Is it the kind of change that they are trying to achieve?

I want to challenge the very core of how we have tried to change the behaviors of others. We all remember “positive reinforcement” “rewards” “punishment”, “extinction”, etc.  I readily acknowledge that used appropriately these techniques do often work, but at what cost? More often than not, either we are the “problematic” individual, end up feeling like we want to pull our hair out. It can put a significant strain on our relationships.

What I recommend is a simple change in approach and perspective. We need to stop worrying so much about what “everyone else” is doing or not doing, exerting  a lot of energy and time in to thinking about what we do not have, and how “bad” our problems are.We need to focus on our strengths and recognize the good that we have in our lives. We need to start to concentrate on our own feelings, thoughts and behavior.  We start doing those things that help us to feel better and to maybe even feel “happy”.

Quoting a great philosopher of modern time:

I’m Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I’m Asking Him To Change His Ways
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change Michael Jackson from “Man in the Mirror

ANY change that we want to make in our world must start with changing the person that is within.

Another well known inspirational and spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi said it this way:   “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  

NO, I am not one of those “New Age”, “Power of Positive Thinking”, “Law of Attraction” promoter, but I do believe that there is something to be said for simply being more optimistic and looking for the positives in the world, in one simple word, having “Hope”.

Most of us need to look no further than within our own homes, and some just have to look within  to see how little hope there is in our world today.

I may not know your story, but I have probably heard one similar, and understand why for many Hope is difficult concept to believe in, That being said, let me share another quote by another man whose wisdom I have grown to greatly respect.

“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that some people act in certain ways. The only thing we can change is our attitude and response to our envirnoment. ”

Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll

There are no “mulligans” or “do overs” in life. Whatever the past has dealt to us, it can’t be changed. However, as I have recently said in other articles, we can let go of it and move on. What I can change is how cope with the issues and trials in my current environment. Each time I choose to respond out of hope I am being changed from the inside out and hope is growing stronger within me. As we connect with that hope and start acting on it, we will be changed. When others start seeing the changes in us: in our attitude, in our response and reactions, and simply in our day to day behavior.They too will begin to ve more positive and hopeful. Hope is contagious!

I once said,“Hope is the flame of a candle flickering in the night, the only way to penetrate the darkness is to share its flame with another. In sharing it looses nothing, but gain clearer vision.”

So for all those colorful words, what does that mean?  In short, it means “sharing the hope that we have does not cost us anything, we loose nothing, but we make the world around us, our world a better place for others and for ourselves as well.”

As has been said, most people react to attempts to “change” them rather negatively. Each one of us is guilty of this very thing. How many times, when you were being “corrected”, did you think to yourself, “Who does he think that he is?”? It is probably more that we are willing to admit. However,when treated with love, dignity and respect, we are more likely to respond positively. One of my favorite quotes, which I have tried to live by is:

 People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. John Maxwell

We must show that we care about the person as an individual first. They must know that we love and support them despite their faults.

Here again we have all been there. When we are constantly berated and told that we are “good for nothing” or “never do anything right”  we begin to believe it, and eventulaly develop  poor self-esteem and accept hat we are “unloveable” and/or “unacceptable”. So eventually we give up and stop trying. However, if at some point there were someone, ANYone to show us that the cared despite our “issues” and poor choices, we would catch just a seed of hope.

Another VERY wise man discussed changing ourselves before others like this:

 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Jesus) Matthew 7:3-5

Basically what is He saying? Worry first about taking care of your own stuff and change the person wihtin before you start trying to fix others.

I believe that if and when we change the “Man in the Miirror” and thus change our perspective and atitude about our world, we will find a whole lot fewer things that still need changing. The situatiojns  that still need attention will respond more positively, if we approach it differently.

In closing I share one other passsage of scripture:

  22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.  James 1:22-25(NIV)

 Now I am not comparing my words to those in the Scriptures. I simply remind us all of where TRUE change comes from.  When we follow THE WORD and the teaching of the greatest of all Teachers then we find the joy, peace and life that we are ALL seeking.

So my friends, I challenge to take a deep look into the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I happy and content with the person looking back at me?”  If not, then “Make A Change”

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