Archive for the ‘Failure’ Category

“Baby Steps” – Self-Esteem (Re-Post)   5 comments

“Baby Steps” a Lesson in Self-Esteem

After some recent interactions I feel that this is a good time to revisit this concept. It is such a struggle for so many. I actually heard someone say “I don’t feel worthy of getting better.” How much clearer can this epidemic be expressed?

I Hope and pray that your are encouraged and inspired to fight the good fight and take those first challenging “Baby Steps” of reclaiming your self-esteem.

As always, your comments and feedback are welcome and ENCOURAGED

One Breath, One Step, One Day at a Time!

_______________________________________________________________________

Self-Esteem is probably one of the most important yet difficult issues faced by any human being whether you are challenged with a mental illness or substance abuse or not. This is even truer for those that are traveling along this journey of Recovery battling these issues.

It has been my experience that Self-Esteem is so difficult for some of us that we avoid even talking about the issue completely, including ways to work to improve it. I believe that we do this because we are fully aware of the minimal amount of esteem that we have for ourselves. This low-self-esteem is a great obstacle in our recovery.

We will often sabotage our potential and possibility of success, by not fully investing ourselves and thus not giving our very best effort. Why? We do this because we are “Sure” that we are going to fail again. If we are honest with ourselves, then we often unconsciously and at times consciously choose to fail rather than succeed. I believe that we do so for a couple of different reasons.

1. Though it is painful, failure is actually comfortable and familiar. Though it hurts, we know where we are and what is going to happen next.

It is sad but true but, many of us, despite the pain and suffering we will often choose to remain in a state dysfunction out of comfort and familiarity.  On the other hand, if we allow ourselves to succeed, then there is a whole new world of unknowns that we must navigate. Once we start experiencing even the smallest of victories, then we are faced with all new expectations of success placed on us by ourselves and by others. Here again, we had rather fail now rather than fail later and let ourselves or more importantly (to us at the time) someone else.

2. Through our past and experiences, we have grown to believe, “I don’t deserve to be successful and happy”

For many of us we initially heard the negative messages from others, parents, teachers, others kids at school, etc. Messages like: “You’re good for nothing”, ”You’ll never amount to anything”, “I don’t even know why you try”, “ All you are is a screw-up”. These “tapes” have played in our heads for so long that we grow to believe that we really are “worthless” and do not deserve to have anything good happen in our lives. When something does happen to our benefit, we attribute it to “luck” or to the actions to someone else and refuse to accept any personal recognition or satisfaction for the effort which we put forth in order to reach that point of success, no matter how great or how small.

 3. We have developed a since of learned helplessness.

Similarly, we grow to accept and take on these same negative messages and thus believe that we truly are not capable of succeeding.  Therefore, when faced with an opportunity for success, we either consciously or unconsciously sabotage it, insuring that we fail. There by strengthening our belief in our helplessness. I believe that this is where the concept of the “self-fulfilling prophecy” comes in.

A self-fulfilling prophecy is at the beginning, a false belief about a situation which evokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. Thus the individual will cite the actual course of events as proof that he/she was right from the very beginning

Much of what I have shared thus for is not new to any of you, in fact my guess is that as many of you have read, you have said to yourself, “Oh, that is why I do that”. Well now that we have a little bit of an idea, of how we got to where we are, and why we have stayed here, lets look at some ways to get moving in the right direction.

Most, if not all of us, have been hindered at least to some degree by before mentioned learned helplessness. There is one good thing about learned helplessness… it is LEARNED. If it is learned, then it can be unlearned and something new, different, better can be learned in its place.  We can learn “hopefulness”.  Hopefulness essentially is the opposite of helplessness.

Hopefulness is “Believing, despite what I see in my circumstances, I am capable and worthy of being successful.”

Of course, getting to that point is much easier said than done. Many of us have been hopeless and helpless for so long, we struggle with even the possibility of hope.

Self-Esteem has to be build from the ground up and learning to walking in it really is a step by step process. Let me borrow from a life experience and lesson that we have ALL learned from.

When a child learns to walk, he/she does not turn 10-months old and just start walking independently. There are MANY smaller steps that have occurred over the months leading up to day.  He/she rolled over, scooted, crawled, pulled up to stand, etc. He/she took one “baby step” after another until he/she got to the point of taking those first steps. Even then, once he/she starts walking, there are going to be falls, bumps, and bruises.  Does the child give up? NO. He/she cries for a bit, but then gets up and tries again. Slowly but surely, he/she gets better and better, more stable, and ultimately more and more confident.

We must translate these same “baby steps” into our recovery. As we start out, we slowly put one foot in front of the other, a little wobbly at first and reaching out and relying on our support systems to a degree. We begin with simple say day to day challenges: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to support groups or meetings. If faced with more difficult decisions we seek counsel from among our peers and support. As we grow more confident and stable in making these simple day to day decisions and solving problems, we gradually start taking on more difficult ones. Again, we are becoming more and more confident in the process. Just as with the child learning to walk, we are learning that there is hope, we can be successful and it really is not as scary a place as we thought that it was. We have learned to be hopeful, seeing ourselves and our circumstances from a optimistic perspective, seeing the good that our lives can be and how we can be an asset to those around us.

I want to leave you with a few practical exercises to help as you begin “crawling” in your self-esteem:

  1.  List 5 positive things that other people have said about you.
  2.  List 5 positive things about yourself.(Attributes or accomplishments)
  3. Share a compliment with 5 other people.
  4. Do something unrepentantly kind for someone that you perceive to be  “worse off” than you.

As you complete each “step” take out a pen and journal about how completing the activity made you feel. Take note to how you feel about your self before and after each activity.

 “We have to walk before we can run!”

Arise from Broken   2 comments

There are only two ways to truly fail: Fail to try and fail to try again.

To fail and try again shows even more strength and courage

than to have never failed at all.

Write Your Own Story!   4 comments

Most of us have heard the old saying, “He who angers you, controls you.” I contend that anger is not the only emotion that we can let others to control us. These emotional ties come from many sources: past abuse or trauma, abandonment/rejection, unfaithfulness. Other sources include current disturbing behaviors such as substance abuse, violence run away, etc. They control us because we choose to have our lives driven by our emotional reactions to the behaviors of others. Lets discuss these two very different scenarios.

First lets look at control from the past. Please consider the following example;

A young man feels and believes he was abandoned and rejected by his birth mother. Despite being raised by a loving and caring step-mother, he never gets over the feelings of hurt, anger, resentment and bitterness. As a result of these feelings, he grows to believes that he is not worthy of being loved or wanted. So all of his relationships are either short lived because as soon as things start getting “too close”, whether consciously or not, he sabotages the relationship and pushes others away. This is not true just in romantic relationships, it can also be true in platonic relationships as well. If this is not what he does then he finds the “sickest” or neediest girl that he can and goes to work making her dependent on him. Why? If she need him to take care of her, she won’t leave, and thus abandon/reject him. (So he believes anyway).

 So what is the driving force behind these behaviors?

 His behavior is controlled by his unresolved issues from his mother. Thus, I would say that because he allows these beliefs and emotions to continue to shape and direct his life, he chooses to give the control of his life, the pen of his story, back to his mother, rather she wants it or not.

 When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

 Now, lets look at the other scenario, current disturbing behaviors of others that control our emotions and behaviors. As mentioned above, there are a number of behaviors that may contribute to this type of reaction: substance abuse, anger, violence, criminal behavior, run away, manipulation, etc. We have all been in this situation to some degree or another.

 Here again, lets look at another example:

 A young lady is in a relationship with an alcoholic/addict that disappears on binges for days at a time. She sits at home, crying and worrying that he is OK. When he does finally come home, she nurses him through coming down and withdrawal and then does everything that she can to clean up after him. If he misses work, she calls the boss and tells him he is sick. She keeps the secret hidden, yet she is miserable, lonely, depressed and hates every minute of it.

So here again, why? Similarly, she believes that is what a “good wife” does; “no one else would love me and want to be with me.” Whatever the case she continues to let his behaviors and her emotional response. This is especially difficult when the individual is not a spouse or even a parent, but your child.

To a degree, you feel responsible, you blame yourself, you ask yourself over and over, “What did I do wrong?” The truth is, for most of us, we did nothing wrong. Our loved ones/children have made their own choices. Despite all of our efforts now an in the past, we have no control over their choices and behaviors.

On the other hand, when we allow ourselves to be consumed by worry and attempts to “save them from themselves.” then we are giving them that exact control over our lives. We allow their behaviors and our emotional response to them to consume our very being.

We all know exactly what I am talking about; it is classic “codependency”. Sometimes we are aware of it and are even willing to acknowledge it, but we have been this way so long, we don’t know any other way to live. We have completely lost our identity as an individual because we are so enmeshed with our addicted loved one.

I hear you saying, “thanks for pointing out all that is wrong with me. That was really encouraging.” I truly understand, but what is the first step of solving a problem or fixing something is wrong? We have to recognize that what we have been doing to this point is number one not changing the other person, and number two and most importantly we are unhappy and in fact, miserable.

That brings me to the good news or bad news depending on your point of view, some recommendations on how to change this cycle and reclaim our emotions and behaviors. Here why I say it could be considered bad news: It is NOT going to be easy, and it WILL take a lot of work. So if you are ready to take the challenge and start living YOUR life again, then keep reading, if not good luck.

When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

Whether, it is the current or past, we must find a way, to do the hardest, but most important thing: “LET GO”.

 We must accept that there is nothing that we can do to change the events of the past. Holding on to the pain, anger, and any other related negative emotions only hinders our ability to move forward and meet our full potential. I know that this is a painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The same is true in regards to letting go of the expectation that we can change the dysfunctional and negative behaviors of our loved ones. Our worrying about them, nagging, yelling, threatening does not effect positive change, in fact many of these behaviors lead to exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

 The very best thing that we can do is express our love and concern for our loved one and then pray believing that the Heavenly Father will keep is eye and hand upon them. We can not go on protecting them from the consequences of their choices and behavior. When we do so, we simply enable the behavior to continue.

 Just like overcoming the past, and moving on, I know this is a difficult and painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The next step is probably just about as difficult, we must start reclaiming our own identity. For many of us we have been so entangled in the past or the behaviors of others that we have lost even the ability to recognize who we even are without that to define us.

 Start simply, set aside some time with just you, paper and pen or your computer.

  • List all the current roles that “define” you (mother, father,son, sister, teacher, friend, etc).

  • List your values? (What is important to you? – faith honesty, kindness, family, friends, etc.)

  • List the character traits that either define you now, or that you would like to do so. (strong, independent, hopeful, etc.)

  • List your strengths. (What are you good at?)

  • List your weaknesses. (What do you need to work on?)

  • What are your goals? (Where are you going, what do you want to do with your life?

  • Finally, write out a narrative that would describe you as person. Start with the list from above and describe your personality, your likes/dislikes, strengths weaknesses and most importantly where are YOU going in future?

Now, each day wake up, believe and strive to demonstrate this simple affirmation:

 “I and I alone choose my destiny, I control whether I am happy or sad. I am responsible for me and me alone. I can love and support others, but they must choose their own path. I choose to live MY life; I choose to write my own story!”

I feel like this article has been a little disjointed, but I hope and pray that it helps you to let go and start living your own life again.

Thanks for reading!

R2R

 

Whom seek ye?   5 comments

Jesus … said unto them, “Whom seek ye?”John 18:4

Who or what are you seeking in your life?

Love?                                      Money?                          Power?                                Happiness?

                   Recovery?                               Peace?                              Friends?

Yeah, it sounds a little funny including Recovery with these. There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring any or all of them to some degree or another, but even if you did have that one thing that you seek, there would still be a whole in your life waiting to be filled. So I ask you one more time what are you REALLY seeking? What are you the MOST passionate about?

I tell you it is my opinion that there is a BEST answer to the above question, and if we answer it correctly, then ANYTHING and EVERYTHING we need WILL BE taken care of. So what should be our Passion, what should we be seeking?

To draw closer to God.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:20-35

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

When we serve Him and truly recognize Him as the Lord of our lives then we have NOTHING at all to worry about, if we will just believe and trust Him. There will be times of bounty and times of lack, but He will insure that at ALL TIMES our NEEDS are met.

In the event that you feel that you NEED something that has not yet been provided then ASK!

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Remember who your DADDY is, THE God of Heaven and Earth. He owns the “Cattle on a thousand hills”, and for that measure, he owns the hills too! So no matter what your need: physical natural provision, healing, hope, peace, joy, etc, HE is not like a man that will give you a stone instead of bread or a snake when we ask for a fish. He is a GOOD God who loves us and only gives us GOOD gifts. He knows our needs even before we ask, and sometimes he just test our faith in Him by withholding that which is needed until we ASK.

…yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. James 4;2-3

11 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! Matthew 7:11

 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. James 1:5

I know you are thinking, OK that is a good study and makes sense to “normal” people. What about those of with some many issues. We can’t just abandon all control and our old beliefs and ways of doing things.

He asks that we have an open mind heart and simply seek after HIM. Fortunately, Faith is very much like our recovery. It is a process and a journey, He does not ask or expect us to be perfect automatically, However, the closer that we get to Him the more like Him we will desire to be. As we take one step at a time further done the road, He helps us to learn new ways, His ways, As we read and study His Word, and give lay our lives and our wills over to Him, we are transformed more and more into His image.

Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. I Timothy 2:15

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12-1-2

 …Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word Ephesians 5:25-26

My dear friends as we come to faith in God and truly accept what Christ death and resurrection accomplished for our lives, we will begin to realize that we are NOT the same person that we were in the past. We are being renewed and made more like Him from the inside out. As we peal one layer off from the outside, He renews the layers one at a time from the outside in. So step by step we become a little more and a little more the new CREATION that He as destined for us to be. Unfortunately, as each of these occur it can and WILL be painful at times. Even harder, some of us will have resentments, beliefs and “issues” of which we will NOT want to let go. However we MUST in order to be ALL that He wants us to be!

The closer we get to Him, the more of THE Truth that we know, and as John says, “the TRUTH shall set you free.” HE is the TRUTH.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:10

...“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32

So finally my friends , I conclude the same way that I started…

Whom seek ye?”

I pray that you will join me in seeking after He whom is seeking after you!

Blessing my friends,

See you on The Road….

R2R

Overcome!   Leave a comment

Opposition is a natural part of life. Just as we develop our physical muscles through overcoming opposition – such as lifting weights – we develop our character muscles by overcoming challenges and adversity.”

Stephen R. Covey

YOU are MORE!   1 comment

Some of my comments in this post may sound familiar to some of you if you have been with me for a while, but I hope to share a little different angle than I did before.

Let me begin by saying this…

It makes no difference whether you struggle with addiction, mental Illness, eating disorder, Personality disorders, or none of the above, we ALL have a past,It is a past FULL of hurts, disappointments, traumas and mistakes. Some of these were of these “issues’ are the result of our own choices and behavior. Whether they were our own doing or not, that have all affected our lives in one way or another; some in more ways than one. Many of these experiences have played a significant role in “shaping” our character and perspective of the world. For MANY of us that has led to further challenges, pain and disappointments and thus typically confirming our perspective. Some would give up, stop fighting, stop trying and tell themselves, and anyone else that they can get to listen how “Awful” their life is. Thus, yielding their very destiny to the “Winds of Circumstance” They believe that pain, disappointment, and suffering is their “destiny.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say, “I don’t deserve to be happy.” OF COURSE you DESERVE to be happy! There is absolutely NOTHING that anyone could do that would make them “undeserving” of happiness.

Here comes the punch line of the day…….

YOUR PAST IS IN THE PAST, IT DOES NOT DEFINE

 WHO YOU ARE OR

WHO YOU BECOME

I will acknowledge as I did before, the past does contribute significantly to the development of our perspective and character, but it only has as much influence and power as we give it.

Previously in these pages we have discussed forgiveness and its power. However we also have talked about the power of unforgiveness, anger and resentment, including referencing the quote, “He who angers you controls/conquers you.” This of course is just as true for self-hate and resentment as it when these emotions are directed towards others. (For further help in thoughts regarding forgiveness  Please click FORGIVENESS.

Learning and walking in forgiveness is a GREAT start, but it is NOT the finish line. It will go a long way towards helping us move forward without continuing to trip over our own feet. I promise, which I do not do often, it is going to be a difficult and painful process. However, I don’t know about you, but I had rather deal with some pain and discomfort now, rather continuing to “suffer” and spin my wheels or go in circles, not making progress.

There is another way that should also be apart of our healing process, and is actually MORE important.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.   Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.  Proverbs 3:5-8

Cast your cares on the LORDand he will sustain you he will never let the  righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

“God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast   all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

So, what do each of these verses have in common? Faith and Surrender!

I know that we are mot all in recovery associated with drugs or alcohol, but the 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous can be applied to help with many of the issues that we all struggle with. That being said, these concepts are in the first 3 steps.

 Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of  God as we understood Him.

 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:1-2
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24

As we surrender our EVERYTHING, the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY, truly TRUSTING in HIM, we will literally be AMAZED by how he pours out His blessings on and IN us. The biggest problem for ALL of us, myself included, is that instead of truly surrendering our “stuff” and laying it at His feet, we keep going back and picking it up again.

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly. Proverbs 26:11

So I urge you my friends, my brothers/sisters, stop being so foolish and running back to those things that are so detrimental to your recovery, life and joy that lay ahead of you.  Let me remind you of some of the promises that are in the passages above:

Show you which path to take.Have healing for your bodyStrength for your bones.Sustain you  Never let the righteous be shaken.Shows favor to the humble.Lift you up in due time.

So I am sure at this point, you are reading these words and simply shaking your head, and saying, “Yea right,Gary, it’s not that easy.”

I know it is not easy and unfortunately, it is not something that we will accomplish and be successful at the first time and probably not the fiftieth. BUT one more word of encouragement, even in our struggle to surrender, guess what? HE is there to help and strengthen us, and he does not CONDEMN us for our failures as we have done to ourselves for WAY toooo long.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you,  he who     raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of    his Spirit who lives in you. Romans 8:1,11.

Look at that again and BELIEVE it!

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who      raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies.

Did you grasp that… The SAME Spirit, that was responsible for raising JESUS, now lives INSIDE of YOU!! He conquered DEATH and the GRAVE, ALL sin, sickness EVERYTHING!

So my friends I encourage to GRAB a hold on to these promises and know “YOU ARE MORE” than you have ever believed yourself to be before. JUST BELIEVE!!

YOU are a CHILD of the KING and He has put HIS Spirit IN YOU!!

You are More
Written by: Mike Donehey/Jason Ingram
Performed byTenth Avenue North

 There’s a girl in the corner with tear stains on her eyes
From the places she’s wandered and the shame she can’t hide
She says, “How did I get here? I’m not who I once was,
and I’m crippled by the fear that I’ve fallen too far to love.”

But don’t you know who you are
What has been done for you
Don’t you know who you are

You are more than the choices that you’ve made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You’ve been remade

Well she tries to believe it that she’s been given new life
But she can’t shake the feeling that it’s not true tonight
She knows all the answers and she’s rehearsed all the lines
So she’ll try to do better but then she’s too weak to try

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done
But what’s been done for you
This is not about where you’ve been
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel but He felt to forgive you
And what He felt to make you new

© 2010 Sony/ATV Timber Publishing / West Main Music / Formerly Music / Windsor Hill Music (SESAC)

Paradox of Shadows   3 comments

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…. Psalm 23:4

A Funny thing happened on my way …to write my next article. My plan and inspiration got absolutely HIGH-jacked, if you know what I mean.

I can’t even remember now where I had heard the following quote, but I remember, thinking “Wow, that’s deep”, when I first heard it. However, as I sat down to start pondering on it and starting writing, I found myself being pulled in another whole different direction completely, which was only tangentially connected to the original thoughts.

They see only their own shadows or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave” Plato

It started in the shadows and well it suffices to say, my intellectual thinking was blown away, as the thoughts and insights were coming so fast, that I could barely keep up. I will start with a piece of it here and then will be “developing” the other concepts in at least one other follow-up article. I promise you one thing, when all is said and done, you will never see a shadow the same way.

Well, I’m ready; I hope that you’re ready to hang on for a ride.

So lets start where I did, “in the shadows”. What is a shadow?

MIrriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: “partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light are cut off by an interposed opaque body”

OK, now in English please… “an area of darkness that is created when something blocks lightMacmillan Dictionary

So what is required for a shadow to be created?

  • A light source and
  • An object to partially block the light.

This brings me to my first point:

There can be no shadow without light being present.

I know I just said that, it is the definition. What is so inspiring about that?

I challenge you to think a little more abstract and symbolically for just a bit. We will be bouncing to and fro between abstract and concrete.

We have all gone through “dark” times, shadows, if you will in our lives. My guess is that many of you may be finding yourself in the “shadows” even now. Being in the shadows can be a cold, damp and scary place. It often feels like there is no hope. When walking in the shadows it is easy to misstep and further hindering our progress. It is also true that we all have shadows and dark places in our lives. Some are only partially shaded, while others, if we are honest with ourselves, we can not remember the last time that we allowed them out enough to even give the light a chance and shining upon them. They are deep painful “ugly”cubbies and corners that we are honestly afraid to shine light on, because it just hurts too badly to even look at it. They are major traumatic experiences that have altered the very direction of our lives.

BUT, my dear friends, brothers and sisters, be of good courage, there IS hope!

Remember, what did we just say about shadows? In order for there to be a shadow there MUST be a source of light. More specifically The LIGHT is our source. Even when we are in the midst of the shadows The Light is there with us in the midst of our trials. We may not see or feel it, but it is true nonetheless.

I am the light of the world. John 8:12

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. 1John 1:5

It does not matter how painful or dark our shadows, His desire that we would allow His Light to shine in these areas. When we walk with HIM in the light then we walk in LIFE.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. I John 1:7

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-6

You can only see the shadows if you are not walking toward the light.

So my friends, I urge you turn your face TOWARDS The Light, to serve and follow HIM. When we walk truly with Him, we walk in the light and in the is LIFE, JOY, PEACE, REST, HOPE….

Even then there are going to be battles and trials and struggles, but as we have seen in the shadows in the trial in the struggles HE is there. Not only is there, He can empathize and shows forth His compassion to us.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. I Corinthians 10:13

Here comes probably the hardest point to accept out of this entire lesson.

Struggles and Trials are GOOD, They develop character and ultimately make us more like HIM.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5

I know some of you are thinking to yourselves, “So GOD caused all of the trials, darkness and shadows in my past, to build my character?”

ABSOLUTELY NOT”

Yes, he may have “allowed” some things to happen, but that is simply because He has limited Himself and will not interfere in the will of man. The “hell” that many of have experienced WAS NOT His plan and purpose for our lives, but the consequence of the will, choices and behaviors of others. We also have our own will, which has also led to some of the consequences and “shadows” that we have experienced. He is a God of LOVE, Compassion, Mercy and Grace whose desire is that ALL would be saved and Walk in the light, Truth and Life!

…God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

As we turn towards the light, and walk in Him, then He will begin the work of healing those very same wounds and scars. Even we turn and walk away choosing as it where the shadows over the light. Because even the light it is difficult path and will believe TOO difficult at times, but keep at it, in the end the destination and rewards at the end of the journey will be worth it.

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

I don’t know about you, but I have suffered enough in the wounds of the past, and though the journey will be hard, I have The Light leading me in in The Way so that I will know The Truth and truly experience The Life that He has planned for me.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. John 14:6

I make a willful choice and I choice to “Walk in The Light” and as I do the shadows will only be passing, because I my eyes are focused on the “Source” of all Light!

Will come walk with me.

**Coming Soon**

More on the Shadows and a detailed look at a portion of the 23rd Psalm.

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