Archive for the ‘Values’ Category

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

 

Be Still, Be Silent…   Leave a comment

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.Psalm 46:10-11 (KJV)

I grew up in what at the time was referred to as a “microwave” society, the 1980’s. Of course, at the  time computers were just coming on to the market and a “web” was still something that spiders made and you cleaned them out of the corners of your house.

We just thought that was a time of “instant gratification”. Compared to today with the internet, social media, text messaging, 24/7 cable news coverage. It is VERY easy to get pulled into information and activity OVERLOAD.

It seems that we are always GOING to do SOMETHING somewhere.  Community Meetings, school functions, sports activities, church, social gatherings, etc. We are so BUSY, we have minimal time to relate and interact with those living breathing souls that we live with, much less, setting a side to spend in relationship with our God and Father.

Because of this, we get more and more stressed, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed. For many of we are not “addicts”, but our lives have “become unmanageable”. We make decisions on the fly and react to situations rather than thinking them through completely. Then we are often faced with negative consequences as a result of these poor choices.

We appear to all those around us to be “super-human”, accomplishing so much and ALWAYS having a smile on our face. Yet, just below the surface, we are shattered to pieces and no one could ever imagine just how weak we feel and how much we are hurting. But, in the world we are strong and confident. Our world feels like it is literally falling apart around us, and we are drowning in the undertow of our circumstances.

This reminds me of a story that I heard many years ago about recognizing the hand and voice of God in our circumstances.

————————————————————————————————–

The Flood Story
A flood threatens a town, forcing everyone to evacuate, But Joe thinks,
“I’m a devout man, God will save me,” and stays put. As the waters rise, Joe’s neighbor comes by and says, “Joe come with me, we’ve got to go.” Joe declines,
“I’m a devout man; God will save me.”

The waters keeps rising, Joe scrambles to his second floor. A firefighter in a rowboat comes by. “Get in the boat or you’ll drown,” he says. Joe again declines, saying, “God will save me.”
Finally, the flood waters force Joe to his roof. A police helicopter comes by and throws down a rope. “Climb up or you’ll drown,” the policeman yells. “No, I’m a devout man, God will save me,” Joe replies.

Soon, Joe drowns.
He arrives in heaven and challenges God.
“Why didn’t you help me?”

“What do you mean?” God says.

“I did help. I sent a neighbor, a firefighter and a helicopter.”

———————————————————————————

“He has promised that He will not let us be tempted with more than we can handle. In the words of the story, He won’t let you drown.  Even in the midst of the storm, and there WILL be storms and trials, He will provide an escape. We just can not be like Joe and refuse his Hans when he stretches it out to us.” I Corinthians 10:13

But, how in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us day in and day out are we suppose to recognize His hand and voice? We learn to recognize His hand and voice just like we do anyone else’s. Spending time together. The instance we were born, we recognized our parents’ voices, why because even without seeing them we listened to them for the first 9 months of our existence. Despite not seeing Him if we WILL listen he speaks to us everyday.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, Romans 1:20

 

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.  So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.  1 Kings 19:11-13

Whether it be His hand at work in His creation, or the “Still small voice” of His spirit speaking to us from within, He IS speaking.

A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

And the LORD said to Samuel…..  I Samuel 3:8-11

He calls each of us by name, but we are to busy filling our ears with the things of this world or our minds with worries and fears.

STOP – LOOK – LISTEN

We all remember that simple reminder don’t we?

Stop – Don’t take another step

Look– Pay attention to situation around you.  Look at the BIG picture.

Listen – CLOSE your mouth… and open your ears and more               importantly your heart.

This brings me back to where we began; we must SLOW down, Be STILL, Be SILENT, and LISTEN!

We have long forgotten that prayer is not a one way street of communication. It is not just to tell him what we need and how “terrible” our life is”.

In the midst of ALL our crisis he is there is watching. He strengthens in our time of weakness.

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.   Isaiah 40: 28-31

Also remember when you feel your weakest remember, that HIS strength is made perfect/complete in our weakness.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  ‎2 Corinthians 12:9

 I know I have been a little all over the place but I hope that you have been able to follow, my frenetic thoughts. Summing up:

 STOP –

Much of our difficulties or stress is SELF-IMPOSED due to being over committed.

Insure that you have time to take care of yourself.

Finally and most importantly, MAKE time to sit and be quiet in prayer and meditation.

LOOK –

Look at the BIG picture, not just on the circumstances at this moment.

Look at your life and situations from God’s point of view.

Look for His hand at work in even the “small stuff”. He is JUST as interested in your “small tuff” as He is the “BIG.”

LISTEN –

Be quiet, open your heart and ears.

Be willing to listen to the advice of Godly counsel.

Listen with your eyes by reading His Word.

EVERY traveler has to stop at a rest stop ever now and then. We have to have time to “refuel” and get “the oil changed” sometimes.  If we don’t we will burn out and blow up the engine.

It is OK to take a break.  Just don’t stay in the pits!

Be blessed and may your eyes, ears and hearts be open as the Lord speaks to and guides you each and every day!

So You Think You Know Me….   4 comments

The Paradox of Masks

“Society is a masked ball, where every one hides his real character,and reveals it by hiding” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all wear a mask from time to time, many of us more than one and to tell the truth some of us live in them.  I consider the afore mentioned quote, “Society is a masked ball….” I envision people all standing around talking, but each is holding a masquerade mask covering his/her face. Then as someone leaves one group to visit with a different group, they change masks before they get to the next group.

 Even the great Apostle Paul said the following, “I have become all things to all people” in 1 Corinthians 9:22.

It is actually natural and healthy to adapt and conceal our parts personality to a degree when we are interacting in different situations or settings.  We all have different roles that we play. We  are a father/mother, a husband/wife, son/daughter,  supervisor/employee, teacher/student, a friend, etc. In each of these roles, we portray a little different version of ourselves than we do with the others. This adaption is normal and expected. I was recently discussing the concept of masks with some other travelers on the “Road” and the idea came to me that in these situations, it is more like having a veil that only partially hides the face; we partially conceal our true personality rather than covering it entirely.

However, many of have taken that next step and we wear a various masks, thus hiding our true personality entirely.

The question that must be asked is, “Why?” Why do we feel it is a necessity to wear masks and hide who we really are from others?

There are many different answers to this question; we will focus on the one that fits more than any other.

Life experiences have taught that others can not be trusted. If others are allowed “too close”, then they will disappoint and hurt us.

What kind of hurts have we experienced? These include: abuse, neglect, rejection, abandonment, just to name a few.

I know in my life personally, I felt abandoned and rejected by my mother. So in order to feel loved and accepted, I would enter a group and look around at the attitudes, behaviors and personalities of others in the group and I would proverbially, paint my mask to be similar to theirs.

The mask that I wore more than any other was the mask of caretaker and hero. Everyone of my “romantic” relationships up until I met my now wife of 15 years, were very co-dependent and dysfunctional. I figured that I wasn’t good enough for the “normal” girls. So I found subconsciously I sought out someone that needed to be “fixed” or “taken care of” as much as I needed to be needed.

Along my way on this journey, I have met MANY others that due to whatever reason, they have taken on the same types of behaviors. We have become people pleasers and co-dependent, seeking to insure that EVERYONE else is happy even when doing so makes us miserable on the inside.

This is no surprise to anyone, but if we live our lives hiding behind a mask, we will never be happy or find peace. We go from place to place and group to group always making sure that we are wearing the “right” mask for the occasion. Then we find ourselves in a crisis when we encounter people from different groups simultaneously. For example you out to dinner with your significant other, and “one of the guys” form the office comes up to you and tells you an off color joke that you know that your date is going to find offensive. What do you do? Which mask to you reveal?

Although I know it’s unfair I reveal myself one mask at a time” Stephen Dunn

 “It’s a terrible thing to be alone — yes it is — it is — but don’t lower your mask until you have another mask prepared beneath –as terrible as you like –but a mask.”Katherine Mansfield

There comes a point that as much as he hate it as unhappy as we are wearing masks, we get to the point that we no longer know how to live without them. We do not know how to interact and relate with others in any other way. We wear s certain mask for so long that we “become” the mask that we wear, yet we despise every moment of it, and start hating ourselves for getting to that point. We are miserable within our own skin and consciousness and have no idea what to do about it. This misery has led to many of the self-destructive habits and behaviors that led to us being on this journey; substance abuse, self-harming, eating disorders, suicide attempts and ideation, etc.

“Sometimes people carry to such perfection the mask they have assumed that in due course they actually become the person they seem.”  William Somerset Maugham

 “He who wears a mask cannot see within himself.” Anonymous

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. …You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” Jim Morrison

We have gotten to the point that we have completely lost knowing who we really are because all we see is the mask. We have even tried to “look inside” and we don’t know “who we are” anymore. Our personality has become so enmeshed with our mask, we do not know which are which and what emotions are real and which are the result of wearing the mask. Eventually, we get to the point that we stop feeling completely.

So, no what? Seems like the picture that I have painted to this point looks pretty grey and dreary, BUT there is hope! One day at a time, one step at a time we can RECLAIM our emotions, our behavior and ultimately our personality!

First of all you MUST learn to believe in ourselves again, and that often entails rebuilding our self-esteem.  Here is an except from a previous post “Baby Steps – Self-Esteem”

Self-Esteem has to be built 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.

Of course that is just the FIRST step, and as we all know that is a definite chore in and of itself. The good news is that as we are working on our self esteem, we become more and aware of our aware, comfortably and happy with our REAL personality. As we do so, then how do we get out from behind the mask and start revealing this “new person”.

Similarly, to building our self-esteem, we MUST take BABY steps. We start by taking little risk in trusted and safe relationships.

You and a group of friends are going to the movies and they are discussing what to go see, SPEAK UP! Jump into the discussion and share your opinion. Very low risk, but you’re giving yourself and your wants/needs a voice.

Slowly, over time take bigger and bigger risks in your relationships.

I know this sounds paradoxically TOO simple, yet at the time very difficult. The techniques are rather simple, the application “not so much”. I know from experience that working through the emotions related to this issue can be very painful. But I ask you, would you rather suffer the pain of dealing with the issues that got you to where you are, or do you want to continue to suffer in the misery of nothingness hidden behind a mask.

I hope pray that you choose to BELIEVE in the good that is within and the good in others.

When you hide behind a mask, it is like taking a priceless jewel and hiding its beauty from those desiring to admire it. You steal a little piece of the beauty out of the world.

So as was so appropriately stated my Jim Morrison, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are.”

Be Free,           Be Beautiful,                Be Happy!

Self-Discovery   Leave a comment

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.

Forgiveness Part 3b   Leave a comment

As I begin this post, I start thinking about this very simple yet paradoxically complicated word. There are so many implications. This word affects us in all relationships areas of our lives:  with God, with friends, with significant others and within ourselves. Each of these is intertwined delicately with each of the others. All of us have needed to forgive and be forgiven at some point in our lives. I believe that being able to forgive and willing to seek forgiveness are attributes that must be developed and honed in order for any individual to truly live a fulfilling and successful life. We have covered two of these three entirely and one side of the other thus far. With that said here is Part 4 (or 3b), applying forgiveness in our relationships with others by accepting it when it is offered.Forgiveness in our Relationship With Others – Accepting

As noted I the previously, the concept of forgiveness in our relationships with others is a two-edged sword and as mentioned in our earlier discussion of forgiveness, is dependent and entangled with both of the others as well. As we have begun to discuss, forgiveness in our relationships with others entails two separate yet delicately intertwined actions:

  • Being willing and able to grant forgiveness to those whom have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended us.(See Forgiveness 3a)
  • Being willing and able to receive forgiveness from others whom we have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended.

Some of us struggle with one or the other of these two, but unfortunately, most of us struggle with both.  They are each necessary for us to be healthy and whole; but at the same time they are very difficult. Neither is more important or needed than the other.

So, let’s take a look at this final component of forgiveness – Being willing and able to receive forgiveness from others whom we have hurt, disappointed or otherwise offended.

Receiving forgiveness from others has two very distinct elements:

  •  Being able/willing to seek forgiveness when we are conscious of either intentionally or unintentionally offending another.
  •  Second, is accepting forgiveness when it is offered by another rather freely or sought after.

It takes a lot of courage to admit when we have made mistakes and to sincerely seek to make amends.  Many of us have said, “I’m sorry” so many times with no intent to actually change our behaviors, and continued in this pattern for so long that we have invalidated the great impact and power which those simple words could have in our relationships with others. Those closest to us have learned that when we say “I’m sorry”, our words are empty. Thus, our insincere apologies fall to the floor unreceived, because they have no faith in our actual willingness or attempt to change.  I am reminded of a quote I believe that most if not all of us are familiar.

“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”   Mark Twain

Yes we need to seek forgiveness with our words and confess them before God and man, more importantly is that we are sincere and follow up our words with corresponding and appropriate actions.  Consider the following scripture reference:

“Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.” Proverbs 14:9 

Another translation uses the word “wise” in place of “godly”.  Thus seeking reconciliation and forgiveness can be considered not only the “right” thing to do, but also the “smart” one.

Admitting our guilt and mistakes to ourselves is part one, then we take the next step and acknowledge them to the ones that we have wronged.  I will let them speak for themselves, but take a look at the “heart” of the 12 steps of AA:

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact   nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make          amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

What do we see… FORGIVENESS and reconciliation in our relationships with                     God and man.

In conclusion, one final Biblical reference:

 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may   be healed.”  James 5:16

Confess… I will restrain myself, but could go on and on just looking at that one word.

Confess your faults… pray for one another… so that you may be healed.  In this one verse we the summary of forgiveness as it relates to our relationships with others.

  • Confess your faults:  Seek forgiveness when needed
  • Pray for one another: Grant or Receive forgiveness as needed.
  •  So that you may be healed: Reconcile and let go of the hurts of the present and past and let time do its healing work.

So much of our ongoing suffering is easily resolved when we stop looking back and “reliving” our past hurts and disappointments, whether they are our own doing or someone else’s.

Finding a way to practice forgiveness is not an optional component of our recovery, it MUST be a skill that we develop and use on a daily basis. We must face each day and situation granting, seeking and receiving forgiveness, because if we do not do so we will not truly live. We will survive from day to day the slave of our anger and unable to experience life and love to its fullest. Finally my friends I remind you one last time:

Strength – Dig your Roots Deep!   Leave a comment

I was recently assisting a friend with a broken water line. The area that was broken was less than a foot from his water meter, which sat precariously in the shadow of a large tree. As we were digging and clearing around the broken pipe, we discovered the intricate, yet powerful root system of the tree. There was particular branch of the root that caught our attention; it was approximately half an inch in diameter and had grown through the concrete wall surrounding the water meter. We were amazed to that to begin with, but we where even more in awe the more we investigated. The root had not just grown through the concrete; it had formed a perfect hole for itself in the concrete without breaking or cracking the concrete around it. It was this remarkable root that was ultimately determined to be the culprit for causing the leak.

 This experience got me thinking about life and recovery from so many different directions, but here is the most clear and simple summary

“If we develops roots which are strong and deep then when we are faced with the most difficult experiences, we will not only survive, but grow stronger and more confident and reassured in our selves.”

Roots can be used to symbolic refer to so many different things: Hope, values, faith, history, courage, beliefs, experiences, family, self-confidence and esteem, trust, etc.

To me, the first idea that comes to mind when discussing roots as an analogy for our lives is our values.  As stated in a previous post:

“Our values are the foundation of who we are; they are the basis for how we see the world around us, our beliefs on how things “should be.“

 What is the foundation of a tree? It is the root system. As goes the roots, so goes the rest of the tree. The same is true in reference to our values. If I have good strong values that I hang on to, then I am more confident in who I am, thus more confident and willing and able to make difficult, positive decisions for the direction of my life and recovery. However, sometimes even those with the deepest and strongest of roots get shaken under severe stress or when they experience some kind of trauma. What do we do then? Where do we turn? This, my friends, is exactly what I am talking about. We should turn to our roots, those base values that are the most important to us, faith, family, friends, etc. These will be similar for most of us, but must be defined by each of us individually. I know personally, even as I have listed them here, Faith and family are the two values and branches of my roots that are the most important, and when I am hurting or in need, that is where I dig in, that is what I “hang on to”.

For you, your roots may be friends, your “program”, a sponsor or a 12 step meeting which you attend. But you have to have something to “hang on to.”

 That is not to say that I can go through life with shallow roots and only grab hold of them when I am in trouble. If you pull to hard on a plant that does not have well established strong root system, what happens? You pull it up and it does not withstand the pressure. You can’t just grab hold when you see the storm coming; you must work at strengthening your roots when the sun is shining.

 So am I saying that as long as we work at keeping our roots deep and strong, we will never fail or fall? Absolutely not! We are all still human, and fallible. In fact, it is actually when we are faced with storms and challenges and we are unsuccessful despite our best efforts that we grow stronger and our roots grow stronger. I may not be the first to finish the race, but as long as I finish and don’t give up, then I am still a winner. Some the greatest lesson that trials teach us is patience and perseverance.  No matter what “the world” tells us, we do NOT have to finish every race in first place or be the thinnest, wel1-dressed or have the most friends. As long as we are working to be a better person today than we were yesterday, then we should be happy and content in that, even if it seems like a longs slow process. It is!

 I found the following quotes to fit rather appropriately:

“Storms make trees take deeper roots.”  Dolly Parton

 “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”  Arnold Schwarzenegger

 “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”                 Mary Anne Radmacher

We will make wrong choices and go down the wrong paths sometimes, but if we don’t give up and keep working, we will learn new skills and find our way back to where we started, thus developing courage to take risks and develop faith and confidence in our abilities to just survive, but overcome even difficult circumstances and experiences.

So whether your skies are sunny and cloudless or you are in the midst of a hurricane, hang on and cling to your roots. Turn your focus and energy to those things that are the MOST important you and see that you are stronger, braver and more confident in the end.

Dig Deep and Hang On!!

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