Archives for posts with tag: willingness

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I have the mid-winter blahs. Big time. Can’t blame it on the sun not shining or on ice or snow. I have once again started eating healthy—-which for me means no flour, sugar,  or carbs that are high-glycemic and weighing and measuring what I am going to eat before I eat it. In a couple of days I should be feeling a lot better. However,  these first couple of days of detoxing  from the way I was eating has made me depressed and irritable ——plus I have had to spend too much time in bathrooms.

What’s really gotten to me is taking care of my dogs. Boo had a growth removed from in front of his left ear about a week ago. That first night after surgery he spent crying and throwing up. I could not console him. He was and still is having to wear a cone to keep him from scratching his surgical site while it is healing.  In addition, one of my other dogs, Gus,  is a “licker”——he likes to lick and groom  or  “parent” other dogs almost non-stop.  Therefore, I had to put a cone on Gus to keep him from licking Boo’s surgical site.

Thankfully, Boo adjusted quite well to his cone, and he has learned to eat, drink, sleep, and climb stairs in spite of wearing it. I thought Gus had adjusted to his, but for the past couple of days he stopped eating and seemed listless. Last night I finally got him to eat by hand feeding him a little at a time by letting him lick  a few bites off of my hands. He seemed better today, but when I had a friend come over,  I took off the cone to see if that was what was depressing him. I waited to my friend was here  because it originally took the two of us to get the cone  on Gus in the first place.

A few minutes after removing Gus’ cone I noticed his whiskers under his lower jaw were pinkish red—-as if he had been eating something bloody. Then I looked at his mouth. To my dismay I found sores—-places rubbed raw—on both sides of his lower jaw. He must have rubbed himself over and over again on the inside seam of his cone without me knowing it. I will not put the cone back on him, and now I have to watch them closely or keep him and Boo separate for another almost entire week.

My friend and I put warm salt water on Gus’s raw spots to help them heal, but I know that too hurt him. I am feeling so guilty! Gus has already forgiven me, but it will be a while before I can accept hurting a dog in my care to this extent.  Of course, I’ve checked Boo’s mouth closely, and he has not rubbed any raw spots on himself.

I know I live one day at a time—-even days like today. One could say I’ve had a “semi-bad” day today—-but I am warm and dry, I have a roof over my head, my bills are paid, I have good friends, and I am healthy, at least for today. I am sober and clean. I am abstinent from foods that are unhealthy for me. My dogs love me in spite of their present condition. They have repeatedly shown me the meaning of the term “unconditional love.”

I realize I just made a list of things for which I am grateful. It worked. I no longer feel like moaning and groaning with self-pity. Now I am grateful for the gift of living today. I this moment and all of my moments are a gift from God. I also know I cannot live one day at a time without God’s love and support. I don’t keep myself clean and sober or abstinent—–God does when I am willing to let him. I am grateful for the gift of willingness that makes today’s moments possible. God bless and keep you.

 

 

 

 

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Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

I was reminded today that powerlessness is a gift—-it is the spur that goads me into surrendering and consenting to receiving and sharing God’s love. Now, I admit, this is not an original idea. However, my mind ran off with it in a slightly different direction today. The article that was shared (one of Thomas Keating’s—-I don’t remember which one) talked about how this type of powerlessness coming from the wisdom of experience rather than through education. I laughingly commented that nobody ever brags about getting their PhD in powerlessness. But Keating’s article went on to discuss how it is through acceptance of suffering that we are brought to the spiritual path of acceptance—-of letting go of all that is so that we can be transformed into approaching and accepting our own death—-both “death of self” and our own physical death.

This article also talked about a sort of spiritual mindfulness—-one that directs our awareness to seeing and accepting God’s will/plan in all things. My mind immediately wanted to argue with this—-too many times I have used such thinking as an excuse to allow my own bad habits to flourish—–to accept them and let them be. Granted, eventually the resulting pain does move me in the direction I think God wants me to go, but I am slowly learning that I can both accept suffering in myself and others as a conduit to God and also simultaneously take action to do what I can to alleviate such suffering. The Higher Power of my choosing, God, does not want his beloved creation to suffer, he wants us to accept our powerlessness and to consent to drawing closer to him. However, when I draw closer spiritually I am also led to do all I can to transform suffering into being both loved and loving at the same time.

It is important to acknowledge I cannot alleviate the world’s suffering—-on our own border, in Syria, in the Ukraine, or anywhere to which  I do not have direct access. It is equally important for me to be aware that such suffering exists and that I need to do what I can to change today’s world by how I relate to my immediate surroundings and the people and situations I encounter on a one day at a time  basis——-and sometimes on a one moment at a time basis. This is where spiritual  mindfulness comes in; this is where I need to be aware of God’s will at work and what I can do to further his will. This is also where prayer and consent come into play. I need to ask God for knowledge of his will and the power to carry that out—for his will and not mine to be done.  Truly living this prayer is something I  strive to accomplish, but I often fall short. Writing about it helps me remember how important it is.

I am so glad my life is a work in progress and that my God accepts and loves me even though (or because of?) I never attain perfection.  May God bless and keep us—-in spite of ourselves!

God Boxes Sept 26 13

Photo by author of God Boxes made in group she co-facilitates.

The ideas discussed in today’s blog were triggered by listening to Father Al Jewson tell a true story in today’s sermon about something that happened to him and his grandfather many years ago. The story was about what we in twelve step programs often call a “God Box.” In the twelve step tradition, such a box is viewed as a receptacle for concerns and problems that we deposit in the box to symbolize letting them go and turning them over to God. We put things (our problems) in this box and literally give them to God.

But in this morning’s story the box in question acted quite differently. It was still a receptacle, but this time it held the Spirit and love of God (God’s Kingdom) and people who are  gifted with such a box are held responsible for sharing the box’s contents with others and eventually passing the box on to someone else even though they continue to “keep”  and “share” the gift the box gave to them.  With this sort of God box we take from God and give to others rather than just giving to God.

So, here we have two boxes symbolizing our communication with God—-with one box, we send things to God so He can solve the problems here on earth. With the other box, we receive a gift from God —-and it is our responsibility to share that love and grace with others.  It is as if one box is saying “Here, God. I can’t handle it—-I have to turn this over to you to handle” and the other is saying “Here is my essence, the only tool the world needs to prevent and solve problems. Here is the solution, share it with others.” One is a taking box and one is a giving box.

However, like all true communication, there needs to be both a sender and a receiver. We actually are responsible for practicing both roles. We need to be able to receive God’s love and direction, and we need to be able to share that gift with others. We also need to realize that we are not God, that there is a power greater than ourselves, and surrendering in love to that power is often necessary if we are to survive to be able to spread God’s grace and love.

So, in closing, I think the “take home” thought from this comparison of “God Boxes” is that we have a give and take relationship with God; we work in partnership as our lives unfold.  We let him “drive the bus” and we, in turn, receive and share his gifts with each other. We don’t try to run and control things, but we do help establish his kingdom on earth by being living messages of God’s gift of love and grace.

 

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“Completed Jigsaw Puzzle” photo courtesy of  K. Farwell

This morning I was reminded of how action, any action, is what is needed to “become unstuck.” That word gave me a small, but significant, “aha… moment.” I suddenly realized I have been stuck for about a week as I first reacted to and then started recovering from a bit of dysfunctional family type chaos that temporarily threw me off balance.  My soul felt bruised, and I’ve been coasting and letting myself “take it easy.”  Now I know what I must do to return to equilibrium so I can “move forward again in balance.” I have to start writing again!

In my “break” from both writing and crocheting, I have been taking solace in playing an on-line jigsaw puzzle game that takes concentration and cultivates patience…..and keeps my mind from obsessing about whatever happens to be bothering me.  In working these puzzles, I have discovered that when I think it is hopeless and I will never solve the puzzle, there are three things I can do to “start moving.” First, I can quit trying and push the computer button that makes the puzzle go away. Secondly, I can just keep doggedly trying even though nothing appears as if it will ever fit together, and eventually, slowly, piece by stubborn piece, it does. The last “technique” I use to solve these puzzles, and the one that seems to work the best for me,  is to put the puzzle on “pause” and come back to it later. When I return the remaining puzzle pieces seem to magically fall into place. It is as if I am seeing the pieces from a totally new and helpful perspective I never would have gained if I’d stayed bogged down in trying to force the pieces together.

As I wrote those words, I realized my life is like that. Sometimes I just use denial to “turn my problem(s) off.” Sometimes I doggedly keep trying to “force my problems fixed” all by myself because my stubborn ego or false self is running the show. Once in a while that works, but the stress associated with “stubbornly doing it myself” is harmful.  The best way I handle my life’s problems is to temporarily “put them on the back burner” as I pray about them and ask God for guidance. Sometimes, I have to seek confidential help from friends who can also listen and suggest various actions that might be helpful. In facing last week’s challenging life problem, I waited almost three days before I took action beyond praying and turning my problem over to God. I realized, with this new perspective I’d gained by “pausing,” that sometimes besides turning things over to God, I must also actively do something to help God’s will unfold. It is often something I don’t want to do, and I also frequently do not know what the outcome may be. It is at that time that I must move forward “on faith”——I must get my “problem pause” unstuck.   Then God and I can move forward in partnership once again.

I am not a religious scholar like many of my friends, but I believe it was the Methodists who stressed the importance of having to combine faith with works. For me that is true. I can spend years asking God to solve my problems, but there comes a time when I have to take some personal responsibility and take purposive action before positive outcomes can be achieved. This action shouldn’t be random, it should have a specific purpose. This action should be guided by God.  Using this approach has given me thirty-three years of recovery one day at a time, and I am learning this is how all aspects of my life need to be approached. God bless and keep you.

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Photograph courtesy of Bob Towner

Yesterday a good friend rescued me from my “stuck in the house” doldrums. I was able to put attachable cleats on my shoes, walk across the snow and ice to his car, and then to walk out of his car and into the church for our centering prayer session. I felt like God came down, fitted me with wings, and let me fly out into the light again.

I tend to take my friends for granted, and it is not until times like this that I realize how much they mean to me. That same friend was able to use my cell phone to take a beautiful photo of God’s light streaming through one of our church’s stained glass windows right before our prayer session started, and the result was a photo I will treasure always. It will remind me not only of God’s love but the love that my friends have shared with me.

God has been working on me to more strongly anchor the concept of “willingness” into my heart.  He did this yesterday  by giving me lessons about my own willingness as well as how to introduce others to the concept of willingness. Yesterday my lessons led me to accept favors, to ask for help when I needed it, and to grasp an arm held out and offered for support in case I should start slipping on the ice. Yesterday also offered me opportunities to begin sharing my concept of willingness with another friend who is considering trying to use AA’s twelve steps for the first time to enter into recovery from carbohydrate addiction.

In looking back at yesterday, I have to wonder, once again, why is it so difficult for me to let others help me and so easy for me to focus instead on helping others? I am forced to admit it must involve my “false self”—my ego-centered pride. And below that layer of the onion is  my more deeply centered issues of trust. Yesterday I trusted cleats, a friend, and God not to let me fall on the ice. This particular friend and God have been with me through many trials and tribulations; they have more than proven their trustworthiness. Why do I still have trust issues? I am like St. Peter who walks on water until he begins to be afraid. If I am not careful, I will allow my fears and insecurities to build a fortress that not only protects me but also imprisons me from the love and kindness of others. My fear, if fed, can even shut God out.

Happily, I learned yesterday that trusting God and friends can make all the difference in the world—and in my eternal reality. I got to be with other people of faith yesterday, and discussing our beliefs reaffirmed my faith and what it means to me. Had I stayed at home, my dogs would have continued to offer me unconditional love as they always do, but they cannot talk to me about matters of faith. It is even hard for them to let me be without interruption long enough to practice centering prayer. So, I am dedicating this blog to thanking my friend Bob, my other friends at Centering Prayer, my friend who let me talk about willingness, and, of course, God for freeing me from my self-imposed prison. May God bless and keep you.

Greeting Life

Image courtesy of  graur razvan ionut/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today’s blog is focused on the following quote:

“Please, Lord, teach us to laugh again; but God, don’t ever let us forget that we cried.”

Friends in Recovery & Jerry S., (1993). Prayers for the Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey, p.51, Curtis, WA: RPI. Inc.

This morning when I read this prayer, I knew it was what I needed to write about in today’s blog. I have, on occasion, had students assigned to attend an open Alcoholics’ Anonymous meeting question why they encountered so much dark humor in the meeting they attended. They do not understand the alcoholics’ need to use humor to remind themselves of where they’ve been in order to reinforce where they are and where they are going in their journey of recovery. The above quoted prayer explains our need to remember the pain and suggests one means of doings so is through laughter.

In the “Sermon on the Mount” so many of us are familiar with, it is reported that Jesus said, ”  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 5:3, KJV). I am participating in an 11th step discussion group focused on the content of this sermon, and, so far, we have spent two weeks discussing this first beatitude. I think we will be spending more time trying to appreciate the true meaning it conveys. One thing we have all agreed upon is  those of us who are alcoholics were mired in the despair of hitting bottom before we became willing to seek and receive the gift of recovery. People in recovery often have to realize they are “poor in spirit” before they are willing to commence their  journey into and within recovery.

Do people have to experience opposites to appreciate or improve their experience? I have often heard the argument people have to be sad before they can appreciate being happy. Another version I have encountered is that without experiencing evil  we cannot appreciate experiencing  good. The list could go on and on—–we need to experience the current polar vortex coldness that envelops us in order to appreciate the warmth that will surround us in July; without being alone, we cannot appreciate the comfort of being in relationship, etc.  Are these just  convenient yet commonly held beliefs  we use to explain the inexplicable?

In a little less than two weeks I will hit the 65 year old milestone in my journey through life, and, in my experience, it is the sad, painful times in my life that have taught me the most, spiritually speaking. One of the things, though, that I am currently trying to do is to learn to focus my awareness and attention so that I can notice the blessings, the “positives,” the miracles that are embedded in my day by day life experience so that I can appreciate them in the present moment without having to experience their painful counterpoint. It is my intent that if I can learn to do this I will no longer repeatedly need to be miserable before my Higher Power gets my attention and motivates me to change something within myself to make things better.

One closing and loosely related thought has to do with perception. Over and over again, I have tried to teach my students that we perceive and interpret what we expect to perceive and interpret. Now the teacher has to learn to change her  own expectations, perceptions, and interpretations. I am grateful that I do not have to face this challenge or any other by myself. My Higher Power is guiding me through this as he has guided me through everything else. My biggest part in this is to be willing to allow this part of my journey to unfold. So, yes. I am going to make jokes and laugh about some of the painful experiences in my past so that I will not forget them and they will continue to support my journey  The laughter helps me revisit my life’s pain in a healthy way—-a way that keeps me from returning to and getting mired down in past despair and supports my current recovery.