The Art of Suffering

Finding an easier way to get through the pain.

We all endure suffering and handle it differently. Suffering has many levels and can be expressed in various emotions and behaviors. It can be very painful, even destructive to relationships. What can we possibly do to get through this difficult time in a healthier way?

17636134 - young lonely woman

What is suffering for you may not be suffering for me. What is suffering for me today may not be suffering for me tomorrow.

To the degree that we surrender to our suffering is the degree that we will grow stronger spiritually.

The idea seems simple but it’s difficult and even painful to walk out.

As a recovering addict, I am usually trying to avoid pain at all cost. But I’m finally learning the more I fight the pain and suffering, the more I try to run from it, to avoid it, to remove it… the worse it gets and the longer it may last.

If we can find our way to accept the moment and its lesson for us, trusting that there is something better on the other side of the suffering, we are closer to the Peace of God that passes all understanding.

When I surrender to what this moment brings I am accepting God’s providence. By trusting Him, I am loving Him.

 

Image Credit: menuha / 123RF Stock Photo


You may be unfamiliar with the practice of Centering Prayer. It is very similar to meditation, but rather than focusing on emptying our mind in the stillness, Centering Prayer brings our relationship with God to the center of our inner stillness.

As a recovering addict, I have found centering prayer quite helpful especially in time of stress, when dealing with triggers and so forth. It is a valuable practice for any one interested in pursuing a more contemplative lifestyle.

I encourage you to take a few minutes and watch this excellent introduction to the contemplative practice of Centering Prayer. Father Keating is wonderful to watch and listen to. I hope you will be as blessed by his teaching as I have.

Father Thomas Keating, the founder of the Centering Prayer movement, is an author, teacher and monk who has worked for many years to foster understanding among the world’s religion. A member of the Cistercian Order in the Benedictine tradition, Father Keating lives at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps (Lantern Books, 2011)

In a conversation with Tom S., a long-time member of AA, Father Thomas talks about surrendering to one’s Higher Power and the journey that must be undertaken for the healing of the soul to begin. Father Thomas reflects on the wisdom and legacy of the Alcoholic Anonymous Twelve Step Method and its similarities with the Christian mystical traditions of centering prayer and Lectio Divina.

 

Thomas Keating is the founder of the Centering Prayer movement, an author, teacher and monk who has worked for many years to foster understanding among the world’s religions. He is a member of the Cistercian Order in the Benedictine tradition and lives at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.

The Road to Recovery :: STEP 7

Working the Traditional 12 Steps and the Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery

In THE ROAD TO RECOVERY column along with working the traditional 12 Steps of Recovery we are working the Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery that are based on The Beatitudes of Jesus. Our steps align with the monthly calendar.

STEP 7: We humbly asked God to remove all our shortcomings.

“If we confess or sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9 

 

PRINCIPLE FIVE (Celebrate Recovery): Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.


“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” ~ Matthew 5:6

This leg of our recovery journey continues to be challenging. In Step Four we examined ourself through our moral and spiritual inventory. Step Five required the discipline of confession to a trusted friend or mentor. With Step Six came a time of repentance followed now by Step Seven and the purification of our character.  

 
Having become willing to yield our defects to God we now must bow humbly before our creator in the hopes that He will see fit to remove them. It’s important not to confuse humility with the humiliation that we may be very familiar with as recovering addicts. God doesn’t want to shame us, He only wants us to submit ourselves to His way for our life.

Three reasons we need humility:

  1. We need humility to recognize the severity of our character defects. Without it we may minimize the pain they cause to ourselves and others.
  2. We need humility to acknowledge the limits of our humanity. We can’t remove these character defects with our intellect or willpower.
  3. We need humility to appreciate that it’s only God’s mighty power that can transform our life.
 

Our goal at the end of this step is to find peace with ourselves.

When we go to God we must bring our inventory list and be specific in our prayer. It can be painful and difficult going through this list of wrongs again. Our stinking thinking may tell us we’re not worthy of the growth and progress we’re making. But if we come with the right attitude God will honor our efforts.
 

Father God, thank you for helping me become willing to be molded into who you want me to be. I pray that you would remove every defect of character that stands in the way of my being useful to your work. Give me the strength I need to go on from here. I pray this in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen

If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for our Road to Recovery theme song.

RESOURCES:
Celebrate Recovery Bible
Celebrate Recovery Leader’s Guide
Life Recovery Bible
Life Recovery Devotional
The Twelve Steps for Christians
Prayers for the Twelve Steps-A Spiritual Journey
Serenity: A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery
Recovery: The Twelve Steps as Spiritual Practice

Procrastinating The Inevitable

Putting Off What You Will Have to Do Some Day

There are times in life when you know God is calling you to start or stop something. You ignore it. Time goes by but you’re still constantly reminded of your disobedience.

30208437 - word now written instead of tomorrow. procrastination concept

When the Holy Spirit convicts our heart to make a change in some area we must not procrastinate! Waiting to make the needed change only gets harder the longer we wait.

God sees the bigger picture and knows the best time for us to do things. The problem is we think the way things are today is how they will be tomorrow, next week, next month or even next year. But God knows what is coming around the corner and whether the situations will be more conducive to make the needed changes.

A few years ago, God called me to stop a bad habit. He spoke in my spirit that it wasn’t going to get any easier if I waited. I was faithful to the required abstinence for about 3 months and then I allowed the habit to creep back in. Over the next two years the habit was in full force and I couldn’t make it through most days without giving in to its hold on my life.

In March of 2016 God showed up again with a not so gentle command to give it up for good and if I didn’t my health was going to be effected in a negative way. Sadly, this season of life is much more stressful than years ago when God first wanted me to quit my bad habit. I’m paying a stiff penalty of ‘should have’ for my disobedience.

Why the stiff penalty? Doesn’t God love us? Once we made the decision to let God into our lives His recreating force went to work. It’s precisely because God loves us and wants us to be pure that we can’t escape the regular examinations of our life by the Holy Spirit. Life won’t get any easier if we continue to put things off that we’re being convicted to do.

Let’s do now what we know we will have to do some day.

 

Image Credit: paktaotik2 / 123RF Stock Photo

Doubt vs Belief

believe

STEP TWO: 

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 


It’s been a long time since I’ve seriously struggled with unbelief. For some reason in this season of life I have strong faith that God can change external situations: relationships, living conditions, etc…  But I have doubts when it comes to the complete change of my own emotional and physical weaknesses.

In my readings today I’m encouraged to let go of my emotional crutches for happiness. Through prayer and meditation I can reduce the obstacles I’ve set up against God’s presence in my innermost being. 

In this way I will come closer to peace and healing.


RESOURCES:
Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr
Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps by Thomas Keating

Image credit: / 123RF Stock Photo

BOOK REVIEW

Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps by Richard Rohr

Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps

by
Richard Rohr

It’s always exciting when I discover a book that has fresh concepts and approaches to the subject of addiction recovery. Breathing Under Water by Richard Rohr is just that and more.


I’ve been using this book in my own recovery walk for over a year now. With every chapter I get new insights that help me get up and take my daily baby steps again.


Though himself not a recovering addict, Fr. Rohr has a sweet way of lining up our hurts and issues with the spirituality and healing we all long for. 

Breathing Under Water, like all of Richard Rohr’s books, is beautifully written and is one of my favorite books. I highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with addiction of any type.

SLIPPERY SLOPES

If we're not grounded life circumstances can set us up for a fall!

Life has a way of showing up with circumstances that can set us up for a fall.  If we aren’t centered and grounded at that time we may be subjected to the consequences that prevail.

slippery slope

Not long ago I found myself in a position that could have set me back ten years in my recovery.  At the night’s end I was in tears. 

Painful feelings I hadn’t felt in many years washed over my body, mind and soul. I was overcome with sadness, desperately grieving desires I could no longer fulfill.

It was all I could do to remain thankful and content with where God had placed me in this season of life.  

I was quickly reminded to tighten my guard and to hold steady to the answer for my hope! 

But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you. ~ I Peter 3:15 GNT

 

Image credit: / 123RF Stock Photo

POWERLESS

A new year rolled in with a sore reminder of my human powerlessness.

powerless woman

 

Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over our dependencies–that our lives had become unmanageable.

 

I think about how many times I’ve complained about maintaining this body of mine. Then God gently says in my spirit they if I weren’t alive I wouldn’t need to care for it at all.

This is the same with our weaknesses of character. It is a huge pain to deal with – but what’s the alternative as long as we are breathing?

As humans we are going to fail over and over again. The answer, of course, comes only by turning our weaknesses over to Him. 

For when I am weak then I am made strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10

Image credit: / 123RF Stock Photo