The Art of Suffering

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?

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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.

 

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The Road to Recovery :: STEP 7

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

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.

 

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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

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BOOK REVIEW

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

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

 

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POWERLESS

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

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PAIN MEMORY

little girl in pain

All of us make mistakes. We hope to learn from our failures and not repeat them. Unfortunately, for most of us this isn’t the case. We seem doomed to go round and round our mountains until we’ve worn a deep trench that resembles a castle moat.

It dawned on me one day that we have pain memory but it doesn’t seem to last very long. We remember when we touched that hot stove not to do it again. 


Why can’t we remember emotional pain causing events? 

What about bad habits that we allow to creep back in and again cause us the same old pain from before. 

 

Scripture likens humans to sheep, who are very dumb animals, cute but dumb. If the sheep didn’t have their shepherd to follow they would literally walk off the cliff. The leader would start off the cliff and the others would follow. Now that’s dumb. Sound familiar?

We may see someone doing something that looks like fun and follow them only to find a cliff edge waiting. Forget about following others. We can follow our own nose right off the cliff. 

An important difference between humans and other animals is our ability to make conscious choices. Just following our sensory perceptions: sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing; can easily get us into trouble. But if we can be more aware in the moment, making conscious choices, we will be better off.

The problem is we are dumb sheep and get distracted easily. Before we know it we are at that cliff edge again.

The key is in who and what we are following. This is a daily, hourly, even momentary discipline that must be intentionally practiced.  

Who / What am I following today?

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12 Principles of Recovery :: GENERATIVELY

MY RECOVERY WORK THIS YEAR IS FOCUSED ON THE PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE 12 STEPS. WE’RE ASKING KEY QUESTIONS THAT WILL HELP US LEARN THESE CORE VALUES SO WE CAN PUT THEM INTO PRACTICE.**

 

generativity

 

STEP TWELVE: 
Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
PRINIPLE TWELVE:
Generativity

KEY QUESTION:
How do I pass it on?
 

Generativity is helping others. Giving back. Contributing to society. Making a positive difference. Creating a better world. Leaving a legacy. Guiding and encouraging the next generation and the many generations thereafter. 

~ Dr. Patrick Carnes **

 

The Christmas season is known as a time to be generous. But our giving back and paying it forward should be a year round practice. 

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to share my story in person and on my blog. It is always encouraging to learn how my pain and mistakes have helped other women.
 
Each season of life brings different avenues to share. There are times when I feel like I’m not making a difference. Then suddenly God reveals how my message has made an impact in a very simple way.   
 
We never know when or how our story is going to help others. So we must stay sensitive to the Spirit’s nudges and be ready with an answer of hope. 
 
 
RESOURCES:
A Gentle Path through the Twelve Principles: Living the Values Behind the Steps by Patrick Carnes**

A Monk in the World :: BALANCE

IN MONK IN THE WORLD WE ARE LEARNING THE PRINCIPLES OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM AND HOW WE CAN APPLY THEM TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE THE MONASTERY WALLS.  THIS MONTH’S TOPIC IS BALANCE.

 

Balance

bal·ance noun

: the state of having your weight spread equally so that you do not fall

: the ability to move or to remain in a position without losing control or falling

: a state in which different things occur in equal or proper amounts or have an equal or proper amount of importance

If there is one thing we all have trouble with it’s balance; between our daily schedule, priorities, money, food, exercise, media, rest, work, play, etc…


Just as King Solomon said there’s nothing new under the sun. And the challenge of balance isn’t new for sure! Saint Benedict of Nursia knew this well and it was a priority in his Rule for the monks under his charge.

Balance is a running theme in Saint Benedict’s Rule. It’s easy to romanticize the idea of being behind a monastery wall thinking that once away from all the worldly influences and distractions we could actually achieve balance in our lives.

Even in Benedict’s day the monks struggled in this area, so they were given strict guidelines to follow. Yet with almost every rule exceptions were made. Benedict not only accepted humanness but gave grace for it.

KEYS TO FINDING BALANCE: 

  • Create a daily routine: Write out what your perfect day or week would look like and plan toward it. Give yourself grace when life shows up with a kink in your plan.
  • Use timers: Use your smart phone for more than games or FaceBook. Timers or calendar reminders are critical to keep me on my schedule.
  • Be flexible: There are exceptions to all our plans. Just when I think I’ve got the perfect plan, God shows up with something better!

I quickly admit that I don’t have this balance thing figured out. Some days and weeks I do really well, then life shows up and there goes my perfectly planned schedule. The best thing I can do then is start again.  Recognition that there is need for balance is the beginning of actual change. I believe moderation brings about balance. So my life motto today is:

MODERATION IN ALL THINGS INCLUDING MODERATION!


RESOURCES:

Spirituality For Everyday Living: An Adaptation of the Rule of St. Benedict by Brian C. Taylor
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm
Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal

 



*Definition courtesy Mirriam-Webster.com
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