When you look in the mirror of life and all you see is yourself. You have been very vane in your thinking and have thought of no one else but yourself.
My father use to always say to me. “If you find one friend in life your lucky.” I really didn’t understand it then but I do now. Over the years I have had people in my life that I thought where friends only to find out later that they really meant me no good and they were only there to take from me. As I was doing to them.
As I’ve been working to change my life for the betterment of myself and my family. There still is something missing real friendships. When I was young I had tight bonds with a few people that I would call friends. But over the years we grew apart. Stopped communicating with one another. Or maybe it was just me. It might have been the gangs or the drugs, Jealousy, Envy or that killer of all friendships Resentment.
However those close relationships are still needed to have a healthy life. I didn’t realize how much I would like to have those type of relationships in my life until an old friend decided to pick up the phone and facetime me the other day. I can truly say it made my day. The conversation we had felt good because this was someone that understood where I came from and the struggles that we both shared over the years. It was refreshing just to have a conversation and a very real one.
As men we often hide are feelings and our needs. Often afraid to express them for fear of how they might be perceived. Especially black men. When I was young I used to watch my father and his partners. I would listen to the conversation that they would have and the truthfulness that they would enter the conversation with. They really didn’t spend a lot of time on things that weren’t real. They talked about things like family, children, jobs, money and keeping each other focused on handling there business.
They didn’t believe in pulling punches with one another when it came to the truth. They reach out to one another for support. Maybe those friendships still exist. However because of the life I choose I never cultivated those solid meaningful relationships. But today I am grateful that I still have the opportunity to work on the relationships that I do have. To develop those real friendships. To my Friend that took the time to reach out. Thanks for opening the door.
For me this has been a very interesting journey. Full of grace and mercy. Heartache and pain. However something happened along the way that I wasn’t expecting. I learned to love myself. I also acquired the ability to forgive myself for the things in my past that I regret. For the hurt and the pain I have caused others as well as myself. I also found out that God was real and that he lives within me. I found that the strength I needed to overcome my addictive behavior. I already possessed. I just needed to tap into it. Anyway I’m gearing up for the next phase of this journey. Getting ready to get the Certified addiction counseling licenses under my belt so I can help others find the strength to do the next right thing. Like I was able to do. So with that being said continue to pray for me.
“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”
― Howard Thurman
The spirit of God that lies within all of us is something to be explored. Taking the time to find the true authentic you is a journey everyone should try in their life at least once. I say that because it has taken me the majority of my life, to find that person. To stop trying to be something or someone that I am not. To stop looking for the approval of those around me. Never along the way did I ever think that I would find the kind of happiness that comes with learning to tap into the power that lies within. However great the struggle has been I am truly grateful that God spared me and gave me a chance to tap back in to the gift he gave me. His very essence.
Steps to serenity. Step 3
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step 3 culminates a process begun In Step 1 and 2. In Step 1, we admitted our lives were out of control and that we were powerless to change things through our own power. In step 2, we renounced every old god we had been worshiping as powerless to save us and looked to a higher Power to restore us to wholeness. In Step 3, we recognize God as that higher Power and ask Him to assume control over and care of every aspect of our lives.
A common recovery phrase used in Twelve Step groups is “Turn it over.” For the recovering person, that means turning over to God’s care not only the major, conspicuous addictions like alcoholism and drug addiction or other addiction for that matter. It means turning every aspect of life, even the small frustrations involved in handling children or trying to make a faulty appliance work or dealing with congested freeway traffic. In the face of these irritations, the recovering person will say time and time again, “Turn it over; turn it over; turn it over.”
A step 3 recovery paradox is that codependent or addictive personalities are often quite willful and egocentric, and yet that egocentricity often camouflages a deep sense of insecurity. In A.A.’s oral tradition, an alcoholic or codependent is defined as being “an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.” Step 3 invites us to get out of the center of our universe and hand that place back to God. As we move into any addiction or dependency, we tend to become more self-centered, self-absorbed and self-preoccupied in trying to address the pain driving the addiction. Paradoxically, this self-preoccupation only draws us more deeply into our addiction. We become more self-centered and self-preoccupation itself creates more pain, loneliness, and isolation. The addiction pulls us more deeply into its pain cycle. In order to surmount the pain cycle, ultimately we must step out of ourselves and look beyond ourselves.
Breaking out of this bondage of self does not mean we ignore or deny our needs. In fact, quite the reverse is true. If we can discover healthy, God-directed ways to meet our emotional and physical needs, then we become less needy, less selfish, less preoccupied individuals. This is another recovery paradox. Discovering what our needs are and asking to have those needs, and all of us have choices as to how those needs are to be met. Addictions, compulsions, and codependences are counterfeit means of trying to meet our most basic physical, emotional, and spiritual hungers. With God’s help we can find genuine ways of satisfying them.
We want to turn ourselves over to God, but how? How do we get out of the driver’s seat? The key is willingness. If we crack the door just a little bit, then God will direct us in the process. Revelation 3:20 says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
A.A.’s Third Step Prayer is an excellent way to formalize our commitment to this new willingness:
“God, I offer myself to you. To build with me and to do with me as thou will. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them my bear witness to those I would help of thy power, Thy love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always! (Alcoholics Anonymous, p.63
As the world turns.
I had a hard time sleeping last night. Thinking about what lies ahead for my family and for everyone else in the world dealing with the same set of issues. A dramatic life changing event. An event that will touch everyone in some way. I understand that natural disasters come and go The thing that I’m struggling with is that feeling in my spirit that this was done on purpose. To harm the people as a way of downsizing the population. I could be wrong? However, I believe that God has a plan I just do not understand what that is. I look at my children and grandchildren. I truly worry about the world that they will inherit. A world where love and compassion and respect for your fellow. Struggle to maintain some sort of footing. In a world where hate, greed, destruction of the morale fiber of humanity rule the day. I don’t know? Maybe these are just sentimental emotions from a middle aged man that has struggled with mental illness and addiction. Finally living life the right way. Being a husband, father, son, brother that I have always wanted to be. The man Gods will is making me into. So because of the struggles, God has allowed me to learn some valuable skills that can be brought to bare to help my family in this time of change and uncertainty. Those skills are 1.prayer. 2. Understanding. 3. Compassion for others. 4. Courage to continue to move in the spirit. Life goes on and so do my prayers. Not only for myself but for humanity in general. Be grateful for this day. Be happy in this day. Show compassion and love for others in this day. Be forgiving of others in this day. Because tomorrow is promised to no one. Keep Putting God First. Continue to do the next right thing. Keep your integrity intact. My God bless and keep you.
Serenity. A journey through the 12 steps.
It is my belief that there is a great deal that can be learned from working the 12 steps every now and then. I also believe there is a great deal that can be gained, when families’ individuals that may be struggling with their own thoughts and actions a way to ground themselves by offering an additional tools to open the mind the body and the soul to change. By taking the time to work through the steps you may learn something new about yourself as I have.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The step 2 phrase “came to believe” suggests a process and a progression of faith that evolves over time. A portion of A.A. oral tradition defines this as a three part unfolding. First, we came, that is, we showed up and stumbled in the door. Second, we came to, that is, we sobered up, came to our senses, and began to experience emotional sobriety. Third, we came to believe. We began our real recovery process and our spiritual growth. This style of spiritual growth closely parallels the strong Christian tradition that each person must come to an individual knowledge of God.
Step 2 is a logical outgrowth of Step 1 because, if in Step 1, we have admitted our own powerlessness, then the next step is to seek a new source of strength or power to take charge for us and to make us sane (well and whole). For some people, spiritual conversion is dramatic as it was for the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). For most, however, it is very gradual. As on grows and matures emotionally, one also grows spiritually.
Before we can welcome in a new Power to restore us to emotional and spiritual “housecleaning”.
- We must bring into abstinence or balance all the addictive agents through which we have sought to meet our deepest needs. Money, sex, career, anything and everything about which we have become excessive, must be put into proper perspective. Not lifted onto a pedestal to be worshiped.
- We must transcend the god of reason if we have been worshiping God through an exclusively intellectual approach.
- We must renounce the tendency to play God ourselves. We must grow beyond selfishness, narcissism and grandiosity.
- We must also renounce putting other people or human institutions in the roles of gods.
Not only must we be rid of false gods, if we are looking to the Judeo-Christian God as our higher Power, but we may also need to overcome old sources of bitterness toward Him.
- We may have identified God with an abusive parent.
- We may have had negative experiences with the church (hypocrisy, bigotry, condemnation).
- We may be struggling with a sense that God has failed us, that he has allowed us to become codependent.
- We may be angry that God has not instantaneously healed us of our addictive illnesses.
As we commit ourselves to a lifetime of recovery, our starting point may be our recovery literature. And that literature makes a valuable contribution toward the opening of spiritual doors. But if we really want to fill the void, if we really want to break down the barriers hindering our progress, we need to turn to the ultimate source of God’s word and discover what the Scriptures have to tell us. By exploring the Bible, We will discover more about his will for us.
If only… is a haunting phrase. It implies that we have failed and that we wish we could go back and do things differently. As we work through the process of recovery, we often become sad and ashamed when we reflect on the past. We regret our irresponsible and destructive behavior and wish we could erase past mistakes. This must have been how the people of Judah felt when they heard the prophetic words of Zephaniah. If only they had obeyed and trusted God!
God called Zephaniah during the days of King Josiah, the last of Judah’s good kings. The prophet’s condemnation of Judah’s idol worship and self centered living fit well with the early part of Josiah’s reign, when his purges against idolatry were just beginning. Zephaniah’s prophetic support of Josiah’s actions would certainly have bolstered Josiah’s efforts. However, the apostasy of Judah’s previous kings, Manasseh and Amon, had left deep spiritual wounds in Judah. Despite Zephaniah’s ministry and Josiah’s noble reforms, visible scars remained in Judah even at the end of Josiah’s righteous reign.
The people of Judah were in need of major changes. They had seen the northern kingdom of Israel exiled to Assyria but assumed that the presence of God in the Jerusalem Temple would protect them from foreign invaders. They needed to be shocked out of their denial and spiritual indifference. Zephaniah warned the people that Judah would be destroyed if they didn’t act right away. He also let them know that recovery was still possible. Spiritual awakening could still occur if they would admit their sins and Josiah and trust God. Josiah and the people listened to Zephaniah, responded, and experienced revival and recovery.
Continuing to do the next right thing no matter what is not as easy as it might sound. It is a constant fight with the evil, resentment, anger and trust issues that lie within. Today is one of those days for me. I know that helping those that need my help today is the right thing to do. But because of how they feel about me and the contempt they have expressed towards me over time. It’s got me feeling some kind of way today. However I know the blessing lies in the struggle and the struggle is only possible because of the grace and mercy that God is showing me. With all that being said I will do what needs to be done for his name sake. Just for today I will continue to put God First in all my thoughts and actions. I will continue to do the next right thing. I will continue to keep my integrity intact. That God will be able to use me the way he sees fit.
It is truly a blessing to be able to grow and mature. To be able to change how we view the world and our place in it. I believed when I was a young man that, there’s no way drugs and alcohol was stunting my growth. But as I look back over my life. I can see the pattern of destruction and bad decisions caused by a teenager out of control. Twenty plus years is a long time to stay sixteen. So today I am very grateful to everyone in my life that gave me the chance to grow up. Those that stood with me when I was going through the fire. That walked with me when we where all lost in the valley. So today as I continue on this path, to be a man of integrity, strong and confident. A man that is working hard to help others find there way out of the valley. Strange thing about growing up. You begin to realize that this thing called life is meant to be lived and experienced through the spirit not just the flesh. Anyway just letting my thoughts flow. Just taking a moment to reflect on the lessons learned before I walk through the next door in my life. To this point it’s been one hell of a ride. However the journey of adulthood is just beginning.