Hope

Discipline Or Regret: Which Pain Do We Embrace?

I don't know who said it, but there is a quote which goes something like:

"You either embrace the pain of discipline or you embrace the pain of regret."


Yes, I know, it's a festive one.

Nevertheless, it is a reality check, especially for those of us in recovery from any particular thing which has seized our pleasure centers, all in an effort to escape pain. We desire pleasure to soothe, numb or obliterate our pain. We believe the lie it will happen. Furthermore, we also believe there can be no good thing which comes from denying our indulgences for it.

Therefore, as we stumble and relapse, we often choose to embrace the pain of regret concerning our addictions and the harmful consequences which can follow.

It's not to shame anyone. Rather, it's, again, to provide the reality check that none of us are immune from relapse and bad decisions. We are all vulnerable.

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Psalms 103:14

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

It's acknowledged in the first two Twelve Steps:

Unbreakable Grace

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:14


For years, I've had a small Jesus statue, depicting thanksgiving to God for the loaves and fishes. This statue has traveled from Portland, Oregon to Dallas, Texas to our current locale of Minnesota. And, over the years and states, it has, unfortunately been broken at least a couple of times. His small hand, holding a broken loaf of bread, has repeatedly been glued back on.

It's irritating, yet also meditative, as it got me thinking about the whole grace thing.

Memories: Ouch!

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalm 51:12


Autumn floods me with childhood memories of locusts inhabiting our farm and caterpillars on twigs, kept on mason jars, just waiting to become monarch butterflies.

And, with that flooding, often comes the tinged bittersweet feelings that accompany a childhood innocence of long ago.

I recently caught a funny post on the internet. It read: "Memories: Ouch!"

They say humor is humor because it is unflinching truth. And that certainly was the case with this post.

Are you in a prison of hopeless despair?

Too many of us have lived our lives suffering in a silent, shameful prison of hopeless despair. When we tried to hope -- our hopes were always deferred. We were heart sick from all our seeming endless deferred hopes (Proverbs). Hope for us was more of a mirage; one which was continually being pushed into an elusive, uncertain and clouded future.

Thus, our lives became defined by disappointment, disillusionment and shame. And like Rowan and Martin, on the 1970's show Laugh In, we regularly awarded ourselves with "the twisted finger of fate," instead of embracing our true divine destiny in Christ.

These three cousins of hopelessness (disappointment, disillusionment and shame) 'mar' the true image of God. I don't recall whose quote this belongs to; but, it goes something like this: "God created man in his image and likeness. Unfortunately, man has returned the favor. We have shaped God into the 'twisted' and 'wicked' view we have of ourselves." Disappointment, disillusionment and shame diminished us!

Not so in Christ! With him in our hearts, "hope springs eternal."

Such hope never disappoints, disillusions or shames us; for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:5, Amplified (my editorial change - deludes changed to disillusions)

Hope enables us to wait patiently for our redemption.

That is why (hopeful) waiting does not diminish us;

The Irony of Resisting Change

The adventure of life is to learn.
The purpose of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to overcome.
The essence of life is to care.
The opportunity of life is to serve.
The secret of life is to dare.
The spice of life is to befriend.
The beauty of life is to give.
~ William Arthur Ward

It's raining steadily and that always makes me glad to be inside and comfortable in my own surroundings with simple comforts close at hand.

It also disposes my mind to become more reflective and focused on what is important and relevant.

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition."
~ William Arthur Ward

How strange that though change is the dynamic of life, the nature of human beings is to resist change. The irony being that the very circumstances that we fear could ruin us may be the ones that open us to the blooming potential of who we were meant to be.

Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing
or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.
~William Arthur Ward

Sometimes there are no answers to life's questions. Accepting the things we cannot change, without question, shows a strength of character that few possess.

Beyond the 12 Steps

note: there is a worksheet at the bottom of this article

I have spent a lot of years struggling with drug addiction and alcohol abuse. At one point the drug addiction had completely taken me over. I began trying desperately to stay clean but every time I got a little taste of sanity the world would come crashing in and I would crumble under the weight of it all. Before I knew it I was escaping the pain or responsibility of life by using drugs. I had been through the court system, rehabs, 12 step programs, counseling (behavioral and substance abuse), and many psychiatric visits for medications. Nothing seemed to stick very long. Most of the people trying to help me eventually threw their hands up in defeat and passed me off as a hopeless case. I got to a point I started to agree with them. Nothing seemed to work for me. I was living in constant commendation from the world and in my own mind. Every mistake seemed magnified. I would beat myself up in my head over and over until my only relief was escape.

Through divine intervention I was given a book named "Freedom From Addiction." It captivated my attention because it was such an honest account of the thoughts bombarding an alcoholics mind. Not only an alcoholic but a Christian. Now I have to say that believing Jesus Christ died for my sins did not automatically make me Christ like. I was continually going against God. The shame I felt about knowing what was right but not being able to live it was more shame than I could bear. But then this book was placed in my path. As I read it something started to stir deep within me. There was a message of hope written on those pages that spoke to my innermost heart. The message was not about what I have done as a sinner (that already plagued my mind enough) but a message of who God says I am as his child. I started hearing a message telling me he doesn’t see what the world sees when he looks at me.

When I looked at myself and compared myself to the world’s expectations of me I saw all of the bad things I’ve done and how I just didn’t measure up. I owned my bad behavior as my identity but that’s not the truth. God says I am precious,

Each of Us is that 100th Sheep

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace." Jeremiah 50:6

Most of us are familiar with the parable of the lost sheep and the passage about the good shepherd.

Flock of sheep. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Then Jesus told them this parable: "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Luke 15:3-7

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep." John 10:11

And most of us have seen the matching artwork, the depiction of a loving, attentive Jesus holding a lamb in His arms.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart... Isaiah 40:11

Yet, there seems to be a disconnection. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jesus loves us; He's our good shepherd. But do we REALLY personalize it? And what exactly would that mean to us?

Won't You Listen?

Won't you listen my friend to the words that we share.
Won't you open your heart to a power that cares.

For within each of our souls is the spirit of living,
Within each of our hearts is a gift of giving.

Won't you be free my friend to open your mind,
to know God is with us One day at a time.

Copyright 1997, by Neil Wright San Francisco, CA.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Alcoholics are Special

Do you know why alcoholics are special? They are special because they have an uncanny ability to keep drinking alcohol even after the last person has left the party. You might be thinking, “That’s not special, that’s downright unhealthy.” Well, what do you think alcoholism is? Alcoholism is unhealthy in every form imaginable – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.

Alcoholics have always been a minority of misfits, drinking all night long, hardly able to manage the next morning, until the next drink, and then starting all over again. I’m talking about myself here – I can’t speak for all alcoholics. I literally felt like a misfit when I was in the depths of addiction. Anyway, the repetition or vicious cycle is what makes an alcoholic an alcoholic. If he or she could stop at one or two drinks they wouldn’t be alcoholic, right?

Actually what makes an alcoholic special is the sensitivity of their hearts when they are sober. Notice I said, when they are sober. Through my own research, and asking former alcoholics, I’ve come to the conclusion that alcoholic’s have a high sensitivity level towards people and their feelings that exceeds that of non-alcoholics, in general. This is why sober alcoholics and drug addicts almost always find themselves in a serving type profession helping other people combat their addictions and personal problems.

On Stormy Waters?

(Based on Matthew 14:22-34)

Experienced fishermen shuddered when the wind howled out of the mountains and onto the sea. Then the waves became choppy and unpredictable. Men who worked these waters knew to haul their sails and make for harbor.

But sometimes-and this night was one of them-high seas would not permit sailors to gain the shore.

The small boat circled the middle of the sea, an eerie spot, wild, unsettled, dangerous-and according to some reports-haunted. In watery graves below lay the sailors' fellow fishermen waiting for them to join them, their boats reduced to waterlogged splinters,their bones picked clean by the same denizens of the deep they had come to harvest.

By three in the morning, as a false dawn dimly lit the sky, the men had been pulling on the oars for hours against the wind. No nearer shore, shelter, or sanctuary, exhaustion was setting in.

Then one man caught a glimpse of something unsettling on the seas. For a few moments, a trough obscured his vision, and while he waited for the lift of the next wave, he pondered whether he was seeing things. When the wave lofted them upward, he looked steadily over his shoulder. There it was again!

He gave a shriek of terror and pointed as the boat was again swallowed by a curl of water.

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