Stumbling Blocks

The Trigger of Grief

In the work of recovery, we address the danger of triggers. Its very word itself suggests the power to cause us harm:

"Something that precipitates a particular event or situation; To set off; initiate; To fire or explode."


On one August morning of 2003, I encounter such a trigger. The phone rang. My dad was dead.

My grief, for the next year and a half, was an alarming, unexpected reality. And each subsequent "anniversary" proves equally tricky also. Both defy what I thought I would - or should - be experiencing.

After all, coming from an abusive childhood, I didn't think the loss of this pain-inflicting parent would register as significantly as it did.

Learning to Trust

Trusting others has been difficult for me. People have hurt me over the years and trust did not come naturally for me as a result. My husband, Patrick, never gave me a reason not to trust him, but still I questioned him in my mind. After he stopped drinking over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I could trust he would continue to abstain.

This lack of trust carried over into my relationship with Jesus. Could I trust Him? Could I take His Word for truth? Could I believe He loved me despite the past I carried with me? I worked against God’s way for so many years, how could He possibly love me?

Self-created Hells

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

Internet surfer that I am, I recently came across a meme which could be described as a drama queen's motto:

"I don't want to be overdramatic. But today felt like a hundred days in hell."


Yes, within the faith community, it is often agreed eternal torment is some kind of reality, even if it is beyond our finite minds.

Nevertheless, we do ourselves a large disservice to ignore our own self-created and contained versions of this most unpleasant torture. For indeed, even those pious Christian versions of us need to admit something hardly "Christ-like" or flattering. Sometimes we like to create our own little Hells. And then we further enjoy tossing others - and ourselves - INTO them.

Uncomfortable Silence is a Teacher Too

Recovery-from much of anything - is often not done in the steady hum of encouragement. It's frequently done in intimidating quiet. Even with support groups, sponsors, treatment centers, churches and any number of "support structures," we are still left with our true selves. And, no matter what affirmations we have heard and learned, we alone are left to apply them. There is no uplifting outside cheerleader. There is just our decision.

I know this comes across as negative, especially concerning "the Higher Power" factor.

As a person of faith, I'm not dismissing the role The Most High plays. Rather, I see how the Divine shows up in disguised forms, one of those being the unanswered quiet.

The Importance of "STOP!"

That’s odd for me. I want to focus on moving forward, dreaming big dreams, taking risks. And lately, for some reason I don’t understand, I seem to hear STOP.

I don’t think it’s about the big things, I’ve no sense about stopping those efforts. So I’ve wondered about STOP as it relates to the ordinary, everyday stuff. I think I might have noticed something interesting.

STOP is nearly always useful advice when I’m uncertain.

Are you lost? STOP. Don’t keep wandering, compounding the problem. Get your bearings. Ask for help. (Hint: Works for more than driving.)

The Mentality of Addiction (Switching Addictions)

In a recent Time magazine essay, Lance Morrow writes that "the mentality of addiction, of alcoholism, prevails in zones of American life even when no drugs are involved." How true! This means, of course, that no "war on drugs," no "drug czar" will be able to solve our problems with addictions because drugs are not the problem. When one addictive substance or behavior is not available to us, we can surely choose another. A long list of socially acceptable addictive behaviors and processes (work, shopping, religion etc.) are available for those who are not attracted to chemicals. Anesthetics for the emotional pain of life are, and will always be, cheap and readily available.

How to Diffuse Your Anger

Rest in the Lord, and Wait Patiently For Him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. Psalm 37:7-8

Arrogance as a Stumbling Block

Psalm 19:12 NRSV
But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.

Romans 12:14-18 NRSV
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

Perception - a Major Element of Addiction

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

I like to play with words and phrases. A particular one recently popped up in my mind: "the benefit of the doubt."

We've heard this expression before. It denotes largesse, a generosity to not write off a person or circumstance so quickly. As it rolled around in my spirit, its opposite phrase sprung to life: the detriment of certainty.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

Deception and Recovery

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Deuteronomy 5:20

The cute social media post thing strikes again. I came across this fluff ball the other day:

"Nope, I haven't seen your lipstick."

Adorable. Humorous. Human.

Indeed, this deceptive attempt at convincing did not start with our adorable pup. Rather, we need to look at history, a little further back. Let's peek in on a power couple.

Once upon a time, there was Ananias and Sapphira...Acts 5:1-11

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.

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