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Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1
Gaman is a Japanese term of Zen origin which means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity". The term is generally translated as "perseverance" or "patience."
And, within Scripture, this principle is, indeed, a faith focal point.
... we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Romans 5:3-4
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36
I don't know about your physical education experience when you were a kid, but my class always participated in the annual presidential physical fitness test.
Is anyone out there groaning yet?
As part of that test to assess kids' fitness levels, things like pushups, sit ups and pull ups were measured. But the thing which caused me the most dread- and the least success- was the 600 yard run.
Now, is anyone out there groaning?
If you're not familiar with
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23
I recently came across this little inspiration ditty circulating on social media:
"God uses People Who Fail (No other kind around)."
That's become more of a revelation to me in the last few years, especially within the context of recovery. It's not a one-time, flawless thing. It's day in, day out, with some days being better than others. It doesn't sound glamorous or rewarding. Nevertheless, it is reality and embracing the process of life itself can be liberating if we, perhaps, give ourselves permission to fail. Part of that requires we not disqualify ourselves at the first -- or the one thousandth -- mistake; God doesn't.
"I have chosen you and have not cast you away." Isaiah 41:9
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11
I often encounter people who are perfectionists -- and I get it. Among all the things I'm recovering from in life, perfectionism is, indeed, right up there. And, again, in the recovery context, it is
You did it again. You messed up. You’re doomed to failure, why even try? These words of condemnation ring often in the heads of those on the recovery journey. Recovery from an eating disorder, addiction, trauma or other life-altering behavior is imperfect, fraught with difficulty and pitfalls. No one wakes up one morning “cured.” There’s no quick fix, and the road to healing and sanctification is often long, hard work, and requires deep spiritual transformation.
One of the most enduring challenges when fighting the battle toward wholeness is silencing the inner critic: the condemning voice that threatens to undo all our progress as we continue our march. It holds an unattainable standard of perfection in recovery over our heads, so that when we do make a misstep or give in to weakness, we see ourselves as utter failures, rather than beloved children of an understanding Father who holds our hand each step of the way.
Accepting God’s grace, even when we fail, ignites within us
"Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known." Luke 12:2
"Fight Club" is a powerful film, cemented within pop culture. It's notorious, in particular, for the famous line of its main character, Tyler Durden's, often quoted within our society...
"Welcome to Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!"
And it got me thinking about secrecy.
Hug Me! Do We Fight Our Help?
I love this adorable cartoon post.
Dinosaur number one pleads, "Hug me!" to Dinosaur number two, who responds, "I'm trying."
I immediately thought of the "fighting your help" principle, both on the recovery front and the much larger spiritual playing field.
Many of us struggling with addictions, disorders and vices often employ a lot of self-sabotage when it comes to interaction and, yes, actual help.
We reiterate such statements as...
"I've made too many mistakes."
With those statements, we push others away; we fight our help.
And, of course, we do this with God.
"He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, 'Where is it?'..." Job 15:23
Within recovery, there is often the need to commemorate the struggle, the courage and the life-affirming process, via tattoos and piercings.
Indeed, I've encountered many young people who have significant dates and meaningful logos marked on their skin. Likewise, eyebrows, nostrils and lips are also pierced, in the declaration of some kind of personal freedom from pain.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7
We can really do a number on ourselves with our faulty thinking.
How many of us have said the following things to ourselves, about ourselves?
...never good enough..."
And then, if we're plagued with disordered eating and body image issues, it gets amplified even further.
I do a lot of long distance driving and there are many things I have learned to keep me alert. It is important for me to realize just how quickly things can go horrifically wrong if I take my eyes off of the road or "zone out" for just a second or two.
Recovery has parallels to that. I can think I am sailing along just fine, been in recovery for years. No problem.....
I start zoning out....
and not paying attention to the details.....
life is good.....
I love Winston Churchill's sentiment:
"If you're going through hell, keep going."
Life is tough. Sooner or later, we'll experience a trying situation which feels like hell. It isn't actual hell, thank God. Nevertheless, the power of that notorious situation/trauma makes us feel tortured with pain, despair and hopeless evidence. Eating disorders, addictions, compulsions, loss and grief are just a few examples of things which can feel like hell, if, indeed, torture is its calling card.
It's painful and almost impossible to see future, life, possibility or God. We can, instead, much more easily see ourselves as failures, weak, forgotten and ruined. It's, therefore, inevitable we come to a screeching halt; we stop in the mire and can only feel ourselves sinking…down to where? Greater depths of hell and torture?
But that's not God's truth about us. Even in the middle of hopelessness, God is there… living… loving… working…
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:27
It can be tempting to believe that
"The doctor is real in."
Those words are written on a psychiatrist stand the character Lucy has in the Christmas classic, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!"
That got me thinking. We're once again, at that festive time of year, with all of its parties, concerts, kiddie pageants and assortment of other holiday events. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of stuff to go to. And yet, during this festive season, it's more than difficult to get a doctor's appointment. Or is that just my experience?
When I was sixteen years old, I got the chicken pox at Christmas. Ho ho ho! There was not much I could do; there was no doctor I could see, because every single one of them were off for the holiday. So, it was me, the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" (colorized version), some calamine lotion, a couch and itching. Because I didn't get chicken pox like most kids, at age six or seven and because I was this late bloomer, my stint with the itchy stuff lasted about three weeks. It was not a festive time.
And, years' later, I seem to have run into the same dilemma repeatedly whenever I try to schedule an appointment with the doctor or dentist. Most of the time, the doctor is real out. So, what's my option? Where do I go from there?
Well, there's a potential and dangerous choice out there, left unchecked; I could turn to my definition of a panacea. Instead of dealing with the discomfort and pain in the moment, I could choose to numb, escape from and soothe it. Sounds like classic addiction, doesn't it? We try to cope and turn to anything to attempt to make that happen. Those coping methods can include a wide variety of consumption choices for each one of us: food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, just to name a few. And the excuse we possibly use for turning to them? The doctor was out.