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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.
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.
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.)
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
The 3rd Step of the 12 Steps reads as follows:
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as revealed in the Bible.
We often confuse surrender with compliance. In compliance we grudgingly give in, hold back a part of ourselves. Our actions may appear to be going with the flow but our heart and thoughts are surely elsewhere.
Compliance leaves out the passion part. In surrender we have to be passionate about the surrender -- excited about it; having hopeful anticipation of what God can and will do when we actually surrender.
Surrender is not admitting defeat. It is not a bad thing in God's Kingdom. It is a great thing! God's economy and ways of doing things are quite often contrary to the World's ways.
In reality, we often are hypocrites -- saying or promising surrender -- but in reality not wholeheartedly "all in." And in essence we rob ourselves of the fruits of surrender. Surrender means surrendering one's entire being: heart, words, actions, emotions, thoughts, body, soul and spirit.
Karla Downling is an award-winning best-selling author, speaker, Bible study teacher, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Change My Relationship. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, scriptural misunderstanding, and emotional pain personally and relationally. Her messages provide practical solutions based on biblical truths that bring balance and clarity to life and relationship issues. She also desires to equip ministry leaders and lay counselors to reach out more effectively to those that are struggling with difficult relationships. Karla’s website is http://ChangeMyRelationship.com.
karladowning: Ok. Let's start off with a definition of acceptance. It is "taking or receiving what is offered, giving approval, believing, or accepting. It is putting out your open hand and allowing the thing or circumstance or person to be put into it and then closing your hand and pulling it toward you. The meaning of "accept" is "to receive as adequate; to receive with approval or favor; to take or receive."
The opposite of acceptance is refusal or disapproval. It is like putting out your hand and pushing it away. think about your life and the things you don't want; don't like; struggle with accepting. Are you opening your hand to receive them or pushing them away? I know for myself that I pushed them away for years and struggled with refusing to accept them. It took lots of energy.
Some people seem to have a genius for making others miserable! They are continually touching sensitive hearts, so as to cause pain. They are always saying things which sting and irritate. If you have any bodily defect, they never see you without in some crude way, making you conscious of it. If any relative or friend of yours has done some dishonorable thing, they seem to take a cruel delight in constantly referring to it when speaking with you. They lack all delicacy of feeling, having no eye for the sensitive things in others, which demand gentleness of treatment.
Thoughtfulness is the reverse of all this. It simply does not do the things which thoughtlessness does. It avoids the painful subject. It never alludes to a man's clubfoot or humpback, nor ever casts an eye at the defect, nor does anything to direct attention to it or to make the man conscious of it. It respects your sorrow--and refrains from harshly touching your wound. It has the utmost kindliness of feeling and expression. A truly thoughtful person, is one who never needlessly gives pain to another.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12
How many times do we pray this portion of what is commonly called "The Lord's Prayer" and yet fail to consider what we're asking? It is a petition, a request of God to forgive us - in the same manner and proportion in which we forgive others. Are you okay with that? Are you comfortable with receiving God's forgiveness to the same extent that you give it to others?
There are many of us out there who have been bullied and abused.
Whether we've been beaten verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually by a family member, have been teased, thrown in lockers or picked last for teams as kids or, worst case scenario - all of the above - it certainly is a challenge to live through that, let alone, overcome it.
Many of us are underdogs, the forgotten, the least likely.
And that is precisely why one of the things that I love most about God is His viewpoint on that status. God's "M.O." is one of championing the underdog, encouraging him/her, and exalting/promoting that individual, not just in spite of the odds, but quite often, because of them.
God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.
According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.
"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop" Luke 8:15 NIV.
"All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our "eyes and ears" in the spirit. If we discern the "will of God" it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well." "Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You", pg.67, published by Shepherd's House, Inc. revised version 2000.
As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa's will or my true identity and destiny as Papa's beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).
When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.
I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was "called a man after God's own heart."
The single goal of heart healing is to