So much is happening. Success, crisis, sickness, hate, growth, fatigue. Beyond human understanding. Part of a battle between good and evil. On the surface, it appears ideological, right verses left, red verses blue. But deeper than this, it is the battle of good verses evil.
I am not calling anyone person or group evil. Many might interpret it that way. But what is happening before our very eyes is from a war beyond our comprehension. Never could such a divide and hatred come from ideology alone. This is the super natural battle for souls. Battle for freedom. Battle for a way of life. Battle for our eternal salvation.
I stop today and step back. I evaluate what I can control, or think I can control. But in doing so, I am humbled by my mortality. By the fact that I am truly in control of nothing except for one thing. My faith. Because without faith, the world appears hopeless. Anxiety rules via sickness, insomnia, despair, depression.
God is in control. That is where my Hope lies. That is what I can control. My faith. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
Pray today and everyday for strengthening of faith. Because in faith we are given Peace that surpasses all human understanding. With this Peace we are given the ability to see the pain of others and weather this storm which will pass. We, in faith, are a beacon to those who are lost in the darkness of today.
The old saying used when a final event or comment pushed someone over the edge was “The Straw that Broke the Camels Back”. Many times in our lives we we can see the straw coming, the person or event that will cause us to go over the edge. Many times in the end, we could have averted the back breaking outcome.
Then there are those times when the straw does a surprise attack on us. We didn’t see it coming. It was an error or mistake that was just a case of circumstances beyond our control. Not always even intended to cause conflict or harm. But it still happens. Those straws, while rare I believe, are a true test of our character, our maturity, our resolve. Some love to jump on those moments; ones that happen accidentally and use them to bolster their own ego, or feed into their fears. It is an opportunity for those who are small to belittle those who are victim of the surprise straw attack which they have no real context of their life or challenges.
In those moments, moments that can embarrass us, surprise us, challenge us, we have choices to make. They may remind us of past failures. They may inflame self doubt. They very easily can break our back or will to live. The danger of the surprise straw attack.
And then again, with a belief that there is no such thing as failure, only learning, we are given the opportunity to repeat a past lesson. A message that we have not fully received. An opportunity to rise like a phoenix from the ashes again. Fresh starts only truly happen when all the lessons are completed.
This is the true beauty of the the straw the camel didn’t see coming. A chance to complete the lesson and move on in our greatness and calling.
Tension. That to me describes the current state of affairs. Our beautiful land is filled with anxiety, depression, fear, hate, and feelings of loss of control. Our lives are filled with uncertainty. People who we thought were are friends, some of our family, our leaders have shown what we believe is an ugly and unreal side. It could seem hopeless.
Perspective and pause give us a chance to put all into context. Fear drives all. Those who wish to control us, stir the fear. The only way to conquer fear is to confront it head on. Not by confrontation necessarily, but from an educated point of view. From historical comparison and by taking a look deep inside at ourselves and asking if what is being said truly matches our heart.
Observation is a powerful tool. Sympathy and empathy can assist us to work to understand another persons fears. Prayer for all including for discernment is critical.
I love our country, my life and all of my blessings God has bestowed on me. My life is far from perfect. I create my own conflict and trials. No one else does. I am responsible for my actions good and bad. Personal responsibility lies on us alone.
When others are acting out in ways we do not approve, the best way to foster change is not by debate, argument or direct confrontation, but by our actions. Actions seen and unseen. Actions of restraint. Actions of love and compassion.
It is not about winning the debate. It is about positive influence. When we are gone, people will remember the life we led quietly more that the victories won at any expense.
Today, more than ever, we need to live our influence. Live constructive not destructive. Live love not hate. We are given the gift to disagree, but no where is it written we have should live a life of hate.
Today, tomorrow, someday. In the end, it is not where we have traveled, but who we have influenced that matters. Our journey is comprised of the routine; problems, solutions, victories and defeats. Through all of this, our actions, words or silence are observed my a nearly infinite number of eyes. Do we leave a lasting positive impression? Have we cause a pause in someone’s life that changes their course for the better? We will find out someday when the video is replayed at our heavenly home.
It happens everyday, sometimes it encompasses the whole day. I can say from my own experience, it is usually wrong and holds back my growth.
How do I overcome my self doubt? Prayer, people and review.
Pray is the most powerful weapon to fight doubt. God has no desire for us to live in fear and failure. He is always listening. But am I listening to Him? That is the key.
People can either feed my doubt or walk me through it. Those that tear us down, criticize and do not offer support are only keeping is from moving forward. Those how listen, empathize or sympathize, offer love and compassion and accept us as we are give us the lift we need to over come.
When I review how the ability I doubt has performed in the past, many times it shows the false reality of my doubting.
We need God, people who authentically support us and unbiased review.
Here we are at the end of December. The decade is over and the new year brings promise as well as a darkness of what at times feels like uncharted waters. Life is fast. Moving at speeds that we could never have conceived when we were young. Technology, globalization, a society that seems to care less about each other than about fighting over differences. A great country, lost in an identity crisis. But, throughout history, one constant has existed. The promise of salvation, God’s grace and divine guidance. But the world has seemingly discarded this great gift. We, like in the times of Christ’s birth, have become fragmented. Government grows larger and more controlling, and we go through the motions of our lives without much hope of change. Don’t say Merry Christmas because you might offend someone. Assimilate to cultural pressures or be ostracized. Life appears to be headed to the abyss.
But there is a glorious hope. A spirit of strength. A freely given gift from our Creator. In a broken world, full of sin, hatred, jealousy and lust is the hope of forgiveness, unconditional love and eternal life. This hope was born in a lowly community, in times of distress, government control and discord. People were searching for the promised Messiah. The One God had foretold of throughout the Old Testament. We have the pure blessing of knowing that our Savior has been sent. Forgiveness and love assured.
In these times of great upheaval, just like the time when Christ came into the world, we have the choice to turn from the hatred and head to the Light of the World. The story, passed down for generations, prophesied in the Old Testament and came to pass some 2,000+ years ago is a simple and straight forward message. All it takes is the faith the size of a mustard seed. Seems easy. I encourage you to find the faith to seek out the true meaning of this Christmas time of year. Head into the next decade with peace.
Observation and reflection seem to be at the top of my mind over that past several weeks. Today marks 8 years of sobriety. While some might say congrats or nice job or good for you, but it truly is a celebration of personal responsibility. It is accounting for the damage done, the amends made, humility accepted and God’s direction at the front of everyday. That is the tall task. That is the responsibility of sobriety. It is far less about not drinking, but about continuing the life long process of clearing out the old debris of the past that has caused a need to self-medicate, living present each and every day to be keenly aware of those old faults that can send me into the old spiral and giving back to who I can serve now and in the future. It is about being cognoscente of people’s pain. Keeping ego in check as to prevent steam rolling other out of my need to be recognized. Appreciating what I have verses what I wish I had. Loving intensely those who have granted me their friendship and loyalty, my family and clients. Who are trusting me to guide them, be their friend and teammate.
Life still can be either a crazy 8 or a beautiful figure 8. But no matter which it is on any given day, there is so much to be grateful for. Even the smallest of things like the first cup of coffee in the morning or the fresh smell of the desert air after a rain.
Eight years is a milestone and a dangerous time. Observation and reflection are so necessary to keep me grounded and aware that life and sobriety are fragile. Only with God’s help do I live life one day at a time. I am blessed beyond measure. I am hopeful that my experiences, failures and victories can be an example to help others that are desperately in need of hope, joy and recovery.
Tenth Step Amends Prayer
“God, please forgive me for my failings today. I know that because of my failings, I was not able to be as effective as I could have been for you. Please forgive me and help me live thy will better today. I ask you now to show me how to correct the errors I have just outlined. Guide me and direct me. Please remove my arrogance and my fear. Show me how to make my relationships right and grant me the humility and strength to do thy will.”(86:1)
Thanksgiving. An American tradition. Massive meals, prequel to ridiculous shopping, hectic travel and the darkness of isolation. What? Yes, isolation. Busyness, the true escape from reality. We surround ourselves with people, work feverishly to clean, cook, make small talk, shop, fight crowds and in the end can be exhausted physically and emotionally. Sound like insanity repeated year after year.
A different perspective? A pathway out. The name of the holiday is the definition of the way out of darkness and insanity. Thanksgiving, gratitude, giving, reflecting on the infinite blessings poured on us. I know if I reflect, I could write a gratitude list a mile long. A sample would be, the color orange, sunrise, sunset, clothing, food, shelter, faith, forgiveness, sobriety, the gym, kids, new friends and on and on.
Instead of living in the cycles that pull us into our darkness, focus daily on the blessings. Write them down. Savor the moment. Thank our Creator for your calling and gifts. It can be liberating.