Blessings v. Lessons; Existing v. Living

Blessings v. Lessons; Existing v. Living

Monday, April 9, 2108 – 00:58

Heavenly Father, Creator of all things, including me. Thank You for this day, full of opportunities for both blessings and lessons. It would be nice if the education didn’t have to be painful or disappointing – but perhaps that’s all in the attitude I choose to have towards it.

I know I’ve been down for a while now on attempting to make progress because I’m not liking Your discipline.pexels-photo.jpg
But actually, I was recently reading (in Mindset) that it’s the non-successes in life, not the godsends, that provide the real chances to grow. Of course, that would be true only when something was different on the next attempt. After all, repeating the exact same actions and expecting different results is pointless, right?

In recovery-land, we call that insanity, and we addicts/obsessives-compulsives are all very good at it. Yet, that’s where I am right now.

Psalm 39 GW
    “Teach me, O Lord, about the end of my life.
    Teach me about the number of days I have left
        so that I may know how temporary my life is.

pexels-photo-301926.jpegIf contrary experiences all have one thing in common, it’s that they are the events that make life un-boring. We appreciate the good stuff more when we don’t want to avoid all the less-good. We love the sunshine more because of the rain. The joy of daylight more because of our inherent fear of the dark.

It’s kind of like seeing the negatives positively as an unexpected but very welcome part of living – as the surprises. That lets us view them as (almost) pleasant things (because we recognize what they represent: a chance to really build character.)

Romans 5 GW
…We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. 

Otherwise, we’re just checked out. We’re just existing, killing off time until the classroom bell rings.Screenshot 2018-04-09 02.41.35.png

That’s what I’m doing. (I’m just not doing.) I know I’m spending way too much time playing King’s Road (a video game) on Facebook. It’s just virtual success that’s satisfying me.🙄

God, motivate me to take a chance again on Your purpose. You have promised that Your plan for me is to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), but I’ve been taking it easy.

img_0161I know we need some rest and recreation to be healthy, but I can so easily get too focused on play in place of work. I have done so more often than not throughout my life.

Grant me not just courage, but excitement in living again.

In Christ’s life-saving, life-changing, life-giving, life-fulfilling name, AMEN

Christianity Is: Divine Paradigm Shifts

My friend, Jim, often refers to being in a Christ-based 12-step recovery program as more a journey of basic “Spiritual Formation” than of a single act of miraculous healing from broken living. I like this point of view, because I think it definitely offers something for everyone – even those who don’t have (or admit to) hurts, habits, and hangups.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 3:23 NLT

For myself, the growth I’ve experienced is both: While the big picture is a life completely transformed, the day-by-day process is an on-going baby-step-by-step migration from chaos to order.

The spiritual piece is, of course, divine. The formational part is simply learning and accepting what has heretofore been unknown or stubbornly unacceptable. Together, a divine paradigm shift. Actually, it’s one awesome adjustment after another, each of which is increasingly inspiring and amazing. Who’d have thunk it?!

Let me share some examples:
One of the first changes in attitude I received was regarding “P.T.” which can stand for ‘Present Tense’, ‘Positive Thinking’, and, later in my recovery from health issues, literally ‘Physical Therapy’. It began when I committed myself to stating, “I am” instead of “I was” or “I want to.” Keeping my plans present and positive made me more able (and likely) to carry them out.

Next, an absolutely huge revelation: acceptance. First, in my acknowledgement of God, the Great “I am“, and then in finding (being given?) the ability to embrace life – my own and the world’s, exactly as it is. This is what allows me to say, “I am a grateful child of God, in recovery, healing, and transformation from ____ (what I was).”

I am what I do today, not what I did in the past.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Grant me the ability to accept the things I can not change…
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it…
The Serenity Prayer

Only when I was able to face the whole of “what is” was I able to identify what I could change, and then gain the courage to change it.

Grant me… the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference…

Then, there was The Law. At first, I focused on what I should not do, but, as I’ve said before, “Thinking about not thinking about something is, in effect, the same as thinking about it.
Instead, I needed guidelines that directed me toward what to do.

Specifically,
Don’t Think, Don’t Look, Don’t Touch

became
All thoughts to praise
On Christ to Gaze
With hands a-raised
Heart and mind amazed (an added bonus!)

Now I was getting somewhere! I’ve heard that to be in recovery is to be in the process of letting my sinful urgings die from neglect, which doesn’t mean I won’t be tempted. I pass the test by not giving into temptation and by not dwelling on the temptation as something I must avoid. Am I dismissing the temptation? Perhaps, but I’ve begun to specifically ask for protection in my nightly prayers. (And it works!)

The most recent development is really exciting, and has made a big difference in decreasing how often I stumble and fall. Early in my journey, I looked upon my obsessive pursuit of things that physically felt good as my burden; my cross to bear. This weighed me down. I was heavily laden. But turn that around, to where that addiction is instead, a gift to offer; a sacrifice made by a living body, voluntarily given up in order to be kept whole, holy and pleasing to God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1 NIV

It might even be that I’m regifting right back to God. He gave me the gifts of the (sometimes beneficial) effects of a wee bit of alcohol, and of sex (and more!) But instead of selfishly hoarding them for myself, I offer them to Him as my way of remaining pure.
Giving of ourselves, especially those things we cherish, to others is a sign of love, is it not?