Obstacles, Then and Now

Obstacles, Then and Now

My 1-year-old grandson is fearless. He toddles headlong towards the stairs – with no knowledge of how to go down them. Watching him, it occurs to me that we humans learn fear as part of growing up.

We learn to fear many different kinds of things. Some of these are physically painful like lions and tigers and bears, flames, and running with scissors. Some leave emotional scars like rejection, being lost and alone, not being loved. Some are are just really, really scary like failure and the unknown.

At first, we learn from first-hand experience, but then we cleverly get to seeing what others go through and can transfer ourselves into their shoes. Perhaps this is one of the marks of maturity: a sense of Rational Deductive Cautiousness.

But as with everything I do, I found the danger in the extremes. I tend to get obsessive. And, in my past, this led to the strangest fear of all: the fear – not of failure, for I was overly comfortable with that – but of success.

Is this the hardest of all fears to find? Perhaps. It certainly takes the longest time to develop. This is because it is the result of conditioning – a seeming lifetime of negativity. I arrived at a point where I expected misery and loss, and therefore kept minimal expectations.

And I even put obstacles in my own path. I self-sabotaged, self-condemned any attempt before it even began.

I discern two reasons for this happening. First, the root cause of fear of success is the idea – what I thoughtknew – that I was not worthy of succeeding. I did not deserve it. Feeling unloveable went hand in hand with that.

Another long-term effect of being afraid of any happy ending is that I just “got used to less.” Success became a strange and foreign thing, something completely different, unfamiliar and potentially uncomfortable (or so I thought).

“What do you fear, my lady?”
“A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them
and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.”
LotR

The solution, which I continue to discover in my journey of healing and transformation, is
#1: accepting The Maker’s love for me. “For He so loved the world...” He created me. He knows my name, and everything about me. And this is a very good thing!

#2: Quite plainly, the evidence of my life backs this up. I remain alive – for something good. I am clearly blessed – in spite of all the material things I lack.

#3: My fear is the result of leaning on my own understanding and abilities, instead of trusting in the Lord with all my heart (Proverbs 3:5)

#4: 1 Corinthians 10:13:

…He will also provide a way out…

I’m guided to that way out by ‘landmarks’ carefully placed in my everyday routine. These are obstacles – not to my success, but the means of blocking my falling and failure. That was then. This is now.

In valor there is hope.
– Tacitus

In other words, these days I work to put obstacles in the way of relapse, to prevent old habits and patterns from returning. These are things that I would very consciously have to step around in order to do ____. Their presence gives me pause, a chance to think carefully about what I am thinking about doing. I have a moment “to test and approve what God’s will is” (Romans 12:2)

And, sometimes, these days, I am “strong and courageous… not afraid or terrified… and I know God is with me… will not fail or forsake me” (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Chronicles 28:20) and I can pray, repent, turn back to Him.

Obstacles to relapse will be different for everyone. Here are some examples of mine:

– we keep no alcohol in our house
– in the early days of recovery, I changed my driving routes to avoid old haunts
– computer monitoring apps/software keep me away from tempting sites
– I deleted all RPG video games
– I cleaned house of adult entertainments and toys

And, what I call OMKIP: On My Knees In Prayer.

As I’ve recently written about, nightly I get on my knees in prayer, thanking God for His blessings and mercy, and begging His protection from thoughts, visions, dreams, fantasies, and memories which would entice me away from how I offer my body as a living sacrifice, whole, holy and pleasing to Him. (Romans 12:1)

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, STAND FIRM.
Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58

“Accept” Is An Action Word

God,
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change.

082
I used to think life was me against the world. Back then, I had absolutely no idea how to deal with things I had no control over – nor did I even realize how little I actually could manage. I spent most of my time intentionally looking any other way, trying to see only what I wanted, and making big, dreamy plans. Problem was, I never got around to putting them in motion because my delusion convinced me everything was just fine.

My fondness for “Role Playing Games (RPG)” is a perfect example of this. These are basically alternate reality adventures in which I play the totally customizable main character, every attempt has unlimited do-overs easily handled with a mouse-click from the comfort of my favorite chair, and every virtual step contributes to a sense of great accomplishment. If you can picture that, you know there’s not a lot of real action taking place.

272So, when I finally did awaken -and it was mostly a dawning of spiritual awareness – one of the very first things I learned was this concept of “accepting”. Accepting my circumstances in a black-and-white sort of way; accepting my limitations in abilities – for example, I don’t have a great singing voice which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make my joyful noise, but it is definitely a drawback to being a rockstar; accepting “as Jesus did, the world, this sinful world, as it is, not as I would have it.”

18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
1 Corinthians 12 (NIRV)

084The challenge, of course, was the “unfairness” of being cast in what I saw as a less-than-glamorous role. The key in my attitude change was beginning to understand that the lack of importance of my part in God’s eyes is a false impression – a lie from the enemy.

I’m reminded of my Dad, a music teacher, who worked summers on local youth drama productions. When we were kids, we got bit parts – kind of by default, because we tagged along with him and my mom sewed the costumes. I remember I even had a line to say once in The King and I. It was a big deal to me and my parents, even if it wasn’t vital to the plotline or the success of the play.

315God, my heavenly Father, has cast every one of his children in the same way. I might not be a big player on any the world’s most popular stages, but, in God’s story in my life, mine is a very necessary subplot and it just might be that sharing it will have a major impact for someone.

That’s what the verse Colossians 3:23 talks about:

In all the work you are doing, work the best you can [do it heart and soul; from the soul]. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.
EXB

I became aware of why I was and found the motivation to give it my all when I found out how God felt about me. He created me, exactly as He wanted and needed. And if my part is that important to Him, I want to accept it so fully that it exists at the very center of my being.

My life has been an incredible, exciting, interesting drama and comedy and action adventure. I really don’t know what my Father has in store for me next, but I rest in His promise that all will be good and ultimately have the happiest of endings.