Barometer of progress

April 11, 2010

How do we measure progress in recovery or simple growth as a person?  I am not sure how to quantify this progress, yet I have discovered observable indicators that I see on a frequent basis that tell me that life is changing, progressing, and that I am growing.

I woke this morning to find my car having been ransacked last night.  I lost a bag full of work-related papers, a pair of prescription sunglasses, and a ring I had bought my daughter for her birthday I had left in the glove box and was going to give her tomorrow.  All told, probably $700 worth of belongings.

My reaction? Smirk, and a quietly verbalized “niiiicee”, as I stood there in the driveway looking at the open door of my car with remaining contents of my glove box on the passenger seat and floor.  I smirked further at the thought of the thieves trying to wear the sunglasses.  They are prescription lenses… they will not have any fun with them.

The telling part was my initial reactions did not include rage.  Nor did they include feelings of deep loss for these items.  I sit here disappointed at the inconvenience and forthcoming expenditures.  But that is it.  I am not furious.  I am not panicking.  In fact, I am blogging over it.  Thats it.  In days and weeks to come, I will replace the items and move on.  Even though I paying for all of these things is not something I can easily do at the drop of a hat.  But so what.  I have lost things in the past and I will lose things in the future.  So did millions of others throughout history.

Some of my barometers of progress include:

  • Road rage: Am I getting any better at how I behave in traffic?  Can I apply the principles of recovery such as acceptance, tolerance, and surrender to the behaviours of others in traffic?  My answer is yes.  More than ever.
  • Relationships: This is the big one.  As far as I am concerned, recovery expresses itself the greatest in how our relationships are going. Any one relationship can have trouble.  The more important question is, are our relationships in general improving?  Do we have more positive interactions in our lives?  Do we connect with stronger and better people more frequently?  Do we have people who can speak honestly with love into our lives?  Do we have any less flare-ups with people than we used to?
  • Handling change:  How do we handle change and crisis now?  Is it any better.  Do we “lose it” as often?  Feel the victim? Go into a rage? Sulk? Whine? Gossip? Self-pity?


Recovery is not something we do “in the rooms” or while we are working steps.  Recovery is how everyday life changes and improves.

So I hope someone out there is enjoying my prescription sunglasses.  And I hope they get a good buck at the pawn shop for the ring.  Summer is a ways off and I can easily replace the glasses by then.  My daughter is in my life and tells me she loves me every time I see her.  The ring can be replaced too.

Today is a beautiful day.  The final round of the Masters Tournament starts soon.  I will see my kids tonight.  I love my wife, and I am healthy.





  1. Sorry about the break in. Sometmes I think it’s hard to see our own progress because we’re so close to it. Helps me a lot, though, to think about what it used to be like and how I would have reacted to the kind of situation you just experienced. Thanks!

    • Greg…. the rage, remorse, and self-pity I would have gone into in years past is sad to even think about. Glad it is in the past. This incident still sucks and hurts. How couldn’t it? Gladly though, am adding little to no drama to the pain and just moving through it.

  2. Great post – my favorite part: Recovery is not something we do ”in the rooms” or while we are working steps. Recovery is how everyday life changes and improves. – enjoy your evening with your family!

    • Yes, Jolene, this is where it matters most… in real life. And yes, evening with kids was magical. Now to top the evening off with some deeply discounted post-easter chocolate as challenging events fade in the rear view of life.

      • NICE – discounted easter candy is the best! 😉

  3. Sorry to hear what happened. But out of something bad, God has used you to share a very encouraging and transparent post.
    I truly thank God for those moments when we see growth in our selves. If it were not for those times, I think we would get discouraged about the rate of progress we are making and feel as though we are watching a pot that never seems to boil.
    When I lose something or it was taken from me, the words come to mind, (after the anger subsides) “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of The Lord”. I also tell myself that God has something better and he will always make up to me what the enemy takes away.
    I am also reminded not to get attached to things and to keep my focus on things above. Not trying to preach to you, just telling you the dialogue I have with myself.
    Right now, I am going through some serious financial problems and could lose some things. But I tell myself, if I had to live in a van by the river, I can still worship Him and have my joy because the Bible tells us to be content with having just food and clothing (1 Tim 6:8) and to keep our focus and desires on heaven and the life that is to come when our Savior returns (Col 3:1-4).
    God bless you for your encouraging words on this blog and mine. May he restore all that the enemy has taken from you.

    • Thanks Robin… glad my blog and replies are of some value.

      I agree that God does bring some pretty amazing things to us out of seeming setbacks. We just need to be patient and faithful to look forward and up, instead of staring at the problem and developing resentments or self-pity.

      This all sounded like a bunch of fluff to me until life got so painful, I either had to change my perspective or die in the pain I was creating by my outlook.

      Yet the Bible all the time had taught me clearly to “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials…”. This was just a bunch of blah-blah noise to me until it was revealed to me what it meant on a practical level.

      Today, I filed my income taxes which in Canada are due at end of April. It is always very anxiety-provoking for me and it is easy to slip into dread. Instead, I exercised every bit of wisdom in me to face it and push myself through it. In the end, I found out I owed exactly the amount I had set aside through the year. What a great little signpost that God is with me on my journey.

      The mathematical liklihood of me owing the amount I had set aside, given the variables in my taxable income and expenses was extremely remote. I choose to give God the credit for it.

      Similar things can unfold for you in your financial situation. Been there. I have a page on this… might be meaningful.

      See ya on the blogs! Thanks for stopping by.



  4. Chaz, I really enjoyed this blog post. As you may know I was the victim of a burglary last year, and my reaction was very similar to yours. ‘Stuff’ can always be replaced, and it is only ‘stuff’ after all. I don’t agree with theft, but I didn’t know the thieves story – perhaps they were desperate?

    There’s a quote by Dr Johnson (I believe) who said something along the lines of “I cannot possibly complain about anything – I am alive!”

    I find this often puts things in perspective for me

    Thanks for posting 🙂

    • Hi Lor… I was not aware of your break-in. Glad to hear you made it through. It is never pain-free, but we can make it pain minimized of we keep a healthy perspective.

      Agreed that alive is something to be grateful for. Everything else a bonus frankly. Yearly, I watch Band of Brothers series to remind myself what hellish experiences my Fathers generation went through.

      People who in WW2 lost everything. Homes and cities blown up. Family killed… murdered. And it is going on somewhere in the world today as we blog.

      So ya, the degree to which we disconnect with our culture’s values of the need for stuff and stuff-worship, is the degree to which it own us and holds our happiness in its fragile grip.

      Today is a great day.

      Thanks for stopping by.



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