Posts Tagged ‘christian’

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Do it scared, do it hurt, do it depressed…

December 27, 2010

I am revisiting the notion of not letting fear, pain, depression, anxiety, or any other invisible inward feeling stop us from doing what we feel is the next right or wise thing to do.

For most of my life, I let unpredictable, unreliable inner feelings act as a traffic light telling me what I should or shouldn’t do next.  I was naive enough to believe those feelings and would often shy from important things in my life that needed to be done.  Important things like filing my taxes on time, opening mail, completing a home project, working out, or fulfilling a promise made to friends or family.

Instead, I often felt paralyzed by fear, depression, or anxiety.  Feeling so overwhelmed that the easiest thing to do was to procrastinate the task and escape into sleep, tv, or in the old days of active addiction and alcoholism, I would drink or drug.  None of these escapes were of any value.  I was seldom rejuvenated and the task avoided was still there.

Then one day, years ago, I was listening to some teaching on pressing through fear or other overwhelming feelings.  A simple suggestion was posed, “Why don’t you just do it scared”? 

‘It’ being the task that you would otherwise avoid or procrastinate on.  So I began to think back and ask myself, how many exams did I write in school while scared?  Pretty much every one.  Or when I was starting out my career and doing interviews, how many interviews did I do scared?  Pretty much every one.  And how many sporting events did I play scared?  Again, pretty much all of them.  So I realized I could, and often have, done many things while scared.  So why not continue in this?

How was it the first time any of us walked into a room of AA, NA, Al-Anon, OA, or any 12-step program, scared?  I would bet all of us.  Yet what did we find on the other side of that fear?  Sobriety?  Help? Hope? A new beginning after repeated failures and painful losses?  Yes, absolutely!

I believe  that  fear and other negative emotions are tactics often used by the sick/addicted part of our thinking to self-preserve the sickness or addiction.  Somehow, it is like our unrecovered self has a mind and agenda of its own, and it wants to continue to live and grow.  So it suggests to us that we should remain immobile and avoid certain tasks.  Often, the very tasks that will give us the most growth, recovery, and victory in the shortest period of time.

I post this because I find myself in a bit of a post-Christmas funk.  My mood has been heavy for a few days since Christmas and some things are bothering me.  I am home early from work and I have some financial matters that really need attending to.  And at this moment, my mind is doing everything to avoid these matters.

So my determination was to acknowledge and expose these feelings for what they are by sharing them on my blog, then press past the anxious feelings and just do them.  Which is the next and only thing on my list of things to do tonight. 

If re-living feelings of fear and anxiousness similar to those I felt at many important moments in my life is the worst it can be, then I know I can handle it.  I just need to keep it simple, shut the brain off, turn the body on, and do it.  Scared, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or whatever.  It is do-able, even if I am not comfortable.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Grateful for a sober, recovering Christmas. Wishing you one too.

December 24, 2010

I am so grateful to be spending Christmas in a functioning state this year.  In fact, each Christmas since I got sober has been wonderful.  Not meaning perfect, but I have learned to find the wonder and value in virtually all circumstances.

Christmas has been unfolding positively.  Will be seeing various branches of our families throughout the season.  Anxiety has finally quelled enough for me to be able to enjoy the simple things in life.  Like a non-lavish Christmas.

Although I recognize that many do not celebrate Christmas as recognition of the birth of Jesus Christ, I am glad that this day that started as a Christian holiday could become something so positive to so many people.  Sometimes we Christians lose the positiveness of Christmas in our insistence that Jesus birth should have remained forefront.  Well it seems it didn’t.  Not at the moment anyway.

But having gone off track from the original intent, it really isn’t a terrible tangent we have taken.  This really came to heart and mind as I left work today for a few days off for the Chirstmas season.  I found myself sharing hugs and sincere wishes for a great Christmas to people I would normally not have this type of warm interaction with.  Some of whom I barely know.

For a moment, an instant, I shared in warm and happy moments with people with whom I normally only talk work with.  How can that be bad?  I don’t know all the reasons why Christmas has ceased to be a celebration of the birth of Christ.  But somehow, I think God can handle it.

Ya, the commercialism and overspending are negatives.  But who said any of us have to participate in all of that?  Why can’t we focus on the fact that this is a time of year that many, if not most, people in our society are happier, warmer, friendlier.  The cup (of egg nog minus the rum) is half full my friends.  Drink of it and be happy!

Merry Christmas to all!

Chaz

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Whats with “God as we understand Him”?

September 28, 2010

I hear ongoing concern and even debate over “God as I understand Him”.  For those not familiar with the 12 steps or AA, “God as I understand Him” comes from the wording in the third AA step.  Specifically, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him”.

Those who have a clearly defined understanding or belief of who God is, appear often to find this challenging or offensive.  I suppose I understand.  Yet even among people of the same faith systems, do we not all know God only as we understand him?

Do any two Christians, Muslims, or Jews understand God the exact same way?  What about our various denominations, sects, and cultures of any major faith?  Do they not all have very distinct view of what they presume to be the same God?  Are there not members of major faith systems who profess the same God yet some feel God is a God of violence while others feel God is a God of peace and kindness?  Clearly a difference in understanding.

Others are concerned that AA, which certainly appears to have been rooted in Christianity, was tainted when step 3 was changed from “God”, to “God as we understood Him”.  On one hand, I understand their concern over the morphing of their specific belief that yielded results into something compromised for broader appeal.  On the other hand, I don’t understand where this is still not an honest statement because we all can only believe to the degree our understanding allows us, can’t we?

My understanding of God changes continually as I feel he reveals more to me of who he is and how he works.  I believe in the same God I believed in many years ago when I was going nuts with anxiety, depression and ramping up for active alcoholism.  But I understand God today a lot differently than I understood Him then.  This does not mean God changed.  It means my understanding changed.

I used to believe the philosophies and theologies of men who sought to package and sell God to me through their organizations.  And much of what I understood has indeed proven to me to be correct.  But the understanding I had of God through this set of perspectives did not help me get sober.  In fact, their input based on their understanding barely helped me at all.  Some of them even told me that God did not work a certain way or through certain people or organizations that turned out to be the very people and organizations who did indeed help me get sober and recovering.

So were they really interested in helping me find God and seek his help, or were they more interested in my conformity?  Perhaps I will never know.  Nor do I resent them for trying.  They were likely just trying to share God as they understood Him.

One day, I am sure greater truths will be revealed.  And we may find out which understanding of God is correct and incorrect.  Maybe there is a “Road to Damascus Experience” awaiting us and thus we ought to use wise caution in saying who God is or isn’t.  Until that day, how can any of us not be limited by our experiences, cultures, perceptions, and basic natures in our understandings of who God is and how he works?

Ciao

Chaz 

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Spiritual, not religious?

May 8, 2010

So what about this one?  An intriguing discussion emerged on my last post involving the distinction between “spiritual” and “religious” as it pertained to our involvements with powers greater than ourselves. 

My experience is simply that religion is a human-contrived set of practices, disciplines, and rituals he uses to formalize his interaction with God or whatever he believes are non-human powers greater than himself.  Religion as I see it often begins with a genuine experience of some kind with the supernatural.  The person or people who had the experience then form some sort of discipline to practice or continue the connection and perpetuate the experiences for themselves and others. 

Jerusalem

 

Religion seems to get a bad wrap.  Yet by the definition I have come to understand, most of us are in some way religious.  We do practice specific repeating activities to remain connected to the powers we believe in.  I have been involved in religious group who appear to practice religion only, with no clear sign of connection or involvement with a higher power.  The religion felt essentially empty. 

Yet God as I understand him, seems to reach me and make himself known to me in ways that are completely outside of the common disciplines that those who claim to represent him practice.  In other words, outside of the religious structure of many of those who claim to be his followers. 

It can all get complex, which I choose not to participate in.  God as I understand him is bigger than our mistakes, pride, and self-deceptions.  I find remaining humble and searching keeps a steady flow of interaction with God.  This to me is spiritual.  And I can get religious about it if I choose, which does not need to compete with my spiritual experiences.  Religion in fact can enhance my spiritual experiences as long as I do not put my disciplines (religion) proudly ahead of my interactions with God. 

Ciao. 

Chaz

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Thanks God, I’ll take it from here.

April 30, 2010

I often “term” the patterns of thought and behaviour I come to recognize in recovery and life in general.  One such behaviour I have termed the, “Thanks God, I’ll take it from here”, pattern. 

This is where we have recently had a profound enlightenment of some kind.  A realization, awakening, breakthrough, or victory.  Something life-changing.  Often, served up to us under unlikely and undeserving circumstances.  We are instantly grateful to any and all persons and powers who helped us.  We are for a time, truly humble in our brokenness.

It is not uncommon then for a sense of self-confidence to sprout.  Something in our subconscious mind suggests to us that we have in a small way arrived.  Yet we don’t often say it outright.  But we sense it and act as if we have. 

This sense of arrival often then overshadows the enlightenment and humility that followed.  And we end up with the mistaken notion that the source of the enlightenment wasn’t really worthy of the credit we previously gave them.  We forget from where we came.

What usually happens next? Some form of failure.  A relapse perhaps for those of us once addicted.  A reversal of progress for sure.  The one step back after the two steps forward.  Then comes time for another enlightenment.  Then repeat.

Is this a tragedy or just the nature of growth and learning?  I think the latter.

Ciao.

Chaz

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The Big Book is not a Bible. Bill and Bob never asked us to worship AA.

January 26, 2010

I gotta tell ya…. I just don’t get where it was ever intended or suggested that the Big Book of AA should ever be considered a Bible or any sort of holy text.

And in all I have read and experienced in AA, I have never got even the slightest impression from the founders or the organization that the program of AA should be worshipped.

Yet I continually hear and read individuals quoting the Big Book as if it were infallible scripture and deifying the 12 steps and practices of AA.  I also hear and read opponents of AA and 12 step making ridiculous claims about the hidden agenda of the founders of AA.

To me, the Big Book is nothing more nor less than a collection of valuable observations, experiences, and suggestions of a bunch of now-sober alcoholics who found a few practices and way of life that work for them.  These observations and experiences include many self-admitted mistakes in attempts to get sober and help others do the same.  So the notion of the infalibility of the Big Book makes no sense to me.

Similarly, AA encourages us to engage the practices of our faith and to recognize where “religious” people are right.  So I remain unclear and unconvinced as to how this could all be a conspiracy.

Bill W declined many opportunities for personal gain, publicity, awards and accolades.  This is considerably different than many religious leaders of a variety of faiths.  How many religious leaders build huge empires only to become corrupt by their fame, power and wealth.  Yet people of these same faiths criticize AA and its founders.  Many religious leaders could learn a lot from some of what Bill W practiced in limiting temptations of money, property, and prestige.  Maybe he was just wise enough to know that these things corrupt people and their purposes.

To me this all seems like a tempest in a tea pot stirred up by people who are threatened by the effectiveness of AA.  newsflash…. it works for many of us.  Millions in fact. Get over it!  Why not thank God for it?

AA is not, and never was proposed as competition for religious faith.  If anything, AA told us to go back to our faith and beliefs.

There will always be fanatics who take anything worthwhile to an extreme.  Thats why many football fans paint their faces, dawn jerseys, and act like a bunch of morons over whether their team wins or not.

Today, I am clean and sober.  And I have been for years.  A day at a time.  And today, I believe more in God and the Bible than I ever did.  AA just helped me get/stay sober long enough to stay alive so I could believe and serve God again.

Ciao.

Chaz

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How to control everyone

January 19, 2010

Is controlling others not the most prevalent obsession in our world today? And has it not always been?

Tyranny and coercion are the easy control strategies to spot.  What about manipulation? What about false “kindness”? What about silence? What about avoidance? Or projecting “patheticness”? Or suggestion?

Why do we seek to control?  I believe one reason is so we can feel safe.  If others are doing our bidding, or conforming to what we want them to say, do, or be, are we not then buffered to some degree from whatever threatens us?

If we get them to believe what we believe, does it not help us avoid having to question our own beliefs? Do we create a matrix that we can just plug into?  Instead of being free-thinking and continue to re-test and re-validate or adapt our beliefs in a changing and growing world? 

Does this not describe many cultural groups such as corporations, religious groups, political parties, and many 12-Step groups?  Does this not also describe many nationality groups, marriages and families?

Do all such groups not tend to develop their pet theories, seek to gather support for those theories, then lock into and defend those theories by antagonizing new ideas?

Do many such groups not tend to proselytize and build support, then insulate by creating an “us and them culture”?  Then act surprised when others use the descriptor, “cult”?  Even if it is an overstatement of our insular behaviour?

Is it not human nature to want to control others so we feel secure and are spared the effort of thought and change?

It is tougher to be open-minded than it is to continually think and grow.  I’ve tried it both ways.  Open-minded is tougher.  It is easier to want to control people, places, and circumstances.  For me anyway.  And seemingly for much of the rest of humanity.

Ciao

Chaz