What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Acknowledging God

We “sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” This is Alcoholics Anonymous’ Step #11.

Some days it is harder to work this step than it is other days. Sometimes my body feels so heavy, my feet stuck in dried cement, my arms trying to swim through jello. With the physical sluggishness there is usually a mental fog, and an emotional block. When that condition sets in it is hard to think about Step #11. Keeping a conscious contact with God is hard under these circumstances.

King David gave me an idea (in AA it would be called “a suggestion”) as to what I can do when I can’t figure out how to stay in contact with God. When I cannot figure out what to pray or how to meditate, King David’s prayer can be ours, “Hallelujah! You who serve God, Praise God! Just to speak His name is praise!” [Psalm 113:1, The Message] Just speak His name. Just Speak His name. It’s just that simple. I can call out one, or some or many, of His names and my contact with God is renewed or maintained.

I looked it up (gotta love the internet). There are more than100 names of God listed on one website. A few of my favorites: Advocate, Deliverer, God, Jesus, Lord of Lords, Mighty Ruler, Physician, Refuge, Servant, Teacher, Wonderful Counselor, and the Word.

Wow! I can repeat God’s name(s), and by this simple action improve my conscious contact with God. Just speaking His name, acknowledges Him as supreme and as worthy of praise. When all my intellect, training, giftedness, or strength is not enough to shake the cement off my feet and sweep the cobwebs out of my head, I can just speak His name. There is an aspect of God, reflected in His many names, that meets me where I am.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I know some of you may have received this blog reference several times. Sorry. I cannot figure out why the formatting, including font size and style, are inconsistent. After trying to fix it several times, I've given up. Maybe next week it will work like it is supposed to.

Temptations and Escapes

What do you think temptation looks like? Is it the same for your siblings? Is it the same for your parents? Is it the same for each of your friends? Is it the same for each and every stage of your life?

Probably not. Temptations are common, but not all the same. God allowed Satan to tempt/test Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4). Satan used what he thought would most easily cause Jesus to fail: Hunger, Power, and Protection. Satan wanted to get Jesus to test God to see if God’s Word was true. Could God relieve Jesus’ hunger? Could God give Jesus rule and control? Could God keep Jesus safe (even from Himself)? A resounding YES! Jesus knew what God had promised, but He also knew that God said not to “test” Him. Jesus waited for God’s help, which was given right after the third temptation, in the form of God sending Satan running (until another opportunity presented itself).

My temptations are similar to what Satan used with Jesus, but are different, too. My three favorite addictions (see More Than Wishing for July 14th) are what Satan uses to tempt/test me. Satan wants me to focus on what I want that is contrary to God’s plans. Mostly it has to do with escaping problems or hard situations by my own, human power. In AA, the end of How It Works (read at the beginning of most meetings) says,

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter of the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.”

God could and would . . . and will continue to work whenever I seek Him.

The Bible tells it a slightly different way:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. [1 Corinthians 10:13]

Taking things into human hands to escape misses out on God’s best and usually results in a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration. It is in the seeking of His escape that lessens anxiety, fear and frustration. He has provided a way out – a healthy, satisfying, and peaceful escape. Seek it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Addiction Decisions

In general, addictions exist to allow people to avoid feeling. I honed my addictions until they worked like magic – at least I told myself so. The feelings found their way into my thoughts and actions anyway. I have, over the course of several years, made three of my addictions off limits, not even allowing myself to think about them.

First there was alcohol. I came to believe that if I were to drink again, I would die in short order, probably by my own hand. Total abstinence was required. I have maintained that decision for 12 years, one day at a time, by the grace of God.

Then there was another way to numb that I had “used” off and on for years. Self-harm behaviors. I made the decision to stop hurting myself, especially by cutting. Again, total abstinence was required. I have maintained this, for the most part, for about 4 years, one day at a time, by the grace of God.

Most recently I made the decision to not allow myself to consider suicide and suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide and ways to do it) as viable ways to cope with emotional, mental, or physical pain. This also requires total abstinence. I’ve done this, but not perfectly, for the last 18 months, one day at a time, in 6-month intervals, by the grace of God.

Now I have to apply the “replacement skills” I’ve learned as I gave up my addictions. Using new coping skills to fill the gap is uncomfortable. I want to find an easier way to deal with the emotions. The problem is emotions are not easy to deal with – but they are necessary, they exist for a reason.

I was told a year and a half ago that I was addicted to anything that will let me distract from feeling my emotions. I need to remind myself of this often. And in the remembering, I can commit to one more day without using one of these three “favorite” addictions. By the grace of God.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cognitive Dissonance

There are only a few things I remember from my high school Psychology class. One of them is Cognitive Dissonance, “the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.” It is the catalyst for change because holding onto the contradictory thoughts will torment us until the contradictory beliefs are resolved.

Lately I am living between decisions, in the tormented stage. Not deciding one way or the other on an important issue results in mental agony. Often there is physical consequences that show up due to the extra stress and anxiety that comes with indecision.

How long can I go without serenity, calmness, or sense of wellbeing that comes from making the decision? The thing about Cognitive Dissonance is that the longer a decision is postponed, the bigger and scarier the issue becomes. It becomes the cause and focus of most thoughts. Making other decisions, thinking about something else, or living a life worth living (thriving) is difficult. Example: I haven’t been able to concentrate on other things so I couldn’t think of anything to write for this week’s article, and I didn’t even remember to write an article (thus the later posting time than usual).

Friends want me to make the decision right now – or at least set a goal as to when the decision will be made. Either way I decide will bring peace within me. I do want that, but I’m not ready to make a decision, yet.