Crisis

Suppose God has brought you up to a crisis and you nearly go through but not quite, He will engineer the crisis again, but it will not be so keen as it was before. There will be less discernment of God and more humiliation at not having obeyed; and if you go on grieving the Spirit, there will come a time when that crisis cannot be repeated, you have grieved Him away. But if you go through the crisis, there will be the psalm of praise to God. Never sympathize with the thing that is stabbing God all the time. God has to hurt the thing that must go. – O. Chambers

“He changes rivers into a wilderness And springs of water into a thirsty ground; A fruitful land into a salt waste, Because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it. He changes a wilderness into a pool of water And a dry land into springs of water; And there He makes the hungry to dwell, So that they may establish an inhabited city,” Psalms 107:33-36 NASB. http://bible.com/100/psa.107.33-36.nasb

I’ve always thought of wickedness as a really, really bad thing, something I would never do. But according to Chambers, it seems that wickedness disguises itself as some choice I need to make. When God brings me up to a crisis, I’ve got a choice to lean in or run. For fifty years, I have run from the crisis of addiction in my life.

Leaning in means that I need to get help but my addicted personality believes it can handle everything on its own. My addict is very self-centered, very self-absorbed, cunning and crafty. When I submit to God, it means I must also submit to someone else by sharing that which I do not want to share. This is bringing to light what my addict wants to keep hidden. Staying in the light is the only way to stop the addiction.

And living in the crisis takes time, especially when I have done everything I can to avoid dealing with it for fifty years. Rivers were turning into wilderness and fruitful lands into a salty waste. My focus was on managing my secret and it was taking more and more time and energy. I would feed the addict and sanitize my surroundings so no one would know.

Finally I admitted to myself and to God what was going on, then to my family and friends. I pledged to be honest on September 24, 2017, and I’ve been keeping that promise. It is still really hard to tell my therapist everything and I mean everything. Keeping short accounts is almost impossible. I’ve said things to people that I fully believed I’d carry alone to my grave. Honesty brings freedom but also the pain of responsibility and recovery.

In recovery, God begins to change the desert created by addiction into springs of water. I have confessed the iniquity of my sin to God and He has forgiven me. “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, in whom there is no deceit.” Ps 32 I am truly blessed in this way.

God will clear the wreckage of my past. I’m getting more and more used to who I am as created by God, while living into the pain I have caused my wife, my family and my friends. I doubt if the pain will ever completely subside, but by God’s grace, I believe it will diminish more and more if I stay in recovery and in relationship with God and others.

So I’m willing to walk in my crisis. I’m not happy about it. Some days I’m just willing to be willing, and somehow because that’s being honest, it is enough. I’ve got a long way to go in recovery and I’m waiting on the Lord, trusting in the slow work of God. I’d rather skip to the end of the story, past all the intermediate steps. But I’m learning that is not God’s way of doing things.

Stillness, Still

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” Psalms 37:7, 9, 11 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.37.7,9,11.esv

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip. Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” Psalms 37:23-24, 31, 34 ESV http://bible.com/59/psa.37.23-24,31,34.esv

Lord, I want to delight in the way I am going. Must I change direction to delight more. My life is a wreck. In the ruins I have anguish and intense temptation to leave the path. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Still, my way is my own, though I want to surrender my life to you. I let out the life line only to pull hard to have it back.

The war wages in my soul between my addict and my real self. Yet, reality is allusive. My addict laughs, scoffs at his control or more importantly, at my lack of it. The new way is not the old way reformed. It is returning to the dust, starting afresh, and becoming something totally different.

Establish my steps and place your word in my heart. Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. His delight is in the law of the Lord. In all that he does, he prospers. Wait for the Lord, trust also in Him and He will bring His work to completion. This is God’s way. This is the way I want to walk.

Wait a minute . . .

One sub theme in the biblical narrative is to wait, to not be anxious, to bring silence and peace to all circumstances. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Psalms‬ ‭37:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.37.7.esv

To slow down in a culture that moves at the speed of light is a difficult task. To sit in silence and to breathe deeply seems like an undeserved luxury, or in my anxious moments, it is so counterintuitive it seems to bind me in chains like I’m in a prison cell. I can’t sit still without squirming. If I’m honest, I don’t want to hear the still small voice of God. I want a god who speaks in thunder and lightening, not one who speaks in the silence. I want a god who immediately heals my deepest wounds without any suffering.

When I can hold a space for silence, God’s quiet voice speaks more personally to me. It’s a voice of steadfast love and faithfulness. It’s not about speaking in tongues nor angelic voices that are loud gongs and clashing cymbals. If I’m willing to follow, God moves slowly and quietly in my life gently nudging me one way then another and healing me bit by bit.

My work is to not be deaf to God’s voice. He is speaking as awesomely and as mysteriously as the wind trembles through an Aspen forest. But there are moments when there is no wind. The air is sweet and still. What can I do but to wait patiently and wonder? The only air that moves now is His spirit, in and out through my own lungs. The life giving air rushing into my nostrils, held only for a quarter rest and then rushing out is the breath of God in me, the hope of glory.

So I will sit in silence and wait. Only God can say what this new spirit gradually forming within me will be. I will give the Lord God the benefit of believing that his hand is leading me, and accept the anxiety of feeling in suspense and incomplete. – adapted from a prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

“Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.” Psalms‬ ‭37:34‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.37.34.esv

“Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace.” Psalms‬ ‭37:37‬ ‭ESV‬‬ http://bible.com/59/psa.37.37.esv

Dare to stay in your pain – Nouwen.

Dare to stay in your pain. Nouwen’s words ring true. Leaning into pain in the moment does not cause relief, but it does make your heart more supple and better able to handle life’s shit without breaking apart. The heart breaks open so that the things that we have placed on it are able to fall inside. Only God can put things in our hearts through the path of life he makes known to us throughout the day. As we traverse the path and the rough, tough parts break the heart open, truths fall inside and God keeps them hidden there.

Two Roads Diverge, Part 2 Revisited

In His presence is fullness of joy . . .

I’m still figuring this one out and think it is one of those life long learning opportunities.

Sometimes I feel like I’m addicted to everything. I use stuff to avoid my emotions, especially the strong ones. I hide from fear with food. I suppress anger with gambling. For resentment or stress, there is acting out sexually. Sometimes I find myself even trying to ignore feelings of deep joy.

My counselor is helping me to understand myself. I’m in the middle of a formal presses of full disclosure to my wife about my acting out sexually. Talk about strong emotions. I was suggesting that I just have a beer before or after the upcoming session where I will be telling my wife the nitty gritty of my past. The counselor smiled, like she does, and said I don’t want you to drink before the session and I’d prefer you sit with your emotions after. WTF does sit with my emotions mean? We talked it through. Emotions won’t kill me; they are not good nor bad. They just are.

So for the second time today I sat – we’ve got this great new chair that is perfect for this – through my emotions. Funny thing, today I felt a rush of an emotion that I identify as full joy. I was thinking about a couple. They are some of my best friends. We have cycled across the country together. Tomorrow is Steve’s birthday. Tears ran to the corners of my eyes and down my cheeks. My breaths were deep like the ocean. Complete gladness welled up inside me. And I sat there. Before, I think I would have tried to shake the feeling off, like there was a spider on my hand. Instead, I sat with my own feeling and bathed in the joy. I was surrounded by water that was soothingly warm and my muscles relaxed. It was refreshingly cool and exhilarating at the same moment.

This is another example where I’ve come to believe, “Above all, trust in the slow work of God . . . Only God [can] say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ

Grace and peace to you in Christ who gives mercy sufficient for today,

Henry

Living with Myself

Can I live with myself today, just as I am? This is a learning process. I do not accept all of who I am. God does, but I find myself too complicated, too self absorbed and too confused to fully accept I am who I am.

I find it interesting that when Moses asked what he should call God when others ask, God said, “I AM WHO I AM.” God fully knows himself and he’s not afraid to name and accept all that he is. If I am made in his image, then I wonder if I can accept I am who I am?

A new day of recovery brings with it the mystery of a pilgrim making progress on God’s path, the path of life that God makes known to me every day. When the rhythm of my life syncs with the pulse of the path of life, then I am who I am. My ups and downs become copacetic to me when I keep in step with the Spirit. I do not hike too slow or too fast. The periods of rest are refreshing, not annoying, because I’m not in a hurry to get somewhere. I pause to take in the view. Each breath is a deep, cleansing breath. After a long breath that raises my chest and expands my rib cage, I can say to myself, “I am same sex attracted” without shame. And somehow in that pause along the trail, I can live in peace with who I am in the context of a heterosexual marriage. These are miracles because my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.

So today is another hike down the path of life, the path of recovery. I hope to have the curiosity to discover more about who I am in God’s image and the courage to act accordingly.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Recovering Henry

 

Andante

Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time . . . Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ

Recovery is hard, slow work. I’m only a fledging in the journey so I must be a student, willing to learn from the experiences of others. Recognizing I am powerless to control temptation, my sobriety comes moment by moment only by grace, a gift from God.

My impatience and desire for stability serve to press me to retake control and direct the recovery process. This act of ego and self will only leads to stronger temptation. Instead, I must lean into the instability of being on the way to something unknown, something completely new. I must believe that God is leading me and accept the anxiety of feeling myself in suspense and incomplete. Through the uncertainty, I must submit to the slow, steady tempo of recovery.

Can I trust in the slow work of God? I pray I can.