who’s your Daddy?

Who or what is the god of our lives? What do we hold closest to our hearts? Where do we turn in troubling times of the soul?

Of course the answers matter. Troubling times for humanity are not just a 21st century happening. History tells us that, as a species, we have encountered hardships, heartbreak, devastation, genocide, world war, political unrest and plague throughout each generation of mankind. So, let’s not think that we are unfairly oppressed by the inhumanity of the world or the wrath of a vengeful God.

I often refer to my grandpappy, a wise and thoughtful man, in my assessment of life. One of the most profound and profane summaries of his world was shared in these words: “Shit happens.”

My faith, still immature, says that I have no control over most of the events in my life. A simple prayer learned in the rooms of AA says:

“God grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change; courage to change that which I should, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

That prayer poses questions to be answered: 1) what can I not change? Most obviously, I cannot change other people. I cannot change my past. 2) What should I change? That is easy….I made a mess of my life in drunkenness. I need to change myself and thus my future.

In a nutshell, that philosophy guides us to a successful recovery from addiction and a serene path through life. The ‘Serenity Prayer’ is a life-changer for millions of alcoholics. Most of our challenges (call them failures, if you must) were the result of our attempts to play God. When we recognized that the higher power directing and controlling our lives was a substance such as alcohol/drugs or a behavioral addiction, we then searched for a replacement, an entity worthy to be our Higher Power.

“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Step 2, Alcoholics Anonymous

Knowing a higher power was nothing new to us – it had been alcohol and drugs. Finding a sane alternative was the challenge we faced.

From Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions we read:

“Therefore, Step Two is the rallying point for all of us. Whether agnostic, atheist, or former believer, we can stand together on this Step. True humility and an open mind can lead us to faith, and every A.A. meeting is an assurance that God will restore us to sanity if we rightly relate ourselves to Him.”

Will I relate myself “rightly”, who’s my daddy going to be? Where is my heart’s treasure? With whom do I share the depths of my heart, the concerns and fears, the joy and love?

Like grandpappy always said, life happens regardless of what we think it should be. But, with a commitment to sober-living, life can be a stroll through serenity, or under the ravages of addiction, a trip through hell. It’s our choice.

me worry? never

Youth in D.C. march video denounces ‘outright lies’ about him

 

The next possible victims of the shutdown: Your food, flowers and toys

 

Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria after missile fired at Golan Heights

 

Islamic State targets US convoy in northeast Syria

 

Honestly, I did not need to look far on my MSN homepage to gather these news headlines.  If I were a journalist or a reporter for the major news media, I would likely be on a diet of pharmaceuticals – some to keep me happy, some to keep me relaxed, some to keep me sane, some to keep me awake, and then a few to help me sleep.  All this activity in the world about which I should worry.  Yeah, let’s add some Xanax to the menu.

Tell me again how all of you maintain a sense of composure in the heat of national and international news flashing up-to-the-minute headlines on your media screens.  Which drugs (or alcohol) work best for you?  What?  You’re clean and serene?  Hmmmm, let’s talk.

I have a confession to make.  I am absolutely controlled by a situation that does not involve sex, alcohol or drugs.  Aw c’mon, please don’t run away.  I need to talk.  Every weekday night after supper I plan my evening before bedtime.  Read that great book I’ve been wanting to dive into, write another chapter in the short story I am composing, listen to Beethoven and Mozart, get a sheet of paper and do that letter to my aunt, find an interesting episode on PBS, get into Netflix and rent a great movie.

It is all for nought.  Around 7 PM, I am magnetically drawn to the TV remote, although I swear that remote somehow magically finds my hand.  “I’ll just see what’s happening on Family Feud.  Eh, boring.  Ok, how about ESPN?  Shoot, nothing but basketball.  Well, just a quick view of CNN.  Wow!  Did Trump really say that?  Got to go to MSNBC to verify and get details.”

I am hooked.  More powerful than any bottle of scotch.  Four hours later finds me wrapping up with Lawrence O’Donnell and deciding if I should keep on watching Brian Williams just to be sure I did not miss anything important.  I know, I know.  Where’s my willpower?  Am I not bigger than MSNBC?

Ooooh, please don’t think less of me.  Deep down I am a good person.  I remember the days when I read the morning newspaper for my news and watched “I Love Lucy” before going to bed.  I was a God-fearing Christian man who worked on the assembly line for a 10 hour shift, stopped for a beer with the boys, went home for supper and snuggled with the little lady to watch Johnny Carson.  I was not addicted to instant news.  Whatever world catastrophe was pending, it could wait until morning.

BINGO!  There have always been pending world disasters and we survived without 24/7 news coverage.  How was that possible?  Back then we cared just as much about the riots in China and the tsunami in Indonesia as we would today, but we allowed those news events to unfurl at our leisure.  We did not allow the networks to interfere with our daily routine.  We had more important things happening with the job, the wife, the kids, their school, Pastor Johnson’s dalliance with Mrs. Brown, the YMCA, the local library, the latest cops and robbers story.

That’s the answer.  Back then, my waking hours were not trespassed upon by images and stories over which I had no control.  Watching 4 hours of cable news tonight will not give me 1 second of measurable control over what is happening.  I can sleep like a log ( I was going to say baby, but we know babies keep us up all night) and catch up on headlines in tomorrow’s newspaper with a cup of coffee.  That’s much more civilized, don’t you agree?

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I should, and wisdom to know the difference.”

toil and trouble

Staying out of trouble does not come naturally for me.  Advancing age eliminates most of the physical temptations but, my mind still functions at full throttle and sometimes I get in over my head with the ego employing many of my character defects in very unspiritual ways.  I can’t help it; the devil makes me do it. CANDLE

Truthfully, there is no one to blame except myself.  I have experienced the mercy and grace of a loving and forgiving Father who stood with me in the depths of my personal hell of alcoholism and then led me miraculously to a life of recovery.  That Father traveled with me to the “far country” or, perhaps, he led me there to change the incorrigible reprobate which I had become into a man willing to heed the wisdom of a higher power’s truth.

Staying out of trouble nowadays means keeping my mind on the important things in life, observing the troubling events of life, sorting the two like dirty laundry and putting whites in this pile for a bleach wash and heavily soiled colors in the other pile.  Wash and tumble dry.  It’s a simple household chore that can become a wardrobe fiasco if I don’t pay attention to the need to separate the two.  Just as bleach will change my favorite blue jeans, issues beyond my control will color my attitude if allowed to fester.

So it is with serenity and peace of mind.  Simple attention to the essentials of clearing the trash and sprucing up the pretty things will keep my spiritual house in good order.  When there’s a thought to launch a verbal assault on someone’s opposing opinion, I must observe that thought, process it in a bath of compassion, and then let it go.  No, Larry does not always do that and the results are predictable.  I feel initially victorious, then questioning, then angry with myself for not walking that mile in the other person’s shoes to gain insight into his/her mindset.

I have yet to master the art of ego denial, the need to be right, the desire to have the last word.  My Father tells me that it is unnecessary to come out on top and often I will argue, “But you don’t understand, this is very important, I must retaliate to validate who I am.”

“Really?  Larry, are you saying that My validation is not enough for you, that My mercy and grace will not suffice?”

The need to jump into the fires of political turmoil, the need to feel I am the last champion of a pressing social dilemma, the need to correct an errant theology all become festering soul sores if I don’t run them through the laundry first.  Let God do the sorting and I can then start the washing machine.

When all things are viewed first through the eyes of a Higher Power, my life can be serene and peaceful.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 smiley 3