Not knowing the answers is a wonderful experience leading to asking more questions, continuing the search for wisdom and knowledge. We often look to the ancients who also walked the paths we are on. They were often labeled heretics and blasphemers for proposing thoughts and ideas contrary to established traditions. They were the holy men, the mystics who searched the truth which lies within each of us. Not claiming to have unraveled the mysteries of the soul, they lived lives awed and amazed by that which was not meant to be understood, but merely accepted and practiced. That is who we are – when we believe we have arrived, we have only begun the journey.
what’s growing in your garden?
If you are sober today, give yourself and your Higher Power a hand.
Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity – STEP 2
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God. – STEP 3
This is the miracle of restoration. It is not dependent on anything you or I could do to alleviate the addictions which controlled our lives. Yes, we had to talk the walk and then walk the talk, but ultimately the grace of a power greater than us brought us back to sanity, restored us to meaningful lives within families and communities – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
God as we understood God is, for many of us, the premise which carries us over the hurdles of previous negative god experiences. No longer do we feel obligated to profess this faith or that in our daily faith walk. Surely, each religious philosophy of the world whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, etc. has nuggets of truth and wisdom; however, life changes when the God we follow is personal, loving and compassionate not corralled by any particular philosophy. As is human nature, we attempt to describe and define, but usually discover that our minds cannot comprehend the greatness or fathom the depths of that which we call Higher Power.
Whether your God or mine is a who, a what, a where, a when, male, female, genderless, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or simply the fellowship which supports our sobriety, give this Higher Power a round of applause today for keeping us clean and serene.
if you are sober today, give yourself and your God a hand
“Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now….we thought we could find an easier, softer way. But, we could not.”
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, chapter 5, How It Works
Wisdom from the BIG BOOK, the alcoholic’s bible, teaches us that there is no easy way to transformation and restoration. We cannot hang on to old ideas, we cannot party with the old crowd, we cannot entertain previous bad habits and expect a sustained, peaceful sobriety. Millions of successfully recovering alcoholics will testify to this assertion from HOW IT WORKS. For us there is not an easier, softer way.
Those of us who profess a faith walk and try to follow earnestly the God of our understanding know this principle applies to all aspects of our lives. Discernment is an integral part of daily living. Not only recognizing a spiritual value, but following the direction of that moral compass becomes a driving force in our lives. Talk the walk and then walk the talk. We cannot conveniently turn on and off the spiritual connection which has returned us to sanity.
And so it is that when discussions of social, political and religious significance occur, we have a choice – wallow in the easier, softer way of complacency and submission to the status quo or advocate what could be infinitely more difficult, but principled. Our guide? It has to be that same moral compass, that discernment which we discovered through the grace of sobriety. It has to be what was learned by giving up the easier, softer way.
I recently witnessed a conversation between two upstanding members of the community. Debating politics, one offered an opinion that his Christian faith had no bearing on his choice in the upcoming 2020 Presidential election. The moral character of his candidate had nothing to do with fitness for the office or ability to lead. The booming economy and low unemployment rate were, by far, a more important barometer than any character faults and defects. Maybe he is right. Maybe it is okay during the election cycle to put away in a box the faith and values which have transformed our lives. Maybe the economy, stock markets and retirement accounts are more important than the life and work of Jesus manifesting through us. Maybe. What do you think?
Would anyone refuse to accept the forgiveness of a lover, a parent, a teacher, a spouse, or a best friend? Of course not. If I have transgressed against you and you offer me your forgiveness, then our friendship cannot continue until I reciprocate with a sincere ‘thank you for understanding’. Only then, after cleaning house, can we pursue our relationship.
Forgive and forget is a cliché which sounds cool but is rarely practiced in our society. Although most of us are ready to forgive, the act of forgetting is difficult because none of us wants to be transgressed again by the same person and, if we are honest about ourselves, we enjoy the grudges which we hold. One of my friends says he will forgive but, the transgressing person will not get a second opportunity to harm or injure. Another holds a lifetime of grudges which fester and negate any potential good will with his transgressor. Others say that forgiveness is an act which benefits the forgiver more than the forgiven. I can understand that but, I don’t believe the purpose of forgiveness is to make me feel better about myself.
So, what then is forgiveness all about? Is it just a religious thing, a few spoken words that are meant to repair a relationship? Does sincerity enter the picture? How about compassion? Maybe a touch of empathy? Spirituality?
The Jewish faith in Psalm 46:10 believes that the psalmist wrote, “Cease striving and know that I am God.” We cease striving and know God when we enter the spaces between our thoughts, relinquish those before and after thoughts to the now moment and realize the power of a God which is omnipotent and omnipresent. That “now moment” is our God space. Living consciously in the now moment is where we will find God.
God says, ” Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.” Psalm 46:10
We are exhorted to give up grudges, to forgive transgressions against us, to receive forgiveness for our wrongs because only then are we ready to enter the realm of “Be still and know.” Our minds, when cleared of human earthly affairs, will then be receptive to God’s presence and God’s power in the stillness of meditation, contemplation, and prayer. It’s a great exercise in spiritual discipline which I certainly have not mastered although I continually try.
Perhaps forgiveness is all about doing what Jesus did on the cross. He wasn’t concerned about feeling better as he hung there dying. He probably did not care if his forgiveness was accepted by the Roman soldiers or the Pharisees. What if, at that moment of physical death on his cross, Jesus wanted to purge humanity of it’s transgressions through forgiveness, (“Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing”)? With this act of forgiveness mankind could resume a relationship with God released from the intolerance and hatred which nailed Jesus to his cross.
Matthew 5:23 tells me to be reconciled with my brother, if there are differences, before I come before God to offer my gift of body, mind, and soul at the altar. In my church service, I present myself in prayer to receive forgiveness for sins and to forgive others who have harmed me. I do this by reciting the Lord’s Prayer so that when I approach the altar to receive communion I am of clean heart and spirit, ready to receive God’s unending grace through the body and blood of Jesus. Forgiveness is that act of soul-cleansing which is necessary prior to spirit renewal. It is not a one-time, one and done activity. It is a continual process which is the centerpiece of any faith walk and recovery program. Namaste.