Breakdown or Breakthrough?

The following piece was sent to me by a friend in recovery whom I both love and respect.  I share it with you because sometimes the difference between a Breakdown and a Breakthrough is all in how we perceive what we are going through.  The original link to the article appears at the end of the piece.

Struggle is Good!   I Want to Fly!

Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.

As you go through school, and life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is the struggle that causes you to develop your ability to fly.

As instructors our gift to you is stronger wings…

Source: http://instructor.mstc.edu/instructor/swallerm/Struggle%20-%20Butterfly.htm

Advertisements

Sometimes God is Useless

“At times like these God is useless…” – quote from a Minister at a church service in NYC held the evening of Sept. 11, 2001.

That statement may seem harsh, caustic, and even reminiscent of the once famous proclamation of God being dead.  But that is far from the truth.  Rather, to me, it speaks to a rawness of truth that people who have been through tragedy can relate to, and often need to hear.

One of the biggest obstacles – when we try to experience spirituality and a relationship with God (in recovery) – our images of God are sometimes the greatest barriers to the relationship. 

I have discovered that most people believe in a God who has an “EGO” – because only a God with an ego would get “mad” or seek revenge or rain down judgment or have his divine feelings hurt if I spoke some personal truth in anger towards him.

I have actually had people judge me and tell me I have lost faith all because I tell them that when I pray I sometimes cuss, that I rage at God when I pray because that is who I am; I am being true to the man God made, and yet somehow I am supposed to NOT be human towards God?  I am also being true to the depth of realness in my relationship with God.

Let me state this as simply as possible, this ‘thing’ that transformed my relationship with God making it more real and authentic than at any time in my life is this change within me: I came to understand and “know” that God does not have an Ego.

Ego is defined as a “person’s sense of self-importance or self-esteem.”  In psychoanalysis, ego has to do with the role the “mind” plays in mediating between the conscious and unconscious mind.  See where I am going with this?

God does not need or have a “sense of self-importance” for God is self-contained – utterly whole and complete – the Power Greater Than myself.  God does not need anything.  God does not need me to placate his feelings with trite remarks of praise.  God does not need anything from me, at all.  Nada.  God does not have a Mind that needs a mediating element.  God does not need a mind.  God just is.  God is the all that is and that is all.

Continue reading

Reminder: In dark times

In your darkest times, in your most desperate moments, when all is lost – sometimes literally, sometimes spiritually – you can still bear witness to God’s presence in your life.

In our brokenness, in our addictions, in our depression, in our lostness – as much if not more so in our joy – we can still know that God is present in all things, as crazy as that seems.

It is a gift in recovery when we begin learning to experience God in the absence and darkness – the moments when grace breaks through our walls of despair – that we can share the Hope of Recovery, that God is indeed among us.

As we grope our way into God’s future, we can know that even in the most unchartered waters, we are being led by a luminous Power Whose name is Grace.

Thoughts from Recovery Cafe, Seattle

“We needed to stay conscious that planting ourselves in the soil of community and showing up daily through meditation or contemplative prayer as a means of surrendering our lives, was not just about our own self-actualization, but was for the sake of a wounded world desperately in need of healing and justice. That healing and justice can flow through us, but is not from us and is certainly not “about” us.

“The Sufi tell a story about a spiritual seeker who was distracted by the sick, crippled and beaten down who continuously passed by as he tried to pray. Finally he cried, “Great God, how is that a loving creator can see such things and do nothing about them?” Out of the long silence, God said, “I did do something about them. I made you.””

-Killian Noe, Descent into Love: How Recovery Cafe Came To Be. 

To learn more about this powerful movement: recoverycafe.org.

Short Musing on “God’s Will”

If you are in recovery, and if you are a ‘worker of the Steps’ then most likely you are often encouraged to seek and pray for God’s will and ONLY for God’s will to be done.  And if by chance you are like me and have a background filled with a toxic bit of the following – evangelical, fundamentalist, charismatic, and/or Catholic Christianity (the toxicity of which I am still healing from as well) – then you are taught to always seek to do God’s will.  You are taught at an almost obsessive level to be seeking this specific Will of God and you are simultaneously taught that God has a plan for everything in your life – from finding a wife to finding a parking space!

If you are like me in any way thoughts of God’s will can become an exercise in selfishness, self-will, and self-obsession: what is God’s will for ME; what does God want ME to do? What does God want for ME?

There is nothing wrong with the questions, but the focus still is me, me, me.  And selfishness is as dangerous to my soulfulness and sobriety as any drink or drug.

So, with that in mind, I am sharing the following quote from a man whom I respect spiritually and whose integrity is high in my book.  Enjoy the words of Dallas Willard that are found in his book Hearing God:

There is a neurotic, faithless and irresponsible seeking of God’s will, which is always taking its own spiritual temperature. In this state, people are far more concerned with being righteous than with loving God and others, and doing and enjoying what is good…

We may insist on having God tell us what to do because we live in fear or are obsessed with being right as a strategy for being safe. But we may also do it because we do not really have a hearty faith in God’s gracious goodwill toward us. If so, we need to [do a bit of growing up] and nothing short of that will solve our problem…certainly, more words from God will not!

The Story of Addictus: musings on addiction and calling

The story of Addictus, or the Myth of Addictus, was about a slave whose master set him free, but the slave was so used to his chains and his pain that when his master allowed him to roam and be free, the slave wandered the land with his “chains” still intact.

All the time he wandered his chains were unlocked and he could have simply taken them off but being so used to and so in love with his chains and pains he chose to NOT take them off.

That is what it is like for those of who have lived our lives enslaved to drugs and alcohol, or to religious systems and other abusive environments.  We are shown a life of freedom, but until a spiritual transformation occurs, we surrender our voice, surrender our very selves to the bondage of addiction.

Addiction is about surrendering our voices and beings over to a master whose end is death.  Recovery is about surrendering to healing, community and inevitably to a master whose end is LIFE: surrendering to God (as we ‘experience’ God) in order to find our voice and our very selves.

I stumbled upon an article years ago written by a spirited writer and addictions specialists named Thomas Lavis.  I have been unable to find a link to the original article, and I have not been able to reach Mr. Lavin to ask permission, but for the sake of healing and recovery, I have taken the liberty of revising his work to tell the story of the meaning of Addiction.  The following is my revision – my Voiced Version – of Thomas Lavin’s article, Please enjoy (and thank you to Mr. Lavin, wherever you may be):

The word “addicted” comes from the Latin word addicere meaning “to give one’s voice over to [something or someone].”  So someone who is addicted has no voice.  A breakdown of the word is something like this: the word “Ad” means “to or toward” and the word “Dicere” means “to speak”.  So, in essence, addiction is when I give my voice over to (or toward) some person, place, thing, or even a process. As most of us who are in recovery know, addiction need not be limited to alcohol or drugs.

I can give myself over, and my inner voice over, to anything: drugs, sex, alcohol, spending, food, pain, exercise, a person, my job, even things like worrying and stress.

The original meaning of the word “addictus” was spiritual – it had to do with someone dedicated to the gods, one whose voice was given over to the Divine for the purpose of worshipping and serving the gods.

Continue reading