Did you ever know someone in whose presence you felt connected, peaceful and refreshed? We literally are healed by such people. We draw strength from them. When we walk about life alone, or trying to do it all ourselves this may work for a while. But gradually we loose our life force and begin to whither on the vine. Conversely when we open ourselves to healing presence in others, life takes on new meaning and it’s as if our spirit comes alive with this new food. “Not by bread alone do we live!” We need the “food” of others in order to live well in this life.
Some of us, because of past hurts, tend to crawl into our shells, afraid to depend on others, afraid to open our hearts or even ask for simple help. Perhaps this initially feels the safer way to go about life; but gradually we begin to die, perhaps not physically, but our spirits begin to whither. Is this any way to live?
It’s no accident that creeds, mission statemets and the 12 Steps begin with the word “we.” None of us can do it alone. Yes, in opening ourselves to others, to groups, to churches, to lovers – we may indeed get hurt. But what’s the alternative? A safe, but lifeless existence?
Who are the people from whom you can draw healing and strength? How are you called to be healing presence for others?
Do you like who you are? Do you like where your life is these days? As you look to your future, do you like the direction that you’re headed?
Did you ever get to one of those points in your life where you just wanted your life to be so different than what it is? What do we do when we hit such a wall? The previous reflection I think helps. Accept that that’s the way things are for right now. BUT, don’t stop there. The serenity prayer is helpful here, a prayer that is often prayed at 12 Step Meetings: “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!”
If you are wanting to run away, if you are sitting there wishing your life was different – something is obviously wrong. What is it that’s bothering you? What is it that you would like to see change in your life? Can you do anything about that? If you can, what little action could you take today to “change the things you can?” Even one small action today can make a tremendous difference in getting you on a new road. What small step can you take today that will begin to create a new you?
This morning I concluded my prayer using the closing prayer from The People’s Companion to the Breviary. I was struck by this phrase: “Let the birth of Jesus be a new birth for us (p.320).” May it indeed be a new birth for us! Happy New YOU!
For those of you who might feel a little down lately, know you’re not alone. Many people get down this time of year with all the hype, romance, and hustle that this season can be. As I wrote yesterday, I too have realized that I’ve been dealing with a lot of negative thinking and need to change my thoughts.
12 Step programs have a bit of wisdom to offer those of us who feel a bit down, who wallow in self pity, or who deal with a lot of negative thinking. Get out of yourself! Many times in 12 step meetings you will hear this bit of advise given. If you’re feeling down, wallowing in self pity or in stinking thinking – go help someone. Go help another addict, another person who is struggling in some way. Get out of yourself and just go help someone. This will make you feel better.
I did just that yesterday when I visited a woman in a nursing home, who I know is lonely. When I walked in the room her face literally lit up like a Christmas tree and she hugged me tightly. She was so happy that I had come to visit, if even for a little while. I don’t know who benfitted more though. All I know is that I felt a lot better having seen her.
Feeling some holiday blues? The prescription: Get out of yourself. Take it. You’ll feel better.
I recently spoke with two college students. When I asked how they were doing they both responded: “Stressed!” As a matter of fact, one of these students called me late one evening because he was really coming a bit unglued, as the stress of a new semester was kicking in his clinical anxiety. What was happening was these two students were sitting at home with all their Syllabuses from EVERY class they were taking laid out. They were concentrating on and freaking out about EVERYTHING that needed to be done. Both were becoming paralyzed as a result of the stress they were feeling.
I smiled as I told both of them not to look at the big picture, but just concentrate on the small stuff and what needed to be done today. I smiled because I SO need to remember this same thing at times! When we just keep concentrating on the big picture we easily get anxious, wondering how we’re going to get it all done. This anxiousness is nothing but an energy drain which leads to paralysis. What we can do is pause, take a breath and just concentrate on getting ONE thing done. This will lead to the next and the next, without a lot of useless anxiety.
Life can so easily be that way sometimes can’t it? In such moments when we feel anxiety rising and wonderment as to how in heaven’s name we’re going to get everything done – in such moments, maybe we need to remember not to sweat the big stuff! Just do what’s before you. The rest will fall into place.
Yesterday I reflected on the fact that we all look for keys that unlock meaning for us in life and that we ourselves are a key that has the potential of unlocking good things for others. Today I would like to reflect on the importance of using the keys that we find that unlock meaning and energy in our lives.
I was speaking with a friend recently and we were talking about learning new behavior and how we literally have to reprogram ourselves, reprogram our thinking, the tapes, behaviors and habits from our past that we have assimilated. It takes work and discipline to grow beyond any of that.
When we find a key that we feel begins to unlock something within us, it’s important to use that key again and again. It’s almost like being “brain washed.” We need to continually return to the key to keep growing and moving forward. In Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 Step programs, for one who is coming in new, they recommend doing “90 meetings in 90 days.” A meeting EVERY DAY for 90 days! Seems daunting. But it comes from the collective wisdom of those who have gone before who know that we need constant help in changing our thinking and behavior. If we want results, we need to stick with it.
For those of you who have a partner, think of how you relate to your partner. Do you feel that you are growing in your relationship? Do you feel that, as a result of living in this “school of love,” that it’s a key to becoming a better person? I’m sure at first it was easy to love him or her. They had the “key” to your heart and you had the key to there’s. But as time goes on, and the feeling wears off a bit, it begins to take work to use the key, to go out of your way to do something for them. As we practice loving acts, slowly they become second nature and the very foundation of good living and loving.
Are we using the keys we’ve been given?