Category Archives: Design For Living

Self Esteem & Honesty

We have struggles being honest with self and others. The concept of false self-image, low self-esteem and lying, is prominent in people with substance use disorders
The following story about myself is a prime example:
Last week I was rejected for a position I coveted. I felt it had the potential to help people recover from addiction and stop the cycle of relapse. It fit perfectly with what I am seeking and my qualifications matched. The interviews went well, I thought. But then I was told I wasn’t the right fit, but possible when they expanded and were hiring again I might fit.
It made me feel disappointed.
Soon after anger and fear were creeping in, but never did I feel like drinking or using. I kept sharing with others in recovery and my sponsor. Being told that it would work out for the best, it probably was not meant to be or maybe I should change my focus.
This advice only made me more determined to find the truth about this obvious mistake. It was making me less accepting and unable to find my part until I started praying to my HP for understanding and acceptance. Within 15 minutes a friend of mine with inside knowledge of what had happened casually mentioned to me he heard what happened and was disappointed for me. Suddenly this little bit of compassion transformed me into an accepting person with many good things to say about everyone involved and how fortunate I felt to know of the program and have met such exceptional people.
I am relieved. I became aware of my need for humility and ability to trust my HP to help me grow, to be resilient and understand it all happens for my good.
My self-esteem is fragile and rejection had fractured it.
I was letting my thinking interfere with my heart, losing touch with it and thinking I was in control with my mind.
Thank you, Sunlight of the Spirit, for energizing my soul, helping me trust and have faith.

Spiritual Faith

“And Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I instead of God? You intended evil but God meant it for good…” Genesis 50:19-20

Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith Spiritual Faith

In the final portion of the Book of Genesis, Jacob passes away, leaving his sons to fear that with their father gone their brother, Joseph, will take vengeance upon them. They feared he will be revengeful for the wrong they did him many years ago when they kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. The brothers approach Joseph and beg him to do them no harm. Joseph is taken aback. “Am I instead of God?” he asks rhetorically, “You intended evil for me but God meant it for good.”

The words with which Joseph reassures his brothers are quite telling. Certainly, he could have said something to the effect that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” But Joseph communicated a message far more profound than that. Not only did he have no desire for revenge, he would not even concede that his brothers had actually succeeded in doing anything to him for which he should feel wronged. He allows that they had intended evil for him – for which they are presumably accountable before a Higher Power, but that is none of his concern, that is between them and God.

He explains the reason for his lack of resentment: a Higher Power was in control all along and his brothers had done nothing to him outside of the Universe’s plan. To be sure, the day his brothers sold him as a slave, Joseph’s life was changed forever. But there was a plan for him to come to Egypt, to become Pharaoh’s viceroy and to save his brothers in time of famine. That was not what his brothers had in mind, but for Joseph that was irrelevant. Life, as he saw it, was not a result of anything that any human being could ever have done to him, but rather, the culmination of God’s beneficent plan.

Our spiritual journey is best traveled lightly and we can scarcely afford to be weighed down by such useless, heavy baggage.

If we attribute to the actions of others any power to define our lives, then we submit ourselves to the tyranny of people, places and things rather than surrendering to the loving care of the Sunlight of The Spirit. Even when there have been people in our lives who have intended us harm, our faith tells us that none of that could have ever derailed our lives from The Universe’s plan.

To state it succinctly, to carry a resentment is to grant power to a created being; to truly let go of resentment means to grant power only to a Higher Power.

Spirituality – Plans

SPIRITUALITY

God has sent me ahead of you to insure your survival, and to save your life in an extraordinary deliverance. Genesis 45:7

Joseph is finished testing his brothers’ trustfulness and reveals his identity. They are relieved to be unburdened of their guilt and overjoyed at his benevolence. Joseph sends them to Canaan to bring their father, Jacob, and the rest of the family to Egypt. The family is reunited, peace and forgiveness is shared happily.

What had been intended and expected to happen didn’t, instead as is often the case God’s plan was nothing like what they thought was going to be. Joseph had become a living power of hope and strength, trusting his Higher Power and letting go of resentments and anger. Thereby being able to embrace his brothers and reunite with his beloved father.

Our purpose as imperfect spiritual beings are to be accepting as best we can. Perhaps that is why the journey of spiritual renewal leads to an awakening, we find a sense of purpose to be among those living.

It may involve understanding the Sunlight of the Spirit has a plan for us that we may not be able to change but we are able to shift its course. Joseph did not know where his life was taking him, but he made choices along the way that led to a smooth peaceful ending.

If we go where we are supposed to go, listen for guidance along the way and don’t look back, we will be where we are supposed to be.

SPIRITUALITY SPIRITUALITY SPIRITUALITY SPIRITUALITY SPIRITUALITY 

Accepting Imperfection

rust God
Faith

If we are to accept our imperfection it begins with Step 4 and climaxes at Step 7.
The earliest version of Step Seven, in fact, read: “Humbly on our knees asked Him to remove all our shortcomings, holding nothing back.” Those who tried to hold something back almost invariably “slipped” and started drinking again.”
Holding nothing back: a tall command, but one of the first—and great—gifts of a “spirituality of imperfection,” for it is the acceptance of imperfection that makes “holding nothing back” possible. A.A.’s inspired choice of the terms defects of character and shortcomings in the Twelve Steps reinforces the insight. As opposed to guilt-laden words such as sin and evil or shame-inducing expressions such as latent perversion or oral fixation, the terms defects and shortcomings suggest the imagery of falling short (the original but long-lost meaning of the word sin). Such words and imagery first allow and then invite the owning of all of one’s self. Alcoholics are not in A.A. to escape themselves, but to accept themselves as they are—flawed, imperfect, wounded, alcoholic—and through that acceptance to be healed, to be made whole, by being integrated into the reality of their own reality. Healing means not the elimination but the embracing of imperfection, for only thus is it possible to find wholeness.”

“The importance of spirituality pervasiveness came clear to one of the authors when he began a brief stint of work at a treatment facility for alcoholic Roman Catholic clergy.
Shortly after my arrival, the House Director came down to my office one day and with a twinkle in his eye asked in his resonant Irish tenor: “Ah, Dr. Kurtz, would you like to have a reputation as being wondrously wise?”
“Of course,” I answered, smiling back at the ruddy-faced Celt, “anyone would want such a reputation. Tell me, Ed, how?”
“Well,” our resident genius replied, “as you may suspect, not all of our men make it on the first try. Some of them try a wee sip of ‘the creature’ again, and so eventually they end up back here. And because I am the Director they come to me to be interviewed as they are re-admitted, and when they do, I start off by asking them two questions, and oh, they think I am so wise … that I can see into their very souls.”
After a maddeningly long pause, Ed continued: “The first question I ask, of course, is, ‘When did you stop going to meetings?’ And what are you hiding?”

What are you hiding?” The question has two dimensions, striking first at denial, the essence of which lies not in deceiving others, but in deceiving oneself. Denial is self-deception. The alcoholic who swears, “I am not an alcoholic” is really convinced that he is not one, and so this first level of denial involves being cut off from the wholeness of one’s self. But denying one’s own identity—as “alcoholic” or as anything else—means also deceiving oneself about the steps needed to regain that wholeness, to become whole again. This second level of denial involves holding back—hiding—the denied area, refusing to make it available for healing.

The Spirituality of Imperfection
by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham

Time-Be Here Now

All spiritualities touch on time, for time is as pervasive as spirituality. A less than five-century-old Native American tale tells of this connection. A connection to living in the moment and “to be here now”. That if we let it; time will control us and steal our moments.

Long ago, the People had no light. It was hard for them to move around in the darkness and they were always cold. Mink took pity on them. He heard that on the other side of the world there was something called the Sun. Those on the other side of the world were keeping it there. So Mink decided to steal the Sun for the People. It was not an easy job, but Mink was a great thief. He stole the Sun and placed it in the sky so that it would share its light equally with the People on both sides of the world. Now it was no longer dark and cold all the time. Now there was day and night because of the Sun. The People were very happy and they praised Mink. He grew proud of himself because of that praise.

“Perhaps,” he said, “there is something else I can steal for the People.”

A long time passed and Mink saw nothing that was worth stealing. Then the Europeans came. They were new people with a lot of power.

“What is it that these new people have that we do not have?” Mink said.

Then he saw what it was. The Europeans had something they called Time. They used it to give them their power. So Mink decided he would steal Time. He waited until it was dark and sneaked into their house. There, in the biggest room, they kept Time up on a shelf. They kept it in a shiny box, which made noises. As it made noises, two small arrows on the front of that box moved in circles. Mink could see it was a powerful thing. So he carried it off.

Now Mink and the People had Time. But Mink soon found that it was not easy to have Time. He had to watch the hands of that shiny box all the time to see what the time was. He had to keep three keys tied around his neck so that he could use them to wind up that box full of time so it would keep on ticking. Now that Mink had Time, he no longer had the time to do the things he used to do. There was no time for him to fish and hunt as he had done before. He had to get up at a certain time and go to bed at a certain time. He had to go to meetings and work when the box full of Time told him it was time. He and his people were no longer free.

Because Mink stole Time, it now owned him and the People. It has been that way ever since then. Time owns us the way we used to own the Sun.

There is a message here that I think applies to people generally. For me it is that I sought POWER. I sought it in every relationship I had: family, friends, co-workers or employees, business associates, and women, especially women. There wasn’t a relationship I had with any woman who wasn’t about me having the POWER. Our dating, where we went, who we befriended, how much sex we had and when, money and how it was spent. This is not to say that I always got my way but I always sought to have THE POWER.
That seeking kept me from being in the moment and not letting time control me. As long as I thought the way I did I couldn’t enjoy the time I was spending with others because I was too concerned with MY POWER.
The story reminds me that seeking power also robs me of enjoying what time I have with other people.
In recovery I learned that to don’t have that kind of control and being obsessive of power and time robs me of a quality of life that my Higher Power wants me to have. Real recovery is awareness and letting go.

TWELFTH STEP MESSAGE

TWELFTH STEP – MESSAGEBUT REMEMBER TO TAKE THE MESSAGE WITH YOU!!!

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.

A hallmark of 12 step recovery programs is the offer of anonymity to participants, but the principle goes deeper than just not revealing last names.

In order to keep the focus on principles and not personalities, personal anonymity should be maintained at all levels of participation in 12 step fellowship — in meetings, in 12th step work, and even in sponsorship. Anonymity is maintained not so much for the protection of the individual as for the protection of the program.

Spiritual Trust

Abraham had spiritual trust and followed the direction of his Higher Power.

“I am a shield to you. I will establish my covenant between Me and you. Walk before Me and be pure.” Genesis 13:1 – 17:2

Abraham has made a decision to turn his life and his will over to the care of God, and for this God has made another covenant with humankind. The promise goes beyond protecting the land and the waters where humans live, it will now extend to the people who walk before their Higher Power.

A Spiritual Renewal awaits those who leave idol worship and sinful ways for the purity of accepting God’s will in their lives. Abraham is whole-hearted in his devotion, living honestly. He stands before the Sunlight of the Spirit with a faith ready to journey to new places believing he is not alone.

This new covenant is one of the soul and goes beyond time and space, it connects with his past and secures his future. It measure all that he does, he lives it in all of his behavior, those he loves as well as those he hardly knows. He believes that his Higher Power works through people he meets, so greets all with love, admiration and respects. It insures his part of the covenant.

We all have different relationships with God. Sometimes where we are and what we are doing forces us to reconsider who we are and what we have become, all in relationship to God. Faith comes harder than belief. We can begin with little steps. Let The Sunlight of the Spirit’s presence be a shield about you until you are ready to be a shield for others.

Into your hand I entrust my spirit. Psalm 31.6

HIGHER POWER

The use of the phrase Higher Power—his, hers, yours, or mine—rather than the word God, reminds people in recovery of tolerance of individual differences in religious belief and spiritual inclination. The most basic understanding of the concept “Higher Power” within RECOVERY is that it is that which keeps me free of my addiction. In a sense, it is the ultimate pragmatic concept of God. For people in recovery who have tried and failed time after time to stay abstinent without a spiritual solution, who have tried and failed after using any one of innumerable techniques, that which finally does keep one away from substances or addictive actions becomes a “Higher Power”.
A psychiatrist tells this story:
A person in recovery was telling a friend that on awakening each morning he prays to his Higher Power for another day of recovery, and that each night before retiring he thanks that Power for having granted him a day of recovery.

“How do you know it was your Higher Power who gave you the day of recovery?” the friend asked.

“It had to be,” the man responded.. “My HP was the only one whom I had asked.”

FORGIVENESS

In his book “Is Human Forgiveness Possible?” Theologian John Patton examines the New Testament story, in which Peter asks Jesus of Nazareth of forgiveness:

“Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers: “No, not seven times; I say seventy times seven times.” (Matt. 18:21–22)

Patton comments: Peter’s question seems to say, “Please give me a rule so I don’t have to keep dealing with this. How can I know when enough is enough? I want to know what to do instead of having to come to terms with the history of our relationship.” Jesus’ response to the question says in effect, “I am unwilling to give you a way out of a continuing relationship to your brother.”

For the opposite of “resentment” is forgiveness, recognized by centuries of spiritual thinkers as “the endpoint of human life.” Forgiveness is “given,” and not only in English; the French say “par-downer,” the Spanish “per-donar.” That is because, in the words of D. M. Dooling, a student of mythic spirituality: “Forgiveness belongs to the divine. It is God’s act: something other, something that is not ours; and unless we can acknowledge this, the word is only ‘a noise we make with our mouths.’ ”

What became clear to me from this exchange was the following:
When I am making an amends it is not forgiveness that I am seeking, but the act of doing what is right and cleaning my side of the street. If the other person chooses to forgive me, that is a bonus. Forgiveness ultimately is between my Higher Power and me. Just like a wrong I perceive to have been committed against me; I may forgive it, but the real forgiveness is not up to me. It is between the Power of the Universe and the transgressor.

Forgiveness is not ours to give, but ours to receive. We cannot create it; we can be certain only that it is beyond us, in the sense of beyond our control, beyond our ability to will it into existence.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection.”

FORGIVENESS

In his book “Is Human Forgiveness Possible?” Theologian John Patton examines the New Testament story in which Peter asks Jesus of Nazareth, “Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers: “No, not seven times; I say seventy times seven times.” (Matt. 18:21–22)

Patton comments: Peter’s question seems to say, “Please give me a rule so I don’t have to keep dealing with this. How can I know when enough is enough? I want to know what to do instead of having to come to terms with the whole history of our relationship.” Jesus’ response to the question says in effect, “I am unwilling to give you a way out of a continuing relationship to your brother.”

For the opposite of “resentment” is forgiveness, recognized by centuries of spiritual thinkers as “the endpoint of human life.” Forgiveness is “given,” and not only in English; the French say “par-downer,” the Spanish “per-donar.” That is because, in the words of D. M. Dooling, a student of mythic spirituality: “Forgiveness belongs to the divine. It is God’s act: something other, something that is not ours; and unless we can acknowledge this, the word is only ‘a noise we make with our mouths.’ ”

Forgiveness is not ours to give, but ours to receive. We cannot create it; we can be certain only that it is beyond us, in the sense of beyond our control, beyond our ability to will it into existence.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection