When I first entered into recovery for alcoholism, I found it nearly impossible to ask for help for any reason. I would ask God to help me without thinking twice. But not people. What I did not know was how God used people to help me in response. I still struggle to ask others for help for things in general, even when they offer to help. This is a real character defect I must deal with.
My understanding changed as so many in AA reached out to help. I knew then that I needed what they had to offer. Even greater was the understanding of how my prayers were not wasted words. God really cared, really heard my petition, really loved me. Today when I pray to Him, I know He will answer.
I read accounts in the Bible regarding prayer. Two in the Old Testament stand out in my mind. The passage in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, gathered the nation to ask God's help as they were besieged by a massive army. In Isaiah 36-37, Hezekiah, king of Judah sometime later, had a similar experience. Read these awe-inspiring stories. Both give direction to praying in unity, in desperation, in faith that God can and will rescue if we only ask.
Some may say, that was then, or think, what a nice fairy tale. So perhaps an event in recent history may be more convincing. Have you ever heard about the story behind the story of Dunkirk, during WWII ? The British army, numbering nearly one quarter of a million, along with french allies, were backed to the sea, with eight hundred thousand German soldiers closing in for the kill. Hitler was bent on annihilating the Brits.
Winston Churchill earlier, had called for a national day of prayer. I heard a woman, then a young girl account how the people responded, though unaware at the time how dire the army's situation was.
"I remember my mother and I walking to town to the church, to pray, asking God's help for our nation, the military, and our leaders for guidance. When we neared the church, I saw people kneeling on the sidewalk outside of the church, and along the sidewalks, for all of the churches were packed with praying people."
No one knows why, and this is still being discussed by historians, Hitler suddenly decided to halt his charging army, and give the soldiers a little R and R...highly uncharacteristic. Simultaneously, a British leader had a flashing thought...let's gather every boat available, no matter how small, to rush across the English Channel and rescue the soldiers.
Please don't insult God and say, "what a coincidence!" The two events were a result of a people asking God's help in unity, like Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did, as well as accounts throughout scripture.
We all have an army of problems and mountains of impossibilities facing us in life. We do not have to fight alone, often not at all when we call to God for help. We have to ask. James 1 says, 'you have not because you ask not'...or ask selfishly, (amiss). Jesus said ask and you shall receive, or say nothing and receive it.
So that's it. Drinking was prolonged from my resistance to ask for help. Life and freedom came from humility enough to ask God and others. Great victories are realized when we have the courage to humbly ask God to fix our situations. Start asking, watch for results, be open to receive help from others.
One other thing. The times seem extremely dark, our nation is totally divided and double minded concerning right and wrong, politics, education, et al...A mountain of troubles are in view. We need to pray for our nation as never before. Please do so everyday.
Every meeting I attend has changed of late. It is not the structure, the topics, nor the methods that have changed. It is me. So many that attended have lost their lives to either returning to their misery, or have passed away from sickness of some sort. Each meeting gives me pause to wonder who may not make the next meeting. That is the wrong way to think. The right way is suit up, show up, give what I have been given. This is my realization from attendance to meetings. There I learned I cannot fix anyone. I can only trust God, serve others, and keep my side of the street clean.
My struggle enjoy meetings does not matter as long as I continue on, in disregard of my personal feelings and misgivings. Sure recovery for me depends on the understanding I have of self-forgetfulness. How I feel, what I want, or what I think is not as important as what recovery meetings have ingrained in my thoughts...."meeting makers make it." Without that understanding, I would be back doing what landed me there in the first place.
Many of you that read this are either in recovery, or are tearing through every site offering info on clean and sober living for a loved one's sake. For the one looking for yourself, you are on your way to restored sanity and recovery. Those looking for another, I can only tell you that "recovery is for those who want it, not for all who need it." Not trying to bust your balloon, but they should be the one looking, not you. Don't stop, by any means! As you go through page after page, you will learn how not to help them and enable their lifestyle.
Sure recovery is possible. I have known several, whose lives were like an elevator mechanic, up and down, sober, then drunk again. They eventually "came to believe" they could make it, and did! It is possible, they discovered, when their determination and desperation finally developed faith to believe their need to accept their plight, others help, and finally follow direction. By listening to others story and suggestions, the most important truth of recovery...God's reality, His grace to help, mercy to forgive, and direction to change those hungry to be free.
"I know the thoughts I think about you, says The Lord, thoughts of peace, not of evil, to give you hope, and a future." Jer. 29:11
"...casting all your care on Him, (God), for He cares for you." 1 Pet.5:7
I have been through horrific problems lately. I know these problems would have crippled me without God's indescribable grace that rests on my life through faith in Christ. These problems could add several paragraphs to this page. I will not honor them by giving them that space. That is not sure recovery at all. Sure recovery is hope, turned into faith, turned into trust that when these problems pass, I will be able to look back and see God's hand, pulling strings, and manipulating situations to bring me through. Victory awaits if I fight on, and credit Him, humbly acknowledging His will is done. Keep fighting, follow directions, get into meetings until they get into you.
God's peace to all.
Older and wiser? That's what you hear people say. I don't believe that is the truth. I do believe older and changed perspectives. Yep, the older I get, the physical eyes dim, but I see many things crystal clear. Lessons come hard in life. At least, the lessons we really don't want to learn.
Here are a few things I discover over time.
1. I can be wrong. I am normally wrong at first glance. I am always wrong when I do not investigate.
2. Trusting people will get me hurt. Trusting God takes my power away. Trusting my instincts is expensive when I am not spiritually fit.
3. Don't believe everything my ears hear, don't judge everything my eyes see. Judging anyone puts me under the microscope, and suddenly I am the one being judged. Snap judgments are no-nos.
1. Love at first sight. It is a must. Love for others is the major clue I've had a heart transplant by Dr. Jesus. I don't have to love people, I'm compelled to.
2. Forgive wrongs I have suffered. I finally understand that I'm forgiven when I've forgiven.
3. Serving is a must. Helping alcoholics or addicts is important for my recovery from addictions, but so is serving family, neighbors, church, my community. It is very important to serve at work, do my best, give the most, without complaining. (oops, the complaining part...I haven't perfected)
1. Be resentful. This crushes spiritual maturity, and having one only matters to me, no one else cares. There is no getting even. Trying to do that cultivates the grudge, to grow more resentments.
2. Allow negative thoughts to eat my efforts. Why endeavor what I don't believe in? Believe in my agenda, or scratch it off of the slate.
3. Don't forget. If I forget my past wrongs, I may repeat them.
The sun will come out tomorrow
Here are a few things I work on. The years don't grant abilities to accomplish as an auto-fix.
1. It's hard, nearly impossible, but try not to be a hypocrite. Don't bring reproach on Christ, or make it easier for anyone to say of me, " some Christian he is, there's nothing to religion."
(Negative people always point their finger at anyone marching to a different drummer).
2. Believe. Know the impossible is possible. Every invention was impossible once upon a time. Inventors believed it could be, were diligently worked at it, and the idea was sent from the CEO of the universe.
3. Embrace necessary change. Not all change is good. Some change is painful. The trick is knowing the difference in necessary and unnecessary change. I have to adapt to what causes growth in me as a person. I don't plan to adapt to what society considers "chic."
Nearly every day life offers opportunities to see further evidence of God's grace in my time on the Earth. The years pass quickly, then, you finally learn how to make time to live when it is time to go. What I don't want to waste precious moments thinking I must have anything, or anyone, or be anyplace. With the proper motives, I am where I should be and have what I need.
There's so much to say of what life has taught, but I want to keep this short. But before I sign off, here's a few more little things we overlook that have a huge impact on the quality of our remaining days:
Smile, laugh and make others laugh as much as possible.
Give, not always money, though that may be where your heart is. Give time, give a smile.
If I don't know an answer, say, "I dunno." Don't think of myself too highly.
Take time to rest, reflect, restart your drive.
Rest is important. So is diligence. Work hard to help, take time learn how.
Walk and pray. Talk to God and get fit spiritually and physically at the same time.
Read, read, and read. Fill your mind with good...feast in feast out.
Consider others. Realize we all are imperfect. Don't judge, refuse to hate.
Have no expectations that rely on other's effort, that leads to untold sorrow.
When you have no desire to do something important, that's the time to "just do it."
Be wary of complacency and procrastination. These evil demons are clingy, resilient too.
Have a clean and sober day, God bless all!
In no way can I fix others problems, no matter how much I try. I had a friend, concerned about the one he loves, and their addiction, fearing their demise. I have been messaged by mom's with children often about the same thing. I have also experienced this first hand, trying to fix a broken person, thinking that with all of my study and experience, surely, I could fix them.
If you haven't been there, you cannot imagine the gut-wrenching, powerlessness of watching someone near to you slowly executing their self, lying, denying, and milking you for more without feeling any remorse. You are desperate for them. They are emotionless or happy-go-lucky, as long as they get their way. When enough is enough, watch out. Things and money begin to disappear.
The concern for them is real enough. But there is an underlying self-concern that causes you to hide valuables and personal info, like bank account numbers and passwords. Their addiction somehow will find its way to our buried treasure. How can someone that says they care for you, treat you like that? Sometimes you have to go deep, set boundaries, and take measures you thought never possible. Keep your word if the boundary gets crossed. That measure means everything.
Prayer changes things...and people. When I pray for others tangled by their addiction, or lifestyle related to addictions, God hears me and answers, often specifically as I ask. Others times He may answer in other ways, I am sure you who pray know what I mean. Of late, two individuals I prayed for their going to jail if necessary. Within a short time they were incarcerated. That has happened before, will happen again. Why those prayers were answered so specifically, I believed was because there was no self-concern of personal loss on my part.
.Being around the recovering crowd can be difficult at times. Mainly because most topics used for discussion, are often a moaning session. For obvious reasons, as you may guess. If someone happens to say something positive, the whole room may go silent from shock. The groups aren't used to that. If they say too many positive words, it has an adverse effect, they think the individual is a lunatic.
I understand, as do all who attend meetings of recovery, that it is tough to stay positive with the many consequences we have to eventually deal with. But if we are bent on freedom from the sickness that enslaves us, we listen to what works, take it to heart, and do what it takes no matter how hard or how long. The positive may be elusive at first. But a little effort can produce positive results leading to the freedom desired.
Here are some simple suggestions to help you in recovery. These are not written in recovery literature, per se, but will help when used in collaboration with such.
1. Read, just a little, but read. This may be the most difficult for most in recovery. I have an idea as to why, but that idea is an entire essay. Many people here in the USA have little gratitude for the gift of reading. They state how they hate to read. Globally, illiteracy is staggering. People do not have any education because there is none available.They would give all they have to be able to read. Some are in areas of the world that suppress education. Here, in the US, we have the opportunity and the ability, but "just say no" to reading. Read anyway. Start with a small paragraph and build from there. Oh yeah, read recovery literature, not a romance novel.
2. Exercise. I know, I'm 0 for 2 in likable things to do to help your recovery. There again, do just a little. Merely getting up and walking to the mailbox, or down to the corner and back. Get your blood flowing and your mind works better. You can get positive results in a short time.
3. Change the station(s). Something I noticed from myself and reinforced by statements in meetings is; songs, TV shows, gaming, and movies, may have a dramatic effect on the addicted, to trigger a relapse. Especially, the music you listened to when using. Nobody likes silence, but try music you find tasteful, or tolerable. Try games to exercise your brain, documentaries on the tube, and movies...skip. All of these aren't permanent changes, maybe they should be. But for a time early in returning from a relapse or new to recovery, try this.
4. A short inventory. This is not listing a 4th step, nor doing the 5th with your sponsor. This is a list, or maybe a name of someone you carry a resentment for, you cannot seem to forgive, or you need to ask forgiveness for a wrong. Take the name, or names, and pretend you are with them, and practice what you need to say to them. If that is uncomfortable, write them a letter expressing how you feel. Don't hold back...let er' rip! Do it again but pretend God, (Jesus), is there mediating the event. This may be a game changer to some who may be talking to awol parents, spouses, the officer or judge that sentenced them.
5. Fix your language. Really, seriously, start talking like an adult. You are wanting to recover from your addiction, right? Recover from your gangsta way of talking. Can you? F-bombs fly out in meetings and have become the accepted way to talk, some say. But if you are sitting in an interview for your dream job, I am sure you won't use foul language in that meeting, will you?
It isn't that your way of talking made you an addict, but that was the way you talked when you were using and boozing. Change that, bring dignity and honor to your life for being different. People will notice.
Give these thoughts a shot along with meeting attendance, daily prayer, service work, the steps with your sponsor. You may be the positive lunatic in the meeting, or the one who brings some shock and awe to the group where you attend. Just do it.
"Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the fool invites ruin." Prov. 10:14
More than likely, you have heard the saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." No matter how many times I have heard the adage, and have used it, I sometimes think that I can make it happen. Not the saying above, rather the message of leading others to a life, clean and sober, of following Christ, and serving others selflessly, I try to convince with conviction.
What makes me think I somehow am the measure of what is the right? I am not. What I do know has merit from experience, study, and spiritual practice. What I have experienced isn't what brings others into a life of sober living, nor convinces an unbeliever to see Jesus as the Savior of the world. It is not my job to argue with others in AA or NA meetings that they have a distorted view of God, when they say something completely unholy regarding Him the way I personally know Him to be. I do not have a degree that makes me a word cop. I also must remember, who's talking, where they are in recovery, and where they came from in life.
It happened again in a small meeting a couple of nights ago. A man I felt was highly educated, and certainly has a dynamic message of his coming into recovery, with the help of, and by the grace of God, made some completely false statements regarding the Bible. I didn't oppose him in the meeting, but tried to "kindly" correct him afterwards. No argument ensued, but neither did I convince him of his error, and the ripple effect on others hearing him tumbling into total disbelief because of his blunder. The reason for no argument...God, I'm sure. To argue with him could kill any future opportunities with the thirsty, wanting to find the water hole.
"The main reason people in recovery do not grasp the message, is they don't reach for it." Author
AA's Big Book warns members not to play the evangelist to those still actively drinking. Doing so may hinder any chance of helping those you are targeting to share your new life with. I believe that goes for attempts to exhort others in the program to drink deeper, raise their standards of behavior to a greater height around all of those watching them in their recovery.
In other words, maturing in their sobriety, become a real example. That's change, what we hate the most. Fear of losing friends in recovery is at risk to the ones bold enough to accept and change. Sadly, most get just enough water to make them not want to drink, (booze or use dope). That is, the water being God, and the grace He bestows that leads them to recovery. There is more.
What should I do or say to get the horse to keep drinking? Talk and pray. God didn't ask me to be His personal sheriff in recovery. If I trust Him, I say what He gives me to say in meetings, or to sponsor-ees, and nothing more. For those spreading a distorted view of God, I am to do two, no, three things: say nothing, love them, and pray God will enlighten them, bringing them into a deeper understanding of the incomprehensible power He has to change lives that no one imagined could ever change.
The warning to me, and to you if you are viewed as a leader in recovery, perplexed by what you hear in meetings, If we truly trust God to use what we give, do not forget His purpose in us is not to judge, but to serve. We only correct, or redirect if asked for help. If I try to play the know-it-all, and believe me, I know little, (that isn't false humility, I learn as I go, how little I know), I will ruin any chance of influencing others to follow me to the streams of Living Water, the main Message of man's existence, and living above addictions with God's help.
Have you placed your order for the miracle you want? Do you have enough to pay for it? Maybe you didn't see the price tag when you requested it. Maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about...which I'm sure you don't. Let me explain.
An extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
Everyone wants to see a miracle. None more than those who have tried everything to get clean and sober from addictions. They know nothing short of a miracle can free them from the enslavement. It would have to be a miracle of biblical proportion, an act of God. Alcoholics and drug addicts that land in AA, NA, or CR, often give up way too soon before the miracle happens. Their reason may be they don't believe in God, or if He does exist, He wouldn't help them anyway. After all they have done too many wrongs, He would never help them anyhow.
"If there were no God, there would be no atheist."
"It isn't that they cannot see the solution. It is that they cannot
see the problem."
Most who give up aren't ready recover yet. They haven't experienced enough pain, nor inflicted enough on others. They will, bank on it. Those who do hang in until "it" happens knew their estate before they arrived broken and beaten by substance abuse, whether the drink, or drugs. They also realized the price to pay for their miracle. I have seen men and women come into AA meetings with their chins on the ground, whipped, hopeless, and even facing consequences enough to choke a horse. They stayed, lingering long enough until the light came on. Then the miracle happened.
Having tried everything, or thinking we have, there was a constant committee meeting going on in the gray matter. They yak constantly, the majority telling us multiple reasons we could never give it up. A few brain committee folk are saying, think about your spouse, kids and family, your friends and your job. It is maddening.
Yet the individual remained, the committee adjourned, and they faced their consequences, working the program in total surrender of their will to continue self-serving and quit. The impossible happened, their chins were no longer dragging the floor, even their countenance changed. Some go even further and continue meetings giving back what they were given, long after the miracle of sobriety happened.
For these, gratefully remaining to help others, see things return to their life that they thought never to experience again, a home, new car, money in the bank, the return of friends and family, and a deep spiritual relationship, in many cases. There are some side-effects from recovery, too. Laughter, a song in the heart, and return of having feelings and thoughts of how to actually decipher right and wrong, truth and lies, and wow, what a difference. I know, by the grace of God, I am one that stayed for the experience. Life is far from perfect, troubles still come and go. The trade off, however, is worth the price.
You may have given up yourself. Perhaps someone you love threw in the towel long before the miracle arrived. If they swallow pride, or if you do, life will return, finally asking God's help to do for you what you could never do for yourself. Miracles do happen, God is real, come and find both where hope is really realized.
Resolution to Stop Drinking and Doping...finally, I Will, I Think
Why resolutions fail may be answered by experts offering generalized pat answers from polling questions, or case studies. Unless you read their articles, their advice is moot, you will set yourself up for another year of failure to accomplish desired goals. The problem with resolutions is they are future goals, based on self-reliance, or willpower. Future goals are just that, the future, putting off trying because you are not ready yet. Willpower may work in some ways for you, but not in all things, or for what your resolution is aimed at to accomplish.
Insanity Defined and Sanely Accepting
You have heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, using the same methods, and expecting different results. All of the different things I tried to stop drinking came to nothing because I tried to do this by willpower. I am sure AA, NA, CR, rehabs, or church would not have helped me then, or now, if my intent was to do it my way. What worked for the masses in getting clean and sober, in living for Christ, in any endeavor, would work for them, but not me. I am, (I used to think), unique, above the under-the-bridge-drunk, or the back-alley-addict.
I knew I was alcoholic, but refused to bow to "How It Works," rebelling, desperately looking for the easier, softer way of getting free. Others who refuse to comply to what works, do so feeling they have crossed the line, have went too far for God's grace to reach them, or for anyone to want to help them get well. No matter if you feel unique or unworthy, there is hope, you can resolve to stop, and achieve a sober life. Here is how.
(Two things: One, many say AA or any 12 step program doesn't work for them because they do not want to get well yet. They are looking for your pity, hoping for another hand-out, or just trying to get you off their back, making you hopeless in their ever being normal. Second, this can work in many, even most areas of making resolutions, not just overcoming addictions.)
Finally Getting It
The experience I had to get sober is echoed throughout recovery groups. We all need to understand what WE means. Everyone who finally get it readily admit they needed help. Where the majority started, or first action, was looking for help from God. Some do not remember until time passes and they come out of compulsions fog. Eventually in their growth, suddenly they remember a most trying desperate moment they said...O God, please help me!
They may have thought the prayer went unanswered because it was much later, that the answer did come. It wasn't God's timing, you often hear so many say. It was a sincere prayer alright, but the intention was...help me out of this jam right now. You weren't finished experiencing and dishing out pain on yourself and others. Yet, He heard your cry, and began pulling strings and manipulating situations. Perhaps you ended up incarcerated, hospitalized, or homeless, before you finally came to, but you did, because He did what you asked, helped you...just not how you expected.
Willpower has a distinct odor. A stench, actually. Anytime someone says they quit by willpower years ago, I nearly want to puke. Good they quit on their own, but their life is a dry-drunk existence. They didn't experience growth in life from others help, maturing into seeing life in an adult manner knowing it is not all about them. I know of some that merely traded drinking for greed. They leave in their wake, a terrible message..."you don't need to do anything but just quit like I DID." SHOO-WEE, that stinks!
Prayer is the first action to a sober life, help from others is second.
We pray, God leads us to AA, NA, CR, OA, GA, or any of the many step programs where we receive help from others....and the program in turn, leads us back to God. We learn how to succeed from humbly following their direction, after all, it worked for them. In time, we find an individual we feel can mentor or sponsor us, so the recovery process goes to a new level, in most cases.
The next action in finally getting it is realizing I screwed my life up, I am unmanageable to stop the madness of addiction, and everything else in my life. The drinking wasn't the problem, but turned on the light for what the real problem was...ME. When I saw this reality, I ACCEPTED my inability to change on my own. I CAME TO BELIEVE my need for help from others, by God's grace via those place by Him in my path. They show gratitude for their recovery by giving back what they were given. (If you have benefited from your recovery program but do not give back in any way, you are ungrateful, living in the danger zone. I thought I ought to let you know.)
The last thing I want to add isn't the last action in recovery. There is no last action. Don't let that discourage you. The action is awesome, the challenge is life-altering, taking little-ole-me-and you into a new, higher dimension in life. We enter the cony-island way of life. Life, when we submit to God's ways, in sober livings steps, may be like a merry-go-round, or roller coaster life, full of ups and downs. But we learn to enjoy the ride with enthusiasm, and actually remember it. The last action; MAKE A DECISION to turn your will and life over to God.
The worst mistake many in sobriety make is they only want enough of God to stay sober, get a job, a mate, a car, a home, etc. They only want Him as their personal genie, to fix their junk and their life reflects it. They only want to practice sobriety principles in some of their life, not in all their affairs.
Choosing Not to Finally Get It
Tonight is New Years eve. Many may see this post and save it for later, after tonight's bash. Others may not see it until they are hungry for change tomorrow. Whatever the reason you do read this, whatever day your eyes fall on this page, know this: You do not have to follow the advice on the way to finally get it, written here, or from experts explaining resolution failures, or from anywhere anyone offers to help you SEE. But ask yourself this, how has doing things your way worked for you so far?
ADDED bonus for reading
To summarize; I have been praying this prayer that I think may help you if you struggle with how to pray, or what to pray. It also covers what I have covered here, which are steps 1-3 in AA's Big Book:
'God, please help me stay sober today, I am helpless without you, my life is unmanageable. I believe you can return my sanity. I turn my will and my life over to your care, your will. Amen."
Happy New Year, to you all! Thanks for reading. And if any of you go ahead and booze it up tonight, be careful, and I pray you have the worst time you ever had, the worst hangover, and puke your guts out...but also that God protects and keeps you alive, giving you one more chance. To you, it's a crap shot, but He knows the end from the beginning, gracious to all!
How does one enjoy Christmas? For many Christmases in my life, I was fed up by the hustle and the bustle of the holidays. Sometimes I was outright angry at secular disbelief, insisting how offended they were by "religious symbols" or live nativity scenes invading their darkness...the true Narcissists of modern times. A few times at Christmas, I loathed my inability to lavish unnecessary gifts on my children and family members. And finally, often, the holidays passed while I boozed through them.
I should never judge how people see the Christmas season, but pray they get the point. I never want to be disappointed that I will be working and not with family, missing the family gathering and meal, watching the children beam when they open their gifts. That is precious, and should burned into thoughts or memories forever...with gratitude. That isn't the point. So, what is the point?
The point I see today, as a follower of Christ, is the purpose of His visit, my gratitude and acknowledgement of that. I am transformed by believing in Him, His virgin birth... His life and teachings... His sacrifice on the cross... His blood destroying my sins past, present, and future... His resurrection guaranteeing mine from eternal death... and His continual intercession as advocate, defending me from accusations by the evil one. I am lifted when my belief turns to gratitude as I see the real Gift of Christmas, He gave Himself.
The point is seeing entire world is different because of His coming. Invention, exploration, and discovery may have been a part of mankind's history, yet because of His coming and commission to His disciples to "go ye into all the world," was catapulted as the Gospel spread, especially through the nations that accepted the message.
In fact, within modern history, from the past 150 years, technology has grown exponentially. I'm filled with gratitude, knowing He is the reason for this, His Spirit, Jesus promised, would come in His stead. The Holy Spirit brought the light of understanding and knowledge to people for invention, exploration, and discovery where His message is freely expressed and received. Where the message is rejected as truth, There is practically no invention, and the people would be living as people lived a millennium or more in the past without the discoveries from others.
How Christmas can be truly good, even wonderful, is refusing to allow the holiday to be about all you have done for others. You may have worked hard to cook, get everyone together, and to find that perfect gift for family and friends...and they don't offer thanks for your toil. Think about what He has done for you, and be grateful by not expecting accolades...just give.
One last thought, and this is a "biggie." You may not have time to go serve at a "drop-in," or soup kitchen-meal-station for the homeless. Take a moment, pause and say thanks for what you do have. Ask God to bring comfort to the homeless, the widow and orphaned, the addict, the alcoholic, those trapped in darkness. Don't forget to ask for our men and women serving the country, away from their families. Ask God to protect them from danger, from evil, comforting them in their loneliness...and their family the same.
Bonus thought. While you are asking, ask Him to foil the plans and schemes of the grifter running scams, preying on the elderly and weak. May God protect them all.
Merry Christ-mas to all, God grant you light to see His Truth...for His glory!
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Right. "Maybe for you, but not for me. I can't even afford presents for my children. We plan to have a bowl of corn flakes and toast for Christmas dinner."
"If my husband would just quit drinking for the holidays, then we may be grateful."
"How can the holidays be happy when your child is clinging to life after an overdose? Christmas will never be the same."
These are some of the laments of families facing personal problems during the holiday season. I empathize with them. My heart goes out to those suffering depression brought by outside forces, or household divisions from addictions. I also have sorrow fro the lonely, those who have no one to enjoy the season with. The unmarried, widowers, orphaned children in foster homes that do not celebrate, etc.
There are also people so caught up in their work so deeply, or in so much debt, they cannot see celebration or purpose in Christmas. This form of depression hides itself from its victims, and renders killer-stress eventually. Where is relief for the many problems?, how can we celebrate and get free of depression during this time of year?
Pat answers are many in number; be grateful for what you have, pray, get counsel, go to an AA or NA meeting, (for those in recovery), etc. But none of these seem to help at our darkest moments, which may compound around this time of year. I want to offer something different to the mix of answers. This will take minimal effort but I know this works.
Many families read the Christmas story found in Luke 2 as an annual tradition. Try this, read around that story. Luke 1 is the story behind THE story. The angel appearing to Mary with the message of her selection, being the mother of the Promised One.
..."let it be to me according to your word." was Mary's response in verse 38, and the angel had said to her in vs. 37, "for with God NOTHING shall be impossible."
These two passages are two sentences, as a person believes them, and speaks them, have tremendous power to affect the attitude with faith, in replace of the inward fears resulting in depression. The pit of depression is a place of hopelessness. Saying prayers may seem unthinkable to the depressed and hurting, having tried to pray already, getting no results. But praying what is written, what the Word says, causes faith to rise and fear to run.
Here are two short passages, read them aloud every day until Christmas. Along with that, read aloud, or even better, pray aloud the Magnificat, Mary's praise to God in vs. 46 through vs.55. Make it personal, saying to God in prayer:
"My soul magnifies You Lord, and my soul rejoices in You, my Savior. For You have regarded my lowly state, and from now on, people will call me blessed...You are mighty and have done great things for me"....
Continue this praise to God through verse 55, and do this aloud until Christmas Day. Get alone by yourself, sit in your car, or in a secluded place in your home. Take this serious, do it in praise and thanksgiving to God in your dark moments, in spite of the problems you face, or the challenges ahead that seem impossible...nothing is too hard for God. Scripture reveals the heart that is broken or fearful, will be liberated as that person praises God. (i.e. 2 Chron. 20, Nehemiah 1)
It is okay to doubt this. God is not angry at you for doubting. You've tried everything else, things of physical, or mental in nature have not worked. Let's move over to the unseen, the spiritual things, bringing The Savior into your situation. Whether you doubt or not, put praise to God in your day and He will invade your world with life, joy and celebration.
Let today be the day you have the courage to believe in Christ's purpose, and find your purpose. One more thought; read more of the stories around The Story, chapters 1-2 of Luke. The whole story is great and faith-building.