Monthly Archives: November 2016

Shared Suffering

Do you ever have those moments where you read something for the bajillionth* time and it for some reason reveals something completely new to you? Who says the written word is two-dimensional? Not this girl. There are some writings that are living, breathing, ever-changing texts that evolve as you read to meet you right where you are. Shakespeare, Atwood, Lee, Gibran are writers whose prose transcend time for me–I’m sure you have your own list.  The Bible, however, accomplishes this at a completely different level. I literally am surprised almost on a weekly basis by scripture I have read before no less than 5 times. This week, it happened again.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (New Living Translation)

“6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

When Jesus died we received the Holy Spirit. This is the light that we get to carry with us and it is a piece of God. We are fragile carriers of this light but make no mistake here–this is what we were designed to do–carry this light out into the world. However, we were not made of an indestructible titanium steel vessel to carry this light. Nope. Our vessel is made of the Earth, of clay and perilously vulnerable to the world. Why? Not to oversimplify here, but if we were made of some impervious material resistant to all forces that could harm us, what would be our need for God? God designed us, he knows our leanings toward pride and self elevation. If we were able to sustain everything that came at us and still shine this light, do you think we would still acknowledge Him in it? I doubt I would if I’m being completely honest. So God, in all His amazingness* made us vulnerable but not without sending His son to suffer in this earthly vessel right along with us. Our suffering…our loss…our pain…our addiction…our depression…our brokenness brings us back to the cross. This suffering is something we share with Jesus, and therefore it allows us to lean on him in an intimate and personal way. When we invite God into our suffering, we most assuredly will not be destroyed and in that survival we bear witness to the glory of God. There WILL be suffering. I have tried all kinds of ways in my life to avoid it but it comes whether I’m with God or I’ve chosen to be away from God. Maturity and ultimately grace has proven to me that by inviting God to the suffering invites meaning and growth from it…pressed but not crushed, knocked down, but not destroyed.

– Ellie K.

Association

  • Chaos theory
  • Self-Similarity
  • Snow Flakes
  • Randomness
  • Mandalas
  • Adult Coloring Books
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

What are things that could have been the topic of this blog post?

If you were to do more than take a cursory glance at that list, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see that a pattern exists. Said pattern can be explained by a simple exercise in word association, which, at its core, is little more than the derivation of an immediate response to a stimuli. For example, what word comes to mind when you think of the term soft? This can be part of a game to pass the time, a creative technique used to overcome writer’s block, or even an element of some psychological or pseudo-psychological evaluation. While the pattern can be accounted for by word association, association is not always quite so mundane.

Association is just another way of saying relationship or attachment or affiliation. So does who we choose to associate ourselves with and what we choose to associate our time with matter? Absolutely, but who or what determines those things? The simple answer is that we choose who we spend our time with and how that time is spent, but that’s not necessarily true.

Who was your first friend? Your first best friend? Was that friendship one of convenience? Mine was. My first best friend lived three tenths of a mile down the road from the home I was raised in – the only house I lived in before going off to college. We played together all the time, got into trouble together, even hurt one another (both physically and emotionally). Then one day he moved to a new town. My best friend was yanked away from me just a few years shy of age ten, but I made new friends. Again, many of those friends were friends of convenience.

Do you remember the first time you chose to be friends with someone? Maybe they weren’t from your neighborhood or they went to a different school than you or they lived a different life from you. As we grow older, we have the option to either adopt friends who are comfortable and familiar or venture into new territory. You see, I have this theory that we tend to pick friends who are either like us or people we desire to be more like. This generally leads to a narrow worldview where we’re safe and protected from much of the world outside our immediate circle of influence. That’s not altogether wrong, but we must recognize its limits.

Studies of nature versus nurture tend to show something resembling a 50/50 split across the board. Those numbers may vary and swing on occasion but hold true for the most part. So when people, parents in particular, begin saying that their loved one started running with the wrong crowd, I may have to disagree. Are they running with the wrong crowd, or are they a part of it? There is a difference between growing up in a culture which propagates systemic delinquency and joining a segment of society because that’s where it’s easiest to get your fix.

Alcoholics hang out in bars. Addicts and junkies tend to hang out wherever other people are using. Gamblers spend their time in the casino, at the track or on the phone with their bookie. Sex addicts hang out in houses of ill-repute and alone on their computers in dark, quiet corners. Yes, these are vast overgeneralizations, but you get my drift. Often, how we choose to spend our time is a primary indicator of where and with whom we’re going to spend our time. And I think that on some level we have to realize and understand that who we associate ourselves with and how we associate our time are tell-tale signs of where our priorities lie.

Ask yourself these questions. Where do I spend my time? With whom am I spending that time? And perhaps most important of all, how do I spend my money?

If you don’t like the answers, change them.

– Alex Walker

The Art of Codependency

Hi. I feel like I should start by stating that I have never written for a blog before. I should probably also admit that I wasn’t exactly sure what a blog consisted of or how it works, but God said “blog” so I hesitantly said “yes”. That being said, here we go……..

I have been on my journey for recovery from codependency for 9 years. I say this not as a brag or a badge of honor but as a declaration to never go back to the way I used to be. I have always had an exaggerated sense of responsibility (wanting to “fix” and rescue other people), low self-esteem (I never felt good enough), bad communication skills (I would stuff my feelings), abandonment issues (I was afraid to make someone angry for fear that they might leave me) …. the list goes on and on. I was also caught in the performance trap. If I made someone else happy by helping them or doing a good job then I felt good about myself. My self-worth was based on my performance and on what other people thought of me. Through the healing process of recovery and with God’s infinite grace, I later came to learn that these behaviors all added up to codependency. My favorite definition of codependency is “someone who is willing to do more for others than they are willing to do for themselves”. That was me.

I didn’t come from a family that suffered from addictions and I didn’t have a history of abuse. Yet here I was. Broken and at the end of my rope. I was actually pretty baffled as to how I had reached this point in my life. My lowest point was one day when my husband and I had a fight (again) and he left the house angry. While my two boys napped, I went out on my back porch and cried. Not just wept but cried that uncontrollable cry of desperation. I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I called out to God to please help me. I told Him I couldn’t do this anymore and to please send some angels to look over me. I literally felt the arms of Jesus wrap around me and hold me while I cried. My tears eventually ended and looking back I realize that at that point I began to heal. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had taken my first step.

My life was out of control and I came to realize that only God could put the pieces back together. God put people in my path to help me along the way. Angels on Earth that didn’t always know what a difference they were making in my life. I started attending a weekly recovery service and a codependency small group, seeing a therapist; heck I even changed my radio station. Slowly my habits and thought patterns began to change. Many baby steps started to add up and I could see a difference in my life. I felt at peace, even as the storm raged around me. The truth is that I first came to recovery to support my husband and his recovery. I was shocked to discover that I was part of the problem. I thought that if my husband would only “fix” his issues then we would be fine. The truth was that I needed to focus on myself and my own issues. It has been and will continue to be a process….a journey….never a destination, but God is right beside me and lots of times there is only one set of footprints in the sand.

If I ever get up the nerve to get a tattoo, it would say “Miracle in progress”. That is what I truly believe we all are, we just have to let go and let God.

– Raylene Edwards