My understanding of a spiritual power

November 13, 2013

I have been reading and contemplating what my spiritual power means to me.  I find that I grow in my understand and relationship with a greater power when I ask the questions and watch for answers.  As I have been working through steps 2 and 3, I have written where I am today regarding this step, ways I rewrite the step to mean more to me, and questions/struggles I still have understanding the concept.

Step 2 from AA:  Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

My wording of this step:  I am reception to spiritual guidance for restoration and am willing to work towards it.  I believe there is something spiritual beyond my understanding that has the capacity to create miracles.

I struggle with the idea that a spiritual power would care and chose to cure my addictions and my chronic pain, as I have been spiritual yet still struggle.  I see the spiritual everywhere, but don’t always believe it can be personal to healing my pain or cares about the details.

I wonder if my definition of insanity is different than HP.  May not mean I don’t struggle but have clarity and spiritual growth in the process.

Step 3 from AA:  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.

My wording of this step:  I am willing to grow along spiritual lines and seek a HP.  I am willing to turn towards a spiritual source for guidance in my choices and understanding of my needs.  I seek to have this spiritual power guide me in releasing what I have no control over (pain, addictions, peole and outcomes) and guiding me on where I can make an impact and be open to a new way of doing things.

I struggle with giving up myself to another person or spiritual source and the idea of a caring God.

I wonder if it is more about being willing to follow principles for living such as love and grace verses perfection, contol and rules.  To bring unity and allow this Spirit to nourish us for what we really need.

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Seeking something spiritual I can hold on to

November 5, 2013

This past week I have been thinking a lot about what spirituality looks like and how to move beyond my own distortions of what a God/The Spirit looks like.  Often when I think about God, I think of someone who is allusive, uncaring, judgmental and unfair.  Though my religious upbringing was filled with many wonderful spiritual connections and memories, when the road gets tough it is easy for me to focus more on those who have hurt and failed me, and the teachings that seem to leave me stuck.

How do I surrender my life to something that doesn’t feel solid?  Where do I find this rock that feels real and brings me peace?  For me it begins with finding a little bit of openness, to watching for the spiritual, for sensing what works.  What truths brings me to grace and love?  If I can clear the slate, something new may be able to enter.

What I want to believe, what feels spiritual to me:  There is something powerful and spiritual when I look at the mountains and the ocean, when the leaves change in the fall, when thunder strikes in the sky, when plants grow, and when a baby is born.  I also feel a spiritual power when I truly connect with people, when I take in love and grace, when a coincidence seems beyond my understanding, when I meet a soul mate, when wisdom and clarity come in a time of need.  I can feel something different when I hear or read a truth, when people’s lives are an inspiration, when someone forgives me for my wrongdoings, when I give grace from somewhere beyond me.  I feel something powerful when in a meeting of people sharing their hardships and people give compassion and kindness, when I am meditating, when I am listening to inspirational music, when I move forward in recovery and healing.  I feel a sense of humanity and spirit when I am humble, serving others, in need, and vulnerable.   There is something amazing that happens in yoga and when running, being intuned to my body and what has been given to me.  I feel a release when I am grateful.

I can trust that the Spirit is not people, things or places.  It can be in all of these things, but it is not these things.  People bring both the spirit and the human, religious people do the same.  None of us can claim to truly know all about the spirit or about his/her truths – this is why it is called faith.

May the truth continue to reveal itself to me, may the Spirit guide me today.


Step 1 unmanagability and powerlessness

November 4, 2013

Having chronic pain is something I am powerless over and can’t always manage.  I have good days and bad days.  The good days make me feel like I am able to function well, I feel healthy, and empowered to accomplish my goals and build relationships with people around me.  On my not so good days, I see the pain and fatigue show up in my life limiting me from doing what I want, but still able to function overall.  On the really bad days, I feel depressed, get tired of crashing, and seek the quick and often unhealthy escapes.

Powerlessness is what happens physically to my body.  Fibromyalgia has a path of its own that I don’t always understand.  Certain activities and situations can draw me into an overwhelming sense of fatigue and pain that at times can catch me off guard.  Though I can limit this pain to some degree by watching my stress, exercising, being healthy, managing activities, it will always be there ready to be activated.  Sickness and unintended stress can sometimes seem to come from no where, causing me to become more aware of this thing inside my body.

Unmanagability is what happens in my life because of my chronic pain.  When my fibromyalgia is in full force my life can revolve around my pain and fatigue and often other areas get neglected.  The more I try to control it,it can just make it worse as too much activity just wears me down.  When things feel totally out of control, I seek to escape this feeling and don’t always have the capacity to make good choices.  I get really tired and can’t  think straight, and don’t always care anymore to make the needed effort.

As depressing as this all sounds to me, seeing the reality allows me to look for a new solution.  I can be aware of what is beyond my own ability, and surrender this to God, a spiritual power, to the earth, to friends, or something that brings a sense of release.  Then I look at what I can do to keep my fibromyalgia in check as best as I can, and prepare for those days where life seems to sweep me under.  Often for me this is finding my support network, reaching within myself and seeking something spiritual.  If something isn’t working, seeking the truth of it, allows me to search for something better.  May today, I focus on what brings me peace and health, and prepare myself for the darker days with grace, wisdom and compassion.


Accepting my imperfect body

November 4, 2013

It is difficult for me at times to accept my body for its imperfections.  From a young age, I have struggled with focusing on whatever wasn’t right with my body.  This could be weight, being too tall, not being good at a particular sport, or having a bad hair day.  Our society is very focused on the physical, and a perfect physical body often appears to be a perfect person.

Each day my body seems to fail me, I have to find a sense of compassion and grace.  What I had hoped for, is not always what reality is.  My body can hurt in situations it shouldn’t hurt, can wear out before I want it to, can limit my activities because I am too tired, or lead me to do things I would rather not do.  I can’t always control what comes my way, and this powerlessness can result in frustration.  If I can find a way to bring some acceptance and love to the less than, I will have more compassion for myself and be able to integrate all that my body is.  When I bring love to myself, this also flows out to others around me.  I become less judgmental, able to focus on the more important things in life.

Today, I will try to be more aware of when I put shame upon myself.  I will strive for serenity, accepting the things I cannot change, and making changes in the areas I can.


12 steps for chronic pain, looking at harms – step 4

February 26, 2013

Step 4 is about looking deep into ourselves – our fears, how we were harmed, how we harmed others, our struggles and our strengths. It isn’t meant to be a point of condemnation – a list of how awful we are, but of confirmation of what has made us who we are. Without looking truth in the face, it is hard to break out of patterns and behaviors. The truth also allows us to see what works for us, and when we are most how we dream to be.  Since there are a lot of complexities in step 4, I will start with harms done to me.

In the Big Book, step 4 is “We made a searching and moral inventory of ourselves”. I find this step life changing when I am able to dig deeper into my own responses to situations and how this also impacts my current behaviors. For example: One of my friends, “Cailyn”, reacted to my physical symptoms with a lot of questions and assumptions about my psychological state. We had been close at one time, but less connected prior to my illness. I felt hurt by her comments and questions. What she said to me and her lack of support effected our relationship (social) and how I viewed myself (security). I however reacted by being angry, criticizing her, felt doubt, self-pride, rationalized, resentful, suspicious and self focused. Though many of these reactions were internal, I reacted to this hurt by causing additional harm. I am not responsible for her actions, but I am responsible for mine. As time went by, I allowed the relationship to fade, which was a good thing at the time as we were going different directions. However, I continued to resent her and her reaction to me when I was sharing my physical struggles.

Such as with Cailyn, there are many people who caused me harm when I became ill. The list includes family members who weren’t able to recognize my pain, other people who thought I was seeking pain medication for an escape, doctors who were unkind and unhelpful. Some of these harms may have been more about my own assumptions of why I felt they did what they did. In general, most of us are fairly self-absorbed, and on a given day are unable to give everyone the support they need or desire. When I am listing my harms, I found it was helpful not to analyze too much about what I didn’t know, and reflect more on what I felt was a harm, because this is what I react too. Later I can look and pray for clarity on whether my perception could have been off (many times it is) or whether my perception is only slightly true, such as I may think someone is overreacting, yet still might agree mostly with what they say.

Much of my reactions to harms done to me are similar to reactions I have had since I was a young child. I believe many of my reactions are almost automatic especially when the situation brings up old feelings of abandonment, criticism, abuse and/or neglect. If I feel shame, I tend to look for ways of self-preservation. Often this is done by accusing other people, in order to feel ok about myself. When I recognize what I am doing, I can look more clearly at what is being done or said to me, and process whether this is something that is true, where I need to make a correction, or something that isn’t, where I may need to move away from the person or situation. If I am wrong, my guilt can move me to make changes while holding onto who I want to be. If I can’t see clearly something I did, I can ask questions for clarification, and try to understand where they are coming from (which may not be related to me). Though doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily keep me from being resentful, it does give me space to make the choices I want to make, and lessen the impact.

In my world of chronic pain, I hope to find grace and forgiveness for this journey. May I be free of shame, and have a heart that seeks to understand.


Stuck in Time – Roles we play

February 25, 2013
Solid Rock

Solid Rock

As I have run into many old friends and acquaintances this past week, I am reminded of how I feel stuck in a time zone. I have played a variety of roles over the years, and built many relationships. Different situations and time periods have brought out different parts of who I am or who people perceive me to be or how I perceive them to perceive me (generally not the same thing). When I run into a variety of people from different time zones, or different role periods, I find myself confused, as if I am struggling to feel solid in my identity.

Over the past 14 years I have belonged to a community of people from a place I call my “church home”. I love what the church brings – hope, love, faith, service, community, strength, and relationships. It also brings for me confusion, judgement, conflict, vulnerability, and questions about my beliefs and experiences. In my church home, I have gone through periods of sporadic involvement, little involvement, outsider, regular attendee and active leader. In many ways, the best and worst parts of me have been known in this community I call my “church home”.

As I walk the halls of the church building I feel like the wind is blowing in a variety of directions. I see teenagers and girls who are in my coaching world. The place of today, and where I spend much of my extra hours and devotion. I also run into people who were active in a mom’s group which I led, or a committee I was on, where we connected together for a purpose and passion. Then I turn around to the people who were around in the middle of my darker/addicted mind-set, watching me spin out of control. Next to them might be the person who recalls my early fibromyalgia days, and has compassion for my illness. And then, almost worse than the rest, is the new leaders and attenders, who are completely unaware of my existence and history, seeing me as “the newbie” or “nonexistent”. I can’t make sense of the history and the various feelings that emerge from within. How do I change and intersect these places, and block out the negativity that can haunt and paralyze me?

I often believe that the healing and transformation is in the process. Perhaps all my feelings are a way for me to be more graceful to myself and just step into the fears that permeate my whole being. I tend to believe that I have to do something to make up for the things I did that were destructive to my soul and hurtful to others. It is easy to simplify people’s responses, when I move into a shame based center. When I find my own place of peace, is allows me to be more centered and have a better balance of inward and outward focus. I may still feel the fear and shame, but my decision won’t come from that place. Maybe things will change for me if I look to receive the grace and love, than to question or seek to understand the complicated thoughts and feelings of another towards me.

I feel ready to get out of this zone. I honestly don’t know how this will happen – but I aim to at least see the next layer. Instead of focusing on what I perceive from others and the role I am playing, I can focus on the vision for myself and where the Spirit leads me in that moment. It isn’t a battle to win, I have nothing to prove to myself – this is about being open – about seeking to grow and build relationships with this community I am in. It doesn’t have to look a certain way, and I may not ever be “the leader” I once was, yet I can be someone with greater love and grace that continues to transform me from within.


Surrender my chronic pain to something greater

January 8, 2013

Summer 09 352It can be hard to surrender my chronic pain to a higher power.  It is easier for me to seek answers in others to bring wholeness to fill the void in my life.  I often feel shame because it makes me feel weak and needy, feelings I seek to avoid at much cost. I can see that alone I am lacking, and I long for something greater to fill the voids and bring healing. 

I see that my way of controlling life and finding meaning does not work. It leaves me emptier than I was before, and separates me from the One that can bring my life back. In the moment it has brought me to see the longings that I have tried to deny, and to also see that I really don’t always believe the Spirit can meet these needs in me. I can see myself as bad and being punished by God.  I wonder if the Spirit has abandoned me when I hear nothing, and my symptoms don’t change.  When I take the time to connect, generally I can feel the peace. Often this is done through prayer and music.

When I come to the Spirit in my greatest place of need, and in my weaknesses, struggles and failures, and find love, than I become more trusting. I can become more honest and vulnerable allowing room to reveal the brokenness, and bring healing to my life. I don’t have to fear this part of myself anymore, and am willing to look at it without shame. I find that as I accept my life as it is, that I am much more humble and graceful to others. I can see the heart of the Spirit in a way I never have before. Compassionate, yet willing to guide me out of the traps I set myself in. I have many obstacles to really trusting and believing in a Spirit. Many of which for now, I just have to acknowledge and be open about. I see the distortions in my head, and it will take longer for it to sink in my heart. This is where real transformation takes place.

I believe that I live a spiritual life and in many ways feel deeply connected to the Spirit. I want to follow and surrender to something greater. Yet I still struggle to give up my desire for what I want-complete healing and to rearrange the dreams I had for myself. I still have much to understand about the bad things in life, including my illness/pain, and I know this hinders my ability to trust. I have to remember that religious people, are not the same as the Spirit. And that spiritual leaders may be godly in some areas, while being destructive in others.  I will be open with what I don’t get, and listen to what I am to do with that.

I love connecting with the Spirit in nature, and am finding this extremely valuable. Walks with the Spirit have been a source of clarity for me, as I hear a voice in the wind and trees. The majesty of spiritual things reminds me of who is in control, and that a power is greater than any problem I ever have or will face. He also is a Spirit of beauty, and wants to bless me. So much has been given, that I have not received.

I have been given so many people for the journey, lots of support and spiritual guides. I have learned so much from the people who are in my path. People who have shown me grace and love. Not all understand chronic pain or me for that matter, but I do know many love and care for me. I am grateful to have my heart open up more to all kinds of people and situations and to realize that things aren’t always as they seem. Can’t be too quick to make assessments about people and situations I do not understand. I gain much wisdom as I am able to ask with a heart for the person, and a desire to learn about their unique experiences. My life is truly about relationships, and if I didn’t have much time on this earth, this would still be where I would devote my time.

2.       Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could bring us peace and sanity.

3.       Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

 


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