The Gifts of recovery: Courage

“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.”

Before we can do, first we must be. Courage will not appear until serenity shows up. But there is something else that initiates courage: Love. I’m talking about the desire to make the necessary changes, changes that only we can make.

It’s like the joke: How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb? Just one – but only if the light bulb wants to change.

“The courage to change the things I can” is possible if there is love – the desire to change.

I always enjoyed watching the movie, The Wizard of Oz. As you may recall the foursome – Dorothy, the scarecrow, tinman and the lion – were off to see the wizard, hoping to get what each of them desired. Dorothy wanted to get home; the scarecrow wanted brains; the tinman wanted a heart; and the lion wanted some courage.

In the end, it was their love for each other that got them what they desired. And it was the lion who showed his courage by rescuing his comrades from danger. When you love someone enough, and want something bad enough, you do what it takes to reach your goals.

Before you can do, you must be. In order to change, you must have serenity. Serenity is not some mellow state of being that looks like lethargy and feels something like “I really don’t care.” Serenity is full of love and desire, the kind of desire that gives birth to courage.

And when you have courage, you are ready to take action – ready to change the things you can.

The Gifts of Recovery: Serenity

“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.”

One of the first gifts a recovering addict receives is the gift of serenity.  It’s not by accident that ‘serenity’ is the first gift mentioned in the Serenity prayer.  Before courage and wisdom can be granted, serenity must appear.

Serenity is not a skill we can develop – like playing guitar, or learning to speak a foreign language; nor is it a goal we reach for – like losing 20 pounds in 4 months.

Serenity is more like fruit that grows on a vine.  The vine doesn’t need to expend any energy by trying hard to focus on the production of fruit.  The fruit just simply grows when the conditions are right.

The 12 step program is designed to create the proper conditions for the peaceful fruit of serenity.  By surrendering our lives over to the care of God, we begin the process of recovery that restores us to sanity.

Sanity is the result of putting everything – how we live our lives – back in its proper order.  Insanity is the result of a life lived in chaos.  But a life lived in its proper order allows the precious gift of serenity to grow.

Are you still waiting for serenity to show up in your life?  Keep working the program by putting your life back in its proper order.  And when you’re not looking, serenity will show up just like grapes in a vineyard.

It’s time to let go

Step out of the rush. Step into this present moment.

It’s time to slow down. You can do it. Anxious thoughts and feelings will take you no-where. Instead, live as though you have all the time in the world…

Go ahead… Slow it right down…

It’s time to let go. Let go of what? Let go of the thing that you have in your possession – that thing you have held on to for years. It’s the thing that holds you back. The thing that keeps you from moving forward…

“What the hell are you talking about? I’m not hanging on to anything!”

Well, perhaps it feels more like that thing has a hold on you. You’ve tried to let go of it. But it won’t let go of you.

You’ve heard the expression “monkey on your back”? A problem. An anxiety that won’t leave you alone. And it’s driving you nuts.

“What can I do? It won’t let go…”

Step out of the rush. Step into this present moment. You can do it.

Go ahead… Slow it right down…

It’s time to let go.

Procrastination: The fear of moving forward

I’m a procrastinator.

“Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” I say to myself.

In high school I habitually put off what I should have been doing (like studying) in favor of what I’d rather be doing (watching TV). What was important got postponed till the last minute.

Needless to say, I got poor marks.

When I began college, my procrastinating worsened. My studies soon took a back seat to sex addiction. I spent every available minute outside of my classes in sexual fantasy, voyeurism and porn.

Procrastination had become a way of life for me.

The only thing that didn’t get postponed was my sexual acting out. Fantasy could last all day. And my sexual urges were given instant gratification.

In recovery I still find myself procrastinating. Even though the compulsive sexual acting out has stopped, there are things that I avoid doing – things I’d rather do tomorrow.

Are you a procrastinator? Are you forever putting things off until “tomorrow”?

The 12 step program is a recipe for action. You must take action. Those who procrastinate never finish the Steps.

Are you still working the steps? How long has it been since you started? Are you stuck on Step 4? If you’re stuck, you’re procrastinating. And I understand why you’re putting things off…

You’re afraid to move forward. And it’s okay to feel afraid. Just don’t let it keep you stuck.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other… one day at a time.

“Until the pain of remaining in your addiction becomes greater than the pain of letting it go, you will never move forward”

Out of Order!

The sign on the vending machine read, “Out of Order.” Crap!

After my disappointment subsided, I began to feel angry. It was late. I was hungry. And the restaurant was closed. “What kind of a motel doesn’t fix the only vending machine on the premises?” Crap!

I hated that hand-written sign. “Out of Order” may as well read “Sucks to be you, Bud!”

But that vending machine wasn’t the only thing broken.

My life wasn’t working either. There should have been a sign hanging around my neck. “Out of Order” would have summed it up accurately.

A full-blown sex addiction can do that to a person. Everything was screwed up… my job, my finances, my relationships, my marriage…

My life was broken, and it hurt.

When I fully committed myself to a 12-step program, I began to experience a change. Things started to get better. My life didn’t feel so out-of-order.

Even the program had a certain order to it. I had to do Step 1 before I could move on to Step 2. I was instructed not to move on to Step 3 until Step 2 was complete.

There’s nothing “willy-nilly” about recovery. It’s a return to order.

For many years I thought I enjoyed my out-of-order life. I associated “orderliness” with boredom. Life seemed so dull and depressing for those who lived orderly. (They must have felt very restricted!) But the pain of a life that was out-of-order became greater than the pain of living a life of orderly conduct.

I’m learning that life lived in its proper order is actually… desirable!

I still see hand-written signs posted on vending machines. But I never want to see the words “Out of order” describing my life ever again.

Watching everything come together in an orderly fashion is not dull. It’s not boring when sanity replaces chaos. It’s exciting to watch how my life is slowly repairing itself all because I’m learning to do things in a certain way.

No more “Out of order!”