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#395312 - 04/28/12 04:51 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1:18

There are three common but unhelpful ways of dealing with our failures and sins. First, there is denial. We tell ourselves that everybody has problems, so it doesn't really matter. Nothing of any value comes from this effort to cover-up. A second unhelpful strategy is to blame others for what has happened. This can range from different versions of 'the-devil-made-me-do-it' to 'I'm just a product of my environment'. Nothing of any value comes from this effort to cover-up. Thirdly, instead of turning the emotional energy outwards in blame we can turn it against ourselves as self-loathing. We see ourselves as monsters and what we have done as unforgivable. Nothing of value comes from this effort to atone for our own sins.

God invites us to another path. God invites us to be transformed. God invites us to stop denying, blaming and catastrophisizing about our lives. In order to change and grow we need to face the reality of our actions and attitudes. We need to understand that our sins are like scarlet, like crimson. They are life-draining. Destructive. But we are forgivable. We are invited to receive forgiveness. And we are invited to change. The life-draining behaviors that we have pursued can be changed. Changed from bright red to snow white. We do not have to let denial, blame and shame lock us into destructive, hurtful patterns. We can be clean and sober. White as snow. Forgiven.

Lord, free me from denial.
The pretense is choking me to death.
Lord, free me from blame.
It's not working for me anymore.
Lord, free me from self-loathing
The shame is killing me.
Help me to face the truth.
Help me to accept your offer of forgiveness and change.
Make me white as snow.
Make me as clean and pure as new wool.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#395489 - 04/29/12 03:51 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

Many of us find it very difficult to feel confident in intimate relationships. If we learned early in life that the people most important to us were unapproachable, then confidently approaching others as adults may be difficult. There are many ways to learn that approaching other people is dangerous. It can come from abuse, or criticism, or disinterest.

One result of experiences of this kind is that we find it difficult to be confident when we approach God. This is particularly true when we are feeling fragile, weak or needy. The last thing we expect is mercy and grace in our time of need. We expect to be criticized. We expect God to say 'why are you still so needy?'. We expect to be abandoned. We expect God to say 'I'm busy now.' We expect to be rejected. We expect God to say 'If only you had more faith or prayed more or read the Bible more or trusted me more.' With expectations like this, it is no surprise that we lack confidence when approaching God.

But God offers us an invitation we long to hear. He invites us to approach. And, God invites us to come with confidence. God will pay attention. God will hear us. God will be interested in our well-being. God will respond with mercy, grace and help.

I don't have much confidence, Lord.
I don't trust other people very much .
I don't trust you very much.
I don't expect mercy and grace
from anybody, especially in times when I'm this needy.
I expect criticism, abandonment, and rejection.

Thank you for inviting me to come to you.
Thank you for providing good reasons to have confidence in you.
You are full of mercy and grace.

This is a time of need for me, Lord.
Give me confidence to approach you today.
I need your mercy and grace.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#395582 - 04/30/12 07:53 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

We can hang on to our attempts to control ourselves and others and stay anxious. Or we can let go and let God.

We are anxious because we think we have to take care of everything and everybody. We are anxious because we believe we cannot be happy unless we can control the people we love. We are anxious because life's problems are more than we can handle, but we try to handle them on our own anyway.

God invites us to give up our anxious way of life. We do not have to take care of everything and everybody. We can, instead, let God take care of us. We can bring our anxious hearts and our long lists of concerns to God.

Responding to this invitation requires a great deal of us. It requires that we acknowledge that we cannot do what we have been trying to do. We are powerless. It requires that we turn to God. It requires that we release our control, our anxiety, our very lives into God's care.

God invites us to serenity. "Give up your anxiety," God says "bring the concerns of your heart to me."

I am anxious, Lord.
And I feel guilty about feeling anxious.
And I feel anxious about feeling guilty.
And I feel anxious about feeling guilty about feeling anxious.
Help!
I am overwhelmed by all I am trying to do.
I need your invitation to serenity.
I bring you my requests today, Lord.
I bring them to you.
I admit that I do not have the power to solve these problems.
I acknowledge that you are Powerful.
I ask you to take care of me today.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#395688 - 05/01/12 08:02 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. "
1 Corinthians 11:24

People in the recovery process are people with painful memories. We remember our losses. We remember our sins. We remember the sins which have been committed against us. It is part of the hard work of recovery to face these memories, to grieve them and to come to terms with them. But sometimes the painful memories become so powerful that it seems like nothing will be able to compete with them for our attention. The memory of pain consumes us. In times like this we need a powerful new memory that can challenge the dominance of our painful memories.

Jesus invites us to receive a new and startling memory. "Remember me," Jesus says, "Eat the bread and drink the wine and remember that I gave my life for you. I gave my life because I love you. Take this new memory. Allow it to shape the way you think about yourself and about life and about me. Allow yourself to remember me."

It is not that the memory of Jesus' sacrificial love erases all of our painful memories. Painful memories still have to be faced and grieved if healing is to come. But God offers us in Jesus a memory powerful enough to compete with the most powerful of painful memories. The death-grip which painful memories have on our attention can be broken by the powerful memory of God's love.

Help me to remember you, Lord.
Help me to find a place
in my mind and heart
for the memory of your love for me.
I want the memory of your love, Lord,
to be the most powerful of my memories.
I want it to be
The Memory
that shapes me.
Help me to remember you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#395793 - 05/02/12 07:49 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us.
1 John 1:8-9

Few people will be so overt as to say 'I am without sin'. Self-deceit is rarely that obvious. It often comes masked in socially acceptable and socially rewarded forms of behavior.

Perfectionism, for example, is a common expression of self deceit. We try very hard to look good. Sometimes we work so hard to look perfect, ('without sin'), that we nearly convince ourselves that it's true. Then, in the moments when we suddenly remember our human condition, we feel shame and self-contempt. And this often makes us want to work even harder to cover over reality with more layers of self deceit.

But self-deceit will never lead to change and growth. Only honesty can bring change. Recovery begins as we face our failures, our wrong-doing, and our self-destructive choices.

For people like us, who have tried very, very hard to be very, very good, facing reality can be painful work. The courage to pursue taking an honest inventory of our lives is not possible without some source of compassion and forgiveness that can replace our shame and self contempt. The good news is that God is compassionate and forgiving. God freely, joyfully, completely pardons. Because of this hope, we can look honestly at ourselves. Because we can turn to God and find mercy and pardon, we can make a fearless inventory of our lives.

Dear God, I have tried hard.
I have tried harder.
I have tried my hardest.
But it has only led to self-deceit.
Help me, God, I need you.
I need your compassion to overpower my self contempt.
I need your forgiveness to overpower my self condemnation.
Rid me of self-deceit, God.
And build in me a capacity for honesty.
Not so that I can be perfect, but so that I can genuinely change.
And, so that I can rejoice in your love for me.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#395916 - 05/03/12 07:56 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled"
1 Thessalonians 5:6

The first step toward honesty is to pay attention. In the words of this text, the choices we face are either to sleep or to be alert and self-controlled.

There are days when we would rather 'sleep'. There are days when the emotional numbness of denial seems less painful then the alertness required by recovery. Couldn't we just 'let it ride' for a day? Couldn't we just 'sleep' for a while?

Sometimes people encourage us to 'sleep'. "Why are you still paying attention to that? It was a long time ago!" Or "Why are you still 'holding on' to that? Just forgive and get it behind you." Wouldn't it be great to get this over with quickly and not have to pay attention to it anymore?

There is a rest, a serenity, that comes from God. But it comes from 'alertness' not from 'sleep'. God's peace is not like the 'sleep' in this text. This sleep is denial, it is avoidance, it is distraction, it is pretending, it is death. Being alert means that we allow ourselves to see and hear, to use our senses and mind and heart. It means that we pay attention to what is happening inside of us and around us. The text urges us to be alert, to pay attention. Pay attention, it urges, even if life is painful, even if it is not what we want it to be.

Lord, help me to pay attention today!
Help me not to put my feelings to sleep.
I want to be aware of my thoughts and feelings, Lord.
I want to be able to experience both the pain and joy of life today.
Help me to pay attention.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#396059 - 05/04/12 08:02 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
No more lying then. Everyone must tell the truth to his fellow believers because we are all members together in the body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:25

Honesty is essential to recovery. Honesty is essential to intimacy. But honesty is not easy.

We were not created to be isolated, independent creatures. We were created to be interdependent. We need each other. And in order for us to be helped by others and to be helpful to others, we need to practice honesty. That means we must learn how to talk to each other about our thoughts and our feelings and our needs. We must learn to talk about our struggles and failures, about our dreams and our successes.

Honesty is the soil in which intimate relationships grow. It creates the possibility of being known and loved for who we really are. But it is also full of risks. If we tell the truth about ourselves, people may not listen. They may not want to know. They may not understand. They may judge and reject. They may dislike us. They may give us simple answers to unanswerable questions. They may repeat what we have said to others.

We hesitate to be honest because we have experienced these things in the past. Our feelings may have been minimized. Our thoughts may have been devalued. Our reality may have been denied. But in order to grow healthy relationships, in order to heal and recover, we need to begin to take risks. Learning honesty will be a process for us. It will not come quickly. But as we practice the disciplines of honesty we gradually become more secure in telling the truth.

I am tired of lying, when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
But I am afraid of honesty, Lord.
It's not as easy as it sounds.
Help me to pursue honesty today.
Help me to be honest with you.
Help me to be honest with myself.
Help me to build a community of faith
where honesty is the norm.
Build in me a capacity for truth.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#396200 - 05/05/12 11:51 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales. It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas - no wonder my words have been impetuous.
Job 6:1-3

When we have lived for a long time by the 'don't talk' rule, learning to talk honestly and personally can be a real challenge. Our attempts to move away from self-deceit toward honest self-disclosure may be quite awkward. It's not reasonable to expect ourselves to be gifted at telling the truth when we have practiced deceit for so long. Sometimes our words will seem startling. We will feel our pain, find our voice, and the words and emotions will tumble out raw and uncensored. This text calls these 'impetuous' words. Another translation of this text calls them 'wild words'.

It is not easy to break the silence, to talk about what is real, to tell the truth about what we see and hear, to share what we think and feel, to tell our stories. Breaking the silence is like breaking the sound barrier - sometimes it can be quite loud and it can rattle the walls a little. When our misery feels like it 'outweighs the sands of the sea,' our emotions are going to be intense and our words will sometimes be wild.

Wild words are part of the journey and should not surprise us. Intense feelings sometimes need strong language in order to find true expression.

Lord, I am not accustomed to talking.
I am not gifted at honesty.
I have practiced 'don't talk' for a long time.
And now I need to practice honesty.
Help me to be patient and accepting of my wild words.
Even when the wild words frighten me.
Help me to pursue the truth.
Give me the courage I need.
You, Lord, who created the worlds with a word,
Give me the words I need.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#396302 - 05/06/12 01:39 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
James 5:16

Sometimes honest confession can seem astonishing, impossible, and dangerous. Because we have learned silence so well, we experience honesty as full of risk. After all, if we are honest, then other people will know what we think and feel. We will be exposed. The appearance of strength and competence we work so hard to cultivate will have to share the stage with our weaknesses, our failings, our sins.

When we practice honesty as a daily discipline, however, something happens to us. The promise of this text begins gradually to grow in our lives. We begin to heal. It is not a dramatic, once-for-all-time, quick-fix kind of healing. Nor is it a private healing, a healing that happens only 'inside' our heads or in secret with God.

Honesty leads to healing because people can now express their love for us in practical ways. Honesty leads to healing because we no longer have to pay the high tariffs that pretense demands. We heal because the experience of acceptance counteracts the contempt we so easily heap on ourselves. We heal because we are no longer alone. We heal because we are known and loved.

Honesty is a discipline with a promise. We will be healed.

Lord, give me the humility and
the courage
to practice confession today.
Heal me as I do the work of honesty.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#396393 - 05/07/12 08:27 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

We have many reasons, often what seem to be really good reasons, to be 'strong'. But if the bottom line of being 'strong' is to constrict the range of emotions which we allow ourselves to experience, what do we gain? We become people incapable of honestly experiencing the emotional realities of life. In this and many other ways we manage to avoid the clear biblical injunction to mourn with those who mourn. Our instincts are often to cheer other people up, to look on the bright side of things, to remind people of things they already know to be true. This text urges us to do the most basic of things. When it is time to mourn, we can mourn.

We can also rejoice when it is time to rejoice. It might seem like it would be easier to rejoice together. But this is not necessarily true. People in recovery have often experienced so many disappointments and betrayals that we find it difficult to experience good things. When something good happens, we expect that bad things will be waiting right around the corner. Instead of rejoicing, our instincts are to protect ourselves from the possibility of the soon-to-follow danger. We do our best to 'stay calm' so that we won't be disappointed. But again, this text urges us to do the most basic of things. When it is time to rejoice, rejoice.

The full range of life's emotions are to be experienced in community. As we share the most basic elements of life together, as we party together and hold each other in times of pain, we will become a fellowship distinguished by a capacity for honesty.

I rejoice, Lord
You do not tell me to calm down.
You do not warn me about getting too excited.
You encourage me to celebrate.
'Party together', you say.

I mourn, Lord.
You do not tell me to cheer up.
You do not tell me to 'be strong'.
You encourage me to experience the pain.
'Weep together' you say.

Thank you.
Thank you for welcoming the full range
of human emotions.
Thank you for joy and sorrow.
Give me the courage to weep with others.
Give me the freedom to rejoice with others.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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