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#376764 - 11/25/11 10:15 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:14-16

"Why can't you grow up?!" Parents sometimes express their anger and impatience with their children in this way. But, it is not a shameful thing to be a child. To acknowledge our child-like-ness is to acknowledge our limits and our dependency. It is to make room for wonder, trust and joy in our lives. If that is what it means to be a child, then we need more of it.

But there is also a sense, as in this text, in which to be child-like is to be immature or unstable. It is a good thing to grow-up. Not because it is shameful to be a child, but because growth is part of God's plan for us. Being "tossed back and forth" is an exhausting way to live. We need to find some way to live without being "blown here and there".

Growing up is hard work. The reason for this, as this text suggests, is that growing up is closely connected with learning to speak the truth. Honesty is a central dynamic of growth and recovery. Increasing our capacity for honesty is not an easy process. But, as we speak the truth in love, we will experience some dramatic changes in our relationships. We will find a more intimate relationship with God - we will 'grow up into Christ'. And we will also find ourselves 'joined and held together' in a community of faith.<

Help me to be a child, Lord,
Help me to face my dependencies and my limits.
But, help me to grow up as well.
I'm tired of being tossed back and forth.
I want more stability than being blown here and there.
I want to have stable, healthy relationships
with you, and with others.
So, build within me a capacity for honesty.
Help me to speak the truth in love
so that I can grow up.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#376870 - 11/26/11 12:03 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Philippians 3:12

Some days the desire to be 'finished' with recovery is almost overwhelming. It is such an attractive thought. To be 'done'. It sounds so good. Done. Finally. Please, Lord, I want to be done today.

But, we have learned something about our capacity for self-deceit. We have learned that we are not entirely in control of the process of recovery. And, we have learned something about the dangers of complacency. It can lead us back into denial, and toward relapse. There is no more dangerous moment for us than the moment we become convinced that we are all better.

Recovery is 'pressing on'. We have not 'already obtained.' We have not 'already been made perfect.' Tomorrow's recovery cannot be done in advance. And yesterday's recovery, although it has changed and enriched us, is not the same thing as today's recovery. Today's recovery can only be done today.

The process of recovery restructures our lives in some very fundamental ways. We had learned silence, and in recovery we learn to speak the truth. We had learned not to feel, and in recovery we learn to feel. We had learned either not to need other people at all or to be excessively dependent on other people, and in recovery we learn to need other people in appropriate ways. These are significant changes. But, they are not irreversible changes. We can go back to silence, emotional numbness and unhealthy relationships. Recovery is necessarily therefore a new way of life. It is a daily pressing on. It is the day-at-a-time practice of the disciplines of recovery that makes it possible for us to continue to heal, grow and change.

Lord, you have brought me so far.
Thank you. I am grateful for all I have gained.
But, I want to press on.
I want to continue to grow.
I want to continue to learn.
Help me to press on.
Help me to do today's recovery today.
Help me to press on toward you.
Take hold of me with your love.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#376985 - 11/27/11 12:33 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.
Psalm 107:13-16

Addictions and compulsions are a kind of bondage. Painful memories are also like chains that bind us. We try harder and harder to change. But sometimes the harder we try, the tighter the chains become. Recovery begins when we recognize that our bondage is too great for us. We are not powerful enough to break these chains. Either we will find a power greater than ourselves to help us, or we will stay in bondage.

Many people find the idea of powerlessness to be very troubling. We want to be competent and self-reliant. And, many of us have had people attempt to 'rescue' us in ways that have increased our shame and self-contempt. So, why should we welcome the God-who-rescues? Won't he also shame us?

First, notice in this text that God's intervention is in response to a request. We do not serve a codependent God. God is not entangled in our compulsions. God will not rescue in ways that are shame-full. God knows that we need to be ready to be helped and that we need to cry out for help.

Notice also in this text that it is the God-of-unfailing-love who is our higher power. Because so many of us are convinced that God is vindictive, punitive and abusive, it can be terrifying in our powerlessness to focus on the power of God. We are sure that all of that power will be used against us. But the God-of-unfailing-love is not a vindictive, punitive or abusive God. God is a God-of-tough-love. That's the only kind of love that can be 'unfailing.' But God is not 'against' us. God is 'for' us.

Recovery is being set free by God's powerful love.

I was powerless, Lord.
I expected you to increase my shame and self-contempt.
But you are a God of unfailing love.
I expected you to use your power against me.
But when I called, you came.
You crashed the gates.
You cut the bars.
You broke the chains.
You are leading me out of this darkness and deepest gloom
into the light of day.
Thank you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#377095 - 11/28/11 07:52 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

We know what it is like to walk in darkness. We know what it is like to live in the shadow of death. But we also are beginning to experience what it is like to see. The darkness of denial is giving way to the light of honesty in our lives.

Of course, when you have lived in darkness as long as we have, the light can be painfully bright. We see the truth about ourselves and our self destructive behavior. We see the truth about our refusal of love. We see the truth of our brokenness. We see old pain. We see current behaviors that damage ourselves and others. The light dawns. It is not a pretty sight.

But God does not send light into our darkness to shame us. The exposure may trigger our deep shame, but this is not God's purpose. God's light is like the light of dawn. It is a light that signals that something new is happening. A new beginning is possible. The light that God brings into our dark world is a light of hope.

Recovery is God's light coming into our darkness. The light exposes. We begin to see clearly the ways we have sinned and the ways other people have sinned against us. And the light provides hope. In the light we see the possibility for new beginnings.

Lord, your light hurts my eyes.
It is too bright.
I see too clearly now.
It is too painful for me.
Help me to believe that your light is not to bring shame
but to bring hope into my dark world.
Light of Heaven, embrace me with your warmth.
Heal me with your bright rays.
Give me life.
And hope.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#377263 - 11/29/11 07:54 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.
Rev. 3:20

Some people enter without knocking. It happens. Our boundaries have not always been respected. As a result, we have built some significant defenses. Our doors have multiple locks. When needed, they can be latched, barred, bolted, double bolted and sealed securely.

As we begin the healing process, however, we begin to experiment with allowing our defenses to come down. We unlatch one lock at a time.

Nothing is more helpful in this process than having people who respect our boundaries - people who will knock and wait patiently for an answer. So, this picture of Jesus is full of good news for us. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. It is pure invitation. God does not invade. God does not demand. God does not manipulate. God gently, persistently knocks. God says 'here I am, I would like to spend time with you'.

Recovery is a process of learning to trust God. Trust grows slowly. We can't do that all at once. But perhaps today we can listen carefully for a knock. Tomorrow we may be able to manage a "who is there?". And, with persistence, we will some day sit at table with God and enjoy God's loving presence.

Lord, thank you for knocking.
Thank you for respecting my boundaries.
And, thank you for knocking persistently.
It takes me a while to respond
because my doors have so many latches.
Give me courage this day
to open the doors of my life to you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#377400 - 11/30/11 07:40 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
Isaiah 55:1

Most of us have spent a lot of money and a lot of effort on things that do not satisfy. When our efforts do not result in serenity, we become more and more confused and more and more frantic. Into the middle of this chaos and desperation comes an invitation. God invites us to receive 'food' which is designed to delight our souls.

God's invitation is to people who are thirsty or hungry. It is to people who are working hard but finding little satisfaction. The invitation extends to those who have no money or assets of any kind. God is not sparing or stingy. God is an extravagant giver of good things. God wants us to delight in the richest of fare.

The nourishment at God's feast does more than please our taste-buds. This meal is more than mere esthetic pleasure. The nourishment from God's table feeds our souls with delight. It is nourishment that sinks down to the deepest places of our being. God seeds delight in the foundations of our soul. And from these seeds come serenity, peace and the courage to continue.

God, I'm thirsty.
I have spent my money and energy
on things that have not satisfied.
God, my soul is hungry.
I need food for my soul.

Help me to come to you, Lord.
You know my hesitation.
You know how suspicious I am
of such an extravagant invitation.
Help me to come as an eager child
to receive good things from you.
Feed my soul, Lord,
until it is full of delight.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#377527 - 12/01/11 08:01 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
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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#377688 - 12/02/11 08:09 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
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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#377927 - 12/03/11 11:03 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
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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#378113 - 12/04/11 01:31 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2568
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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