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#389893 - 03/20/12 08:06 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
He who ignores discipline despises himself,
but whoever heeds correction gains understanding.
Proverbs 15:32

None of us enjoy it when people point out that we need to change. We don't like being told that we have switched from one addiction to another. Or, that we are allowing someone's addiction to control our lives. Or that we are running from intimacy. Or that we are behaving in ways that are destructive to ourselves or to others. We don't like hearing these things.

But we need this kind of honesty. We are not 'wired' for honest self-assesment. At the first sight of a problem we experience shame. And our defenses go up. We put our hands over our ears and stop listening.

We need other people to keep us honest and to help us see what we cannot see about ourselves. Honest feedback is one of our best hopes for initiating change. As this text puts it, if we 'heed correction', we can gain a lot of understanding. So, it is good to pay attention to the 'correction' and 'discipline' we get from others. We are not helped, of course, by judgmentalism and shame - we have enough of that to last us a lifetime. But we need to cultivate relationships with people who will - with love and kindness - tell us the truth about ourselves. This information can be the starting point for change in our lives.

Lord, help me to build relationships that sustain honesty.
Give me friends who will love me enough to tell me the truth.
Help me to pay attention to correction.
Give me the courage to see myself clearly.
Keep me from shame and self-loathing.
Give me the openness to correction that makes change possible.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#390007 - 03/21/12 08:27 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handled down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:19

Change is not easy. It is a fierce battle. It can be difficult and discouraging.

Change often requires us to challenge the perspectives and rules which have sustained our family system for generations. The 'empty way of life' we are attempting to change was handed down from our parents and their parents before them and their parents before them. In a family committed to the 'don't talk' rule, for example, saying even a simple sentence may require overcoming distracting behaviors or other avoidance behaviors which have been refined over hundreds of years!. Talking honestly to a parent or sibling may be breaking family rules that have lasted for generations.

The Good News is that we have been redeemed from the empty way of life handed down by our forefathers. Jesus redeemed us so that we can be free from this kind of bondage. We can learn to talk honestly . We can learn to experience our emotions. We can learn to trust genuinely. We can engage in life. We can love and be loved.

We live in a battle between the empty way of life passed down to us and the new life that has been provided for us. Living in solidarity with our new life in Christ is a daily struggle, but as we practice this way of life we break the vicious cycle of family dysfunction.

Lord, it isn't just me that I am trying to change.
I am up against generations of dysfunction.
An empty way of life has dominated my family for a long time.
It has been passed down to me.
No wonder it seems so hard to change.
I need your help, Lord.
Help me to find hope in your understanding of my struggle.
Help me to find hope in your gift of redemption.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#390179 - 03/22/12 07:53 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
2 Thessalonians 1:4

There is no magical formula for change. But there are some helpful principles.

First of all, change happens little by little. As this text puts it, our capacity for trust 'grows more and more' and our ability to love and to receive love 'increases'. These changes, like all of the most important changes in life, do not happen as a one-time event. An important change may require us to make a decision at a certain moment, it also requires a process that takes place over months and years.

Second, change is not a race. The change process can not be rushed. We often want to 'hurry it up', but we can't. Change that is real and long-lasting, requires patience and perseverance. When we have been practicing our dysfunctions for decades, we can expect that unlearning them will also take time.

Third, change requires that we practice the disciplines of honesty and fellowship. There is no recovery unless we find ways to move out of denial and isolation. What a wonderful gift it is to be able to share our struggles and victories with people who will 'always thank God for us' and who will encourage us, affirm us and hold us accountable.

Lord, I want my faith to grow.
I want my capacity for love to increase.
Little by little.
One day at a time.
That's what I need.
Help me to move out of denial,
And out of isolation.
Help me to do my part to make change possible in my life.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#390316 - 03/23/12 07:54 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:24-25

Sometimes it feels like nothing is changing. We feel like we have lost our way -- and all hope of finding it again. Ironically we often experience this sense of being 'stuck' during periods that later seem most dynamic in terms of change. Perhaps when change is rapid we are so disoriented that we are unable to see it clearly. In times like this we may not be able to see that anything is changing. It may be hard to believe that all the hard work and effort are worth it. It is during these times we are most tempted to give up.

It is a general truth that we want change to take place faster than it does. We could more easily tolerate the pain of recovery, if only we could be assured that it would be quick.

But if we insist that change happen so rapidly that we can see it every day, then our capacity for hope will gradually diminish. If we insist that our recovery always have the drama and immediacy of miracle, then we will not build the deep-down kind of hope that we will need during the really tough times in life. Hope that you can 'see', Paul says, is not really hope at all. Real hope is what sustains us when we do not see change. Hope is the conviction that God has not given up on us. As long as God is committed to us, there is hope for change.

Sometimes I get stuck, Lord.
When that happens, I desperately want a miracle.
I want to change fast, very fast.
But that's not what I really need.
What I really need is you, Lord.
If you haven't given up,
then I'm not really stuck.
There is hope.
Renew my vision of you, Lord.
Help me to see again your hopefullness about me.
And your love for me.
And the joy you take in me.
Let this build again in me a capacity for hope.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#390502 - 03/24/12 10:23 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19

Recovery involves a lot of hard work. Change and growth take effort. But we are not doing all the work ourselves. God is also at work. God is at our side in the process of healing.

Sometimes, of course, it seems like there is not much for God to work with. We see our diseases and disfunctions clearly and wonder how anything can be made out of this mess. But God is full of surprises. God can turn the most unlikely of events and experiences into opportunities to bring us new life and new hope.

Sometimes recovery seems like a desert wasteland, desolate, unproductive. We can't imagine that anything can grow here. The conditions are too hostile. It is into just such situations that God comes. In a trackless wilderness, God makes a way. In a parched wasteland, God causes a stream of water to spring up. It is a remarkable thing when God finds a path for us when we are completely lost. It is a remarkable thing when God provides nourishment for us in a wasteland. But God does, time and time again.

God is doing a new thing in us. It may be difficult for us to perceive at first. But little by little, day by day, new life and hope spring up. God can take the pathless wasteland of our lives and grow a garden there.

"Do you see it?" God asks "Can you see how it springs up? It will be a garden some day. It will yield a bountiful harvest."

I am not good at seeing it yet, Lord.
Will I bloom and grow?
Will my desert wasteland see a harvest?
Is there a path for me in this wilderness, Lord.
Are there streams of water here?
Surprise me, Lord.
And change me.
Give me the courage, hope and trust
to change a little today.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#390704 - 03/25/12 03:50 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.
John 8:7

It is easy to judge other people. Judgmentalism and blame come naturally to us. Other people's faults and failures are not difficult to identify. Many of us can remember a time in our lives when throwing the first stone was not just easy - it was what we thought good Christians were supposed to do.

One of the most dramatic changes which takes place early in the recovery process is an increase in self-awareness. We begin to see patterns in our own lives that need changing. We see our own self destructive tendencies. We see how we have brought pain to others. As these insights dawn on us, we begin to lay down our stones.

Of course, as our self-awareness increases, many of us attempt to refocus the blame and judgmentalism from others onto ourselves. We can blame and judge ourselves as ruthlessly as we may once have blamed and judged others. But it's not really progress in recovery to give up throwing stones. . and then start banging our heads against a stone wall.

Judgmentalism and blame are not helpful in recovery. What makes recovery possible is when increased self-awareness leads to an increased capacity to experience forgiveness. Gradually we learn to accept forgiveness from God and others. We receive mercy. As a result, we begin to treat ourselves and others with mercy.

It is increased self-awareness and the humility which self-awareness makes possible that are the soil in which true community can grow. When we accept ourselves as humans even though we struggle and sometimes fail, we can become far more gentle with ourselves and with others.

Lord, you know how quick I have been to throw stones.
Thank you for the self awareness that has allowed me to see more clearly that
I am not without sin.
I know that I am in need of forgiveness.
Give me the courage to accept your forgiveness and mercy
and in this way begin to live in true community
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#390778 - 03/26/12 07:47 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Listen carefully to my words, let this be the consolation you give me.
Job 21:1

Listening should be easy. But it is not. At a minimum, listening means that we have to be quiet. We cannot listen when we are talking. Not talking is the hard part. There are many reasons for this. We prefer talking over listening because it gives us a sense of control. We can control the silences between words by choosing when to talk. Since silences of even a few seconds can cause our anxiety to increase, we fill the silence with words even when we really have nothing to say.

It is a remarkable experience to have someone really listen -- to have someone's undivided attention and interest. When someone listens, they communicate to us on a very deep level that we are valuable. Their listening breaks our isolation and aloneness. And it decreases the fears which come when our thoughts and feelings are confused. Talking out loud in the presence of a person who listens carefully allows us to gain clarity and perspective. Gradually, being listened to can begin to convince us that we are worth someone's attention and worth being loved.

When someone listens with respect and acceptance we are comforted and consoled. Our pain is soothed. Our burden is lightened.

Thank you, Lord, for those who listen to me.
And thank you for the people who
trust me enough to allow me to listen to them.
Give me the courage to talk honestly.
Give me the grace to listen well.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#391153 - 03/28/12 07:39 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24

The process of recovery increases our awareness of the ways we have hurt other people. For many of us this realization leads almost instaneously to shame. And shame leads almost immediately to increasingly desperate attempts to be perfect in order to mask the feeling that we are fundamentally flawed. The downward cycle of failure-shame-trying harder-failure will gradually immobilize us as our self-contempt and depression increase.

In this text Jesus invites us to give up on trying harder. He suggests a completely different and very practical way of dealing with failure. Notice that Jesus assumes that living in community will lead to the need for making amends. The assumption is that we will not be perfect. We can expect to fail from time to time. Failure need not lead to shame or perfectionism because failure is normal. We all experience it. Accepting this basic reality is the first step in the process toward a healthy response to failure.

Jesus suggests that awareness of our failure doesn't have to lead to trying harder. It can lead to honesty and making amends. We are to speak directly about the problem, ask for forgiveness, make amends as appropriate, and be reconciled if possible.

I fail, Lord.
And then I am ashamed of my failure.
And then I work twice as hard not to fail.
And then I fail again. Lord.
And then I become even more ashamed of my failure.
And then I work ten times as hard not to fail.
And then I fail again..
Help!
Free me from the cycle of failure-shame-perfectionism.
Give me the courage to ask for forgiveness and to make amends.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#391340 - 03/29/12 07:41 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22

A friend recently said, "The day my mother told me to lie about Dad's abusive behavior is the day I decided once and for all that no one will ever take care of me but me."

Many of us made decisions like this early in life. For one reason or another we reached the conclusion that it was not safe to need others. One of the longest-lasting effects of abuse and neglect is this kind of ruthless independence.

Unfortunately, because we may not have experienced appropriate care, we have not learned how to do a good job of taking care of ourselves. We are harsh with ourselves. And we have huge blind spots. We keep falling into the same ruts and traps.

The toxic individualism that comes from abuse and neglect is an illusion. We are needy. We need others to help us and support us. We cannot live whole, healthy lives in isolation. We need other people. We need their counsel and their honest feedback. Success is more likely when we work interdependently. We need love and acceptance. We need listening ears. We need to be held accountable. We need encouragement and support from other people. And others need all these things from us as well.

It may seem like a risk to allow ourselves to need anything from anyone. But it is a risk worth taking again and again and again. It is appropriate to be cautious and wise about the risks we take in relationships. But risks cannot be avoided. Mutual relationships of love and care are the basis for all real joy in life. They are worth the struggle and hard work.

Lord, you know the fear I experience
when I allow myself to receive good things from other people.
You know how hard it is for me to let myself need people.
And you know I struggle to believe I have anything to give to others.
So interdependence is difficult.
Help me, Lord, to give and to receive.
Give me the courage to risk love.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#391504 - 03/30/12 07:39 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
I Corinthians 13:3

We need to experience loving relationships in order to heal and grow. In loving relationships we experience the safety that allows us to face the truth. In loving relationships we experience the support we need to begin to change. And in loving relationships we learn that we are lovable and valuable.

Because we have been wounded in relationships, our instinct is often to run from relationships. We don't want to be hurt again. This leaves an enormous void in our souls. And it is this void which we desperately try to fill with addictions and compulsions of various kinds. This text focuses on two manifestations of religious addiction (compulsive altruism and religiously motivated self-abuse) and sums up the result: I gain nothing. The same could be said of all of our addictions. "I deliver my body to be burned" and "I gain nothing" are an accurate description not only of a particular kind of religious addiction but also of chemial addiction, work addiction, sexual addiction and relationship addiction, as well as many self-abusive compulsions.

We gain nothing for all the time and effort we spend on trying to numb the pain. It does not achieve the desired result. The void remains.

Although loving fellowship may be frightening for us, it is the path to recovery. The vulnerabilities of intimacy may remind us of earlier times of terror in life, but there is no way to recover in isolation. The net result of compulsions and addictions is "I gain nothing." But the net result of recovery is very different. There is something to be gained by all the hard work that recovery requires. Recovery builds in us a capacity to receive love and a capacity to give love to others. And that is a real gain.

May God grant you the courage you need today to pursue loving fellowship.

Lord, you see my guarded heart.
You see the fears that make me run from love.
What I fear is what I want most.
I want to love and to be loved.
Give me courage to open my heart to love today.
Amen.<

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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