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#384113 - 02/02/12 07:21 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them, I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
Isaiah 42:16

God leads blind people along unfamiliar paths. God promises to make rough places smooth for sightless and disoriented people. God will not forsake them.

During recovery we often feel sightless and disoriented. Our abilities to see clearly are often very limited - we don't have enough distance on things to give proper perspective. Denial leaves us blind. Rejected emotions and ignored human needs can also contribute to spiritual and psychological blindness.

So many things in recovery are unfamiliar to us. We are not accustomed to feeling what we feel, to talking about our experiences, or to trusting other people. Honesty is new territory for us. All of this is not only unfamiliar territory, it is scary territory as well.

But it is exactly to people like us that God makes promises. God makes promises to sightless and disoriented people. God will guide. God will give light. God will smooth the rough places. God will not abandon.

I can't see very well, Lord.
I certainly am not familiar with this path, Lord.
Are you sure you know where this leads?
This feels like a pretty rough trail to me, Lord.
Are you sure we can make it?

Be my guide, Lord, I am afraid.
I would be lost without you.
I cannot find my way alone.
Guide me, Lord.
Turn darkness into light.
Make the rough places smooth.
Do not forsake me.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#384214 - 02/03/12 07:46 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
"I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son'. . . But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him."
Luke 15:18-20

It is difficult to think and feel about ourselves in Godly ways. Many of us think that the prodigal son got it right. He had a well-practiced speech: "I am no longer worthy". How like our speeches to ourselves! If you hear about your unworthiness often enough, especially in childhood, and if you internalize the speech thoroughly, it becomes a part of you. Many of us know this particular speech so well that we can feel unworthy for no particular reason. We do not feel unworthy because of something we have done or said. We feel unworthy because of who we are. Many of us even think that the more unworthy we feel, the more likely the Father will be to welcome us back home!

But the Father responds quite differently from the prodigal's expectations. The Father was 'filled with compassion' and he ran to his son and he kissed him. When the prodigal finally got his speech out, the Father did not spend time arguing the point. Instead he 'honored' the son with a robe, a ring and a feast. He treated the prodigal in ways designed to build a very different kind of self understanding.

Our goal is to learn to think and feel about ourselves in ways that are consistent with the way God thinks and feels about us. God's perspective is a surprising contrast to our own. God does not join our internal chorus which is so persistent at proclaiming our unworthiness. Instead God says "You are my child. You are loved!"

Lord, I have not learned to think and feel about myself in healthy ways.
Teach me to think and feel about myself
in ways that are consistent with the way you think and feel about me!
Help me to listen when you say "I love you".
Help me to take it in.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#384347 - 02/04/12 06:59 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Many are saying of me, "God will not deliver him." But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
Psalm 3:2-3

We receive messages about ourselves from the important people in our lives. We internalize these messages and carry them with us, repeating them to ourselves as if they were gospel truth. When the messages are shaming messages then the internal chorus chants "You are not lovable. You are beyond repair. Even God cannot help you."

This chorus is a chorus of lies. The psalmist rejects these lies. And we need to begin to reject these lies as well.

The Lord is a "shield around me", the psalmist says. A shield protects. It comes between the blows of an enemy and a person's vulnerable places. Most shields are small and can only protect a limited area from attack. But the shield which the Lord provides completely surrounds us. We can let this shield protect us from these attacking messages.

The psalmist also says that the Lord "bestows glory on me and lifts up my head". Heavy burdens of shame, neglect and abuse have bowed our heads. The Lord listens, pays attention and cares about us. God's love counters the voices of our internal shame-chorus so that we can lift our heads. God replaces our shame with glory. It is a picture of a ragged, neglected child whose head is bowed and shoulders are bent. A king sees the child and goes to him. The king gently lifts the child's chin until his eyes meet his own smiling eyes. He asks the child to come home and live as royalty with him. The child is loved, honored, protected. You are the child. God lifts your head and bestows glory.

God help me to stop listening to lies about you.
Help me to stop listening to lies about me.
Be a shield around me.
Bestow glory.
Lift up my head.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#384551 - 02/06/12 07:49 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

We are God's creation. God made us. And what God makes is wonderful.

This may sound pretty obvious, but we probably need to remind ourselves that it is not everything-and-everybody-except-me that is wonderfully made. It is everything-and-everybody-including-me that is fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

When we have learned to see ourselves as people without value, when we have internalized contempt as the basis for our personal identity, it is difficult to see ourselves as one of God's wonderful works.

But you are one of God's wonderful works. You are precious to God. You are a unique, irreplaceable expression of God's creative love.

It is good to praise God for making us. It is good to see ourselves as a reason for thanksgiving and awe. God made our minds, our emotions, our needs, our bodies, our creativity, our longings, our hopes. God is a marvelous creator who made us wonderfully.

You are one of God's wonderful works. You can praise God that he made you wonderfully.

Thank you,
Creator God,
that you made me.
and that all that you make is wonderful
including me.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#384552 - 02/06/12 07:49 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?
Matthew 6:26

Many of us learn early in life that we need to earn our sense of value. For some, value was earned by entertaining people with our clowning acts. For others, value came from taking care of everyone else. And for others, value was derived from achieving success of some kind. But often there is no way to entertain enough, take care enough or achieve enough to meet our needs for approval. No matter how compulsively we entertain, or care or work, we still are not able to feel valued. These substitutes do not meet the deepest longings of our heart. In addition we run the risk of becoming compulsively attached to these substitutes because we fear that the sense of value which they offer is our only hope of finding peace.

The longing to experience ourselves as valued is a fundamental human need. The need is really a need to be heard, seen, enjoyed and loved by others for who we are rather than for what we do. No amount of earned approval can meet this need. We long to know that we have value simply because we exist. This kind of value cannot be earned, it must be received as a gift.

Jesus says to us "you are valuable. Simply because you are, you are valuable". The birds of the air are God's creatures. God sees them and cares for them. God made them and God enjoys them. They are valuable. You, too, are God's creation, made and known by God. God sees you and cares for you. You are of great value.

As we grow in our awareness that our true value is a gift already given to us by God, we can begin to let go of the tight hold we have on our substitute strategies for achieving worth.

Father, you know how attached
I have become to earning my sense of value.
But, I can never seem to work hard enough.
Thank you, Creator God,
for valuing the birds of the air.
Thank you, Creator God,
for valuing me.
Help me to receive this good gift from you.
Help me to see myself as valuable in your eyes.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#384667 - 02/07/12 07:39 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1

Abandoned. Neglected. Alone.

Many of us share these painful struggles. Unfortunately, many of us have struggled with them from very early in life. People from dysfunctional families often feel that they were never acceptable to their parents. Many struggle with the feeling that they can never be good enough to receive attention. If reinforced by rejection or abandonment from friends, colleagues, or other significant people in our lives, we can easily conclude that we don't really 'belong' at all.

Humans have a deep longing to belong, to be emotionally bonded with others. Social isolation can be very painful to us. But social isolation may have felt like the only option open to us as children. Attempts at closeness may have meant experiencing control, abuse, rejection or loss. We may have pulled away to protect ourselves, even though it left us lonely and afraid.

God comes to our lonely, anxious hearts and whispers our name. God says "I see both the fear you have of closeness and the deep longing you have to belong. I have come to comfort you and to respond to your need. I have been seeking relationship with you. You belong. You belong to me. You are my child."

It may frighten us - this invitation to belong to God - even though we long for it. It may frighten us because we expect pain and disappointment, over-control and rejection. But gradually, as we continue the healing process, we can allow God to meet this deep need. We can allow ourselves to belong more and more to God.

Help me, God, to allow myself to belong to you.
Thank you for calling me by name.
Thank you for saying 'you are mine'.
I want to belong to you, God.
Help me to heal, Great Physician,
So that I can accept my place in your family.
Take away my fear, Father,
give me the courage to belong to you.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#384860 - 02/08/12 07:37 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

God is a very capable craftsman. God's workmanship is of the highest quality. We are God's workmanship. We are the art of a competent Creator.

Notice in this text that our creation 'in Christ Jesus' means that we are competent as well. We are like our Creator in that we have been created 'to do good works'. God who is capable of good works made us to be capable of doing good works as well.

This is quite a contrast to 'you can't do anything right'. In dysfunctional families and institutions people learn to doubt their competence. This doubt leads many people to work harder and harder to demonstrate their abilities. In dysfunctional systems, however, no matter how hard we try, we can't try hard enough. We learn that our problem is not that we are human and occasionally make mistakes but that we are incompetent people. We learn that we are flawed in a most basic way. No matter how compulsively we try, we can't ever get it right.

This text is an affirmation of our competence, of our importance in God's plans. God affirms us by saying "there are good things for you to do, and I believe you can do them". Notice that the text does not say that we need to do good works to earn God's love or to win God's approval or that we have to do the work perfectly or compulsively. What is does say is that God sees each of us as capable of good works. God invites us to participate in the creative, redemptive work that God is doing in the world. God sees us as capable.

You are competent, God.
Your works are good works.
It amazes me that you see me as competent.
Thank you for believing in me.
Help me to trust your words of affirmation.
Help me to find joy in doing good.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#385025 - 02/09/12 08:05 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.
I John 3:19-20

Sometimes it is difficult to believe that we 'belong to the truth'. Sometimes it is difficult to imagine having our 'hearts at rest'. The part of our heart that is damaged by shame reminds us of all our inadequacies and failures. As this text puts it, our hearts condemn us.

In the process of recovery many of us become aware that we have internalized a voice of shame and self-condemnation. We may tell ourselves that we are unlovable. "How could anyone care about me?" Or, we may tell ourselves that we are worthless. "I'm no good." Or, we may tell ourselves that we are not capable. "I can't do anything right." These are some of the ways we condemn ourselves. We also may question our faith. We may wonder, as this verse puts it, whether "we belong to the truth". Because of our early experiences of rejection and our current self-condemnation, we find ourselves expecting God to condemn us. As a result we cannot rest in God's presence.

But God is greater than our self-condemning hearts. God knows everything. God knows our history. God knows the wounds in our past. God knows our humanness. God knows our strengths and weaknesses. God knows our failures. God knows we condemn ourselves and expect that God will condemn us as well. God knows that we need healing.

God is greater than our self-condemning hearts. God knows everything. And God does not condemn us.

I long to set my heart at rest, Lord.
I long to rest in your presence.
But, my heart is full of self-condemnation.
The voices of shame are loud within me.

I am afraid that you will also condemn me, Lord.
I am afraid that you will agree with the shame voices.

Speak to me today, Lord.
Speak more loudly than the voices of shame.
Be greater than my heart.
Shame can only feed on the hidden things, Lord,
but nothing is hid from you.
Be more powerful than the shame, Lord.
Let me find rest today in your love.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#385145 - 02/10/12 07:54 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

We are not very understanding or tolerant of our limitations. We forget how we are 'formed'. Instead of accepting our creatureliness as a good gift from God, we often find ourselves being harshly judgmental and unforgiving of ourselves. This lack of compassion can lead to self-abusive and self-neglectful behaviors. When we forget how we are formed, we can forget to take care of such creaturely basics as sleep, decent food and relaxation.

Fortunately, God does not forget how we are formed. God remembers. God knows we have limitations. God remembers that we are 'dust'. Because we are so intolerant of our limits, it is important to emphasize that the metaphor 'dust' in this text does not imply worthless. It is not that God remembers how worthless we are - just dust to be sweep up and thrown away . Quite to the contrary, God remembers our weakness and limitations and has compassion on us. Again, because we are so intolerant of our limits, it is also probably important to emphasize that 'compassion' is not 'pity'. God does not pity us poor, pathetic, helpless mortals. Quite to the contrary, God's compassion is the tender, loving care of a good parent towards a child.

God knows and respects our limitations. They are not a surprise to God. God is our Creator. God remembers what we tend to forget. God remembers that we are creatures.

Thank you, Lord, for remembering what I forget.
You remember that I am human,
that I need to sleep,
that I need to play,
that I have limited strength and ability.
Thank you for having reasonable expectations of me.
Thank you for understanding my limits.
Help me to be compassionate with my humanness
Even as you, Lord,
are compassionate toward me.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#385287 - 02/11/12 11:13 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2582
"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. "Bring them here to me," he said.
Matthew 14:17-18

Sometimes after reading the newspaper or watching the news on television we experience an intensely painful awareness of the enormity of the world's problems and the hopeless inadequacy of the resources available to solve these problems. During recovery we often experience these same feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. Our personal problems seem enormous. Our resources seem incredibly limited. Part of our denial comes from our desire to avoid recognizing that our personal problems are bigger than our personal resources. We will need resources more extensive than our own to make any progress in recovery.

Fortunately, God has a long and consistent history of working with people who have limited resources. It has been God's consistent pattern throughout the biblical record. God's preference is to bring strength out of weakness. The abundance which God brings from a few loaves and fishes is a clear sign of the surprising resource-full-ness of God. God does not seem to be at home among the well-nourished, the resourced, the un-needy. In a reversal of all of our expectations, God comes to the needy and limited with invitations to participate in the Kingdom.

When we see how few loaves and fishes we have, we become convinced that our needs for nourishment will not be met. And we conclude that there will be nothing left over to share. But the hopelessly limited resources somehow turn into abundance when offered to God. There is enough for us and enough to share. Each day, one day at a time, God accepts our limited resources and surprises us with what can be done.

I am hungry, Lord.
I have not been getting the nourishment I need.
What I have is so limited.
A few loaves.
A few fish.
There will not be enough to go around.

I cannot imagine what use they will be
but I make my limited resources available to you.
Accept my limited resources, Lord.
I bring them to you for your blessing.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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