I hope you don’t take offense at my sense of humor with the image I’ve posted here. I don’t have a cat, but my dog would gladly take the job. She thinks she’s the boss of me. It’s all tongue-in-cheek of course. I DO have a higher power, and it’s not me, or my dog. It’s God. I’m thrilled to hand out tokens this morning, because I know the courage it takes to live life one day at a time. I know the effort it took to get to this place of an anniversary.
But I know what the answer will invariably be when someone (perhaps me) shouts out “How’d you do it?” That person will mention the Al-Anon program itself, their sponsor, other friends, and – last but not least (or maybe even first) – a higher power.
Turning our lives over to a higher power does not mean we laze around cluelessly and never lift a finger in our lives. It means we do the footwork and leave the outcome up to our higher powers. It means we let that higher power have the steering wheel, but we still have the power to put on the brakes, to slow things down if things are going too quickly.
God has blessed my life in countless ways since I’ve been a member of Al-Anon.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, I’m reminded by this slogan to hold on loosely; when things are going well, as they sometimes do too, I remember to hold on loosely but treasure each moment. Nothing lasts forever, and this too shall pass.
I made a choice yesterday in reaction to confusion, anger, and fear—none of which are, of course, good foundations for decision-making. I decided to stay off Facebook until December 26th. There had been too much sadness, arguing, and general ugliness which I witnessed, and there were some other personal issues involved.
Holidays can be so difficult, especially if we have lost a loved one during this time of year. A staggering 25% of losses occur during the holidays, for various reasons. What happened last Friday will add to your stress and difficulty, if you let it.
I don’t always remember to hold on loosely, but when I do, it makes it much easier to practice that other tried and true slogan Let go and Let God. Just—let it go. It doesn’t mean we don’t feel sad and concerned about the families going through this holiday without their loved ones recently lost in Newtown, Connecticut. It means we give it to God, because it’s too big for us to hold. And YOU have a life to live . . . that’s not selfish, that’s a fact.
Take care of yourselves, and each other when you can. Be sure you get plenty of zzz’s (some people swear by five hours of sleep, but it’s recommended that we get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Eat properly. This means sitting down once in a while and not standing at the microwave, unconsciously eating while you ruminate about your to-do list. Pray. Pray again. Even if you’re not sure you believe, what can it hurt? Play. If you are living in an area of the world lucky enough to have snow right now, go out and build a snowman. I saw a hilarious picture of a snowman built upside down, with the arm sticks pushing down into the snow, as if he were doing a headstand.
Caveat: I feel it’s important to say here that I don’t always follow my own advice, so that’s a gentle warning to you, dear reader. I don’t nearly get enough zzz’s, because I have a dog who wakes me up sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. And last night I didn’t sleep a wink, finishing paper chains for our Christmas tree. I’ve been off my diet for the past month or so, but I plan in getting right back to it today. I’m learning how to play, but I’m no expert. So the words you read here on this blog are written by an extremely fallible human being.
But I do believe that this too shall pass.
I’m learning there’s a reason “Let go” comes before “Let God” in that particular recovery slogan. Have you ever watched a baby just before she falls asleep, if you happen to be blessed enough to hold her in your arms? The eyelids fight to stay open. They flutter closed, the tiny hands begin to relax . . . and then boom! The legs kick out again, the hands clench into little fists and the eyelids struggle sooo hard to stay open. Just one more minute. Not ready for sleep quite yet. Might miss something. Yawn.
Finally, the battle ends and the eyes close and stay shut.
I’ve been there. Yep. But as a grownup. Not wanting to let go, wanting to control the outcome, wanting to make sure everything is perfect, just so . . .
Until we let go of this fantasy we have of the perfect whatever, whether it’s a person, a thing, a place . . . a holiday? we will never have the chance to see what can happen when our Higher Power gets a hold of that person, thing, place, or holiday. Whatever circumstance, whatever struggle, whatever relationship . . . until I take my hands off and let God have the reins, nothing really fantastic can happen.
Last night was our final Christmas concert. Oy, were my expectations high. My nerves were strained, I was kaput and on fire at the same time. And I flubbed up twice. But the thing about a choir, a whole chorus of voices, is that not only do they surround you, they support you. I knew they probably heard my mistake, my mates did, the other tenors, and possibly the basses. But it’s doubtful the audience did. Like if you are playing a beautiful piano piece, and you know you made a terrible error, but if you don’t stop and call attention to it, no one knows? And hey – we got a standing O! How ’bout them apples? Look what God did when I got out of the way…
I’ll miss it. *sigh*
But on to caroling, which is this afternoon and next weekend. No expectations this time. No nerves, I promise. Just hoping for fun and fellowship and to bring some good tidings.
There is strength in willingness to surrender. I’m not speaking here of the surrender we might see when someone raises his hands at gunpoint, or even waves a white flag, although I’ve waved a white flag a time or two at God to let Him know I’m done fighting the point.
I’m speaking here of surrender of thoughts and feelings. This can sometimes be more difficult than, say, surrendering a gun, or another action. My thoughts and feelings are my will, and that’s what I’m surrendering, willingly, or without objection, to God (my higher power).
No, it’s not easy. At first it was messy, and I didn’t do it gracefully. Then I used a slogan, bring the body and the rest will follow. I read about surrender and willingness as much as I could. I talked and talked about it with my super sponsor until I thought she might grow sick of me. I prayed the 3rd step prayer.
Finally, I’m able to give it up to God. All of me and others in my life whom I love that I can’t take care of (which would be everyone – lol). He’s so much bigger.
NB: I will not be posting until probably Monday. My sister is being incarcerated on Tuesday and I’m going through a normal grieving process, watching her struggle with depression. It’s very hard for me to try to think of things to post that might help others when I’m struggling to stay above water myself. Please take care of yourselves, stay close to your H.P. . . . be good, and stay out of trouble.
Withdrawal sucks. No two . . . okay, well maybe two words about it.
It’s been over 24 hours since I checked my blog stats. Now, before you start snorting Pepsi out your nose and all over your computer screen, please realize this is a very big deal for me. In the not-too-distant past, I’ve been known to check my stats anywhere from 1-8 times a day, to see how many likes I’ve been getting, what posts are most read, etc.
Even now, my fingers ache oh-so-bad to just click over and see how things are going.
Knowing where this comes from doesn’t make it any easier. Who do you know that had a fairy tale childhood, with a happily ever after ending? KNOWING is useless. I deal with it, I’ve forgiven it, let it go, “over with, done with, gone” . . .
Then stuff like this crops up, like a weed among the flowers, or . . . better yet, a flower that suddenly sprouts up through a crack in the sidewalk. Ever see one of those? I have. They are little miracles. They remind me that I’m not quite finished, and maybe I never will be.
But you know what? It’s okay. I’ve got plenty of time. Acceptance will carry me through for now.
It’s just okay.
Thursday morning I saw my Super Sponsor and we decided to talk about the third step: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Actually, I requested this step, because I’m having difficulty with “Let go and let God.” I turn things over to Him and then my mind gets on its hamster-wheel the things I’ve turned over to Him are back with me going ’round and ’round and I can’t make them stop.
Much of this, I knew had to do with my sister’s upcoming sentencing hearing, and it will be very difficult for me to be separated from her for whatever period of time, whether it’s sixty days or five years. My sponsor suggested that I need to do something after I turn my sister over to God. I need to either read in one of my daily meditation books, my Bible . . . or do something active, like take a walk, write, clean something, so that I don’t just sit there and GIVE my sister a chance to come back to me. You know? Let her stay with God. It’s too much for me to handle.
It’s not easy, and I fall many more times than I stand . . . especially after I came home from that to find that my sister had taken off and no one knew where she was. She took her purse and her cigarettes, but not her cell phone. She was gone for two nights. Nearly 48 hours.
Did I leave her entirely in God’s hands? I wish I could say I did. I prayed for her safety. I got angry. I fretted and cried.
She’s home safely, a bit bruised and worse for the wear, but at least she’ll make her probation appt on Monday and she’ll face up to her sentencing hearing on July 3rd. Nobody’s perfect. I don’t have any stones to throw. Do you?
We all try so hard to do the very perfect thing. All we can do is the next right thing. And keep breathing. Even if we meet God partly halfway, He’ll gladly meet us all the rest of the way. At least, that’s the kind of God He is to me.