Rest for the Weary?

Virtually every morning I write in my reflection journal, usually in response to a devotional reading or some snippet I’ve read from my Bible. I say “virtually” because, as rich and nourishing as this practice has become, I have learned to hold even this with an open hand. My early schedule has challenged me to rethink what I have time for each morning. I used to take half an hour or so to read and reflect, often gaining insights along the way. Anymore, I’m often sleepy and simply don’t have the energy or inclination to spend my mornings rushing about to get everything – including some reflection writing – done before leaving for work.HPIM1992 T back

When I read the passage that starts, “Come to me, all you who are weary…and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28), I thought of how often I feel the need for more sleep these days. Then I read the verses that followed and began to think beyond my yearning for restful sleep. I still need the rest that sleep brings – don’t get me wrong. But I’m noticing other things, other ways these words speak to me.

“Rest” can be the recovery I experience as I continue to work my program, as in rest from the insanity of compulsive behaviors like overeating. “Rest” could even be letting go and taking a break from staying so focused on my recovery work that I miss the rest of what life has to offer. Sometimes I feel as if all my attention is focused on my recovery work, especially, specifically actually, around wanting to begin making progress in my newly restarted OA journey. I’m in this ‘learning about the nature of this illness’ and ‘how to work the program’ state where reading and thinking – and sometimes writing – about it are helping me understand myself and giving me a glimpse into what recovery might look like for me.

It’s different than my Al Anon challenges, in that it involves reactions to foods, as well as triggers and compulsive behaviors that I don’t fully understand and am powerless to control without the help of a program and my Higher Power.  Yet it is also like my Al Anon/ACA challenges for these very reasons. The primary difference is that my OA issues directly impact my physical well-being, as well as my emotional and spiritual well-being.

I’ve long been aware that I have what I would call an ‘addictive-type’ personality. Even in high school, I knew that if I took up smoking or drinking, I would probably become a chain smoker and an alcoholic. (Fortunately I never liked either.) But the notion of compulsively eating is a new concept to me and I’m still – and gratefully – taking in what I’m learning about it in the OA literature.

The need for humility...

The need for humility…

Today, I’m grateful to have read beyond verse 28 in the passage from Matthew, for I noticed something. Jesus says that he is “gentle” and “humble in heart.” As I wrote out the verses, it occurred to me that Jesus is not only “gentle” with us, he is also gentle with himself when he needs to be – as when he goes off by himself to pray and perhaps rest from the burdens he carries. And he’s humble – a characteristic needed in 12-Step work. The need for humility is also something I noticed as lying behind several of my character weaknesses.

I had to review the Steps because I was sure one of the first three steps used this word. It turns out it’s Step Seven: “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” Yet even beginning this program requires learning to be humble. It takes humility to recognize, acknowledge and accept that we are powerless over alcohol or compulsive eating or debting or whatever it is that leads us into these rooms.

Humility speaks to me of the willingness to admit our powerlessness. And that, for me, means I also have to be gentle with myself as I find the humility to fully accept my own powerlessness and as I learn to turn to God for help every step of the way.

Rest? I suspect it comes when we give up the struggle and find the humility and the willingness to let go and let God do that which we cannot do for ourselves. Maybe that’s when sleep truly becomes “rest.” It’s 8:43 p.m. now. It’s so-o-o past my bedtime. Zzzzzzzzzzz…

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Day 240 (Tue, Aug 7): Growth Opportunities (and Miracles) Abound! (Pt 2)

The past month unfolded into new commitments, new challenges, and new beginnings. On July 1, I began thanking God daily, or rather nightly, for the things I envisioned for myself around finding a new home. I had gone to the store to pick up some 4×6 index cards and found myself wandering down the stationery aisle. The thank-you cards caught my attention and I purchased a box of sixteen cards that had delightful images that made me think of God. I decided I would write God a thank-you note for my anticipated new home every night for two weeks, or perhaps sixteen days, since that was how many cards were in the pack.

Sitting comfortably, safely in bed, I started my first thank-you note. Tears bubbled to the surface and poured down my cheeks. Tears of fear, tears of releasing fear, and tears of beginning to believe that maybe, just maybe God wants to love me more than I thought possible. I phrased that first thank-you and most of the ones that followed as though what I hoped for had already manifested in my life. As I wrote, I began to dream and, more importantly, to believe those dreams were possible. I began to believe that God loved me and wanted to bless me in this. I also came to understand that my dreams might unfold gradually in my life; incrementally, as I become ready to receive them.

I realized that not seeing all the things I hope for with my first move had nothing to do with whether or not I might realize those dreams in time. They may not be “big” dreams by some standards, but they feel big to me. I’ve spent years in what my sponsor calls “deprivation thinking” and it’s taking practice to break through that low ceiling of what I think I deserve to discover that God did not put that ceiling there – I did.

What a gift it has become to nightly release my fears and trust my dreams to my Higher Power, who loves me and wants me to not just survive, but to thrive in this world.

After a few days, I saw what a gracious and wonderful way this was to end my days. Instead of going to bed accompanied by worries or fear, I was going to bed on a note of gratitude and trust. July 14th came and went, and I haven’t stopped writing those thank-you notes!

On the afternoon of the 15th, less than 24 hours after I had fulfilled my commitment to thank God every night for two weeks, I received a call from a friend. She had a friend who was looking for the right person to rent a room (in what is a very nice neighborhood).

A couple of days later, I found myself sitting outside a coffee shop, talking with a lovely older woman who seemed surprisingly unconcerned with the fact that I had no idea what my income would be in August. We planned a time for me to see her house and the room she had to rent…

Hope…ready to blossom

I would love to hear about your experiences of thanking your Higher Power or finding other ways to open your mind to receive the blessings you know your Higher Power wants for you.

© 2013 LuciasJourney.com