Day 25

We’ve wanted to be trusty and true

But feathers fell from our wings

And we’ve wanted to be worthy of you

But weather rained on our dreams


A few days ago, I overheard the Tuesday morning Lenten class listening to a song that intrigued me.  Afterwards, I asked mom what it was and she told it was called “Trusty and True” by Damien Rice.  I had heard of him, but hadn’t listened to him too much.  I went and read the lyrics of the song, and will be posting pieces of them over the next few days.

I don’t know what Damien wrote this song about, but to me, it almost seems like a prayer.  It seems like a person wrestling with faith, his motivations, and his character.  (Granted, it could be a song about a marriage or a relationship.  But, I’m choosing to focus on what it brings out of me).

This opening verse is striking.  Many of us don’t desire to be unreliable or immoral or whatever.  We want to be good, and we want to be worthy, but then life happens.  Do you ever feel this way?  Like you started out with the best intentions but a string of things happened that were out of your control and now we wonder…can we ever truly return to God?  I wonder this all the time.

What does all this mean for us?  Is there a way back?  How does God view our missteps?

More to come.

Day 24

 Don’t fear, because I am with you;

   don’t be afraid, for I am your God.

   I will strengthen you,

   I will surely help you;

   I will hold you

   with my righteous strong hand.  Isaiah 41:10, CEB

I always have to remind myself when I read passages like this that they are spoken to an entire group of people.  If we believe God will strengthen us absolutely any time we personally feel weak then I suspect we’re likely to deal with moderate to severe disappointment at some point.  However, I’m still comforted knowing that he promises to strengthen, help, and hold his people.  I may not feel strengthened, helped, or held every moment of every day, but I am a part of a group of people who lives under God’s protection.  And that’s something worth celebrating.

When I’m disheartened and discouraged, I remember that I’m not alone in the life that I’m pursuing. There are many on this journey with me, even a vast number of people I do not even know.  I can push forward knowing others are also pushing forward.  If I were to give up, I know that’s a decision that affects not only me but the others who are also desperately trying to keep trudging forward in their faith and recovery.  Times of disheartenment and discouragement happen. Backsliding and relapse happen. But let’s not use these as reasons to give up. They’re just part of the journey.

Let’s keep putting one foot in front of the other, not just for us, but for all the others who are desperately trying to stick to the path.

Day 23

Often, when I’m disheartened, I return to Isaiah 41.  It’s a chapter of God speaking to his people.  Here’s a snippet:

Don’t fear, because I am with you;

   don’t be afraid, for I am your God.

   I will strengthen you,

   I will surely help you;

   I will hold you

   with my righteous strong hand.  Isaiah 41:10, CEB

I get discouraged when I see people give up on community. In other words, I get discouraged when I see people kind of stall in their faith journey or recovery or whatever you want to call it.  I don’t mean it in a judgmental way. I don’t look down on them. It just makes me sad. It’s a really hard thing to stick with over time. One of the best parts of my life is showing up on Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesday nights, Wednesday nights, and sometimes Thursday nights and standing around and chatting and catching up with everyone who has shown up for whatever event we’re having.  Some people are doing well and are in good moods, and others not so much.  But either way, it’s great to simply stand around, listen to each other, and spend time together.  I’m sad when I no longer get to have that experience with someone. Basically, when we no longer know each other. There are a variety of forms of loss in life and some are more obvious than others (death or divorce, for instance). Sometimes we forget about the tough losses of friendship.

That brings me down. Granted, I have a lot of great people in my life. I’m really, really lucky to have much love and support. But every loss is hard and sad. In these times, I use these verses (amongst other things, of course) and ones like them as gentle reminders of the things I have in life, both large and small.

What disheartens you?  How do you typically deal with that?

Day 22

Better to be poor and walk in innocence

   than to have dishonest lips and be a fool.  Proverbs 19:1, CEB

Do you have a sponsor?

If you’re struggling with vulnerability, it may be good to find one. You don’t need to be an addict to have a sponsor, you just need to be someone looking to work the steps in an organized and dedicated way. The process of doing that teaches us an awful lot about vulnerability.

Having a sponsor isn’t easy though. It means giving someone else permission not only to enter into our lives as a listener, but also as a speaker. While it’s hard to share with someone, it can be even harder to receive feedback from that person on what they’re hearing.  It’s hard to be challenged and to be pushed. That’s part of what a sponsor does.

It’s like having a personal trainer. The personal trainer pushes you to try new workouts and exercises and keeps track of your progress. They make you increase the intensity of your workouts before you think you’re ready. But ultimately, they get you in shape.

Sponsors come in many different shapes and sizes. It’s important to have one that’s a good fit for who you are. Hopefully, when you find that, you’ll have someone who intuitively knows how to get you in shape. They’ll know how to lead you and guide you through the steps in meaningful ways. You have to do your own work on the steps, of course, and the sponsor can’t make you do anything you’re not ready to do.  But sometimes we’re ready for new challenges we don’t even know we’re ready for, and they can see that before we can. A good sponsor will have that kind of symbiosis with us.

If this is something you want to try, and don’t know how to get started, get in touch with me or mom.  We can help you find someone.

Day 21

Better to be poor and walk in innocence

   than to have dishonest lips and be a fool.  Proverbs 19:1, CEB

When we fight vulnerability, when we hold back, when we’re not completely honest, we’re also fighting the 12 steps that we’re committed to living out.  This is probably true of each step individually, but I’m thinking particularly of step 3 as I just heard Richard Grosse give a good talk on it last night.

It strikes me that, when we hold back, we’re fighting for control.  At the very least, we’re trying to control what information is out there and what people think of us.  We’re trying to keep a carefully and well-managed life and appearance.  Doesn’t this contradict the idea that there is a God, we’re not him, and that we’re turning our unmanageable lives over to his care?  If we truly believed that our lives were under God’s care, would we need to fight for control in all areas?  Or instead, would we simply trust in his ability to care?

It’s hard to let go.  It’s hard to give up control.  It’s hard to allow other people a glimpse into our lives.  It’s hard to be seen as we truly are.  But if we don’t give up that control, how are we going to be held accountable?  It won’t happen.  How then can other people help push us towards growth?  They can’t.

Try something new today.  Put yourself out there.  The deepest and the darkest (with someone you trust, of course).  See how the other person responds.  We all have parts of our lives we’d like to keep hidden, so we’re all in this together.  It’s not as scary as it seems.

Day 20

Better to be poor and walk in innocence

   than to have dishonest lips and be a fool.  Proverbs 19:1, CEB

How vulnerable are you really?

Have you ever shared something with someone because you knew you were going to get “vulnerability points”?

I mean, we all do that, right?  We share something that we know someone else will think is very personal and profound knowing full well that it’s something we’ve already processed and dealt with.  It’s easy to share information that we no longer have a profound emotional attachment to.  One of my friends, who knew me particularly well, used to call this “spewing pre-processed garbage”.  I suppose we have little “tells” that those who know us best can spot and call out.

Usually I don’t know that I’m doing it when I do it.  What I mean is, I’m not usually trying to deceive the person I’m talking to by convincing them that I’m super vulnerable.  It just happens.  I share the stuff that’s close to the surface.  The easy stuff that either isn’t inherently hard to talk about or has become less difficult to talk about because it’s “pre-processed”.  There probably have been times when I have intentionally deceived, sure, but it’s not usually the intent.

All the same, isn’t it deceptive to share in this way?  I think it both hurts me and others.  I don’t get the benefits that come from allowing people to know me, and other people don’t get the benefit of truly knowing me.  I’m not saying that I’m so great. I just believe that really knowing the entirety of another person is always beneficial, no matter who they are.  Even if that person is a goober like myself.

It’s important for us to learn how to self-monitor.  There are very few people in my life who recognize when I’m trying to feed them “pre-processed garbage”.  Therefore, it’s kind of on me to figure out exactly whether or not I’m accurately revealing my moral inventory, or my shortcomings, or my defects of character.

How accurately are you self-reporting?

Day 19

Better to be poor and walk in innocence

   than to have dishonest lips and be a fool.  Proverbs 19:1, CEB

The last few days we’ve discussed secrets.  Let’s take the opposite angle.

How vulnerable are you really?  Do you share the deepest and darkest?

Brittany and I were recently in Kansas City.  We were driving through town and admiring what a beautiful city it was after meeting up with some friends of mine who now live nearby.  We were talking about how much we loved those particular friends and then started discussing why it’s easier to spend time with some people than others.  Brittany, in a moment of great vulnerability, shared some incredibly honest insights about why she has a harder time hanging out with some friends than others.  These insights had to do with her insecurities, rather than anything to do with the other people, but I imagine they were very difficult to voice, even to her spouse.

Vulnerability takes many forms.  And there are various levels of vulnerability.  I’ve found that, occasionally, something that I admit sounds vulnerable to someone else (because it’s not the type of thing they would admit), but it wasn’t really tough for me to say.  The same is true in the reverse as well.  There have been times when it has struck me how vulnerable another person is being at a time when they don’t feel they’re sharing anything that is that big of a deal.

What’s vulnerable to you may not be vulnerable to another person and vice versa.  There’s a temptation that comes with that.  It means that we can hide if we know we can sound vulnerable even as we hold something back.  It is our responsibility to hold ourselves accountable in thoroughly sharing our shortcomings.  We can get help in this, of course, by having our friends routinely ask us for that “final 10%” that we might be holding back, but they’ll never know if we don’t share it.  So, it’s an integrity thing.  More on this tomorrow.

Food for thought:  What kinds of things do you hold back from sharing about yourself?


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