Day 28

In recent months I’ve taken a pretty narrow approach to the devotionals.  I’ve written almost exclusively on spiritual matters.  This month, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to broaden the scope and try to expose you all to other people and what they’re saying on all matters recovery.  Each day I’ll give a link to an article or video and provide some brief commentary.

 

Article:  Mindfulness and Loss

 

My thoughts:  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the therapist that I saw for a few years when I was in graduate school taught me to process grief and loss with “mindfulness”.  It is among the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.  This article quotes Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.”  I’ve found this to be helpful.  I’m not like everyone and everyone is not like me, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.  But, in essence, mindfulness is the act of learning to sit in and with a painful experience without actively trying to push it away.  It is severely uncomfortable for a few minutes but, slowly, you settle in.  Your pain doesn’t go away, but you learn to be comfortable sitting with your pain.  The result is a sense of peace in the midst of grief.  I’m not an expert so I’ll cut my comments short, but I’d highly recommend exploring mindfulness if you’re in the midst of hard times.

Day 27

In recent months I’ve taken a pretty narrow approach to the devotionals.  I’ve written almost exclusively on spiritual matters.  This month, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to broaden the scope and try to expose you all to other people and what they’re saying on all matters recovery.  Each day I’ll give a link to an article or video and provide some brief commentary.

 

Article:  Strategies for dealing with anger and resentment

 

My thoughts:  This is a helpful article for thinking through ways of dealing with anger and resentment.  Much of the advice pushes us towards self-awareness and making more conscious choices about how we react to our triggers.  It’s simple and quick- but I suspect there are years worth of work contained in this wisdom.  My only problem with this article is the way it talks about power and control in the context of anger and resentment.  It’s very common to talk about angry outbursts directed at others as “giving away your control”.  This article, too, affirms this type of thinking.  While this may be true, I don’t find this helpful because, ultimately, it’s a way of affirming our control issues.  If we have problems with control, we don’t need to learn how to think about keeping our control, or keeping our power, we need to learn how to choose a different lens to funnel our life experiences through.  So, perhaps we choose the lens of respect.  How do we treat others with respect even when they don’t deserve it?  How do we model respect for people who don’t treat us respectfully?  People don’t treat us more respectfully because we lash out at them in anger, people only learn virtues through seeing them modeled.

 

We need not concern ourselves with how much control and power we have.  We need to consider what type of world we want to live in, and act in accordance with these values.

Day 26

In recent months I’ve taken a pretty narrow approach to the devotionals.  I’ve written almost exclusively on spiritual matters.  This month, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to broaden the scope and try to expose you all to other people and what they’re saying on all matters recovery.  Each day I’ll give a link to an article or video and provide some brief commentary.

 

Article: How to know if your relationships are healthy

 

My thoughts:  I talk to many people who are anxious because they’re really not quite sure whether or not their relationships are truly healthy.  Sometimes, we’re worried that we are not healthy and are holding a relationship back.  Sometimes, we’re a bit confused by the person we’re in relationship with and are skeptical of their behavior, but not sure if we have a right to judge it as being “unhealthy”.  How do we define health?  What qualities allow relationships to flourish and thrive?  This article helps us to begin to answer these questions.

Day 25

In recent months I’ve taken a pretty narrow approach to the devotionals.  I’ve written almost exclusively on spiritual matters.  This month, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to broaden the scope and try to expose you all to other people and what they’re saying on all matters recovery.  Each day I’ll give a link to an article or video and provide some brief commentary.

 

Story:  Option B- A story of anxiety and perspective

 

My thoughts:  I very much appreciate this story.  It’s not told from the perspective of someone who is “on the other side”.  This person is not a happy person looking back on difficult times, she’s in the midst of difficult times as she writes.  We need more stories like this.  We need stories of people discussing their fear and anxiety while they are in the midst of fear and anxiety, not stories of people who have overcome it and are now happy.  When we hear stories of people who are currently in the midst of tragedy, those who are also in the midst of tragedy find that they are not alone.  Generally speaking, we find it’s okay to not be okay as long as we have others around us who are also not okay.  This way we don’t feel “othered,” we don’t feel like freaks, like we’re on an island.  This is why recovery communities emphasize the importance of community.  Anyway.  Good stuff here.

Day 24

In recent months I’ve taken a pretty narrow approach to the devotionals.  I’ve written almost exclusively on spiritual matters.  This month, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to broaden the scope and try to expose you all to other people and what they’re saying on all matters recovery.  Each day I’ll give a link to an article or video and provide some brief commentary.

 

Story:  Option B- Dad and Children Learn to Cope

 

My thoughts:  I’m not always sure what to make of Option B’s way of telling stories.  In some ways, this story is written as if resilience is “happiness” and that this man, after losing his wife, found happiness again (rather quickly) through immersing himself in his career.  Is that resilience?  What do the children think when dad flies to another country for work and their mother is no longer there?  This is why I’m troubled by the idea that resilience is a matter of strength and speed.  “Strength” and “speed” often have little to do with happiness and much more to do with distracting one’s self.  It seems to me that we’re tempted to use the word “resilience” as a way of assuring ourselves that things won’t get any worse, that we’re going to be okay when, in fact, the immediate goal is not becoming “okay” but learning to accept the reality of adversity and/or tragedy.

 

On the plus side, I’ll note that I very much appreciate that the dad has worked hard to affirm sadness in his children and has learned the importance of filling his life with meaning once confronted with this tragic loss.

Day 23

In recent months I’ve taken a pretty narrow approach to the devotionals.  I’ve written almost exclusively on spiritual matters.  This month, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to broaden the scope and try to expose you all to other people and what they’re saying on all matters recovery.  Each day I’ll give a link to an article or video and provide some brief commentary.

 

Story:  Option B- Losing a Parent

 

My thoughts:

 

From the story:  “Her (the writer’s mother) death taught me that grief isn’t about “closure.” Nor is it something to overcome or get past. It’s something to lean into, to embrace. Her death taught me the importance of allowing oneself the love and connection with others that the heightened vulnerability of death and grief can bring us.”

 

We’re so quick to view our grief and loss as something to be overcome.  Yet, the people I have spent time with in life who have suffered the worst losses never really “get over it”.  This isn’t to say that their grief looks the same way on day 1 as it does on day 745, but the grief doesn’t just disappear.  In part, this is why I’m uncomfortable describing resilience in terms of the strength and speed of our response to adversity.  The strength and speed of response is somewhat irrelevant if you’re going to be coping with a powerful loss for the rest of your life.  What is important is learning how to sit in (and with) your grief.  To acknowledge that it is something that is present in life.  To realize that getting rid of grief is not the goal but, instead, to persist in life knowing that grief is along for the ride.

 

If there is progress, it is the kind of progress the writer of this article describes, wherein he/she learned to prioritize love and connection in new and different ways.  Grief has the capacity to give us perspective and to guide us into introspection, allowing us to learn where there are holes or deficiencies in our quality of life.  I’m not talking about houses or boats or vacations, of course, but of the profound lack of intimacy many of us settle for.  This introspection also helps us see the disconnect between our values, or our vision for life, and our current level of commitment in living them out.  In other words, when we’re faced with grief and loss, we become aware of the ways in which we fall short of who want to be in this world.  The gift, of course, is we then have the capacity to shift our focus.

Day 22

In recent months I’ve taken a pretty narrow approach to the devotionals.  I’ve written almost exclusively on spiritual matters.  This month, I’m going to try something new.  I’m going to broaden the scope and try to expose you all to other people and what they’re saying on all matters recovery.  Each day I’ll give a link to an article or video and provide some brief commentary.

 

Story: Adult Child Copes With New Information About Father

 

My thoughts:  This story reminds me of something I’ve been processing lately.  Parents are quick to recognize what they perceive are betrayals from their children.  They are less likely, it seems, to think about the ways in which their living betrays their children.  Why is this?  Is it denial?  Do we come up with justifications that let us off the hook?  As parents, do we see marital infidelity as a betrayal to the spouse alone, without regard for the children?  Do we convince ourselves that the infidelity is justified because our spouse doesn’t want to have sex anymore?  Or because we don’t love them anymore?  Or because they’ve let themselves go?  Does any of this actually excuse infidelity?  Does it excuse the torment that it inflicts upon children?

 

I’ve talked to many, many adults about how hurt they were by their parents’ infidelities only to find out that they, too, were not faithful in their marriages.

 

To me, this all comes to this:  To what extent will we resent someone else’s wrongdoing while excusing our own?  This is one of the key questions we must address in order to be people of faith in modern society.