When I speak of my recovery, it's not just about abstaining from alcohol & drugs. It's about the healing from a lifetime of pain, shame, fear, hiding from myself & not being who I really am. Alcohol only fueled the separate identity that I created because I didn't want to look in the mirror and face all the demons within. I've told countless people in my lifetime that they shouldn't self-medicate with alcohol, before it finally made sense that I should probably take my own advice. I've said and done a lot of things in my life that were only true at the time, but that's only because I wasn't ready to make the serious changes that needed to take place... that are currently taking place within my everyday life, within my heart, within my actions and words and most importantly within my brain.
One of the first things I learned in my recovery was that it's not enough to just stop a negative behavior... it must be replaced with a positive one. At first, I was instructed to just find a positive word and repeat that like a mantra when I felt the negative thoughts or behavior. I used the word love. Eventually I started to realize that gratitude is the key to changing my thoughts. Instead of seeing the negative or asking why... I'm learning to see the good in every situation, or at the very least, accept that what I'm going through is going to help me or someone else along my journey at some point in my life. Because I truly believe that there is a reason for everything that happens. Not only that, but that I may not ever receive an answer... and that's ok. I just need to be true to myself, do the best I can and be grateful. That truly is the secret to joy.
Yesterday in my adult Sunday school session, I heard this amazing concept of "burning the ships." "The story was of Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes’ arrival in Mexico. Although two previous expeditions had failed to establish a settlement in the New World, Cortes conquered large portions of the South American continent. What Cortes is reported to have done after landing in Mexico turned his mission into an all-in proposition: he issued an order to burn the ships. Retreat no longer was an option. Most often, Pastor Batterson states, failure results when we resort to a back up plan when our original plan gets too risky. We don’t burn the ships. Plan A people, he states, don’t have a Plan B: “There are moments in life when we need to burn the ships to our past. We do so by making a defining decision that will eliminate the possibility of sailing back to the old world we left behind.” This concept really hit me hard. Most of my life, I've taken the easy road, the comfortable choice, or Plan B, C, D etc. I've never been a risk taker when it came to the things that mean something, the important choices in life. I allowed fear to guide me into my choices or more often than not, my non-choices, my staying stagnant in complacency... my hiding from God, my hiding from myself. My mask became a full on costume to what I thought others wanted and expected of me. But after hearing "burn the ships," my heart is pumping crazily, knowing that changes need to happen. I feel the fear first, but I also feel the excitement in knowing that if I truly follow my heart, and stop being afraid of what others think of me, everything is going to end up much better than I ever expected it to be. I must continuously work on turning my fear into faith. And here is my risk... here is my step of burning my ship... I am now telling the world that I have faith and that I believe in God and that I choose to continuously grow my spirituality and faith every day. I am finally letting go, and letting God. I am choosing gratitude and joy.
Until next time...