Category Archives: PROCESS

My Side of the Fence

I was yakking with my friend Jon yesterday afternoon. During our conversation I used a phrase that’s been on my mind lately. Then I remarked: “That sounds like the title to a blogpost! I better write it down before it slips my mind. Well, we continued talking and I didn’t, then last night couldn’t recall what I had said.

Funny, in our conversation, we’d mentioned that both our memories aren’t what they used to be. I like to blame mine on age. lol

Anyway, this morning, it came back to me!!! Yay!! …but I digress. Q – can U get sidetracked before U’re even on track? So, anyway… Moving on….

At Celebrate Recovery, we learned that we are only responsible for cleaning up OUR side of the street. If I hurt someone and need to make amends, I am only responsible for my apology, not for their reaction to that apology. (unless I make it worse by the words or attitude I use) I can choose to make “Living Amends,” which means I learn from their hurt and choose to treat them differently  because of it.

Likewise, If I am hurt by someone, I am only responsible for my reaction. I can choose to forgive their action without any evidence of change on their part. Part of my responsibility may include establishing boundaries to protect myself in the relationship. Learning to set boundaries means I need to understand what is on my side of the street (fence) and what is not.

In so many ways, this has made my life easier. I am powerless to control other people. At the beginning of this understanding, it felt incredibly selfish. “I am only responsible for ME?”?!?!? That was so contrary to how I had always lived.

Hi, my name is Jim. I’m a grateful believer in Jesus, but I struggle with co-dependency and compulsive people-pleasing.” 

The C.R. small-group 3rd guideline states: We are here to support one another, not FIX another!” I’m learning the difference between support and fixing. Between influence and control. Between talking and listening. (OK,  I’m still working on that one) I’m learning that I have Influence over other people, but I can lose that influence in direct proportion to the amount of Control I exert.

This understanding is revolutionizing my relationships. With other people. With myself. Even with God! When I first heard the 3rd small-group guideline, my reaction was: Really? REALLY?!? D’ya mean it’s not my God-Given Responsibilty to FIX Problems I see in the lives of Others?” 

Gradually, I’m coming to realize how much I was playing God in the lives of Others.  I’ve seen how much I was focused on what I perceived to be the failures of Others instead of their Value. This new understanding is leading me to be more accepting of where and who they are instead of what and who I suppose they should be, do, say and think. As I release CONTROL, I’m recognizing that I’m having a greater INFLUENCE.

In the words of that great Mayberry philosopher Gomer Pyle, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!!

Wow! This is NOT where I thought this was going to go when I started this post. Where’d all THAT come from?!? What I had in mind is perhaps a major result of this process. Perhaps I needed to say all that in order to better understand this:

THIS thought is what has been percolating in this cyclonic mind of mine the past few days –

FROM GOD’s SIDE OF THE FENCE, EVERYTHING HAS ALREADY BEEN DONE

ALL THE CHANGES NEEDED IN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM ARE ON MY SIDE OF THE FENCE!

Now comes the Surprise,Surprise,Surprise; 

Just as the veil in the temple was ripped in half from top to bottom when Jesus said from the Cross, It is Finished,” John 13:30

THE FENCE HAS BEEN TORN DOWN!! 

Jesus IS NOT peeking over the fence like a nosy neighbor prying into Ur business.  

He’s pitched a tent in Ur back yard. He’s sitting in Ur living room. He’s sleeping in Ur spare bedroom. He’s sitting in a chair at Ur dinner table. 

But He’s the most gentle and respectful house guest U’ve ever had. He only goes where he’s invited. 

It’s up to YOU! He longs to be more than a guest. He wants to be FAMILY!!

P.S… U don’t have to clean house, U don’t have to make the bed, wash the windows, scrub the floor, do the dishes, paint the walls, clear out the sheds, trim the hedge before U let Him in. 

For most of my life, I did not understand that He could/would live in a broken heart. Then one dark(est) day, Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! He began to heal me from the inside out. 

He continues to surprise me. 

“STUFF” – In The Way!

For longer than a year, I’ve been in the process of adding 250 sq’ to the back of my house. We’ve added a 10×16 sitting room to our bedroom plus a small office. Yesterday I FINALLY started laying the new laminate flooring in the sitting room portion of the addition. The floor had already been installed in the office. In fact, we’d moved in the desk and furniture and it’s been in use.

Nelda in office

So… yesterday’s work did NOT go as well as I had planned and hoped for. Even with the great helper I had working with me. (my WW) She made most of it fun!!

IMG_9504-0

The main problem was that I had too much STUFF already in the room. I didn’t take it out. My thought was: I’ll just work around it and move it out of my way as I get to it.”

IMG_9531-0Mistake! Big Mistake! BIG! HUGE!! It turned a “Do-able-in-one-day project” into a “I’m-STILL-working-on-it again-today, and WOW, what a Process Mess this turned into!”

The inevitable difficulties one encounters when attempting to do something I’ve only done a few times before were made immeasurably worse by The (good) Stuff in the Way.

My plan was that I would move it out-of-the-way in order to install the flooring and then move it back into place after the floor was done. That’s where my plan failed. I kept running into unforeseen problems that required me to go back and start again in areas that had already been done. Of course this required me to move the stuff again. And again. And then, even again!! I even had to remove part of the (finished) floor in the office. Of course, THAT meant all the office furniture was in the way!!

IMG_9519-0

As my WW and I took a lunch break I begin to reflect on what we were doing. I began to wonder how much all the stuff in my life interferes with the important things I want to accomplish. How much time and effort is wasted because I still have to deal with STUFF? How often do I just move stuff from place to place instead of taking care of it once and for all?

So, Today, God’s been yakking at me. Again! He’s showing me the lesson that he has for me in all this if I will stop, listen and pay attention.

I think today God’s saying; Jim, it’s time to clean out some of the stuff in your life so U’n I can concentrate on the work that is important.

My life is full! Busy! Of GOOD things. Much of the misery and unhealthy habits that drove me into that darkness have been replaced. But the goal is PROGRESS, not perfection! I don’t have to deal (so much) with the consequences of the things I used to do. But – what are the things I need to say “NO” to, because it’s “too much GOOD, not enough BEST!”

LORD, examine me, show me those things in my life that are In The Way. Show me the things which are interfering with that work which U began in me. U promised to continue the work, but help me get out of Ur way.  

A few weeks ago, one of our pastors shared this thought: Watch out for the GOOD things U encounter that don’t have Ur name on them – learn to say ‘NO’ to the things that are not meant for YOU!” 

BTW, We finally got the flooring finished!

IMG_9524-0P.S. – Writing is one of those BEST things I’ve been neglecting. My friend Jon challenged me on FB the other day; “Hey, Jim, now that the addition is winding down, GET BACK TO WRITING!!!
YesSir, JonBoy!! and THKQ

MASK-less Living

I like the “me” I’m discovering as I learn to live mask-less.

It’s a process… The more I learn to drop my masks, the more I like “me.”

..and U

I’m finding that when I drop my mask, it allows others to do the same. 

Thought for the day… 

God doesn’t love the person U’re trying to be… He loves (the real) YOU!

SURRENDER!!…?

I grew up singing: “I surrender, I surrender all!”  We were encouraged to completely commit the rest of our lives to Him – NOW! Today!!

That may have been just my perception, but that’s what I kept trying to do.

Tried, couldn’t do it.  Wanted to. Kept falling down. Didn’t know what to do with my failure. Wanted to quit trying. Did…, for awhile.

Now I know. Now I (am beginning to) understand – Better!

PROCESS!!
BABY STEPS!!

God takes what we can give to Him TODAY and waits patiently until tomorrow becomes today and we get to do it again. And… again, the next day! And…

In the meantime, He asks us to just take a walk.

With Him. With His Son. Jesus. His Holy Spirit goes too.

  • Pay attention, son. I have something important to tell you.

“There is now therefore NO CONDEMNATION, (Anger, Impatience, Rejection) toward us – from Him.”

T.B.T. #10

THROW.BACK.THURSDAY. #10

2 years’n a week ago I made my first post on this blog. As I’ve read and re-read it this week, I continue to be amazed at what God can do.

One of the treasures I find in this writer thingy I’ve been doing is the ability it gives me to remember. (The older I get, the more important it… but I digress…)

It’s been almost 7 years since my “Heart Attack.” It wasn’t a 911 occasion, but it changed me. U can read about that here.

The process continues. Usually in spite of me, although the path has fewer twists, turns, ups and downs.

For that I am grateful.

Here’s that first post:

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2013/07/22/it-really-is-just-that-simple/

BOTH SIDES OF THE TABLE

  I once read someplace:

“When U’re listening to someone share a deep secret, take off Ur shoes. U’re on Holy Ground.”

I’ve literally done this. I’ve actually said: “Wait, my friend…” and reached down and slipped my shoes off. After I explained, he felt even safer to share.  Other times I just slip them off (I wear shoes without laces) physically or mentally. It’s a reminder of the importance of the moment and the absolute necessity of confidentiality.

We ALL need a safe place where we can discover the real meMiracles happen in that place. We ALL need to learn to sit on both sides of the table.

It can feel like the scariest place on the planet, but it’s a place as important to the soul as the dinner table is to the body.

“A secret. A burden. A fault. Yes, even a sin… shared with a safe person in a safe place becomes less than half as heavy.”
“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

‭‭“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

‭‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭AMP‬‬

7 THINGS I LEARNED IN AA – that I should’a learned in church…

4 years ago TODAY I attended my 1st ever AA meeting. That was July 6, 2011

Please read yesterday’s post – 4YEARS

These are a few of the things I learned there

In the next few (7?) posts, I hope to unpack (ugh, I hate that word…) these a bit more, and try to explain why I feel AA expanded and deepened my relationship with “My Higher Power” Whom I call Jesus

Note : these are my thoughts and experiences. If Ur path is different, feel free to comment / share. AND – don’t take the title the wrong way, I love church! I grew up there. But there were some things I “just didn’t get.”

1) EVERYONE is welcome! Come! Just as U.R.

2) All I need is a desire…

3) EVERYONE is BROKEN! 

4) I will never get so sober/well that I will outgrow the benefits of going to meetings

5) I’ll NEVER understand GOD… And that’s OK!

6) Sharing my brokenness in a place I discovered is safe provides an opportunity to heal 

7) GOD is Bigger! and more Loving than I ever knew. Or imagined!

  4YEARS

July 5, 2011 – 4 years ago today was my first day without a drink “in a while.” Boy, THATs a l.o.n.g story cut short! 4 years ago tomorrow was my first ever AA mtg.

Stayed dry 90+ days. Went to 80+ meetings. Then, my wife’n I went on a 3 day anniversary trip. The resort left us a bottle of wine. Yep, I did! ’cause, ya’see, I came to AA to learn how to stop drinking… SO MUCH! So – it was easy to say – “I think I’ve learned how…”

4 months later, when I came back to AA, I KNEW I was/am powerless over alcohol. In my relapse, I learned my lesson. That was 1,227 days ago – 40.32 months for those of us who might be numbers challenged!

I now know – I’m not totally powerless…  I have the power to make the choice to NOT.TAKE.THAT.FIRST.ONE!!

After the first one, I PROBABLY won’t have a choice. At least, that’s been my pattern. THAT makes me powerless. I must know and stay within the limits of my power

I’ve already made the decision – SO I DON’T!! Take that first one! ’cause the next one (no matter how much later) is the second, and the next is the third. And then, I’ll lose count… Again. And then, I’ll lose… things, people, respect, Love… That price is too high! The real price of alcohol (for me) is MUCH more than the price on the shelf.

That’s what I learned in relapse. Am I a Real alcoholic? I don’t know! I always thought a “Real Alcoholic” lived in the gutter. That certainly was never me. (yet) BUT I do know I am powerless over my addiction. And that’s all I need to know.

And for that, I am GRATEFUL!

THE L.O.N.G VIEW

 What if today’s difficulty is the one U look back upon
in 6months, 2years, 5years and recognize it as

THE M.O.M.E.N.T

that changed Ur life for the better?
The one God used to make U
Just a little bit more like Him?

We don’t get better(or worse) in one giant leap.
It’s baby step by baby step, repeated daily.

 When we recognize God using our past for His Glory,
it changes forever how we see our PAST
it changes forever how we see our FUTURE
it changes how we see OTHERS
BUT – most of all, it changes FOREVER how we see GOD

This post was originally shared on January 14, 2014. (revised)

I shared this thought with “my Teen Challenge ‘Boys'” on Tuesday. Then I asked them about a “moment” in their lives that God is using to change them. 

I won’t share details, but there were tears, laughter, gratitude, heartbreak, regret, resolve, prayer, even joy. 

Most of the moments that change me are not earth-shattering. THE Moment was, and U can read about that here.

God is now able to use softer, gentler nudges to alter my path. (most days) He’s taught me, I’m discovering – He REALLY DOES care about me. and You!!… 

In the words of Steve  Brown, “God ain’t mad at me! (‘nU)”

#TeenChallengeTuesday@N.L.C.  –  My favorite day of the week!