Category Archives: RIGOROUS HONESTY

A Theme, not Resolutions

Rainy Monday Morning Musings…

Yesterday at New Life Church, Pastor Gary shared he “is not one to make New Year Resolutions.” I totally identified with him. Pastor Ben had already made the same statement, so I feel I’m in good company. Gary then went on the say he likes the idea of living with a yearly THEME rather than a list of resolutions.

I’ve had several words that could describe my journey over the past few (7) years of recovery. Each one seemed to build upon the last. Can I call them THEMES?

•   I think the first was “LOVE!” As in when God said: “Jim, I want to begin to teach U just how much I LOVE U!  I’ve spent much my life trying to get Him to Love me more. He showed me that He doesn’t do “much” or “more“. S’prise, S’prise, S’prise! He already does!! LOVE! (me) as much as He ever will – and always has.

  The next theme was “TRUST“. Love and Trust have become two sides of the same coin in my life. I can’t have one without the other. in ALL my relationships. The more I discovered God’s Love for me, the more I came to Trust Him. The more I Trust Him, the more I Love Him. U see, “MORE”  “TRUST” is on my side of the fence. It’s already all been done from His side. His greatest purpose in my life is to teach me how to grow in that.

  As I recall, it was Jan 10, 3 or 4 years ago. I was sick that Sunday morning, and as a result I attended the 5:30 service. One of the advantages of that later service is that we don’t have to hurry, so as I knelt at the altar that evening, the word “STILL” was on my mind. As in… “Be Still – and KNOW“! It became my theme for the year. I didn’t go home after service and make a list (of resolutions) describing how I was going to learn to BE STILL, but by November, I was amazed to recognize how the turmoil and storms of my life had calmed. I’d love to be able to say it was the end of my struggles, but I can’t, because of the next theme:

 •   HONESTY. Alcoholics Anonymous uses the term “Rigorous Honesty“. One of the reasons I ended up in Celebrate Recovery 7 years ago was because of the masks I had learned to wear. I had gotten lost behind the secrets. Guess What!!! SECRETS make us lie!! The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. A young lady once shared with me: “He can’t tell me the truth, because he doesn’t know the truth himself.” It’s been a difficult journey to move out from behind the masks into honesty, from that place of hiding. It still calls to me. It seems like a place of safety, but it quickly becomes a dark, lonely place.

•  I could show U the very spot I was standing when a man called me “SIR JAMES. U can read about him here and here. One of the best things that ever happened to me in recovery is when I found out who SIR JAMES is. I’d LOVE to be able to say “he was“, but I will never be completely free from him. (pssst – we all have a “Sir James” that lives in us!) I can say however, he is nowhere near as dominant as he used to be.

  THEMES… LOVE, TRUST, Be STILL, HONESTY, SIR JAMES…, I could go on. But I said all that to say this; as Gary was sharing yesterday, this word came to my mind… “DEEPER“. On the way to church yesterday morning, my daughter shared her word of the year with us: “BLOOM. Then my youngest grandson shared his: “FAITH.”  He then changed it to “EMMANUEL” (either one is fine with his PaPa) His mother asked him if he knew what that meant, and he said “God With Us“!!

But I digress…    What does “DEEPER” mean for me this year?  I’m sure I don’t have much of a clue as yet. But if U read my last post, U might understand my trepidation as I contemplate what it might mean and where it might take me. I have to remember the theme of “STILL” and how I didn’t see it’s progress at first. Can I TRUST that SomeOne knows more about it than I do?

DEEPER… in

Relationships?
His Word?
Wisdom?

Generosity?
Prayer?
???

Time will tell…. Stay tuned, it should be interesting! and scary!! MY favorite word, perhaps the underlying theme of this journey is PROCESS. I’m glad He’s teaching (taught) me that HE knows so much more about the process than I do. After all, He’s God! I’m not!

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

SOBRIETY – Event? or Process?

One of the Greatest Bondages you will ever be in is that of pretending to be something or somebody that you are not

I spent 50 years like that

Freedom from that bondage is a Journey, a Process of discovering who you really are and learning to live that person’s life

I took my last drink 40 months ago today. But the Process of Sobriety will continue for as long as I have feet on this planet

Monday Mrng Musings:

SERENITY:

Comes because of who U R,
Not because of what U DO

Thought # 2:

Does what U Do match who U R?

Thought # 3:

Do I know who I am?
Hmm, let me think about that!
Much more than I used to!

Q of the Day:

DO U?

Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments. I’m feeling very muse-ical this morning.
I’ve learned(ing) to share my musings. In fact, my first blog was named “JimDCat’sMusings”
If / When I don’t share, I tend to dig myself a pit. Or… Do I stop sharing because I’m in a hole?
Either way, if / when I’m in a pit, the best way I’ve found to get out is to share.

Because…
I’ve never been able to THINK my way out of a place I’ve THOUGHT my way into
And…  I’ve never found serenity at the bottom of a pit!

But…
GOD is still (my) God! and Jesus is still my friend!!
Even at the bottom of a pit! 

WOW!   I was just about to hit “post” and my friend Doña sent this as her every-day-scripture share.

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, (even if I’m in a pit) will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”                                                               Romans 8:38-39 (parentheses mine)

See what happens when I share?!?!!
GOD shows up!!

“JUST ONE…”

My BOYZ’n I had a rough night last evening.

I spent the evening by myself. Well, an hour or two. My son-in-law’s in the hospital waiting for surgery tomorrow. My wife and daughter had gone to dinner with “the girls” and then to a painting class.

   Nelda - Daisys

 That left me with my twin grandsons for dinner, to an open house at their school, showers and to bed. But the evening was not quite that easy.
I got into a bad mood which put the boys in a bad mood. Or was it the other way around? But… I AM the adult! S’pose to be, anyway! Suffice it to say, by the time they were settled for the night,
I was ready for a drink!
    …Yeah, that was my thought. Kinda surprised me.
But – I’ve been having that thought – A few times lately.
It’s because I’ve been remembering the GOOD things a drink would bring. I’ve been remembering the pleasures. Like a margarita w/Mexican dinner. Or sharing a bottle o’wine on Friday nites with my WW.
I remember thinking:  “You know, a glass of wine, or a vodka on the rocks, or a vodka and cranberry would just help take the edge off. A drink or two would actually help me settle down so I’ll treat my BOYZ better.”
So yeah – I was remembering the beneficial effects that alcohol could bring into my life and my relationships.
But there were two excuses I used when I was drinking. One was: “I’ve had a rough day, a couple drinks would just make it all go away and help me settle down.”
The second excuse was: “Wow, what a wonderful day I’ve had. It’s time to celebrate. What better way to enjoy myself than to have two or three drinks.” Did you catch the change?
You know, a glass of wine would really help me relax…”
You know, a drink or two would take the edge off…”
You know, two or three drinks just to celebrate…”
But 4 years ago, I got to the point that one to even three drinks did not take me to a stopping point. My stopping point was when my daughter said: “Dad you can’t have my sons in your truck with you again.” The stopping point was at dinner on July 4th 4 years ago when it took me three days to remember everything that went on and all I said that crazy afternoon. A reason to stay stopped was when my WW told me: “…and U hurt me more than U think U did!”
So last night – because I have learned that I don’t stop until it’s too late, I did not start. I did not have that first one.
I’ve changed my thinking.
But I’ve been sober long enough to begin to forget the pain. I’ve been sober long enough to begin to overlook the damage my drinking brought to the lives of others. I realize this morning –
This is a dangerous place to be
It would be easy for me to think:
My family’s over the damage I caused.”
I can enjoy it now, without the danger of having ‘too much.'”
I can handle it. It’s been more than 3 years, and I’ve learned a lot!”
But… Not only has my thinking  changed, my actions have followed.
So I went to bed sober last nite. I was lying in bed watching a John Wayne movie on my iPhone when she came home. This morning I awoke to my 1,162nd day somber. In a row.
The TWINZ’n I are friends again. I can still take them with me without having to ask their mother for permission. My WW is still my BFF.
I don’t have to worry about not being able to stop after two or three. I just don’t take the first one. If I take the first one, the next one is the second. Then the next is third. It won’t matter how far apart they are; minutes, hours, or days. The 2nd and 3rd WILL follow the first. Before I know it, sooner or later, I WILL lose count – and control, again.
         
I’ve discovered I CAN control my drinking! I don’t take that FIRST one.
I’ve also discovered that alcohol has NOTHING to offer me that I don’t already have – IN ABUNDANCE!
I don’t have to remember the bad times, I don’t have to risk hurting my family and friends because I’ve had too much. Again.
I just have to remember this –
DONT TAKE THE FIRST ONE!
It really ISjust that simple. 
It ain’t always easy,
But it’s simple!

                     H.A.H!

Ralph from Teen Challenge’n I were chatting a couple’a weeks ago while we were at New Life Church. He said something about Humility. Before we knew it, this was the result of our discussion:

H.onesty    A.uthenticity   H.umility

I’ve always been puzzled by the scripture that tells ME to HUMBLE MYSELF.
Humble yourself before the LORD, and He will lift you up. James 4:10

I remember someone telling me once: “Jim, when you get as spiritual as I am, God is really going to do mighty things for you.” My thought was… “Say What? How can YOU be spiritual if you are PROUD of how spiritual you are?” It seems to me that humility might fall in that same category. Is it possible to strive for Humility? Would that not then lead me to be proud of how humble I am? It seems like I would then LOSE my humility.(see what happens when I think too much?)

I must confess, I do not know how to humble myself. (maybe I’m just afraid to ask Him to teach me – like I did with Trusting Him) But – I CAN choose to be honest. I have discovered that it is primarily my pride that causes me to keep secrets. If I keep secrets, I am required by the very act of secrecy to pretend. And lie. 

Authenticity and secrecy are incompatible. Either one will destroy the other. 

I can CHOOSE Honesty.
Honesty produces Authenticity. In me.
Authenticity is a Basic Building Block of Humility

So… BOTTOM LINE – if I wish to be HUMBLE, I must FIRST learn to be HONEST.
HONESTY requires TRUTH from me: to Myself. To Others. And to GOD.
As I learned Honesty I began to Discover the Real Me. 

Others in my life are now telling me I am Authentic, Real, and Humble. They tell me they can trust me. They tell me their secrets, so they must. I don’t know, it’s not something I’m striving for anymore. I’m just having a good time being THE REAL ME! Finally!

Authenticity comes from Honesty which leads to Humility. 

H.onesty –>
A.uthenticity –>
H.umility!

     H. A. H.

But! What about the Thorns? 

In March of 1966, I was almost 21. I had just finished my stint at Diablo Valley College, and Vietnam was raging. Facing the draft, and not wanting to “Be all I could Be” in the Army, I had joined the Air Force. My day to leave for boot camp was approaching at jet speed.

Nelda’n I had been dating for a little over 2 years. This particular day started as one of those ordinary, “just-waiting-for-the-future-to-happen” days that turned into a momentous, “my-life-will-NEVER-be-the-same-again” kind-a day.

I was on my way to Uncle Bill’s house. He was Nelda’s REAL Uncle, but EVERYBODY in his life called him “Uncle Bill.” People(even adults) at church, kids at school, (he was everybody’s favorite bus driver) all my brothers and sisters, and I think even my parents called him that. It was just #WhoHeWas! I’m not sure it wasn’t written on his birth certificate!

                                     UncleBill'nSonya

But I digress… As I was coming down their narrow one-way street (Nelda was at their house) a boy riding a bike darted out from a garage that backed up to the curb. I hit him and broke his leg.

I called the AF recruiter and they grounded my jet plane until any legal ramifications got settled.

Long Story Short, my new enlistment day was May 19th. 5 things happened in those next rapidly-gone 30 days.

• The mother of the boy said: “I’ve told him a million times not to do that…” So – no legal issues.

• Nelda’n I saw each other EVERY DAY!

• She told me she Loved me!!!

• We got engaged!!

• Every day, for 30 days, I took her a (stolen) rose. Spring was in the air (and in my heart) so I would stop at her neighbors’ yards on the way to her house and “steal” a rose.

IMG_7711

Before I knocked on her door, though, I would pick and twist off every thorn on the stem of the rose. Why? Because I’m a romantic fool, I guess – but perhaps as a subtle promise to keep her life thorn-free forever.

Fast Forward – 30 days flew by, Oakland,Ca swearing in, 4 week boot camp, 5 month tech school, too-quick one-week Mom’nDad’nNelda visit to Texas in August, graduation, home on leave, married, “play house” for 30 days, stationed to Japan for 2 years. Nelda moved in with Mom’nDad and we all lived happily ever after. End of fairy tale.

It took another 45 years for me to understand the significance of the “THORNLESS ROSES!”

Super-Fast-ForwardTexas in August, 2013. Nelda’n I had driven to Oklahoma for her 50th high school reunion. As we left her brother’s home, headed for California, we (spelled *I*) was having a thorny morning. After about a hundred miles of silence, I realized I didn’t want to be like that for the next 1550 miles. So we (again-spelled *I*) started talking. I’ve written about that day at least once before – HERE

One of the reasons WE LOVE ROAD TRIPS is because we’re locked together in the car, so we have to / GET TO talk!

We drove another 400+/- miles that day. We talked about things (thorny things) that we’d needed to discuss 40 years before. We talked about Love and Respect, Fears and Intimacy, secrets and dreams It was another one of those just-waiting-for-the-future-to-happen” days that turned into a momentous, “our-life-will-NEVER-be-the-same-again” kinda-day.

It’s one thing to pick the thorns off a rose stem, or protect Ur loved ones from the thorns in their lives for a day or two. (or 30) But

THE ROSE GARDEN OF LIFE IS FULL OF THORNS!
If U don’t learn to deal with the thorns,
the beauty of the roses fades and disappears.
YOU CAN’T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER 

The rest of the trip was warm, friendly and more intimate. We’re learning to talk about the thorns when life gets prickley. The sooner the better. Our ROSES are more beautiful that way. 

It’s not possible to twist the thorns off the stems in Ur life, throw them out the window and go merrily on Ur way. The wind blows them back in the rear window and they stick U in the butt at the most inopportune moments. 

Lest I paint a Rose-tinted picture of our journey from that Texas highway to where we are now, let me assure U – it’s not all been rose gardens and tea parties. Some of the thorns had been set deep. A few had festered and the infection needed outside treatment. (mainly in me)  But our relationship, our marriage, our family, the LIFE we have now is well worth every sting. 

In fact, some of the scars from the past few months are “hanging on our walls” as trophies. 

The BEST way to a full life is to embrace it, THORNS’n ALL

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
—James 1:2–3 amp