Category Archives: Understanding

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!

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!

  

SOBRIETY part 2

This morning I was reading and replying to some of the comments made on yesterday’s post. 

ThkQ, BTW, for reading and entering into dialogue with me. I’m amazed, I’m only 50 views short of having as many views as I had in all of 2014. 

One of my followers is “The Snarky Blonde” I LOVE this post I found on her blog and the way in which it describes my journey – p.s… If U don’t care for “snarkiness,” don’t go there. But she shared some TRUTH about discovering the diamond buried in the mud. 

http://thesnarkyblonde.com/2015/06/23/diamond-in-the-mud/

This was my reply to her comment:

           ******

I‘ve said it before… It’s become one of the fundamental beliefs of my existence. THERE ARE ONLY TWO GROUPS OF PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. THOSE IN RECOVERY AND THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET DISCOVERED / ADMITTED THEY NEED TO BE. 

I love the way U put it: “In reality our self defeating patterns. Every single one of them, Began as survival strategies in response to our dysfunction…” It was in recovery I discovered THE REAL ME and learned to like living with that person 

        *********

Let me add this postscript….

Psalm 139, 13:18 begins like this… “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you. (‭Psalm‬ ‭139‬:‭13-18‬ NIV)

Most of my recovery has been discovering who God made me to be and letting Him heal the damage living caused in me. 


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

T.B.T.#9 – 7Things God ALWAYS Says…

One of the main lessons I’ve learned in this almost seven years of recovery is that not everything I’ve been taught about what God thinks about me is right.    

Conversely, not everything I thought about God is correct either. In fact, Who I am discovering God to be is far different than what I thought. 

I remember when God kept breaking out of the “box” I didn’t know I had Him in. Finally, my wife made this observation: “Honey, I think God is not the one that’s in the box. I think it’s U!” She was r.i.g.h.t… Again!!! Now I know, now I’m (beginning to) understand… God is SO much more than I ever dreamed!! The more I know, the bigger He gets! The bigger He gets, the less I know I UNDERSTAND about Him. That’s because HE’s GOD! And I’m not!

On this Throw-Back Thursday, I want to repeat my post from June 8, 2014. I’ve been surprised to discover these things about how God views me! (and U) It’s changed-ing how I see God!

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/7-things-god-always-says-to-his-kids/

P.S. then, take a look at: 7 Things God NEVER says…

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/7-things-god-never-says-to-his-kids/

Safe Harbor


One of my favorite personal recovery Truths is:

“A secret, a burden, a failure, a hurt – shared in a safe place with a safe person becomes less than 1/2 as heavy!”

I’ve experienced it from both sides of the table.

I’ve shared things with others and been set free from the power of the shame

I’ve been able to listen without judgement to the secret pain others carry and witnessed their journey into freedom
IT  IS  A  JOURNEY!! 
DON’T  WALK  ALONE!! 

Ask God to bring that special person into your life who can be “The Safe Harbor.” Establish that safe place BEFORE the storms come. Expect the storm. See it while it is still in the distance. Make your way to the Harbor before it arrives! Resist the urge to stand strong by yourself.

The strongest person is always the one who knows their weakness and has developed plans in advance of the inevitable times of need.
Lord, You are my God.
I will honor you and praise your name.
You have done amazing things.
You have faithfully carried out the
plans you made long ago.
…the hopeless have fled to you
and have been safe in times of trouble
You give them shelter from storms
and shade from the burning heat.
Isaiah 25: 1.4

TRUST w/o UNDERSTANDING?

I spent 50+ years trying to figure out and UNDERSTAND my life. I could take U to the recovery room, I could show U the light that came on as I read step #3 that said “Turn Ur life and will over to the care of a loving God as U understand Him.”

I thought: “I can never understand God. If I could, I’d be God. He is and I’m not.” 

So I decided to stop trying to understand. 

It was as if I stepped thru a gate that had been locked. That decision set me free in ways that I did not know (understand) I had been bound. 

I discovered that MY UNDERSTANDING was not the important thing. I became able to Trust (God) in ways that had been beyond me. 

In the coming months, I found out it was MY EGO that had been driving my QUEST to understand. 

I’ve said it before, it’s still true: GOD and my EGO are not compatible. I find that strange, because they are roommates. They both live inside of me. 

https://itreallyisjustthatsimple.com/2014/01/18/hotel-ego/

Pain From 1-10

         On a scale of 1-10, what is the level of pain in Ur  life? 

Have U ever walked into a Dr’s office and seen this?



Something I’ve never understood is how individuals have different pain thresholds. 

That which would be a pain level of 6 or 7 for me and send me to the ER seems to be no worse than a stubbed toe for others. 

BTW – a very interesting blog about managing chronic physical pain is HERE

It’s said that people who live with chronic pain get used to it.  My wife has lived with a pain that started when she was pregnant with our daughter. (no – I’m not talking about myself) To this day, I’ll ask her if she’s taken anything for it. Lots of times her reply is ” I didn’t even think about it.” Me, on the other hand , will run for the Advil with the slightest twinge. 

While I have lived (and am grateful for it) a relatively physically pain-free life, the same cannot be said about my emotions. At the age of 11, a 6th-grade classroom prank that turned ugly began a lifetime of guilt and shame in me. More than 50 years later, I finally recognized the teacher’s part. I finally recognized that if Mr.M had handled his anger differently, my shame could have been eliminated. On that September day in 1956, I could have survived un-damaged. Fortunately, I realized that blaming him would not provide healing for me. 

I LUV!!! listening to stories of RECOVERY!! I have sat in recovery meetings and listened as men and women relate absolutely horrendous stories of abuse, abandonment, neglect and pain. Stories that made me realize, again, how my pain fades into nothingness in comparison. 

But I’ve also learned that comparison is not only the Thief of Joy , it is also an obstacle to healing. I’ve never forgotten one of the first Bits’oWisdom I heard in an AA meeting: “Listen for the similarities. We all have different stories, but in SO MANY ways, we are all the same.

Growing up in church, I remember listening as guest speakers would tell their stories of life-transformation. I remember thinking “I’ll never have a story to tell. Maybe I should go be bad for awhile.” The cause of my pain paled in comparison to that which they had experienced. So I excused and hid mine. I diminished the effects my pain was causing me. It prevented my healing. “After all, what do I have to complain about? My life has been SO MUCH BETTER than his!” 

BUT – MY pain is MY pain! UR pain is UR pain!! I CANNOT measure the level of hurt U carry. U will never be able to gauge the pain I feel. 

 I am a firm believer in the 12-step process of recovery. I’ve experienced it, I’ve witnessed it in others. I also believe in BABY-STEPS in recovery.  

Yes, God can perform miracles and provide miraculous, “over-night” healing. But the normal healing process involves Baby-Step after Baby-Step, repeated daily. The 5-year process of healing is just as miraculous as that which happens in a moment. And much more common. Most of us did not fall into our pit over nite, in one giant leap or one sudden fall. Healing doesn’t happen over nite either, in one giant leap or one momentous decision. It’s Baby-Step by Baby-Step, repeated Daily! 

Lots of times, perhaps even, usually, I don’t recognize the baby-steps I take until the next day. Or the next week. Or months. My growth is usually seen in hindsight. Or by others. 

The truest healing happens in our thinking processes, not in our daily behavior. Our daily behavior is, of course , the most visible, but until our THINKING changes, we have not truly changed.  

Bottom line, recovery boils down to a change of heart. 

She Isn’t Cured, But She’s Been Healed!

Last week, she signed up to follow my blog. (Tribe member #55 for me) I became #900 for her!! I’m so jealous!! lol

Today she was used by God to help me better understand something He’s been teaching me for 6 years!! 

Check it out: 

https://workthedream.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/healing-and-curing

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