Fear Not

I survived Hurricane Irma unscathed. I was one of lucky ones. So many others had extensive damage and even health problems from the heat. With temperatures in the high 80s and high humidity the heat in South Florida is unbearable, especially with no air conditioning. I have gone through it over 10 years ago when we were hit by several storms in one year. I know all of those without power are feeling quite miserable.

With a strong hurricane coming we faced many possible dangers from loss of property to flooding to loss of life. But we faced an even greater but invisible danger. Fear.

The fear of the unknown is very real and some of the possible outcomes were genuine concerns. But if we stay in a constant state of fear we not only overreact or even worse make bad decisions but we also cause ourselves to get sick.

Worry and anxiety for prolonged periods are not good for our health.

According to WebMD:

“Worrying is feeling uneasy or being overly concerned about a situation or problem. With excessive worrying, your mind and body go into overdrive as you constantly focus on “what might happen.””

“When worries and anxiety become excessive, chances are you’ll trigger the stress response.”

Most of us refer to the stress response as “fight or flight”. This is a normal response to perceived danger but if this state is repeatedly triggered by excessive anxiety and worry. This can cause problems such as dizziness, fast heart beat, fatigue, irritability, nervous energy and shortness of breath. The last two are all I need.

A lot of us were worried and stressed before and during the hurricane. Some were still worried after the storm not knowing how family and friends were doing. I certainly was worried before the storm and during the time that we felt the peak.

I was checking the news several times a day leading up to the hurricane. It was so uncertain I was looking for them to have a better idea of when and where. They never did until it happened. I definitely felt my stress and anxiety rising. Constant uncertainty and warnings of how bad it was going to be was driving me crazy.

It was good that they were telling people to be prepared but after awhile it creates fear way beyond causing people to realize that they needed to take it seriously. Then during the storm if we tuned into get an update we had to sit through half an hour of pictures of the places that got hit the worst.

I think it is important that we have moderation in these situations. Turn off the news and focus on something else. At my house, we had a movie marathon. Watching constant coverage and worrying about it wasn’t going to change the outcome one bit. If I can’t change it why make myself sick over it. The only thing I could do was put my trust in God and distract myself.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? – Luke 12:22-26

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7

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Work in Progress

Paul writes in Romans 6:6-7:

“We know that our old self was crucified with [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

Crucifixion is a slow painful death. My old self was crucified, not euthanized. Why then am I surprised when my sinful nature rears it’s head. Why am I surprised when overcoming my addiction becomes painful and a struggle. Why do I let it frustrate, discourage and anger me when it does? Even Jesus told us things we be difficult but we can find peace in him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I need not let my addiction and setbacks take away my peace. It takes time and I should show myself grace. God does. Who am I not to?

I am free from sin because I was crucified with Christ. My sinful nature will try to take over again but it won’t and can’t because I am free from it. I am no longer a slave to it.

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” Romans 6:6-7

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11

“And, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:18

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”Galatians 5:1

My sinful nature will only take over if I allow it to, if I submit to it. I am a slave of righteousness. If I remain that way I will not leave room for my sinful nature. If I do stumble it is just that a stumble. I am not yet fully what I am to become. People screw up. The rub lies in remaining a slave to righteousness. This world has many distractions.

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

I need sleep

It’s just a few minutes before it is time to go to bed. I’m tired but I have had a few restless nights.

I was reading an article that was talking about sleep problems with people with Muscular Dystrophy. (That’s me.)

In this article by researchers at the University of Washington’s Aging Rehabilitation Research and Training Center:

  • They were talking about the physical issues such as breathing. Or just plain pain contributing to lack of sleeping.
  • Another reason, is that medications disrupt the sleep cycle and prohibits a good night sleep.
  • Finally, anxiety, or a racing mind, is responsible for giving us with MD a shorter total sleep time.

Wow. They were describing me to a T.

Being disabled, and needing nurses to put me to bed, I have to go to bed at a specific time. I have a specific aide, let’s call him “Muscles”, who’s job it is to lift me out of my chair and put me to bed.

Once I am in bed and settled for the night, then, the mind games begin!

I can’t move. And I am facing the toughest part of the day. Being alone with my thoughts.

This is the time where my mind will race. And the porn addict in me would like to put thoughts in my head.

But I have learned that this is the time spend listening to sermons, Christian music, and the audible bible. It has taken time. But I am getting better at it.

But there are times that I still can’t sleep. The article says it is natural for me to have trouble.

(Please don’t tell me to take long deep breathes. My ventilator goes only one speed.)

I can’t sleep because I live in this imperfect world.

But God is not of this world. God has another list he wants me to read and remember.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

“When you lie down, you will not be afraid, when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” (Proverbs 3:24)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear…Be still, and know that I am God…the Lord Almighty is with us.” (Psalm 46:1-2, 10-11)

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8)

Please pray with me. I need sleep.

RIP Jerry Lewis

It’s with a sad heart that I mourn the passing of Jerry Lewis. He always made me and millions of others laugh. He was also a philanthropist who started the Muscular Dystrophy Association and hosted the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon. Some didn’t agree with the methods used to raise money but he brought awareness to neuromuscular disease. For that I am grateful. Thank you, Jerry!

Taking it the Next Step

I participate in an online recovery group.

With this online group, I felt like no one was taking it seriously. I had to remind myself that I didn’t always take recovery seriously and that I had a head start in comparison to how long the guys in that group have been working on their recovery.

So before I checked in and replied to the conversation I prayed asking God to show me how to add value to the group.

One of the guys mentioned that he was starting a therapy that deals with trauma and attachment disorders. I shared that I read somewhere (probably when studying counseling) that most addicts and especially porn and sex addicts have an attachment disorder. Someone asked what that meant.

So I said it basically meant a person doesn’t connect with others properly or in a healthy way. It opened up a discussion where everyone in the group shared their past problems connecting with others. It was as if made them think that makes sense or explains my problems in that area. I think one guy shared more than he had in the last three months. It was great to see them open up.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.  He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.  All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’  ~John 16:13-15 NLT

As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18 NLT

I could see how feeling good about that can lead some people to say look what I did instead of look what God did. I could see myself doing that. I don’t want to be that type of person. When I felt it I immediately prayed thanking God for what He did. I reminded myself that it is and should be all about God.

I never thought I would feel so much joy over the growth of others. It felt good.

This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. ~1 John 3:11-14

I thank God for not only showing my brothers the next step in their recovery, but showing me the next step in loving my brothers.

Pointing the Finger

The events of last week are still on my mind. Here, I talk about being sober and not be addicted to porn anymore. And then I really blow it. (See last week’s blog.)

And then, I find myself judging other people this week.

What is wrong with all of us? It is so easy for us Christians to look at the world and say it’s our sinful nature. But I’m afraid that when we answer that question we think about everyone else. How many of us Christians include ourselves in answering that question. I don’t think enough of us do.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend,‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. ~Matthew 7:3-5

It is easy to list what’s wrong with others and with society from my ivory tower of church. Guess what? That tower isn’t even close to white. It never was. It has always been a group of sinners. Technically we am white and pure in the eyes of Christ. But my s#^t still stinks. I am no better than the world outside of the church. The only difference is that I realize I am sick and decided to accept grace. Other than that we’re identical. I’m not any better than those who haven’t. Shhh! Don’t tell the Pharisee in the pew beside you. If there isn’t one there, you might want to look in the mirror.

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God ~Matthew 5:23-24

I don’t want to beat up my fellow Christians. I want my fellow Christians to stop beating up the non Christians. Jesus was harsh at times but it was always with the religious leaders. He was always gentle with sinners. Even when making a point with the young rich ruler he was kind. He spoke the truth but didn’t attack the guy. (See Matthew 19:16-22)

But more importantly, I have to keep reminding myself that God has forgiven me over and over and over for my transgressions. (Again, see last week’s blog.) I have been washed by the blood of Jesus. So, why is my demeanor toward people who piss me off so bad? I need to quit judging other people, and forgive them as God has forgiven me.

I try to tell myself that they deserve it… but

… As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” …. ~John 8:4-7 (portions)

Forgive me, Lord.

 

Getting Back Up

This is a post I really don’t want to write. I let things get to me and reverted back to my old addictive behavior. There is no real excuse for it and I take full responsibility. I know this makes me look bad, however, I want to share with you the steps I’m taking to get back on track.

First of all I’m changing my focus from perfection to progress. I easily fall into the trap of thinking I have to do things perfectly, that I have to be perfect. Thinking I have to do things perfectly makes me so afraid to mess up that I have no joy which in turn makes me more likely to fail.

In reference to the 12-steps, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says,

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

I’m not going to use this as an excuse and say to myself I’m not perfect so oh well why bother. Sometimes that can be a fine line. I want to be able to say that I’m doing everything I can to stay sober. I truly understand how the apostle Paul felt when he wrote,

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. ~Romans 7:15

This week I really know what it means to do what I hate. I have gotten to the point where I honestly don’t want to do the things associated with my addiction. I didn’t wake up one day and say I’m going to throw away my streak of not acting out.

It was more insidious. Small decisions over the last few weeks lead to it. I was having a rough time but the problems and circumstances didn’t cause me to fall. My reactions to them and the decisions I made about how to handle things, or not handle things, eventually caused me to fall. CORRECTION: led to my decision to act out.

Even when it doesn’t feel like it, a decision is made. Sometimes, it’s a decision made weeks ago.

I decided not to be more vigilant in prayer.
I decided not to listen to recovery podcasts. I decided to be lax with Bible reading.

What I am deciding to do now is to get back up and keep moving forward. When I have rough times I am going to draw closer to God. I’m going to reach out to others. I’m going to take time alone to clear my head. I’m going to do all the things I should have the past few weeks.

Just as important as deciding what to do during rough times is deciding what to do in good times. It is easy to get cocky when things are going good. Some of my worst temptations have occurred in good times. The temptation usually seems sudden during these times.

An important thing for me during any time is connecting with others. I tend to isolate myself which isn’t good. I can’t do recovery alone, let alone life. I shared with my group this week that lately my socializing has revolved around recovery. There is nothing wrong with that but if that’s all I do it can be depressing or discouraging.

So I am going to get back into my routine of spending time with God every day, reading the Bible every day and doing something recovery related daily. On top of that I am going to make a point of reaching out to friends to talk, not about recovery, but just to talk, a few times a week. I apologize in advance to those friends. I’m kidding of course.