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Recovery Spirituality

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24 January 2006, 11:43 PM
Recovery Spirituality
Well I have finally gone and done it since my last topic 12 step degenerated into recovery issues which I needed I thought why not make the next about recovery issues.
Every day I move aaay from my divorce I find it easier to function and think about moving on with my life. I do see an area in my life that has been out of control along side of my addiction and that is religious addiction. In my life this manifests itself in obsessive theological quests that leave me without a real relationship with God. Of course the more obsessive or more unbalanced I become the more my other addiction kicks in. Today I am thinking about scaling back my reading and praying more.
25 January 2006, 12:17 PM
Hi Brjaan,
I've been taught that an addiction can be identified by the harm it does to self and others. I wondered how the 'obsessive theological quests' you mentioned are harmful?
I ask as I have an obsessive streak with reading and academic work myself, but have always seen it as a gift rather than as a problem.
26 January 2006, 02:50 AM
Hi Brjaan,

That is a great post. I think I have a religious addiction and it serves no real purpose for me.

I think the problem comes in when we mistake spirituality for religion. I think stepping away from it all for a while and praying is a good thing. You can never go wrong with prayer.

I am going through marital problems and addiction as well. If you would like to talk feel to send me a private message. Take care.
26 January 2006, 02:54 AM
I wondered how the 'obsessive theological quests' you mentioned are harmful?
I find them harmful because of the stress. I don't think anything obsessive can be healthy.

I am the type of person who has to have the answers for anything. Look at little kids. You know the ones who always say "But Why"? That is I. I am never satisfied. It can be exhausting mentally and spiritually.

It is a quest that will never end. A thirst that can never be satisfied. That is why I think for a person such as myself faith must be developed and trusted. When I develop faith at least I can rest long enough to take a breath.
26 January 2006, 04:27 AM
That sounds about right to me - Jesus talks very clearly about quenching thirst.
I don't necessarily think that a period of intense doubt, questioning and seeking is unhealthy. It is painful and frustrating, but God answers. It takes a while to hear him though.
And you're right, prayer is always a good thing!
Regarding obsessive - its not always unhealthy! Think of all the great discoveries and insights that have been made as a result of obsession, all the knowledge, great music and literature we wouldn't have if someone hadn't been 'obsessed'. St Paul, St Francis and Julian of Norwich could all be described as pretty obsessed.
What is important though is how it feels to you, and if its stressing you then it may not be the best thing for you right now!
26 January 2006, 04:38 AM
Excellent advice, FrancesB. That is why I think dialogue is important. Because someone might have another picture of the same situation.

I never looked at it that way. To me it seems exhausting but maybe to others it can create beautiful results.

My problem is my intellect is always battling my faith. My goal is to bring these into healthy unison.
26 January 2006, 11:54 AM
I went through a similar period at university. I was trained as a scientist and for a while I really struggled (1-2 years). Then I read more widely, and accepted the Bible teaching that we won't understand and the wise will be the foolish and vice versa. I also prayed and begged for faith.
I was given faith over a long period of time, but am still challenged by others regarding how I can teach sciences and retain my faith. As if it somehow intellectually dishonest! I'm clear about the limits of my understanding and my willingness to accept that we can't fully understand God and His ways.
The battle as you describe it is a major one, but you are chosen by God - otherwise you wouldn't be seeking - and you will find peace. God gave us our intellect for a reason, He also gives us faith, so the two belong together - if only we can find the key.
26 January 2006, 11:32 PM
if only we can find the key
If there is even one.

I try to establish my faith Biblical and Spiritual without using circular reasoning.

Is the Bible fallible or isn't it? Was the world created in 6 days or not? Why does Sampson in the Bible sound like the story of Hercules? Could some of the Bible be true and other parts just poetry or stories?

I believe every word of Christ. But I am not so convicted when it comes to the Old Testament. So much of it defies logic.

Then again there are remarkable things in the Old Testament that trigger deep thought upon me. Like the story of Elisha & Elijah. They had a relationship almost identical to the one of John The Baptist and Jesus. The miracles are almost identical as well.

Also the significance of the Jordan river. Elisha walked across the Jordan River with Elijah, and was on the ground on the
eastern bank of the river when Elijah ascended to heaven in a whirlwind.

Was this not the same place that Christ was baptized? Could all of these similarities be a coincidence?

Also if God created the Sabbath for man and not man for the Sabbath could he then of created the Bible for man and not man for the Bible?

I am not quite sure what my limits of understanding are. That is why it is so hard for me to give up the intellectual fight and give in.
27 January 2006, 08:48 AM
I'm not a literalist believer of the Old Testament (OT). I do literally believe in Jesus, the prophecies in the OT and His miracles, resurrection and promises.
In my mind there is no contradiction in accepting the NT as literal truth, but not accepting every word in the OT as literal truth.
I'm not theologically trained, so I'm not that well versed in the history of the bible, but from what I've studied it seems to make sense to me that for example, the story of creation in the OT, is an attempt by a particular culture to understand the origins of the universe, and while scientifically correct in many places, is not literally true. We could for example read 'six days' as six millenia (or more). That's how I bring together my faith and my scientific education. I don't have a 'problem' with evolution either. I think that if God made the universe, then there is no reason why He shouldn't use physical laws and processes to bring about different species and progress. I know lots of Christians who disagree however. I'm at peace with that understanding though.
As far as the similarities go, the writers of the NT would know the OT very thoroughly, and it makes sense to me that this understanding and knowledge would filter their telling of Jesus life and miracles. They happened and are true, but are understood and told through the prism of the OT. I think of it as a bit like understanding friend's or family behaviour by thinking about how characters in a TV show behave? I had a colleague this morning who said about a friend isn't he just like Joey (from Friends).
I don't think those similarities are coincidence, they are meaningful and simialr for a reason - to reinforce God's teachings for us.
07 February 2006, 09:09 PM
Today has been spent much of the day in my head part of recovery for seems to be meeting myself and loving myself unconditionally. It is wierd how sometimes God meets me in weakest and most broken moments.
10 February 2006, 12:21 AM
For me the bible is an epic story told in a way that brings out God's covenants leading to the ultimate acts of the incarnation death and Ressurection. Like Augustine I would also say if I had to take the bible literally I would not be a Christian. I have seen the devestation fundamentalism and it is not pretty.
A good example for me would be the creation story. I consider myself a thiestic evolutionist for me the details of the creation story or unimportant what is important is that God created the world.
10 February 2006, 01:35 PM
Hi Brjaan,

Good to see that you are still here on Shalom Place.

May I recommend to you simple baby steps in reading scripture which has helped me tremendously and may do so for you as well. Take a short Psalm, I especially like the Psalms of King David. Let the Psalm come alive in you as a prayer within your heart for the whole day, and go on to the next one another day.

Hope this benefits you.

11 February 2006, 01:13 AM

A psalm a day keeps insanity at bay... Wink
20 February 2006, 12:13 AM
Yes I am still around though not as often as I would like to be. I have been studying origin, Evagrius and John Cassian as part of the Lay oblate group I attend. Lay oblates are a lay people dedicated to the way St. Benedict. I go to mass at Holy Cross Monastery in Chicago I believe. anyway in thier writings they stress are free will to choose to follow are emotions or desires or trust God and choose to follow him. They speak of first a need to purify and then are need for stillness to overcome are vices. Also ithey list 8 vices beleiving that gluttony or lust are at the root of the other 6. Origin Cassian and Evagirus are definitely becoming sources of healing for me thier writings are practical especially the idea a true theologian is one who prays Eastern Christianity and Benedictine Spirituality is built on Praxis instead of scholasticism.
21 February 2006, 01:16 PM
I've just come back from a week's stay at a Poor Clare convent. I try to go once a year. Like the Benedictines, they recite psalms at each office. One of my favourites is Psalm 139 - the idea of fleeing God and yet he is everywhere I go is a powerful one for me. I also love the verses:
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
Psalm 139:13-16 (NRSV)
Powerful arguments against abortion.
23 February 2006, 08:40 PM
Today has been especially sad for me. I guess I should be glad but I am not it seem due to form my marriage was only blessed and my wife and I did not receive the sacrament of matrimony probably because it was presumed valid. According to the Priest I talked to this is grounds for nullity My wife and I were married as non catholics in civil ceremony. All of this splitting of canon hairs made me sad with the realization it is over.
25 March 2006, 03:16 PM
The biggest struggle I have in recovery is financial. I have also been seeing someone and realizing how much about relationships I need to learn. I am moving in with my parents for a short time to right my finances. The other big issue more of a theological one is the annullment process. I am beginning the process and have been told I have good grounds but have my doubts and questions concerning the process.
30 March 2006, 11:53 PM
Brother Jaan: Do you keep some kind of journal of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences? If so, good. If not, you might find it helpful as a way to keep your feelings unblocked.

It's strange that an emotion such as love can bring so much pain, but it does. Hope you are doing well.
03 April 2006, 11:49 AM
yes but I need to journal on a more regular basis. I am dealing with some losses this week. I have moved in with my parents to get back on my feet and coming out of an intense relationship. Both hurt tremendously. I guess a big issue in recovery is loss. I am doing some crying and praying both seem to be a healthy response to the pain I am feeling.
03 April 2006, 01:19 PM
I guess a big issue in recovery is loss.

I read an interesting passage recently by Henri Nouwen from his book Out of Solitude:

What does it mean to care? The word care finds its roots in the Gothic "Kara," which means "lament." The basic meaning of care is to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with. I am very much struck by this background of the word care because we tend to look at caring as an attitude of the strong toward the weak, of the powerful toward the powerless, of the have toward the have-nots. And, in fact, we feel quite uncomfortable with an invitation to enter into someone's pain before doing something about it.

Still, when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solution, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.

Therefore, to care means first of all to be present to each other. From experience you know that those who care for you become present to you. When they listen, they listen to you. When they speak, you know they speak to you. And when they ask questions, you know it is for your sake and not for their own. Their presence is a healing presence because they accept you on your terms, and they encourage you to take your own life seriously and to trust your own vocation.

Our tendency is to run away from the painful realities or to try to change them as soon as possible. But cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators, and prevents a real community from taking shape. Cure without care makes us preoccupied with quick changes, impatient and unwilling to share each other's burden. And so cure can often become offending instead of liberating. It is therefore not so strange that cure is not seldom refused by people in need.
What does that mean? Well, for starters, I don't have any answers for you, Brother Jaan. But I do know the pain of loss´┐Żespecially the loss of a love. As human beings we travel around with the sense of a gaping hole in the depths of us, even in the best of times. In the worst of times that hole seems bottomless. Here's a few thoughts from Nouwen from his book The Inner Voice of Love, a book that I highly recommend, by the way, whether in good times or in bad:

Work Around Your Abyss
There is a deep hole in your being, like an abyss. You will never succeed in filling that hole, because your needs are inexhaustible. You have to work around it so that gradually the abyss closes.

Since the hole is so enormous and your anguish so deep, you will always be tempted to flee from it. There are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal.
Now, combine that with the following words from Henri and see if some kind of synthesis doesn't suggest itself:

The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down into your heart. Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds.

Understanding your wounds can only be healing when that understanding is put at the service of your heart. Going to your heart with your wounds is not easy; it demands letting go of many questions. You want to know "Why was I wounded? When? How? By whom?" You believe that the answers to these questions will bring relief. But at best they only offer you a little distance from your pain. You have to let go of the need to stay in control of your pain and trust in the healing power of your heart. There your hurts can find a safe place to be received, and once they have been received, they lose their power to inflict damage and become fruitful soil for new life.

Think of each wound as you would of a child who has been hurt by a friend. As long as that child is ranting and raving, trying to get back at the friend, one wound leads to another. But when the child can experience the consoling embrace of a parent, she or he can live through the pain, return to the friend, forgive, and build up a new relationship. Be gentle with yourself, and let your heart be your loving parent as you live your wounds through.

18 April 2006, 02:28 AM
Wow it would explain my behavior today. I ran from my wounds and fears. Alot of people around me tell me I need a relationship with Jesus my parents are fundamentists but In a way I think they are right I need to feel my wounds and build my relationship with God.
19 May 2006, 09:49 PM
It has been a while since I have posted here. I am working two jobs and seriously dating. I am beginning the annullment process. I am rethinking some of my understanding of the steps and find myself using it to make myself feel inadequate I am growing a lot especially in the area of self esteem.
21 May 2006, 06:23 PM
Brjaan, Hi to you. Smiler I sure like hearing that you are growing in your self esteem. Working two jobs must be tiring, but you may be able to pay off some debts incurred from your past, should they still linger.

You are also dating seriously, and am happy that you have found someone to share your free time with. I pray that you have worked hard with the resolvement and healing of your marriage and know the right reasons as to why you are now in your new relationship.

Glad that you started the annulment process.

You seem to be in a pretty good place and I continue to wish the best in all your endeavors as you are moving forward in your life. God bless.
24 June 2006, 08:49 PM
Hi Freebird
Actually I probably plummeted into the relationship early but it has been a learning experience and continues to be for both of us. She is also divorced and comes from a troubled background Smiler . We are taking it slowly learning from are mistakes.
I am also learning how the 12 steps can be misused by someone as a means to clubber themselves are as a excuse not to grow.
25 June 2006, 02:37 PM
Hi Brjaan,
You appear to be in a good place with your lady friend. I like your comment about taking it slowly learning from both of your past mistakes, yet are the really mistakes?, I see them as fruitful learning experiences.

Of course, everything can be misused which includes the twelve steps. There are consequences in this misuse, but you should just jump back into them in knowing what it is that works for you. I do hope that you continue to attend group meetings to share and receive the wonderful gift of the testimonies that are given at these meetings. It is so important for you to hear the strength that comes forth within people in their hopelessness that have surrendered all to God, or as they say, a higher power.

Hopefully you have been able to repay some of your past debts by living with your parents and are working on an annulment of your marriage. This is not an easy task, but will free you to fully have a relationship with your present lady.

I recommend to you Psalm 25.

My best to you Brjaan, as always.