Day 8339: Continuing to Face the Challenges of Living Life in Recovery

Recently, I’ve been reminded of how challenging sobriety is. I’ve lived in recovery for over 8,300 days. 8,339 to be exact. Even after all that time, I’m not guaranteed sobriety tomorrow. It’s a decision I make first thing in the morning when I get up out of bed. Every day.

“I’m going to live sober today,” I say to myself.

“Yes,” my Self replies.

Keep in mind that I do this even though I don’t always feel like it. Yes. There are days where the fight to stay clean and sober is difficult. Even 20+ years later. And I still run into people every day who don’t really understand addiction or know what to do with former addicts like me (that’s ok–I don’t always know what to do with myself either).

Recovery isn’t’ something I got right the first time. It took a few tries. I wavered between stringing a few days back to back and over a year of sobriety. That’s right. One year. It ended like this:

“Want a beer?”

“Sure,” I shrugged. And off to the races we went.

For me, alcohol is the key that unlocks the door to a wild ride. Prior to recovery finally sticking, I went out on a 33-day binge that nearly killed me. My binge was fueled by a ton of things I won’t mention here. I don’t want to glorify them. I don’t want to tell you that you can do them and live. You can. Most people don’t. Those that do, usually wind up in jail. A fortunate few of us get rescued, finding refugee in the Halls and solace in the Rooms that offer us a free space to be ourselves. There’s no judgment in the Rooms. At least not usually (we are human after all). I guess a better way to say it is that there isn’t supposed to be any judgment. We each have our own story to tell; our own truth to share.

I’ve seen addiction steal lives. I’ve witnessed addiction destroy dreams. I’m grateful that I found a way up from the Bottoms. Although it’s something I had to do first and foremost for myself, it’s not something I did alone. A lot of people have helped me overcome my innermost personal demons. It’s because of the love and kindness of others that I can claim to live in victory today.

Semi-colons mark a point where a sentence could have stopped; a spot where the story could have ended. But by the grace of God…my life didn’t end with my addictions.

semicolonAre you struggling with addiction? Has alcohol or have drugs taken control of your life? You aren’t alone. You don’t have to keep suffering. You don’t have to keep living a lie. You don’t have to keep leaving a wake of devastation wherever you go. You can change. Life can be different. But you got to want it…

Start here or here.

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Psalm Saturday: Psalm 86

Psalm 86 is a prayer written by David, the shepherd boy who became King over all Israel. Based on his experience of God’s goodness, David asks the Lord to show His strength by standing against the proud who are exalting themselves over him. It is the only psalm ascribed to David in the third book of Psalms and contains familiar quotes from other psalms, often mirroring them verbatim.

David spends the first 10 verses asking God for His protection. The request for protection is followed by David’s request for greater understanding in verses 11-13. In verses 14-17, he closes his psalm with a request for strength to fight off his enemies.

In this psalm, we see a mighty king, bending his knee to almighty God, demonstrating his dependence on the Lord, and showing us that he trusts Him and is ready to obey Him. David asks for grace, acknowledging it is not something God owes him. David rested with the confidence that God would answer his plea because God was the only one who is able to do great things. David trusted God because he knew that God was able.

David had personally experienced God doing tremendous things in his life, like calling him up from the fields into Saul’s palace to serve the King, and helping David slay the giant Goliath. David knew that he did not do these things in his own power, but rather because God was with him. What situation or circumstance in your life needs you to show dependence and trust in the Lord?

When we cry out for greater understanding for those things in our life that happen unexpectedly and that escape our ability to understand, we must mirror David’s call. David did so with humility, knowing God did not owe him an answer. He did not question God’s goodness or God’s plan, but sought to understand so that he could give God the glory. David knew God loved him and was the source of his salvation. He knew that it was the Lord who sustained him. It is okay for us to ask God questions, provided we remember that He alone is God and that He is holy and mighty. God doesn’t owe us an answer. Do you desire greater understanding? Have you asked God to provide it to you?

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People were rebelling against David and God. Man’s rebellion against the Lord is nothing new. It was true before David, during David’s reign as King, and it remains true for us living in the 21st century. David looked for a sign from God, just like we often do. David asked for strength and that the Lord would deliver him from his troubles, just like we often do. David trusted that God would answer his plea. When you ask God to help you overcome the problems you are facing, do you trust Him to answer you?

God is for us, not against us. He is trustworthy. We can trust in Him. He hears our prayers and He is willing to answer them. Are we willing to faithfully obey His call on our lives? We must recognize our utter dependence on the Lord Almighty and acknowledge that God owes us nothing. Everything He has given us to date is sheer grace.

Blessings.

 

Psalm 86

A Prayer of David.

1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. 4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. 6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. 9 All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. 10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. 12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. 13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them. 15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. 16 Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant, and save the son of your maidservant. 17 Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

I Hate Rejection!

I hate rejection. Rejection sucks. Even though I’ve been rejected more than I care to remember in my life, every time it happens it’s like someone rips my heart out of my chest. It’s not that nothing good happens between rejections. Truth be told, a lot of wonderful things happen. I’ve had more successes than failures. Rejections remind you that you’re alive and willing to try new things. It still blows though. Nobody likes to be turned down.

My recent bout with rejection stems from being on an extensive job search for my next career opportunity. It’s funny what your mind tells your inner you when you get rejected. You better have plenty of positive mantras stored up to respond to all the bullshit lies your own brain spits at you. Maybe it’s your ID or your EGO that’s hurt and offended? Or maybe it’s even my SUPER-EGO? How dare they didn’t hire me? What are they thinking? You loser. Nobody likes coming in second. Do they?

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Rejection fosters resilience and nurtures perseverance. Even when I was a kid studying classical piano, I hated coming in second. I strived for first, even though I didn’t always get it. By the time I was a junior in high school I had opportunities to study at Berklee College of Music, Julliard, and Oberlin. At the end of my junior year I had earned honorable mention in an international piano recording competition. Honorable mention? You might as well not have mentioned me at all, I recall thinking. Turned out that the Lord had other plans. I certainly can’t play like I did back then now. But I keep trying. 

Rejection sucks. After I spent some time in radio and tv broadcasting I learned some more about rejection, as if my first Valentine (a girl named Sandy)  turning me down in 2nd grade wasn’t sad enough. I put together audition tapes, only to have someone else get the job, or not even warrant a call-back (that’s when employers used to call instead of reject you via email or text). Those were the days.

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Certainly, as an aspiring writer, I have had my share of rejection. Almost published doesn’t count for much. Getting published in a newsletter or on an online site doesn’t quite compare to writing the Great American Novel. No sir. 

Spending nearly 25 years in the food business, I faced rejection daily. Every shift provided the potential for rejection. What if the food wasn’t perfect tonight? What if somebody had a bad dining experience? What if people didn’t come back? What if nobody shows up to eat tonight? In the restaurant business you earn your stripes every single shift. You’re literally only as good as your last meal served. It doesn’t matter if you served 1000 meals well on Saturday night. When you open the doors Tuesday evening with a loud whimper and resounding thud, the high from Saturday dissipates quickly. You go from hero to hell-hole in a hurry. The experience that went sour dampens previous glory. Keep in mind, for a good chunk of that 25 years, I ran an iconic, world-renowned Texas restaurant. Yet there was never time to rest on our laurels. For every Saturday night that had crowds standing three deep and snaked around the corner, came a Tuesday night marked with tumbleweeds blowing down Oak Street. Who cares if you were featured in Southern Living Magazine last month or that you were named Best of Fort Worth consecutive years running. That was then. This is now. Sick, right?

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I don’ think the team that lost the Super Bowl feels any better than the team that finished last in the league. Do you really think Tiger Woods is happy that he’s improving his game even though he’s no longer winning like he once did? I bet not. As great a player as he may be, Bron-Bron ain’t happy losing to the Golden State Warriors. I promise you that.

But rejection isn’t all bad.

Rejection has a way of making you more determined to succeed. You bounce back up. You get back in the saddle. You press on. Rejection builds your resilience and perseverance.

I’ve spent a good deal of the Spring job-hunting, hoping to find the next big thing God wants me to do. One recent search led to my being selected to the final round of six candidates, out of 400+ vying for the job. Then there were four. Then only two. Everything in the process went well. My interviews sparked chemistry. My assigned project was an immense success. On Sunday morning I was hopeful. But, Tuesday they informed me that they offered the gig to one of the other candidates. Disappointed? Yes. Dejected? Sure.

There are no good feelings about not getting the job. But, I’m not defeated. I’ll brush myself off just like I did when I learned how to ride a bike and pedal forward.

How about you?

Blessings.

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