Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Nope, Haven’t Seen It


 

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”


The cute social media post thing strikes again. I came across this fluff ball the other day:
 

“Nope, I haven’t seen your lipstick.”

Adorable. Humorous. Human.

Indeed, this deceptive attempt at convincing did not start with our adorable pup. Rather, we need to look at history, a little further back. Let’s peek in on a power couple.

Once upon a time, there was Ananias and Sapphira...

“Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.”

Verse 1

Just a cute couple doing business. Nothing to see here.

“With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

Verse 2

Oh, that’s... interesting.

“Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’”

Verses 3-4

Oh-Oh-Oh- ka-a-a-a-y...

Well, maybe he’ll get an opportunity to apologize, to make things right.

“When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died...”

Verse 5

Guess not...

“...And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.

Verse 5

Oh dear. That’s quite a ripple effect...

So, anyway, necessary business still needed to be taken care of. We have to inform his wife about her husband’s passing and clarify matters...

“About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, ‘Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?’”

Verses 7-8

Uh-oh...

 “‘Yes,’ she said, ‘that is the price.’”

Verse 8

There’s nothing like déjà vu, huh?

 “Peter said to her, ‘How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.’”

Verse 9

Yep, déjà vu in process...

“At that moment she fell down at his feet and died...

Verse 10

Déjà vu REALLY in process...

 “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.”

Verse 11

And, another shot at learning the lesson?

Eh, maybe...

For, centuries later, we arrive at our lipstick puppy.

“Nope, I haven’t seen your lipstick.”

And we chuckle. We go “awwh.” The ruby red color is smeared all over the white muzzle. No amount of “blending” can make that face look anything shy of “I ate your tube of lipstick.”

But, as much as we may find humor at this pup- or even in our husband and wife duo, we cannot escape an unflattering reality. Often, we lie, fully aware of our lie, with its evidence obviously present.

And often, we do it for the sake of our addictions.

“You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.”


It seems stupid to think we’d ever get away with it, let alone, prosper from it.

“He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Proverbs 28:13

Unless, however, we already believe the lie “we’re getting away with it.” Falling for that time-old doozy has led many down a tricky primrose path.

We believe no one sees.

We believe no one knows.

We believe it’s not hurting anyone.

We believe we’re in control.

“He whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.”


So, we lie...

And cheat...

And steal...

And betray...

Sooner or later, our lies strike us down. We may not be killed on the spot, like Ananias and Sapphira, but let’s not fool ourselves, something is destroyed...

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

James 1:14-15

What would happen if we owned our stuff, ugly warts and all?

Could there, indeed, be a better chance at experiencing mercy, forgiveness or any variation of a second chance?

“He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Proverbs 28:13

And what kind of freedom could we tap into by complete honesty?

We don’t have to worry about keeping our lies straight.

We don’t have to live in fear of “being discovered.”

We can be at peace, being who we are, imperfect, acquainted with our own deception experiences and unflattering backstories, yet not “done in” by them.

“The truth shall set you free.”

John 8:32

Concerning the proverbial puppy/cosmetic issue, we could confidently move forward in our lives by embracing truth:

“Yes, I did see your lipstick. Not only that, I stole it, used it AND ate it. I confess and apologize.”

We’d look a lot better being that kind of puppy.

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

Not Her Job


Start


Harder Before Easier


When I was a Child...


 

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child...”

1 Corinthians 13:11

Many of us, looking back on childhood photos, stare in horror at our various hairstyle and clothing choices. Sometimes, they were made by our family members; sometimes, they were made by us.

Regardless, with hindsight, we reach the conclusion, “what was I thinking?”

Complicating that question further, is the reconciliation/forgiveness/better choices we embark on as we proceed with our lives.

It starts by acknowledging and applying the wrap- around scriptures, encasing 1 Corinthians 13:11...

“For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

1 Corinthians 13:9-10

 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12

These scriptures require us to admit we won’t get every answer we want in this life. And, if there are challenging issues like abuse and addiction involved, answers, indeed, will not come completely and satisfactorily.

Dr. Maya Angelou once stated...

“When you know better, you do better.”

But this is not a cut and dry reality. For life, as we know it, is not ideal. Therefore, realization and recovery are often slow and gradual. Answers and healing often come at a more delayed pace than we’d like for them to occur.

Try as we might, we just cannot rush the process of healing, revelation and individual process.

I know; it’s maddening.

But Jesus, Himself, spoke of giving us what we think we want before we’re ready to experience it...

“But Jesus answered and said, ‘Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’...”

Matthew 20:22; Mark 10:38

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.”

John 16:12

Indeed, most of us think we’re more prepared, mature and ready for what we define as “blessings” to be released in our lives.

But, just like we go back and look at our baby pictures, with their questionable hairstyles and wardrobe choices, now knowing we’d make much different decisions, do we, likewise, REALLY have enough hindsight, let alone, wisdom and maturity to make the correct choices when it involves the significant things in our lives?

I think not.

Again, it’s maddening.

But, if we desire any measure of peace and, yes, blessing, we need to allow for the mystery of God’s tailored, unique process unfolding in our lives.

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God-those whom he has called according to his plan.”

Romans 8:28

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

John 16:13

It’s not on our impatience timetable; rather, it’s God’s perfect, wise and loving plan. We are being led; we are being guided. That reality, however, does not automatically mean we will get everything our way, according to our specifications.

But what we will get is what we need- and it will be right- for us.

And, for each of us, that means putting away childish things; it means growing up.

 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

1 Corinthians 13:11

We all have a ways to go in this area.

So, on the childish scale, where do you fall?

We don’t need to remain in our baby clothes, in our childish pigtails. We can grow up. We can get better.

It is our decision.

Do we want to stay stuck as an unruly child, or, do we want to say, in our continuing lives and circumstances, “when I was a child?”

It’s up to us.

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Horror Story


 

 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7

When I was eleven years old, I took my best friend up on a dare. It was to watch the classic horror film, “The Exorcist.” Yeah. I immediately regretted that decision the minute the character of Regan started doing some seriously demonic a-turning. The character spun her head all the way around, spit pea soup and levitated off from her bed. Good times. For the next two hours, I tried to save face in front of my friend, making excuses to leave the room as much as I could. I got a lot of sodas, popcorn and napkins. The actress Linda Blair was just too convincing as a demon possessed girl.

And I was thoroughly convinced, not by the makeup or the special effects, but by my fear.

Fear: yes, here we go.

This time of year, with Halloween as the focal point, it’s all about creating and maximizing the fear. Costumes, makeup, decorations, haunted houses and scary movies abound. It’s about being frightening.

However, unfortunately, fear is not restricted to that holiday once a year. We are faced with the issue on a daily basis. How many of us, driven by fear, trying to escape fear, turn to our addictions, compulsions and disorders, in an effort to cope with our own “horror story?” Perhaps the fear of not being good enough, of living through a painful trauma or simply facing our real selves keep us stuck believing a convincing lie. We are thoroughly convinced we’re hopeless, doomed and/or destined to continue a destructive destiny. We play “what if” games as we play chicken with our fears. Like my less than stellar childhood decision to watch “The Exorcist,” we can take up the dare to participate in a regrettable decision, letting curiosity get us into a situation we then try and find an excuse, any excuse, to flee from.

All why? Is it because we’re convinced of the scary belief’s power? Do we believe our own addictions and dysfunctions are more real and powerful than God, Himself in our lives?

When I was that eleven year old girl, part of why “The Exorcist” resonated so strongly with me was because I related too much with the Linda Blair character of Regan. She was twelve or thirteen years old, close to my age. So, even though I knew it was an actress playing a character, I still became convinced this demonic possession could happen to me. I let my fear dictate the terms.  Forget about God: His love, His protection and His help. Nope. I only believed the worst case scenario. So, any minute now, I’d be spitting up some pea soup?

There’s a commonly used acronym to spell out the word fear: “false evidence appearing real.” What have we determined to be real for ourselves, so real, it’s scary? Do we see ourselves as only failures? As only addicted? As people who are worthless and unloved? As people who are too much or not enough?

In those insecure questions, where is God in the context of our horror story? If He’s nonexistent, unloving, disinterested or even hateful, then yes, we have problems, bigger problems than Linda Blair levitating off the bed.

But God is extremely passionate and protective in His love for us.

“…‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

                                                             Jeremiah 31:3             

“‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,’ says the Lord, ‘thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Jeremiah 29:11

What are we dwelling on? There’s a theory stating what we focus on the most becomes the most prominent in our lives. So, if we allow that to be our monsters and our fears, isn’t it inevitable these issues would loom the largest in our circumstances?

“For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”

Job 3:25

Do we have more faith in God or more faith in our fears coming true? Again, where’s the focus? A significant part of our recovery is the surrender to a powerful God, Who is able to do what we cannot.

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

And that includes our horror stories, whatever they may be.

Nothing will separate us from God’s love, because of Jesus!

 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39

When I was a kid, I made the poor choice to tap into the fear of “The Exorcist;” it became the dominant truth in my pre-adolescent life. But then, life moved on and (hopefully), I grew up a bit. Now I see there’s more to life than our thoughts, fears and conclusions; there is God!

And that need not be a scary thing, either. Let God be your answer to your every fear! Let God into your horror story!

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, October 13, 2017

Scary Candy?


 

It’s that time of year again-the official start of the “candy holidays,” kicked off by Halloween. It can be sheer torture, facing the overwhelming displays of treats now. There seems to be candy everywhere! And, for a lot of us out there, it can trigger disordered eating patterns.

So, what do we do? We can’t stop Halloween- and all “candy holidays” from coming. No, it’s not an easy situation. But, we can look for God’s perspective and help, even considering the temptations and issues we face, dealing with candy and “trigger” situations.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”

1 Corinthians 10:23

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

1 Corinthians 6:12

Candy, by itself, is neither evil, nor good. It’s inanimate. It has no nutritional value; and yes, it’s loaded with sugar, other preservatives and colors. The “moderation” issue, therefore, comes into play. You and I will not die or have the worst case scenario, (whatever we define that to be for our lives, such as the notoriously dreaded “getting fat” fear) if we eat some candy, from time to time, in our lives.

However, we need to look at eating candy as a choice; it has no nutritional value.  So, according to 1 Corinthians, it’s “lawful,” but does it “edify?”

Candy will not harm us, if, the constant staples in our lives are healthy choices: healthy food, balanced exercise, sleep, relationships, support and numerous daily spiritual, emotional and physiological choices. It’s about an overall healthy lifestyle, not whether or not we ate some candy corn today.

And let’s not forget, each of us has help for our individual, unique lives.

 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psalms 46:1

Yes, it’s challenging, facing the overwhelming flavors, colors, choices- and emotional ties that Halloween candy can represent to us. But remember, God has called us to a life that includes enjoyment.

“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”’

John 10:10

Are you and I taking time to enjoy our lives? For some of us out there, that may mean having  some candy today; for others, it may mean choosing another option.

Regardless of what you choose today, “to candy or not to candy” (forgive me, Shakespeare), God is in control and loves each of us unconditionally. He’s there, helping us, wanting us to succeed and to experience His love and blessings.

So, look at candy with some newer eyes today. It’s not your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s candy; that’s all. And God is more powerful than it- and every trigger/disorder/issue surrounding it.

Go to God, then, no matter what you face concerning your struggles/disorders/issues with candy- or any other food, for that matter. He IS there, now, for you! He will be, long after the candy- and the candy holidays- are gone!

“…I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Matthew 28:20

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Be in the Nevertheless Group


In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month...


Beyond the Mask


 

As a child, I dressed up as Tinker Bell and Cinderella for Halloween. Back then, there was less emphasis on realistic depictions of fictional characters. And I had a few major strikes against me. First, these two characters were both blondes; I had brown hair. And then, there was the plastic-y kind of “costume,” resembling more of a picnic tablecloth than fairy or princess attire.

And the topper? Well, that, of course, would have to be the cheap plastic mask, fastened to a child’s head through a painful elastic band. Somehow, that notorious head band was always hanging uncomfortably around the ear area and snapped with slingshot ferocity each time one tried to adjust the mask, in vain attempts to make the costume more comfortable and wearable. I have many memories of misplaced eye holes askew as I tried not to bump into the other kids and the neighbors’ front doors.

There were mixed results.

If any of you have had similar childhood Halloween memories, you know that those cheap plastic masks were not fooling anyone. No kid ever looked like Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Batman or the Incredible Hulk; no one was fooled into believing the child was a particular character. It was obvious. It was a mask.

Years later, dealing with my personal recovery from eating disorders, the mask issue takes on greater significance. We’ve all heard about masks; we wear different ones to function in society and our individual life roles. In fact, for a lot of us dealing with addiction and recovery, the masks contributed to our poor choices and our addictions. And, as is the case so often with addiction, we, the mask wearers, were the last to know and see it. As we struggle to navigate our lives, trying not to bump into calamities of our own making, everyone looks at us, unconvinced of the image we try to project. We may believe we’re presenting a together person, but other people only see our eyes poking out of askew eye holes.

Like John Lennon once sang, “one thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside.”

The dictionary definition of mask is as follows:

“face covering to hide identity: a covering for the face, worn by somebody to conceal his or her identity.”

But how many of us get that confused with our real selves? And, in doing exactly that, how many of us hit snags and relapses in our recoveries, that is, if we even start one in the first place?

This time of year is a reminder of masks; Halloween is all about pretending to be someone or something else. But there’s a difference between pretending and lying. When it comes to our recovery, pretending, to the point of lying, never promotes health and healing. We may see or believe that the image, the lie or the relapse appears in a certain light, even a flattering light. We look out of askew eyeholes, never quite seeing things accurately. However, sooner or later, we will stumble over that mask. Scripture states it best…

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known...”

1 Corinthians 13:12-13

Truth pops up. Even in our most sober and on track states, we’re still not getting the whole picture. So, then, what would ever make us think we could see things clearly when we’re in the midst of a chaotic relapse?

Answer? Pride. Ah, yes, one of the subtlest threats to any recovery- our own pride. Pride convinces us we don’t need to stay on our programs, connect with our sponsors, attend meetings or be honest. No. Pride reassures us we’re in great shape, we’re doing okay on our own. Pride tells us to be lone rangers; pride shames us by condemning the need to get and maintain help in our lives. Pride keeps telling us, “You have it under control. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

But pride always overpromises and under-delivers. Again, the famous scripture about pride itself goes as follows…

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:18

And then there are these two little ditties…

 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace...”

Proverbs 11:2

“Before his downfall a man's heart is proud...”

Proverbs 18:12

Yeah, it might do us some good to pay attention to those warnings.

I know, back when I was in a manic bulimic phase of my eating disorder behavior during college, I believed no one else could see what was going on with me. My increasingly puffy face and my one hundred pound weight gain were, certainly not obvious. Oh, no. Pride kept telling me I was doing okay. After all, I was still regularly keeping up with my classes and making the dean’s list. So, no problem, right? Meanwhile, my desperate behaviors caused me to not only binge and purge, but also steal my roommates’ food and dumpster dive for garbage when my compulsion for food ran rampant. How do you convince others you really have it so together when you’re caught scrounging the garbage for food? It’s not such a believable mask then, is it?

Pride came. Pride brought disgrace. Pride made sure that a downfall was poised, waiting to happen at a moment’s notice.

But all is not totally hopeless. For as much as we may have wrongly relied on our addictions, disorders and deluded, masked states of pride, we can also make another choice. The Book of Proverbs is often regarded as a book of wisdom in the Bible. And, one of the things I love about it is that it isn’t just a list of “don’t do this” instructions, it also contains a healthy, positive “do” option. For instance…

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

Proverbs 11:2

Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”

Proverbs 18:12

Humility is mentioned more than once. Hmmm. There seems to be a theme here.

Twelve Steps Programs are built on that exact theme.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

There’s no mention that pride, image or masks of any kind whatsoever will improve our lives. Honesty, humility and reliance on God though? Well, that is mentioned everywhere!

So, where are we with that reality? Again, the Halloween holiday focuses on masks, and pretending to be someone or something we are not. How do we live that concept, beyond Halloween? How do masks infiltrate our lives and our recovery from addictions and disorders? Are we wearing the mask or is it wearing us?

Replace the mask with the truth. After all, the famous scripture goes…

“…the truth will set you free."

John 8:32

Let’s wear the truth, instead of the mask in our recovery and in our lives!

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse