Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Never Interrupt...


A Certain Darkness


Take Note of Spaces...


Over and Over Again...


FOMO


 

“Once is never enough, never is and never was, uh-huh,

Here and now is all that counts, here and now in large amounts, uh-huh”

Adam Ant, “Room at the Top”

In our culture today, there is a go-for-the gusto acronym, “FOMO,” “Fear of Missing Out.” I see it influencing our behavior. It declares we need to pounce on living life, taking advantage of every opportunity, going for our dreams.

But I also see its addiction message too, mainly reflected in the bender/binge concept with which some struggle. Each of us must deal with our individual vulnerabilities concerning substances, food, chaotic behaviors and relationships- and any other tempting vice under the sun.

Two events which spring to the top of my mind are Fat Tuesday and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

‘Do not join those who drink too much wine
    or gorge themselves on meat,
 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

Proverbs 23:20-21

Fat Tuesday, a New Orleans spectacle, is all about that final blowout of everything hedonistic during Mardi Gras, before entering into the sacrifice of the Lent season. I’m sure, for example, you’ve heard about displays of wild partying in the street of New Orleans, along with the women who are encouraged to flash their breasts for the colorful Mardi Gras beads. And, of course, there is excessive drinking.

Fat Tuesday, however, expands to include indulging in any form of debauchery because, after all, each of us promises to “give up something we love” for Lent. After this bender, we’ll commit to being holy.

And Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest is not much better concerning the binge/bender reality.

On Independence Day, in America, besides parades, barbecues and flag waving, there is the Nathan's Famous International Hot Dog Eating Contest held in Coney Island.

Each year, competitive eaters (which IS classified as an actual sport) battle each other for the coveted distinction of biggest eater of hot dogs. These individuals are viewed as athletes and train in gluttony. The competitors, as an effective tactic, soak the franks and buns in water before eating them, enabling a faster consumption rate.

Last year’s 2016 prize went to that of nine- time winner, Joey Chestnut; he consumed 70 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

1 Corinthians 8:9

Both Fat Tuesday and Nathan’s contest have their own FOMO quality to them. There is the promised reward of prizes and pleasure. That can be the winning first place, acquiring the most beads, gaining attention, stuffing appetites, obliterating oneself through inebriation; it is the release of no longer being pent up in any way. That is soothing and alluring. Who doesn’t want to feel free, limitless, relieved of burdens? Who doesn’t enjoy “indulging?”

Perhaps you and I have never even come close to Fat Tuesday or Nathan’s contest. It still doesn’t change the excessive disorder principle in effect for many of us, nonetheless.

We can get addicted to anything and anyone. We can view anything through this FOMO lens.

What is our bender? What is our binge? What is that FOMO promise luring us with “you will be complete, happy, peaceful and safe?”

Is it the unrestrained Friday or Saturday night of drinking, snorting, shooting and partying, getting “blotto?”

Is it the rewarding “treating yourself” spending spree, maxing our credit cards, descending into crippling debt, all for the thrill of that impulse buy?

Is it risking financial stability to bet on the cards or the horses “just one more time,” ever- hoping this will be the big win which creates a life of luxury?

Is it the secluded, doors locked, carbohydrate binge of sugar, junk food or anything else labelled as our “comfort foods,” with intention to purge it all after the feasting session is done?

Is it the reckless affair arranged in a designated rendezvous spot, involving a forbidden lover who makes us feel like we “can finally be ourselves?”

There’s no cure for a disease here. “Fear of Missing Out” can, all too quickly, turn into devastating circumstances. Celebrating excess is not the answer.

This is not about shame; struggle is human.

For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalms 103:14

Our human vulnerability to anything deemed our addictive Achilles’ heel does not lessen who we are as valuable individuals.

Rather, the caution concerning the seductive FOMO principle is a much-needed warning to stay mindful. To place it within the advisory context of Satan, himself...

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”


This sober attitude concerning FOMO is, in essence, there to protect us, to make sure we’re safe and healthy.

“Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.”

Romans 14:13

Sometimes, it is not others for whom we lay these stumbling blocks. Sometimes, we only set them out for ourselves. Self-destruction, after all, is a very real tenet of addiction and unhealthy choices.

And certainly, this self-destruction of our lives is not the desire, will or plan of The Most High...

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

Jeremiah 29:11

Therefore, honoring ourselves: spirit, mind, soul AND BODY is more like it.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of Elohim.’’

1 Corinthians 10:31

Let’s be honest: FOMO doesn’t necessarily guarantee any glorification to Elohim; it doesn’t guarantee a self-respecting attitude toward ourselves either.

The challenge- and it IS a challenge- of 1 Corinthians 10:31 is this: our healthy thoughts and actions in...

...What we eat...

...What we drink...

...Whatever we do...

“Whatever” covers thought, word, deed, choice, value system, delayed gratification- everything!

And we are all presented with a choice: to say yes or no when it comes to changing our thinking.

We can choose FOMO...or we can choose Divine Ways...

“... I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

Deuteronomy 30:19

Could it be, that when we choose The Most High’s life option, over FOMO, we tap into far more than we could have dreamed for ourselves?

“But as it is written, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’”

1 Corinthians 2:9

There doesn’t appear to be any “missing out” in that Divine Truth.

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

The Teacher is Silent


 

Recovery-from much of anything- is often not done in the steady hum of encouragement. It’s frequently done in intimidating quiet. Even with support groups, sponsors, treatment centers, churches and any number of “support structures,” we are still left with our true selves. And, no matter what affirmations we have heard and learned, we alone are left to apply them. There is no uplifting outside cheerleader. There is just our decision.

I know this comes across as negative, especially concerning “the Higher Power” factor.

As a person of faith, I’m not dismissing the role The Most High plays. Rather, I see how the Divine shows up in disguised forms, one of those being the unanswered quiet.

Years ago, I heard a statement which rocked my own recovery:

“When the student is taking the test, the teacher is silent.”

This went in tandem with my therapist’s advice; my recovery progress would not go unchallenged. I had to be prepared for any person’s “change back” attitudes.

“When a person does not accept your ‘no,’ they’re trying to control you.”

(Advice given from a self-defense expert, instructing females on their attackers’ viewpoints)

My “No” response has often not been accepted. Indeed, as I have worked to form and keep healthy boundaries, I have had to directly shut down my people pleaser nature and hold firm in the face of that negativity.

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Matthew 5:37

Not surprisingly, “the people” on the other end of my response are usually not pleased. Therefore, they have tried to cajole, insult, threaten or force me to change my response to their preferred “yes.”

And, when I do not do this, this situation becomes even more awkward. It is a “silent teacher/student-taking-test” dynamic going on. That uncomfortable silence can often prompt a temptation for me to give in, but I need to remind myself if I do this, it violates me and sends the message to the other person: “I can be manipulated.”

And I do not wish to return to the harmful place from which I came.

For, in the past, certain family members of mine have attempted to shame me when I did not do things their way. They asserted I was brainwashed, forgetting where I came from.

But, many of these same individuals are currently locked in some abusive or addictive state. I am not saying this to condemn, rather, to illustrate how difficult it is to create health from a diseased state of being. These individuals have known about the dysfunction which is the family reality. And they choose how they respond concerning those facts.

Some have chosen to continue the harmful behaviors. They believe their loyalty to the unhealthy pattern must be prized and protected, even to the detriment of another person’s- or their own- well-being. To do anything beyond that, then, is ruled to be unrealistic, arrogant, and yes, disloyal.
Therefore, because of that unhealthy existing family dynamic, my more unfamiliar, uncomfortable approach to it needs to happen all the more. I cannot control others’ lifestyle choices. However, I do have some control of mine.

And that is also part of the student’s silent test: learning what one is- and is not- responsible for.

Part of my family’s toxic belief system also asserts there are some individuals who are not to be held accountable for their destructive behaviors, while, at the same time, there are other designated family members who are to be overly responsible caregivers and rescuers, making the unhealthy situation “okay” somehow.

Concerning my family member’s responses to my “no/boundary-focused” stance, they often do not expect that. They are convinced I will cave to their whims. And, I’ve heard it said you can tell a lot about who a person is when they get that “no” for an answer.

Personal experience-wise, what I have surmised is that family reaction is often straight-up anger.

“Do not befriend a hot-tempered man, and do not associate with one who harbors anger. Lest you learn his ways, and ensnare your soul.”

Proverbs 22:24-25

That’s not a surprise to me. After all, there are honestly very few people in this world who enjoy being told “no” when they’d rather experience a “yes.” That’s human.

We want what we want when we want it.

But, the problem comes in when an agenda to use coercion, shame or brutal force surfaces as the “logical and reasonable” response. It negates the validity of the person who just answered no. It reiterates that person has no such right TO that word.

But, again...

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Matthew 5:37

Unfortunately, my experience with certain individuals has shown me there is no room for their understanding of anyone’s fundamental right to say “no” on any topic whatsoever. There is an impasse and little can be done concerning it.

More importantly, it’s not my responsibility to FIX this. Personal accountability applies to all.

Proverbs 19:19, therefore, has frequently sprung to my mind as it relates to my own navigation within these less-than-ideal family constraints.

“A person with great anger bears the penalty; if you rescue him, you'll have to do it again.”

When it comes to giving in to the person expecting/demanding my yes which could be harmful to me in any way, “...you'll have to do it again.”

And, guess what? Concerning my recovery process, I do not want to do that.

Dealing with someone else’s disappointed anger is yet another “silent teacher/test-taking student” moment. I have no cheerleaders with megaphones, giving me an “Atta girl!”

I need to do that by myself in that quiet, awkward space of the truthful moment. It is not easy; it is not fun. But it is recovery work, nonetheless.

Do I wish things were different? Sure.

But, regardless of how things are now, I still must navigate. Each person is given free will to decide what he/she chooses. And some choose disease.

So, once I know that, their choice must not sway mine. And that is why I find my encouragement here:

 “And he took courage and rebuilt all the wall that had been broken down and erected towers on it, and built another outside wall and strengthened... and made weapons and shields in great number.”

2 Chronicles 32:5

To me, the recovery work principle is, indeed, found within this least likely scripture.

But we are all in process, on a recovery continuum, taking tests and learning how to simply be. We need tools, mechanisms, safe havens and power-fused words, like that of “no.”l We need to know our recovery is too important- WE are too important- to sacrifice health for disease in whatever dangerous, quiet moments are presented to us.

Be encouraged, dear student, as you take your next test.

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

It Will


Merely Beautiful?


The Void


The Only People on this Entire Planet...


For the Same Reason


A Cutting Away?


 

More often now, I’m confronted with individuals who not only suffer from eating disorders, but also self-injury. I’ve met many “cutters” over the years.

I recently came across this image:

It caught my attention because, whether the method is an eating disorder or a self-injury behavior, the goal is the same: to cut away the pain.

And with that desire to eradicate pain also lies a deep sense of self-loathing.

It gets to a heart issue and what each of us fundamentally believes about ourselves and our value in life.

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

 “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34

Yet, John 14:1 gives us some hope concerning our heart issues.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”

John 14:1

Furthermore, The Most High sees us differently than we see ourselves...

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

And these are just a sampling of those thoughts...

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.”

Song of Solomon 1:15

O my dove…let me see your form…for your form is lovely.”

Song of Solomon 2:14

“Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.”

Song of Solomon 4:7

If we would indeed, cut away the lies we’ve learned and convinced ourselves of over the years, these truths would remain and work to heal us.

Let’s endeavor, therefore, to focus on that. After all, The Almighty does not wish us harm...

“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

Therefore, why should we?

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

 

 

 

 

 

The Trigger of Grief


 

In the work of recovery, we address the danger of triggers. Its very word itself suggests the power to cause us harm:

“Something that precipitates a particular event or situation; To set off; initiate; To fire or explode”

 

On one August morning of 2003, I encounter such a trigger. The phone rang. My dad was dead.

My grief, for the next year and a half, was an alarming, unexpected reality. And each subsequent “anniversary” proves equally tricky also. Both defy what I thought I would- or should- be experiencing.

After all, coming from an abusive childhood, I didn’t think the loss of this pain-inflicting parent would register as significantly as it did.

But it did. And, because it did, I had to deal with a recovery factor I didn’t see coming: grief.

How many of us who deal with addiction/recovery link our challenges to the grief issue?

It can be the thing which drives the addiction; it can also threaten and compromise our current vulnerable recovery. It is, therefore, wise to not underestimate the triggering potential in that grief and in each reminding anniversary of the hurtful circumstance.

When I was eight years old, I attended a Girl Scouts summer camp. In this setting, there were numerous activities, all designed to develop and sharpen skills. And so, we were assigned different tasks. Part of mine included food preparation. That meant using a can opener. Simple enough, right?

The embarrassing truth was it was not simple. Growing up, I had only used an electric can opener. But “roughing it” meant there was only the handheld, non-electric option available. A troop leader asked me to open a can of beans; I asked her for help. I remember she had this “What’s wrong with you?” kind of expression on her face. She then grabbed the can opener and opened it herself, letting out a frustrated sigh.

What did this memory have to do with my grief? I was confronted with a simple fact:  I often still took a more passive approach: to my issues, to my recovery, to truth itself. My dad’s death changed that.

My grief experience exploded. Stuff I’d addressed in therapy, stuff I’d written about resurfaced. The unaddressed reality of how I’d feel when my abusive dad died touched other pain, other grief of people, relationships, opportunities and even my childhood pets. Everything was raw and exposed.

Nothing could prepare me for that. That was a discovery I had to face for myself.

My issues had always been there. But now, I had to face them. I needed to operate my own can opener.

 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

Ah- issues! Whether it was loss, painful memories, forgiveness or fears, things had accumulated. There’s a familiar saying, “opening up a can of worms.” And that’s what was happening.

After my dad’s death, I had to re-enter therapy (grief therapy now), and further confront my cumulative junk. I had to be honest with how much I had been struggling. I had to confront the reality I would struggle in the future, especially as each reminder/anniversary rolled around. I had to accept I was even more fragile than I believed I was. I needed to stare down something else unsettling: my faith was shaken, complicated by even more insecurity about my ability to believe “enough” in The Most High.

“‘...I believe; help thou mine unbelief.’”

Mark 9:24

I felt like I failed to correctly answer the faith question from the preceding verse:

“... ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’”

                                                                Mark 9:23          

Now, in my grief, I needed to challenge my doubts, again, in a different way, in an updated way.

What did I believe- about anything- NOW?

 “He saith unto them, ‘But whom say ye that I am?’”

Matthew 16:15

 I needed to decide to believe the Savior for myself. It needed to be a daily- and constant choice, whether or not I felt the experience, the joy, the faith, the peace or the feelings.

I had to be honest about everything I was feeling: the doubts, the fear, the rage, the hurt, the exhaustion, the avoidance, the blame I held against myself, my dad and my Creator.

What I’ve realized, years later, is both my faith and my grief will be challenging for me, even under the best of circumstances. This is something that applies to most of us. Human beings like visible, concrete things. We especially want that security when we are at our most vulnerable and scared. Divine ways, however, are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Despite it feeling every bit personal, going through anything challenging, grief included, is not a sinister personal attack against any of us; it is just life.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

 All go through pain and loss; no one is exempt (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

Life is filled with cycles, with repetition of pain, death and loss. Pain-filled reminders litter our days. Unhappy anniversaries exist. With each repetition, issues and hurts can present themselves in new ways. But Elohim is constant, no matter what.

“... I change not…”

Malachi 3:6

I don’t fully understand the significance to the repetition. There’s still a lot of things unresolved.

But The Most High loves, forgives, helps, understands and comforts us, regardless of our failings, relapses and doubts.

What is your grief/painful anniversary moment which impacts your addiction and recovery? There’s no shame in being affected. It’s not a spiritual or moral blight on who we are. It is proof we are human, flawed and fragile.

There is help and hope for us all. Knowing about these unsuspecting triggers to our recovery experience can possibly minimize the blindsiding effect of traumatic pain.

Tips to Help You With Your Grief:


1. Consider the year after your loss as a "season of grief," a time to cycle through important dates and memories and to progress through the stages of grief.



2. Get help from a grief recovery support group, pastor, or psychotherapist.



3. Take the initiative to talk about your grief over and over again with people you trust. (Don't feel sorry for yourself or isolate if people seem to be avoiding you, this is simply due to their embarrassment of not knowing what to say.)



4. When your grief is "triggered" by your associations with your loved one (e.g., special dates, places, experiences, songs, smells) go with it (as long as you're in a safe place) by feeling your feelings and reminiscing over your memories.



5. Facilitate your grief recovery by doing things like revisiting the grave site or the place where the deceased's ashes were disbursed, listening to a tape of the memorial service, reminiscing over past memories and associations, and reviewing old pictures and memorabilia.


6. Write and share with a support person a letter or series of letters to your loved one and/or to God to help you sort through your feelings.


7. Pray and read the Psalms in the Bible for comfort (e.g., the Psalms of Lament, Psalm 3, 7, 13, 25, 44, 74, 79, 80).


William J. Gaultiere, Ph. D

Executive Director, New Hope Counseling Ministry

Used with permission.


Knowledge is power; application of knowledge is power. Apply this power as you face you own pain, loss and grief issues today.

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse

 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Light: 2 Choices...


Later


              

I have a friend who insists on never saying “goodbye.” Instead, she utters, “Later” at the end of our conversations.

This word started me thinking. And the first thing which popped up was another word, procrastination. Its definition being...

“... the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished. It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time. Sometimes, procrastination takes place until the "last minute" before a deadline.”

Let’s get real; procrastination is never far removed from addiction. By its very nature, our addictive tendencies whisper such constant lies as “I’ll quit tomorrow,” “I’ll stop when I’m ready,” and “I’ll make things right LATER.”

“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”

Proverbs 3:27

You’ve said it; I’ve said it. Perhaps, we delude ourselves with Little Orphan Annie’s musical perspective, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” There is such promise and hope then and there.

But what about now? What about today?

“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

Those of us who struggle with addiction, compulsion and disorder often have an unrealistic perfectionism which thrives on procrastination. When things are “just right,” when this or that circumstance changes, THEN we’ll get sober.

The hidden message in those theories is this: “But for now, I’m going for my addiction. I’m going to binge, get drunk, overdo it and live it up like there’s no tomorrow.”

And so, not surprisingly, nothing changes. There’s no sobriety, no different or healthier choice. There is only more of the same.

Still, this doesn’t absolve us from reality:

 “For he saith, ‘...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’”

2 Corinthians 6:2

Scripture covers not just our eternal soul destination, but also a blueprint for how to live in the here and now. The Most High is not a Deity Who operates in procrastination (1 Corinthians 14:33).

And we are made in His Image (Genesis 1:27).

Therefore, we are not let off the hook concerning our innate spirituality.

“... ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods.’”

Joshua 24:16

To attempt to wriggle free of responsibility is to come from a place of excuse, negligence and even agreement with the Adversary to us all.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”
Isaiah 14:12 -

Sound too extreme and far-fetched?

Well, if we are refusing to deal with our faith, our health and our issues, aren’t we, in essence, asserting how we know BETTER than The Almighty?

“But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.’”

Isaiah 14:13-14

Wherever we are on this spiritual spectrum, we cannot avoid or forfeit choice.

“... choose you this day whom ye will serve...”

Joshua 24:15

We possess free will. However, what we do not possess is the opting out of the free will choice’s consequences.

“‘Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.’”

Isaiah 14:15

Now, at first glance, Isaiah 14 may appear to be too strong of a consequence. Surely, we wouldn’t be punished the same as the devil, right?

Well, if we’re lining up in agreement with Satan, who is to say we wouldn’t be responsible for a harmful downfall?

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
John 8:44


Is not addiction, with its procrastination, a murderer?

Is not addiction, with its procrastination, rife with deceit?

Is not addiction, with its procrastination, choosing its way instead of Elohim’s as “the final say?”

Again, no one escapes choice. No one is excused from facing procrastination.

But it’s not hopeless. For we underestimate the power of today. We underestimate the power of NOW.

The Most High will work with whatever we commit TO Him:

“Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

Psalms 37:5

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Don’t you think that would also include the procrastination issue, even in the middle of our addictions?

There is power is STARTING.

What baby step can be taken right now? What decision? What can be accomplished NOW?

“‘...now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.’”

2 Corinthians 6:2

Speaking of the word, “Now,” one more thing.

Years ago, The Most High spoke to me, telling me to observe the word... BACKWARDS. When I saw what “NOW” spelled, it lit faith and assurance regarding my momentary reality.

“NOW” spelled backwards is “WON.”

“O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.”

Psalms 98:1

What is on the other side of our addictions, our beliefs and our responses concerning them?

What is on the other side of our procrastination?

Will we experience those blessings now... or later?

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse