Last month, I addressed the first of the Twelve Steps: Admitting powerlessness and the recognition that life is out of control when practicing addiction and habits, rehearsing and replaying hurts, and staying stuck in hang-ups. For me this meant I had to recognize my powerlessness over the loved ones in my life and how they relate to one another, or if they decide to relate at all. I had to accept that the fibromyalgia and depression are physiological factors I am unable to ignore or wish away. I even had to open my eyes and understanding to realize there is still another layer to my personal brand of insanity which alternates with the depression as a mild form of mania, and it has effects I have refused to see or acknowledge, until recently.
This much powerlessness, and the admission of it, can feel overwhelming and hopeless. However, it is only the first step in a journey that leads to living a life energized with hope.
The Twelve Step program(s) do not prescribe or dictate who or what Higher Power those of us seeking hope and an end to our endless cycling of addiction, compulsive behaviors, and destructive relationships with ourselves and others are to seek and follow. Merely that we admit and recognize that there is a Power Greater than ourselves able to do what we have not, restore us to sanity.
For myself, that Higher Power does come from my cultural setting and my initial understanding, as a child, that Jesus loves me and God has the whole world in His hands. However, I also believe that God is bigger than the boxes of various religions and that He/She/It chooses when, how, and in what form to connect and relate to people.
That being said, I have struggled, a lot, over the years, with my faith and practice in believing or trusting God in my life. I am definitely one of those people who tends to lean on their own understanding, focusing on the storms of life, and immersing myself in the worries, fears, and frustrations of the circumstances in my life and conditions of daily living. For a long time I felt guilty for those things. I kept hearing messages that implied or outright stated that I was willfully choosing to thwart God’s will and presence in my life by giving into these aspects of my inner nature and personality. Now, I’m coming to understand that God understands and accepts these things in me and that He knows my struggles, doubts, and fears. He is carrying me through all of these things in my life.
He is an ever present source of strength, courage, and inspiration. Even when I can’t see, feel, or hear Him, He is here with me. My inability to perceive His presence does not mean He is absent. My inclination to forget His character of love and instead to believe the lies and doubts, which are based on my interactions with other people and my own unstable emotions and imperfect thoughts, doesn’t mean that He is unstable, imperfect, or untrustworthy.
“To receive my Peace, you must change your grasping, controlling stance to one of openness and trust. The only thing you can grasp without damaging your soul is My hand . . . You will never run out of things to worry about, but you can choose to trust Me no matter what.” ~ Jesus Calling, p. 38
I lived a life of hopelessness in the midst of being overwhelmed with the pain and fatigue of the depression and fibromyalgia. It was a hopeless existence to think I would be able to control and manipulate the people in my life into accepting and loving me or each other. Being stuck in the unresolved sorrow of the troubles and trials of my early life and how I kept cycling through the uncontrollable highs and lows of thought and emotion without being able to exert control over my own spikes and dips made it easier to despair than hope.
Yet, hope, is not a feeling. Hope, like Love, an action, a decision, and a characteristic of God, whose presence is inside of me as much as any of the other things which have been in control of my mind and my life.
The revelation I have had is this: pain, misery, despair, and all the negative, evil things that exist inside of my mind and in this world cannot and will not overcome hope. Hope keeps me believing that life is worth living, despite the pain and fatigue. Hope keeps me moving forward, even after I have traveled in circles and wound up back in the same places I’ve visited and lived before. Hope is more powerful than a wish, because Hope is an action, a choice, and a decision. Hope is part of the character of God and that means it is part of my character as well.
I now move from powerlessness into hope. I believe a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.