Even a loss we regret can clear the way for growth
Life is full of change. Often it’s uncomfortable and unnerving, but change is an unavoidable fact of life.
Sometimes change is for the good and very welcome, especially when we have worked hard for something we really wanted, maybe a new job, a new house or one day free from addiction.
A forest is always changing, too. Obviously all its plants are growing and, just like a person, it becomes bigger and more mature. It’s development may be imperceptible day-by-day but from hour to hour it can seem very different if the sun shines through the trees or the wind blows or the rain or the snow falls on it. And as we see the weather passing swiftly and bringing a different feel to the woods, we should be reminded that the environment of our lives usually brings joy after sadness and sometimes difficulties for which we should prepare when times are good.
When a mighty tree falls, change is dramatic and disturbing. Just as in life, what’s gone can be something old and rotten and unwanted; it’s a relief to see it go. Sometimes a storm or disease will strike a healthy, valued tree and its ending is a time of sadness.
Either way, the new space and light provide an opportunity for new growth.
In life we need to take care that new opportunities bring the right sort of healthy fresh beginnings. We don’t want a tangle of bramble and weeds filling the space left by whatever has gone.
The storms in your life can do a lot of damage. They can uproot your shelter, your support and the sources of your joy. But even these losses make space for new growth. You can, with help and encouragement, take control and turn disaster and loss into opportunity.
Most people would accept that it is a good, inspirational and not unrealistic thought that you can achieve more than you think possible and it’s always worth trying.
What we often forget is that it works at every point along the scale.
It relatively easy for the high achiever to imagine greater achievements. It will take effort and determination, and vision too, but the conqueror can see that more conquests can be made.
But what about at the other end?
Well the same is true, in different terms, for a person who feels he is starting from the bottom. In fact, the smallest gain may mean proportionally far more. A man who has just ten pounds and earns another ten will likely be more appreciative and grateful than the man who has made his second million.
And those who struggle the most should be proudest of the progress they make, however small. When there seems no point in doing anything at all, just getting out of bed is an achievement.
For a anyone revoering from addiction to drugs, alcohol or any other substance or process, each clean day is a success and the first clean hour is a triumph.
Success is always possible but not always certain. Even being able to accept setbacks and becoming able to try again is progress.
You should always hope to do more than you Thought possible – often you will – but you should always rejoice in the smallest advance.
If you need to be understood you need to understand
Jesus of Nazareth is said to have taught his followers that, if they hoped for forgiveness from God, their heavenly Father, they should be ready to forgive other people.
He also warned them that being judgemental of the way other people behave not only invites others to judge you too but also that those who are critical of others should consider whether they have more obvious faults of their own. Quite often, those who point the finger are merely try to divert attention from their own failings.
These warnings are reflected in the words of other teachers too and are accepted, in one form or another, by people of many faiths and none. They should resonate for addicts as much as for anyone else.
Whenever we are accused of a wrong, by someone else or by ourselves, we are quick to list the mitigating factors. Surely anyone who faced what we faced can be forgiven for behaving as we did. We never intended to hurt anyone. It seemed a good idea at the time. How could anyone have foreseen the consequences? The motivation wasn’t evil.
Now all of that may be true. How far it excuses our behaviour is another question.
What is more certain is that these Thoughts should tell us that we should always be ready to offer the benefit of any doubt to anyone else who has made a mistake.
If you expect to be understood and forgiven by other people then you have to be ready, no, eager to understand and forgive them. And if you believe in and seek forgiveness from God then your duty to excuse and exonerate others is even stronger.
Wrong is always wrong; this isn’t about denying evil or culpability. It’s about understanding that the weakness in other people is not so different from the weakness in yourself and being ready to see the possibilities for renewal and redemption in everyone.
Finding strength and stillness in the centre of your being
It’s hard to imagine that in the whirlpool of your own life there is a spring of strength at the centre. The busy-ness and pressures of everyday existence swirl around us like an ugly mist. It’s natural to try to penetrate the turmoil and try to get out and away and find place of calm somewhere else.
But remember the hurricane. The only stillness is in the eye of the storm. If you try to get out and ahead of it, it will soon catch up with you again. Try to stay still while it rushes on and you will be surrounded by the devastation the tempest has left behind.
The path of peace may be best followed by finding stillness at the centre of your life and remaining there, tracking with it as it moves along.
It is challenging to find that still place at the centre of self because it is surrounded by the worst of the storm. The journey inwards may be difficult, even painful. And once there you cannot stay still – you must anticipate where the winds around your life are taking you and plan and strive to remain at the centre.
For those addicted to drugs or alcohol or something else, the challenge is especially hard.
But just as a hurricane eventually blows itself out, so the turmoil of a chaotic life will settle down, especially if you remain at the heart of it, facing and dealing with the difficulties and working hard to expand the circle of calm at the core.
The Thought “Don’t reach out for peace and contentment. Reach in.” is meant to make us focus. Of course, in reality, there are sources of peace and contentment around and outside to which we can and should reach out. Seizing every opportunity to build strengthening relationships with your friends and your families. Also, think about what the word “recreation” really means!
But the truth remains that it is only when you turn to your innermost self to discover and develop the strengths that are there that you can truly change who you are and enjoy being a better person.