Have you ever read from a past journal?
While I have many journals filled with words, I don’t tend to go back and look at them. There was an exercise in my Regen bookwork which kind of forced me to do this though. At the end of Step One, they asked us to write a letter to ourselves.
A part of last weeks bookwork (we’re on Step 12 now) was to go back and look at that letter. The contents surprised me. I expected to find changes and yet I didn’t think the changes would be so dramatic.
To clarify, the letter was about my life at the beginning of Regen. It described the circumstances and reasons which led me to starting the Regeneration process. The first couple of those reasons had to do with what controlled my life.
The letter says emotions and circumstances ruled my life. Looking back, this makes sense. I remember a few times where a single turn of events would cause chaos in my heart and life.
Many times in my life I assumed the emotional response was the best response to the situation. The problem is emotional responses don’t tend to lead to good things. Emotions put me on a very confusing path; which exhausted all of my energy and robbed me of peace.
I didn’t have confidence in where I was going and I wasn’t sure if I would ever find rest.
What was not in the letter, but something I remember, was the escape fantasies. Whenever I was exhausted and without peace, I would fantasize about escaping to a beach somewhere. I don’t mean taking a nice beach vacation either.
I am talking about throwing up the peace sign and heading to an extended period of the beach bum lifestyle.
From my current perspective, this seems like somewhat of an overreaction. The next part of my letter helps me get a little more clarity on the motivation of these escape fantasies though. It says I dealt with a deep pain in my heart most days.
This hit me hard. I forgot all about this pain in my heart. It makes sense though because I never took my emotions, especially my past hurts, to God.
Much of the pain and heartache I’d experienced had stayed bottled up inside of me. Even though I’d shared with people about the painful events in my life, I hadn’t fully processed the accompanying emotions. While I’d talked about those events with God and others, I glossed over how much they hurt me.
There is a big difference between talking about hard times and opening up about the depth of the pain in our hearts.
I never brought the depth of my pain to light so it sat at the bottom of my heart and continued affecting me. Thanks to God, and his awesome ability to heal, this pain is now gone. God’s work with my pain is not as important as his work with my pride though.
A big part of me didn’t think I needed Regen when I started the process. This might sound a little ridiculous after reading the previous paragraphs in this post. It’s still true though.
I remember more than a few times where I thought to myself ‘I don’t need this. Is there a way to skip some steps?’. I wish I was kidding. It’s a little painful just to see those words on the screen.
Regardless of the pain, it’s important to be open about those thoughts in this post though. It’s important because the biggest change didn’t come from emotions and circumstances no longer ruling my life. The lack of the deep pain in my heart wasn’t the biggest change either. The biggest change came from admitting my need for help in dealing with those problems.
I no longer think I’ve got what it takes to handle my problems.
This was super tough for me to admit. I mean like drinking a gallon of cough syrup difficult. Both activities would cause me to make the same face.
If I hadn’t admitted my powerless though, I would have never made progress in dealing with my problems. I would’ve never experienced the healing of those old wounds. I would’ve never known the peace God has now given me.
Do you remember the beginning of this post where I said that the letter surprised me. This surprise would not be possible if I still experienced that deep pain. God has done such an incredible work in me that I forgot about the deep pain which used to haunt me almost everyday.
This couldn’t have happened if I didn’t admit I was powerless. That’s the theme of Step One by the way; it’s called ‘Admit’. This January, I wanted to fast forward through Step One and get to the ‘important steps’.
I didn’t realize all of the other steps wouldn’t make an impact if I didn’t admit I was powerless. There were so many times in the future steps where I didn’t feel like doing an exercise or diving all the way into the bookwork. I did those exercises though and I dove into bookwork and not because I thought it was a good idea.
I did it because I’d tried relying on myself and it hadn’t worked. I knew I had to rely on God instead of myself. It wasn’t just doing the bookwork or any of the exercises that made those changes happen either.
It was God working through the Steps which led me to where I am. If I hadn’t gone into those steps knowing that I needed God to work through them, I would have missed out on the new life I have now. Without relying on God instead of myself, that letter would still be describing me and my life.
Do emotions and circumstances play a big part in your attitude and decisions? Do you ever feel like running away and escaping to a deserted island somewhere? Have you ever considered running to God in those moments instead?
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