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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, March 02, 2007

The Twelve Steps and Lent: Step 4

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

None of these steps, dear friends, is for sissies. None of these steps is effortless or easy or perhaps even reasonable.

Then again, reasoning and rationalizing is what got you into this mess, Ollie.

Making an effort to entrust your will, your life to an oft-times invisible (to our eyes) Ultimate Source is a stretch for you if you have been repeatedly betrayed, abandoned, manipulated, physically or emotionally battered is, to say the very least, outside of your comfort zone.

Now you embark on a journey of inner discovery and challenge - well, that's the positive way to approach this step. The negative way to this level - the direction from which most of us come to this 4th place - is couching in terms of dread and shame and exhaustion and feeling paralyzed by the enormity of the black hole we have semi successfully avoided for oh so long.

'What do you mean by "searching"?' It means (to me) several things: comprehensive, inquisitive, recalling with detail, deliberate. You could just skim over things.... you could avoid thinking about the provocation to an act or an unkind word or your past resentment toward someone. Skimming, just scraping off the surface, will do you no justice in this exercise. Your goal is to get to the bottom of all of this jumbled jungle of emotion, scar tissue, defense mechanisms, actions, inappropriate reactions, manipulation, deception (particularly self deception), sensitivity and weakness. It is taking the time to peer within.

'What do you mean by "fearless". It means (to me) looking without the burden of judgement. You can venture into that jumbled jungle if you are not paralyzed by the fear of doing so. You can continue, even when you have moments of regret and guilt (which are tools you can later use to your advantage when the inner slate is clean). Don't fear the difficult. Don't fear finding the truth that has been buried beneath layers and years of compensation.

Were you aware that the phrase "Fear not" appears in the Bible 366 times? We are ALL afraid. You are no exception. I am no exception.

Perhaps writing your findings down in a notebook or journal will help you in your searching,fearless inventory. It may be cathartic to pull these thorns, these weeds that have had a stranglehold on you out and reduce them to scribble on a page. Outside of you they will wilt, lose their grip.

I want you to 'hear' something that may astonish you. Everyone who has been through the 12 step process is pulling for you, encouraging you, supporting you. Although the reason that lead them to the 12 steps may be very different than yours, they have walked and will continue to take the 12 steps and know that it takes courage and help from a Higher Power to make the journey and stay on the path. They know because they have been there or are there. You are not alone!

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Twelve Steps and Lent: Step 3

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Turning our will and our lives over = Giving up control (or the illusion of control).

When we were young, we had no choice. Other people had control over us. The big people. We were not volunteers. We were enlisted. Other people made the rules and the rules (contrary to current thought) were to be adhered to. Then came your teens and one form or another of hell broke loose and you wanted to rebel (even if only the teensiest bit) against doing what someone else prescribed. From adolescence through early adulthood, the exploration of creating our own rules, own parameters, growing into our independence. We are the center of our universe- we make the rules, we break the rules, we make new rules. As we age, some of us deepen our conviction that our way is the correct way..... even if it is destructive....and we mistake "our way" with the best way.

Making the decision to turn your will and your life over to God is the kind of step the Outward Bound people take. All those exercises in trust: being led blindfolded through a dangerous wooded area or encouraged to go rock climbing when you have a fear of heights. Even standing on the edge of a high platform with your arms criss crossed over your chest and then leaning back for a free-fall into the waiting arms of a dozen people below.

Turning our lives and our will over to our Higher Power helps us embrace a Christian truth - we are not alone and we are and will always be (to one level or another) dependent on others. Perhaps, just perhaps, if that sinks into the core of our being we will become a kinder, more gentle people. The envelope of our lives is sealed in the envelope of greater life - the living Love of God. Deciding to trust in that, my dear friends, and the consequence of greater life and love may well be worth the risk and give us a renewed sense of hope and trust in others.

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