Why Didn’t I See This Sooner?

000_6910RetouchOccasionally I get discouraged that I’m just now realizing the plethora of conditions that led to my past troubles.

While I’m grateful God has given me these epiphanies, sometimes I find myself saying things like: “why am I forty two years old and just now figuring this out?” Or, “You’re kidding, my life is half over and now I’m learning who I am?”

‘More will be revealed’ is a popular motto in recovery groups. It refers to the life long process of self-discovery. Another analogy is when you don’t get the job or date you wanted and you realize later that God was protecting you from a harmful situation. Then again, maybe all the signs of impending disaster were there but in your haste you overlooked them.

Sometimes denial is willful ignorance, and other times it’s necessary because we are not strong enough to deal with the truth.

In the Recovery Devotional Bible Melody Beattie describes denial as “a protective device, a shock absorber for the soul. It prevents us from acknowledging reality until we feel prepared to cope with that particular reality.”

If you feel like you’re a ‘late bloomer’ in the garden of life take heart, Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has made everything beautiful in it’s time. That includes you.

Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing. But rather, thank God you finally see.

Jodie Stevens

Is Doing Something Always Better Than Doing Nothing?

000_6910RetouchHave you ever been overcome with anxiety because you had twenty things on your to do list? Did a sense of purpose edge out your feelings of powerlessness once you tackled a few of those tasks?

Have you ever felt depressed but noticed the raincloud dissipate after you did a few chores around the house?

No matter how you feel, doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. Unless you are physically ill or codependent, in which case inaction may at times be beneficial.

If you don’t take action you will remain idle.

The dictionary defines ‘idle’ as ‘lacking worth or basis.’ It’s easy to feel empty and ineffectual when you’ve been inactive too long. Idleness can cause fear, self-pity, and sadness.

While your body may be motionless, your mind is active imagining conspiracy theories and ‘worst case scenarios’ that can debilitate you even more.

Psalm 23:4 says: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

Notice it does not say: “Even though I sit in the valley,” It says: “walk through the valley.”

Maybe today’s victory is vacuuming the floor, another round of chemotherapy, or picking up the phone and asking a friend for help.

Whatever difficulties come your way, don’t give up. God is with you and He says…

“…..In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Jodie Stevens

Psychology Tests and More

000_6910RetouchI was doing some research this weekend and got sidetracked for several hours taking those little psychology quizzes (one of my favorite time wasters).

Are You Co-dependent is a fun one. After quiz number five it became clear that I was indeed a textbook case. Of course I had to take three similar quizzes just to be sure (if you’re codependent you understand).

Naturally I had to get my husband involved in the fun so I sent him the Are You a Narcissist test. I smugly informed him I scored very low on this particular examination.

He on the other hand scored higher than Lady Gaga. We both had a good laugh and realized there was a hint more than meets the eye when it came to our initial attraction to one another.

Now my ‘narcissistic’ husband is incredibly caring and sensitive and his ‘co-dependent’ wife does more than her fair share of taking.

It works because we both know who we are. And when we don’t, we get actively involved in the process of figuring out where we left ourselves. We admit our faults and work to correct them so we can be better people for each other.

But oh the dangerous dance that can ensue between two people with certain personality flaws when left untreated. What starts as a fireworks show is nothing but smoldering embers after two unhealthy people have consumed one another until there is nothing left but bitterness and anger.

My husband and I have both worked recovery programs and have a graphic understanding of our flaws. As a result, we understand how to live in victory over them on most days. Sometimes taking a goofy psychology test is a reminder of what life could have been without recovery.

Jodie Stevens

Why Giving Up Power Is So Empowering

000_6910RetouchSometimes admitting complete defeat is where real victory starts. Great things can happen when we have enough humility to say: “things aren’t working my way.”

We become open to letting others help us. Our pride may be crumbled up in a ball in the corner feeling sorry for itself, but we’re finally in a position to let God off the sidelines and into the game.

Sometimes the only way He can begin to use us in the way He planned is when we are on the floor in a fetal position lamenting the loss of everything we worked so hard to control.

There’s a good reason step one of the 12 steps says: “Admitted we were powerless over our burning issue and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Ok, I changed it slightly but you get the idea.

What is your burning issue? Is it fear, anger, jealousy, power, food, drugs, alcohol, or other people?

Once we stop trying to control it and admit it’s controlling us, we are finally on the journey to victory.

2nd Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s power works best in our weakness. Or maybe another way to say it is that God’s power works best in our humility.

What is getting in the way of Gods plan for your life?

Jodie Stevens

The Gorilla In The Room

000_6910RetouchEver wonder why it’s taken you years to recognize an unhealthy situation involving a friend or family member? Then felt puzzled when a total stranger was able to see the enormous gorilla in the room you missed all that time? There is a saying: “You can’t see the forest for the trees.”

How do you know what a healthy family should look like if all you’ve experienced is a dysfunctional one?

How do you know how a real friend is supposed to act if you’ve never had one?

If it seems like your life is a continuum of dysfunctional or broken relationships that have left you feeling exhausted, used, and angry; it may be that you’re not allowing yourself to recognize your own feelings and as a result you’re not playing an active enough role in who your friends are.

You can’t have healthy boundaries if the only people in your life are the ones trying to crash them (speaking from my own experience).

In other words, if you don’t have good people to lean on, you’ll allow the bad ones in. Since we are wired for relationship, it’s just what we do.

In much the same way, if you don’t have healthy people in your life you have no frame of reference. You just know you’re not happy in your relationships and you might not even know why.

This is why support groups are so important. People in them are like mirrors. Each one gives you a different reflection which helps expand your paradigm beyond your own and allows you to see the ‘forest’ despite the trees.

Jodie Stevens

My Take on Gratitude Part 2

000_6910RetouchIn my last post I wrote about how expressing gratitude can save marriages and turn a rough start into a great day.

In some instances I believe an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can save lives. In recovery meeting gratitude is sometimes referred to as an action. If we are grateful, what will we do to help another and show our appreciation for what has been freely given to us?

There is a saying: “You can’t keep it unless you give it away”.

In the bible Jesus heals ten lepers and yet only one comes back to thank him:

“Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Does only this foreigner return to give glory to God?” (Luke 17:17-18)

Here we clearly see gratitude as a verb. After being healed, this man turns around and returns to Jesus and gives thanks.

To realize the full benefits of gratitude surely we must do something to show it:

“There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude.” ~Robert Brault

When we express gratitude by helping others it makes us feel happier and releases pleasure endorphins in the brain. Research shows a five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent.

Notice these are all actions and they are quick and easy ways to a life improvement. If a new Maserati isn’t in the budget and you don’t expect that $300,000 pay raise anytime soon, a little altruism may be the perfect prescription for a better life.

Jodie Stevens

My Take on Gratitiude Part 1

1459190_10201344609605162_207257741_nI’m thankful for many things, but gratitude feels different; sort of like deep inner peace that comes from being grateful even in difficult times. Sometimes it wells up inside me and tears spring forth as I think about how much God has blessed me in my sobriety.

I believe grateful hearts can lead to happy marriages and rescue ones on the rocks. The other night my husband forgot to close and lock the back door (something that irritates me). I set about to warn him of his ‘carelessness’ but then I recalled how blessed I am that God brought us together in a way so divine that even an atheist would be impressed. Instead of complaining, I locked the door and let the ‘offense’ go.

You might think I was just ‘choosing my battles,’ but without gratitude in the mix those little disturbances can multiply into big resentments.

Marriages crumble over less because people aren’t grateful for who they claim to love and what they possess. They are careless enough to think something better awaits them around the corner.

I believe grateful hearts can save the day. After something unfavorable happens do you ever hear yourself say: “It’s going to be one of those days?

This was one of my favorite and frequent murmurs. Now I say: “things got off to a difficult start but it’s going to be a great day from here forward.”

99 percent of the time the day ends on a high note.

I realize today that a huge part of dealing with life is attitude and a huge part of managing my attitude is directly tied to how grateful I am!

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie