Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Blind Faith

potholes

Blind faith is defined as ““belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination.” It wasn’t until recently it was pointed out to me, this is what I have.  A positive thing instead of the negative thing I would have described it as.

“It will all work out” has been one of my favorite lines for years.  As a single mom, I always believed things would work out.  I didn’t know how, I didn’t know why – I just believed they would.  I actually believe my relationship with God was pretty much nonexistent through HS, college and later in life.  During my early years, I was active in church and a Rainbow Girl.  I believed in God just didn’t have a relationship with him.  Weird, right?

God was there even when I didn’t see or believe it.  He had his hand on everything which is why I believe through my years of addiction, I was saved.  I had a blind faith deep in my soul despite the odds.  My first time in the rooms, I always said I was “spiritual” not religious.  The Serenity Prayer was the closest I got to having a conversation with God.  It was the thing which kept me going even when I was on the road to relapse and during my relapse.  I thought it was more of a foxhole prayer at that point since I had made such a mess of my life.

Now, I have a relationship with God. Are there still potholes in my path? YES!  Do I wonder if I am on the right road or following his purpose for me? YES!  Do I still struggle with fear?  YES! Do I still play the comparison game? YES!  Fear and doubt didn’t not magically go away because of my faith.  Satan loves to play with me especially on days when my MS flares up.

Every morning, I read my “Just for Today” and pause for a moment to thank God for his many blessings.  Truth be told (have you heard this amazing song?), I don’t STOP and wait to LISTEN for God’s message.

 

There are some days, it is more obvious than others I haven’t listened.  The days when the doubts come.  The days when resentments build.  The days when frustration and anger get the best of me.   Those days, I wonder what happened to the belief God would take care of things?

Those are the days, when I forget it’s not my job to fix the potholes in my trail. I need to let God lead, and He will smooth the way.  Whatever the path looks like, God has a plan for every step (Jeremiah 29:11).  The path may be filled with potholes but no matter where I am headed, God is aware of every gap in the road He’s established for me.

Hubby pointed out to me recently “you have a blind faith”.  I was shocked because I never thought about it.  I used to believe people judged me for the decisions I made.  Many times my decisions were not based on solid facts, just a feeling I had things would be okay.  Sometimes they were and sometimes they weren’t.  It wasn’t until I took my will back and stopped letting God lead the way, the road to relapse became a downhill spiral.  Me trying to figure things out or fix things led me to a path filled with potholes.  It kept me from letting my light shine and making a difference in the lives of other people.

It is time to embrace my blind faith.  Time to stop trying to fix the potholes.  Time to stop trying to figure things out on my own.  Time to let God lead, have faith and let him show me the path he has prepared for me.  It is “his will for my life, not mine”.

Are you trying to fix the potholes in your life or are you “letting go and letting God”?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Anniversaries – Celebrations With Reflection

This past week I celebrated two anniversaries both filled with emotions and the struggle to remember.  Two milestones in my life which changed me forever.

On Friday, hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  We have been together 18+ years BUT only married 10.  If you know our story, you get it.  🙂

I generally blog about our story BUT this year,  I want to share the gratitude I have for this man.  Our road has been a rocky one – from his commuting for 5 years, to living together to marriage.  It all seems so basic, right?  But add to it – recovery on the road to relapse, a perceived loss of independence, his congestive heart failure, my diagnosis of MS and now his retirement.  Life on life’s terms which is something I’m not really good at.  It has been a true test for both of us of our wedding vows.  He has been my rock on my most difficult days.  I have tested his patience and he has learned how to communicate just a little bit better. We have grown together in so many ways…

As we sat at dinner the other night, the subject drifted to the one question to be sure about a relationship.  I had never heard this and honestly, I was scared. But he continued saying it is “do you bring out the best of each person?”….. Of course I had to know what he thought about us because honestly my memory is awful and fear was creeping in.  My immediate reaction was to feel less than. Not worthy of his unconditional love.  Instead of blurting things out, I prayed to be quiet while he finished.  He said “our life has been a balance –  sometimes we have brought out the best in each other while there are times, we have brought out the worst.  He said it is life but the true test is how you get through it.  We have made it.  WOW!  I didn’t get defensive.  I didn’t try to over analyze.  I just was grateful I kept my mouth SHUT and for how far we have both come. I may have already forgotten much of the night, I pray his words about our life together stay with me forever.

Jump ahead to Saturday and another celebration…. WE HAVE 3 YEARS!  I look back on where I was three years ago… a hot mess on the verge of losing my hubby, a mound of credit card debt, a victim mentality while I isolated feeling less than everyone else, broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Appearing confident (often cocky) on the outside while a scared child on the inside.  I had walked this road before and relapse became part of my story.  I had let down my family, my friends but most of all I had let myself down.  The strong confident person was gone.  What was left was a broken, shell of my former self.  Sadly, I didn’t notice it – I thought I hid it well.  I blamed everyone else for what was wrong in my life when the only one who was to blame was me.

As I sit here writing, unable to feel anything but sadness (MS seems to play with my emotions as well as taken my memories) I struggle to remember how bad it was.  Not just this time but the first time (my first clean date was 10/26/91).  Hubby often says, God took the memories because it was too unbearable for me to remember.  God gives me glimpses at times but when it becomes overwhelming for me, they fade and only segments remain.  So instead of struggling to remember, I try each day to be a better person than I was yesterday. Does it always work? NOPE!  I know with God’s help, it will.  I continue to go to meetings – I need to hear the struggles, I need to share my blind faith, I need to be surrounded by people who have been where I have been and I need to remember  “never” should not be part of my vocabulary.

Today, the credit card debt is paid off.  Today, I am trying to connect with local women in recovery.  Today, I accept I am an introvert but it does not mean I need to isolate.  Today, I know my ride & die gals who have been with me since the first night 3 years ago are just a phone call away.  Just for today, I like myself.  Today, I don’t beat myself up over the weight or how I think “I should look”.  My life is blessed in so many ways.  Yes, MS kicks my butt BUT it is not an excuse to go back to those old destructive behaviors.  Living life on life’s terms is not always easy but WE do recovery together.

Thank you to everyone who has walked these many roads with us.  We are grateful for the part you have played and continued to play in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Hope Wissel, Recovery

Why is Trust Easier Than Faith?

Faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”.

Trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”.

Why is it so much easier to trust someone or something than it is to have faith?  I will be honest, the two words sometimes get confused in my head.  Nothing unusual with the onset of MS….

We trust every day – driving on the highway a car won’t cross the line, flying in a plane we won’t crash – yet when it comes to having faith in a Higher Power (I chose to call God), we want more.  I often hear individuals talk about struggling with the idea of a higher power, of having faith there is something greater who is loving and caring.  Yet, we readily jump in the back pockets of other recovering addicts “trusting” they will lead us in the right direction since they have some clean time.  It is a very fine line but who doesn’t like the thrill of walking a tightrope without the chance of falling.

Life has had its ups and downs lately.  Nothing dramatic and probably no more than usual. The impact my relapse has had on my life (and my relationships) rears it ugly head some days which can send me spiraling.  Life on life’s terms was never promised to be easy.  I have faith God will restore relationships completely when the time is right.  I have faith he wraps his loving arms around me, giving me comfort when I am weak and struggling.  I have faith he will help me close the door on Debbie Doubtful and Negative Nellie when they come to call.  I have faith when the time is right those relationships will be restored and all will be well.  I also face the fact, they may never look like what I want them to be but I trust it will be right for those involved.

Today, I don’t have to be the selfish, self-centered person I was (I want what I want when I want it). I wanted to fix, manage and control situations and people so I could feel better.  I can change.  It took me a long time to totally understand how self-centered I was.  My justification used to be to make a list of the things I did for everyone else, or to sacrifice what I wanted to do, so how am I being self-centered?  I have learned to trust others when they point out this definite character flaw.  It is my faith which allows me to believe they were brought into my life for a reason.  See the fine line???

As the world reels from the “virus”….. “who do you trust?” “do you have faith?”.  Are you being negative and jumping on the anger wagon during this crisis?  Does this “interfere” with your life?  My one day at a time perspective and the inability to remember things has helped me keep a positive attitude in light of all of the negativity.  Showing kindness towards others in dark times is more important than ever.  Thanking those who are working hard to stock shelves.  Thanking those who are helping others who can’t get out.  Stopping by my favorite small business to share some “angel love” and support them during this difficult time.  I trust we will get through this.  I have faith this is a blessing in disguise.  Sometimes darkness needs to come before there is light.  Look at the positive side of all the closings.  Be grateful you have a home to go to.  Be grateful you have family to be locked in with -even if we may want to kill them.  LOL.  Be grateful there is some food and some toilet paper.  Please no hate mail.

I know I have probably squirreled throughout this post but my heart was heavy this morning thinking about things.  As we start to talk and plan hubby’s retirement, the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” come along.  I loose focus on who I am becoming, loving myself (okay I will start with liking myself) and start to force the memories of the past.  Struggling for memories brings frustration which brings negative thoughts and questions everything.  It is only when I trust in my Higher Power and have faith he will restore those memories if and when the time is right, I find peace.

If you are struggling with faith, look for the little blessings in your day.  What you call coincidences, I call blessings or your Higher Power at work.  Maybe your Higher Power is a loved one who passed.  Maybe it is your dog.  Yup, it can be anything or anyone you want it to be who is greater than you.  I’m a visual person since processing words is tough anymore… so someone holding the door, a random smile from a stranger, a hug from another recovering addict, a random call or text from someone you haven’t heard from in awhile… These things are blessings from a power greater than yourself.  Are you struggling with finding supplies during the “stocking up”?  Maybe someone shares their toilet paper or drops off a meal for your family or gives you the gallon of milk from their cart.  These are all your Higher Power at work.  Have faith, even as small as a mustard seed……….they are really tiny!  All things are possible.

Check out of my favorite songs.  Listen and trust there is a plan for all of us…

So, just for TODAY, will you join me in trusting your Higher Power has a plan for you.  He will guide you when you swerve off course as long as you EMBRACE his love and open your heart to all he has for you.  As you do this, your faith will grow just like the mustard seed.

Have a blessed day!

Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Real-Time Relationship

Thank you Elisa Pulliam for today’s message.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony – Colossians 3:12-14, NLT

I expected my usually happy teenage daughter to bounce into my office singing VBS songs from her morning spent serving at church. Instead, her sullen face conveyed another story. She was battling feelings of betrayal, insecurity, and jealousy after receiving a message from a friend about something that was happening in a completely different place.

Let’s just say this mama llama wanted to spew more than a few unpleasantries about social media and towards the adult involved behind the scenes. Yet I could feel God urging me to not be so easily offended. I’d been down this road enough times before to recognize what was happening.

Satan was busy writing the story in my head according to his own agenda.

Can you relate?

The Holy Spirit prompted me to take hold of my thought life before doing or saying something I might regret. While I’ve been practicing taking my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and asking God to align them with His truth (Romans 12:2) for the last decade, I’ve come to see that I have a harder time doing this when a relationship is at stake. It’s hard to find your voice when you’re already wounded and fear more rejection. Yet, avoiding conflict never leads to relationship restoration.

So I skipped the easy-out texting approach and took the risk with an old-fashioned phone call. I put into action the best communication tactics anytime conflict is brewing. I prayed for God to speak through me and asked the open-ended questions I’ve been trained to use as a life coach. It worked! As I listened and affirmed my commitment to our friendship, her voice softened. Her defenses dropped. And the truth rose beautifully out of it all.

Turns out that there was no reason to be offended. There was no intention to hurt my girl or betray us. There was no ill will. There was a perfectly good explanation that social media failed to capture. I should have known!

Satan is the King of Drama ready to destroy every relationship God created for His glory and kingdom purposes.

Maybe that’s why Paul urges the Colossians and us to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, making allowance for each other’s faults. Yes, it’s always beneficial when we choose to seek forgiveness and extend it. It’s God honoring when we put on love in the pursuit of unity.

When we live according to God’s design, we get to experience a whole lot less drama, along with the blessings that come from real-time relationships restored by His love and extravagant grace.

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Dreams

Dreams are defined in two ways:  #1 – a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep. and #2 – a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.

I will admit I don’t often remember the dreams I had when I am sleeping.  I guess it is part of the MS or maybe I don’t dream.  But there was a time when I had goals – dreaming big for success in my professional and personal life.  Of course, I’m not sure I really knew what success was.

What do you dream of?  Exotic vacations?  A successful business? A romantic relationship?  Kids? Friends?  What did you dream about doing when you were little?  I don’t remember much of my childhood so what my dreams were, I don’t know.  I have glimpses of past dreams – some of which I met.  Those glimpses come with the help of others who remind of my successes.  Now, my dream is to wake up one morning with memories (all of them) and not have MS.  I dream of being able to process thoughts and have feelings again besides the extremes of sadness and joy.  It’s more wishful thinking than anything, but who knows, if not today, maybe tomorrow. There’s always hope for tomorrow.

I never grew up dreaming I would have a life with a chronic illness filled with body weakness, loss of memory and pain. I don’t think anyone ever does. Cancer took many of my family members so I actually figured one day it would take me…..but I stuffed the thought and lived my life.  I’m not sure what my choice would have been on career day but I’m sure MS wasn’t an option.  I remember wanting to be a lawyer and ended up in the casinos. Then addiction and recovery changed my life.  I went from the casino to being a social worker.  Something which might have been God’s plan all along.  I loved helping people and it became my calling.  I am grateful for the pictures and the memories others share with me of those many years making a difference in the live of others.  I love creating things – angels of all types and sewing.

Now, because of MS, my thoughts get jumbled and the words I’m thinking aren’t always the ones that come out.  I don’t remember people so remember details about their life is a struggle.  Helping others is more difficult since I can barely help myself some days.  I trust others memories of my hopes and dreams.  I  rely on them to help me remember my past.

I may not talk a lot in public since my worlds get jumbled BUT I do love writing. Writing my thoughts down gives me enough time to pause in order to keep from jumbling words up too bad. I still make a ton of writing errors, but they are easier to correct than losing my train of thought in the middle of a conversation.  It’s really funny when I jot something down and then go back and read it later – I am usually puzzled wondering what was I thinking.

Creating my angels has become therapy.  It takes a lot longer than it used to but I still love spending the time using those creative juices.  The colors may not always work, the design may be a bit off but the end result is a unique angel design.  I have to be more patient with my hands when they won’t stay steady. Or the numbness/tingling causes me to drop things.   That makes it a challenge, but somehow I still get things done.

Because of MS, I have learned to appreciate the things I am still able to do. I can’t let the fact that I can’t do something now get me down. There’s always a way if I get creative enough.

Have you given up on a dream?  Maybe it is because of a chronic illness.  Maybe it is because life showed up and things got detoured.  Don’t loose hope in succeeding in finding your dream. Never stop pursuing your dreams just because something gets in the way.  Life happens.  Dreams keep us going and yes, they do change.

Never lose the ability to dream – for me, it just means writing them down.  It means not “thinking” the passion will keep the dream alive because the truth is, by tomorrow I will forget what the dream was.

Remember…Go out there and conquer your day today.  Reach for your dreams – large or small. taking one step closer to them every day.

Have a blessed day!