“Hope can sometimes be an elusive thing, and occasionally it must come to us with pain.” – Gerald G. May, ‘Addiction & Grace’

On the seventh day of this month, we took a long walk to our destination. On our way there, we encountered a stray, of the human kind.

From afar, I was struck by his skin, smeared in black, and the way his torn t-shirt was draped to the side like a monk’s orange robe.

The scowl on his face and the way he was striding forth commands you to get out of his way.

Even so, a part of me wanted to stop him and to speak with him. But I traced his right bared arm to his hand, clenched tightly around a bottle of liquor, now empty. I feared he could hit me with it.

So I stood aside, he stalked right by, and the sudden stench of sewage overpowered the air, trailing his misery.

STRAY
I slipped my hand into the hand of the one I was walking with, and held on tight.

“Why, are you scared? Do you fear that man?” he asked.

No. I was looking for comfort. I was thinking about how tightly that man was holding on to his bottle. An empty bottle. It was his lifeline. His only way of numbing his pain. I feel pity for him… his outer condition is a reflection of his inner condition, and it’s clear he’s in a very, very bad state…

Google defines Pity as “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the sufferings and misfortunes of others.” I believe this feeling of sorrow and compassion can only arise from having once recognised ourselves, in them.

I remember only too well, a time in my life when I, too, felt lost and “homeless”. In my time of wandering, I identified with the beggars and the strays on the streets. It was a humbling time of transitioning, where I was brought to my knees by the awareness of my own ‘drunken stupor’ from my various addictions.

I was a human in need of grace.

“Grace is the invisible advocate of freedom and the absolute expression of perfect love.

…grace seeks us but will not control us. Saint Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them. If our hands are full, they are full of the things to which we are addicted.

And not only our hands, but also our hearts, minds and attention are clogged with addiction. Our addictions fill up the spaces within us, spaces where grace might flow…

…we may not be able to make our hands completely empty in order to receive the gifts of grace, but we can choose whether to relax our hands a little or to keep clenching them ever more tightly.

…simply relaxing one’s hands may seem too passive. As we shall see, however, this simple choice may be the greatest kind of struggle any human being can face, and it may call forth the greatest courage and dedication…

…We may go through a great deal of humbling, if not outright humiliation, before we come to this simplicity of hope. We do not like admitting defeat, and we will struggle valiantly, even foolishly, to prove that we can master our destinies.

God, in whose image we are made, instills in us the capacity for relentless tenacity, an assertiveness that complements our yearning hunger for God. But most of us overdo it; our spirit of assertiveness quickly becomes a spirit of pride.

We will never really turn to God in loving openness as long as we are handling things well enough by ourselves. And it is precisely our most powerful addictions that cause us to defeat ourselves, that bring us to the rock bottom realization that we cannot finally master everything.

Thus, although in one sense addiction is the enemy of grace, it can also be a powerful channel for the flow of grace.

Addiction can be, and often is, the thing that brings us to our knees.

…it is possible that at some point in our journey with addiction and grace, we might even come to see addiction as a kind of gift.

…Addictions teaches us not to be too proud. Sooner or later, addiction will prove to us that we are not gods.

Then we will realize that we are our own worst enemies; we cannot beat ourselves. At that point, when we have exhausted all the available false repositories for our hope, it is possible that we will turn to God with a true sense of who we are, with an integrity that is both humble and confident, with a dignity that knows itself because it has met its limits.

Hope can sometimes be an elusive thing, and occasionally it must come to us with pain.

But it is there, irrevocably. Like freedom, hope is a child of grace, and grace cannot be stopped. I refer once more to Saint Paul, a man who, I am convinced, understood addiction: “Hope will not be denied, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” – Gerald G.May, ‘Addiction & Grace’.

Love,

Mish.

****

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Advertisements

Love Is Allowing Yourself To Feel

Originally posted on 28.06.12:

“We must not numb our pain.

When in sorrow, sorrow.

When in anger, anger.

FEEL IT.

It’s the only way to go through it.” Paul said to me, as we were discussing the problem of alcoholism in Finland.

His main language is Finnish. So when he speaks in English, it’s very simple. But I get it. And I love it. It comes out sounding like a poem.

Paul is saying we must go through the process of whatever it is we’re feeling. So when we’re in sorrow, then allow ourselves to be in sorrow.

Having spent many years working in a rehab for alcoholics in Helsinki, he’s seen how desperately people try to numb their pain, instead of dealing with the root of that pain. In the end, the only thing they create is a bigger mess, ruining their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

…I feel like I can relate to them.

For over a decade, I’ve tried to numb my pain through many ways.

It has led to many addictions that can be a whole blog post by itself.

The past one year and a half, I’ve been learning that there are better, healthier and more effective ways to deal with pain. Today, I’m just going to focus on one: Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel.

I’ve been having a hard time processing my feelings the last couple of days / weeks / months. Here I am, learning about love and sharing what I learn on The Love Culture. But I am highly aware, too, that these whole other spectrum of “dark” emotions are well and alive and brewing in me.

Anger

Grief

Disappointment

Resentment

Bitterness

Unforgiveness

Fear

They’re not there all the time. At least not on the surface. But when it’s triggered, the rawness of the pain and the way I crumble, surprises me.

Seeing the way that I am when I’m in pain–and being made aware that I’m not much different from the person causing me pain when I’m hurt–just left me feeling absolutely lost in my own darkness. 

And then someone comes my way today, to remind me of my goodness and help me see the Light, within and without. I feel loved, supported and cared for. And it’s bringing me release. Which got me wondering…

Could this be the reason why we hold on to our hurt?

Is it a cry to be loved?

I believe the answer is, Yes.

This question and answer have, in the past, allowed me to let go of the need for justice or to set things right–at least, not in the heat of the moment. Understanding that both the perpetrator of pain and the one in pain is both crying out for the same thing–to be loved–frees me to open up my hands to receive the Love that I need from God, others and myself, to heal, instead of keeping it clenched in a fist of fury, ready to retaliate.

But this time around, I’m feeling conflicted.

Here I am, talking about love and compassion on The Love Culture, but I wasn’t feeling very loving or compassionate at the moment towards the source of my pain. I felt disgusted instead. And I felt bad for feeling this.

Then a friend comes along and gives me this reassurance:

“Dont ever be afraid to feel “negative” feelings.

They are just signals, not the be-alls and end-alls.

In the great silence of which you understand, there is the unfolding of His greatness and love, which can NEVER be taken away by our feelings.” – TW

I felt grateful for this reminder.

His permission (yes, we don’t need ‘permission’ so to speak, but when we’re stuck and unable to move, it helps to have someone say “IT’S OKAY, GO AHEAD”) to feel without condemnation, allowed me to navigate my way through this, by trying to understand,

“What are my “negative” feelings signalling?”

That I need Healing.

That I need more Love.

Both of which I can choose to receive in prayer, even in this time of pain.

What is your pain telling you? What are your “negative” feelings signalling? May your permission to feel, and your courage to face your darkness, give you the Understanding to Love and Be Loved.

Love,

Mish

****

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein. What are some major shifts you’re ready to make in 2014? 9 more months. Make it count.

We’re 3 months 8 days into 2014. The past few months have been nothing short of challenging, not only for the world, but for most of us.

There’s plenty of good, a lot of gains, but along with it, there are the not-so-good, the bad and the setbacks. It’s unavoidable. Or is it?

It’s true there are many things we can’t control. We can’t choose what happens to us or what people say and do. We definitely can’t control Life. But every step of the way, we can choose wisely for ourselves. We do have a role to play in steering our life in the direction we want to go.

But we don’t always make the best choices under the circumstances.

Yes, we’re human. We slip up, we mess up, we make mistakes. The important thing is, after acknowledging our responsibility in our mistakes, we can forgive but we must never forget. If we do, we’ll never learn.

Moving forward, let’s see what we can learn from the past 3 months and see how we can eliminate the things that detract from our 2014 Goals.

I’ve gotten myself into unfortunate situations that are totally out of character, when I drink too much. Even though this happens only once a year, all it takes is just ONCE to make a mistake you’ll regret a lifetime.

This is not what I want for myself.

Like I said in my previous post, even as I’m regaining clarity, I’m allowing the gravity of it all to bring me to its proper place. The point isn’t to put it all behind me. I want to face the truth of the reality, to fully learn from it.

I know I want to step up. I want to raise my standards. I want to develop goal-achieving rituals. I want to surround myself in growth-enhancing company. I want to value my time more. And most importantly for me, I want to do what I can, to maintain an Absolute Peak State Of Mind.

I want to take better care of me, so I can take better care of others. I want to be more responsible for me, so I can be more responsible for others. I want to be able to protect me, so I can protect others, too. 

It begins with me.

It begins with you.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein.

What are some major shifts you’re ready to make in 2014? We have 9 more months.

Let’s make it count.

Love,

Mish.

****

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.”- Swedish Proverb

The Love Culture on FB: https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Love Is Allowing Yourself To Feel

“We must not numb our pain.

When in sorrow, sorrow.

When in anger, anger.

FEEL IT.

It’s the only way to go through it.” Paul said to me, as we were discussing the problem of alcoholism in Finland.

His main language is Finnish. So when he speaks in English, it’s very simple. But I get it. And I love it. It comes out sounding like a poem.

Paul is saying we must go through the process of whatever it is we’re feeling. So when we’re in sorrow, then allow ourselves to be in sorrow.

Having spent many years working in a rehab for alcoholics in Helsinki, he’s seen how desperately people try to numb their pain, instead of dealing with the root of that pain. In the end, the only thing they create is a bigger mess, ruining their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

…I feel like I can relate to them.

For over a decade, I’ve tried to numb my pain through many ways.

It has led to many addictions that can be a whole blog post by itself.

The past one year and a half, I’ve been learning that there are better, healthier and more effective ways to deal with pain. Today, I’m just going to focus on one: Giving yourself permission to feel what you feel.

I’ve been having a hard time processing my feelings the last couple of days / weeks / months. Here I am, learning about love and sharing what I learn on The Love Culture. But I am highly aware, too, that these whole other spectrum of “dark” emotions are well and alive and brewing in me.

Anger

Grief

Disappointment

Resentment

Bitterness

Unforgiveness

Fear

They’re not there all the time. At least not on the surface. But when it’s triggered, the rawness of the pain and the way I crumble, surprises me.

Seeing the way that I am when I’m in pain–and being made aware that I’m not much different from the person causing me pain when I’m hurt–just left me feeling absolutely lost in my own darkness. 

And then someone comes my way today, to remind me of my goodness and help me see the Light, within and without. I feel loved, supported and cared for. And it’s bringing me release. Which got me wondering…

Could this be the reason why we hold on to our hurt?

Is it a cry to be loved?

I believe the answer is, Yes.

This question and answer have, in the past, allowed me to let go of the need for justice or to set things right–at least, not in the heat of the moment. Understanding that both the perpetrator of pain and the one in pain is both crying out for the same thing–to be loved–frees me to open up my hands to receive the Love that I need from God, others and myself, to heal, instead of keeping it clenched in a fist of fury, ready to retaliate.

But this time around, I’m feeling conflicted.

Here I am, talking about love and compassion on The Love Culture, but I wasn’t feeling very loving or compassionate at the moment towards the source of my pain. I felt disgusted instead. And I felt bad for feeling this.

Then a friend comes along and gives me this reassurance:

“Dont ever be afraid to feel “negative” feelings.

They are just signals, not the be-alls and end-alls.

In the great silence of which you understand, there is the unfolding of His greatness and love, which can NEVER be taken away by our feelings.” – TW

I felt grateful for this reminder.

His permission (yes, we don’t need ‘permission’ so to speak, but when we’re stuck and unable to move, it helps to have someone say “IT’S OKAY, GO AHEAD”) to feel without condemnation, allowed me to navigate my way through this, by trying to understand,

“What are my “negative” feelings signalling?”

That I need Healing.

That I need more Love.

Both of which I can choose to receive in prayer, even in this time of pain.

What is your pain telling you? What are your “negative” feelings signalling? May your permission to feel, and your courage to face your darkness, give you the Understanding to Love and Be Loved.

Love,

Mish

****

Michelle Tan is the Founder of The Love Culture ‎~ Inspiring A Loving Way Of Living. https://www.facebook.com/theloveculture

Her mission is to make space for Faith, Hope & LOVE through her writings, clothing line ROX/STA http://www.roxstastudio.com & music.