The other day while praying at the beginning of a work week, I had a revelation that was so astonishing to me. I pray by writing, and I was at the end of the notebook. So a couple of days later, as I began to forget what I had learned, I dug the notebook back out and reread the entry. Now I’m keeping it out so I can read it as often as I need to. Here are some excerpts.

One thing I need to ask You about. You know how I feel about annual review. My manager thinks it’s entirely normal to use the Flag Down Somebody method of training, and to take well over a year doing it. I don’t like it. For one thing it’s not my learning style. For another, and I know I’m being judgmental, it’s stupidly inefficient and wasteful! I probably need to let that second thing go because plainly the company is fine with it and the very nature of my irritation signals a desire to control.

I have choices. I probably have lots of choices but two that are obvious are:

1) Stay in this position and go all in on [software].

2) Throw myself into cloud and try to get stolen by another team.

Throwing myself into [one cloud] has not gone all that well so far. It’s really hard. And I can’t do it on my on-duty time. I have to devote that to [software]. I don’t like [software]. [One cloud] is hard. I heard [two other clouds] are just as hard. I am talking the certification exams, not the platforms themselves. …

I have such a lack of acceptance of this team. There is no camaraderie, no rapport. If I stay, could I help with that? Is that what You want of me? Does it look more attractive because it looks easier than [one cloud]? I surely could do without the stress of studying [one cloud] all the time. It’s starting to look like I should go all in on [software] and [database]. Maybe I can learn to see this (stupid!!!) training method as a period of grace and gentleness that is a gift from You to me right now. Did You do that? Did You arrange a slacker job for me so that I could recharge and recoup and get through menopause with this hormone brain and be okay? Have I tripped over one of Your blessings and failed to notice because I’ve been complaining about not being useful? Have I found my answer, then? Did You do this for me? Then I must turn my energies to [software] and [database] and make the most of this. I will cancel the [one cloud] exam. Thank You for this blessing! I am sorry I didn’t see it right away. May I make best use of it and be a help to others. Thy will, not mine, be done. Amen.

So, each day I need to remember to stop criticizing the training and the team. How can I Let It Begin With Me? Can I reach out more to team members in honest exchange? Can I greet them daily, ask questions, thank them? Can I say great things about them when they are helpful to me and skip criticizing when they are not? Can I work harder on developing the training materials that I wish existed already? Can I leave work behind when duty hours are over and instead love my life?

I believe I can do all these things. But it requires setting aside my obsessions and judgments. That’s the part I need a lot more practice with.

Sometimes I hear people lament that they have prayed for God to take away their pain, but God doesn’t do it.

Why would God take away pain?

I can’t speak about your Higher Power, so all of this is about God as I understand God. I don’t think God is in the analgesic business.

The Creator created pain too, and very intentionally. The Creator knew that beings would sometimes be sick or injured. How to let them know they need to do things to take care of themselves and each other? How about a mechanism to create discomfort until the situation is handled?

That’s what pain is.

Sure there will be times that pain occurs and there’s nothing we can do to heal or fix whatever is wrong. The Creator gave us substances, intelligence to process them, and intelligence to create more for this eventuality. No, they don’t always work. Nothing always works.

In the end, the final relief is that all things are temporary, even life itself.

If you find yourself in pain, have you done all the things to seek healing? Are you sure? Did people suggest things that you refuse to try? Could you possibly be in denial that you need healing?

My experience with chronic pain sufferers who have indeed done all the things is that they are more at peace with their pain than they were before the did all the things. And maybe that’s a bit of healing, too.

So, do what is necessary to heal. And maybe that is, after all, how God takes away the pain.

Sometimes judgment and prejudice hamper my ability to hear my HP’s messages for me. My HP talks to me through other people. I can’t hear those messages if I am constantly scoffing at or dismissing what other people say. I need to listen. I don’t need to believe all that is said to me whole cloth, but I do need to listen and think, looking for those nuggets of value.

I was recently cold-called by a property investor in the part of the country where I lived before now. There was a message on my voicemail vaguely mentioning distressed properties. Part of the meltdown that was my Al-Anon bottom had to do with losing a house, only it doesn’t seem I actually lost it. I’m involved with a “bank walkaway”, apparently.

Interesting that this should come now, as I’m working my way through the 9th Step. Right now I’m doing letters to dead and otherwise unavailable people, moving to letters that can be mailed, before proceeding with Internet, phone, and face-to-face amends.

Everything I needed to get the process of a short sale started was readily available, so after speaking with the person and doing some research to be sure this isn’t a scam, I rounded it all up and sent it on over. That person mentioned that it usually takes a month or so to do the part I did in about six hours. But everything I needed was right there.

My spouse and I are also doing a new budget, now that we are at the half-year mark and understand what changes to our finances this being married thing has wrought. We’re both religious folk, so this has brought up the topic of tithing, which has also brought up the topic of our (individual and differing) faiths both in general and specifically.

As a member of my faith, I haven’t been doing my part. I haven’t been tithing or showing up to services. I haven’t been engaged in service projects. It’s time. It’s time I put my Time, Treasure, and Talent where my mouth is. Treasure being metaphorical, of course.

I also need to meet with a representative of the faith to which I no longer belong. There are, I think, some administrative and community tasks that need to be done to formalize my separation from that religious body. Whether I’ve done so or not has an effect on my relationship to its adherents, so it’s helpful to settle it. It’s probably also good for my soul to get some resolution on what happened, and why I subscribe to the faith that I do now. I’d like to get some peace around this.

Part of inventorying the budget has also brought to light some recurring expenses for various friends and organizations that I’ve just been paying, as a donation or a gift. These are teensy tiny annual expenses, and I don’t mind, but part of doing my 7th Tradition and letting others do theirs compels me to reach out to these folks to ask what they want done with them. It’s not really fair to them, to myself, and to my family for me to keep on silently handling these costs.

So far, one has responded to let the expense go – they don’t need the service anymore. Two others are sending me checks to cover the costs. I have a boundary that if I haven’t heard back from the others within a reasonable period of time and after a couple of reminders, I’ll let those go as well, as they plainly are not vital services to those folks.

Another sudden 9th Step money thing is the realization that I owe someone money. I had borrowed money from someone with a clear expectation of paying it back, and then got into an arrangement with them wherein they were expected to contribute and they didn’t. I rationalized and justified and wrote off my debt to that person out of hand. I put it out of my mind completely, only remembering it while going through my amends list. I have to talk this over with my sponsor and with the individual involved to see what the correct amends would be, but some repayment at least is in order. Oddly, I’m not afraid of this.

I do feel some anxiety about my 9th step, but nothing like the stark fear I used to feel. I feel well-equipped for this. The Steps are in order for a reason, and I can clearly see it now.

I got this in an email from an Al-a-Pal and thought it worth sharing with Program friends …

A little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with a bag of potato chips and a six-pack of root beer and started his journey.

When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old man. He was sitting in the park, just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to him and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old man looked hungry, so he offered him some chips. He gratefully accepted it and smiled at him.

His smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered him a root beer. Again, he smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.

As twilight approached, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave; but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man, and gave him a hug. He gave him his biggest smile ever..

When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” 

He replied, “I had lunch with God.” But before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? He’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen!”

Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His son was stunned by the look of peace on his face and he asked, “dad, what did you do today that made you so happy?”

He replied “I ate potato chips in the park with God.” However, before his son responded, he added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime! Embrace all equally!

Have lunch with God…….bring chips.

From time to time I like to try to relate to different perceptions of my Higher Power, as an experiment. Some years ago I obtained a figure of Hotei the Laughing Buddha. Some time after that I found a nice one of Kwan Yin, which rode around on my car dashboard accompanied by St. Peter and Silent Bob. Kwan Yin survived removal from the car, while the other two did not. A couple of years later I got a tiny brass figurine of Durga. These three remain at my workplace and while I like them quite a bit, I don’t really perceive them as aspects of my HP the way I intended.

This sort of thing does not come naturally to me. The faith tradition I was brought up in involved a faceless God. Some people described Him as a very old man on a throne with long white hair and a beard, but he was verbally described this way, never depicted. the Virgin Mary was seldom depicted (except at Christmas), but Jesus constantly was. Jesus’ face was the face of divinity. But since we were only supposed to pray to God, as Jesus was the big brother savior guy and not the Creator, this left me without a visual focus for my prayers. I frequently prayed to the sky or the floor or the darkness inside my eyelids. But I’ve always been a bit envious of people who get to pray to divinities they can see.
There was a TV comedy series in Great Britain called The Vicar of Dibley wherein the minister habitually conversed with her portrait of Jesus. I liked that. I frequently converse with my Higher Power, but again, no portrait. My inner image of my Higher Power is something like a fractal – enormous and mysterious and complex with differing parts that relate to people of differing faiths, and different sub-parts that relate to different individuals. This is how I perceive a God that tends to the whole Universe and still is entirely concerned with the fall of a sparrow.
I tried printing up some pictures of fractals one time, but this wasn’t very satisfying at all.
The current phase of this experiment involves an image I found on the Internet and printed on some cardstock then stuck on my daily reader’s book cover with package tape. I looked for something specific for this image. I try to relate to female interpretations of God for two reasons: I have trouble trusting women, and it’s completely opposite to how I was raised. Here I wanted a woman who looks a bit older than me, so that I instinctively trust that she knows better than I do. Maybe in the future I’ll try a child or a teen just to play with that limitation. I wanted someone with a kind face, but not a weak one. I wanted someone whose eyes could seem loving but could also seem firm. Oddly, I didn’t find what I wanted until searching the keywords “woman” and “menopause”. Heh.
So this image went onto my daily reader, and for what-the-heck, I found some pretty images of Durga and Kwan Yin and put them on as well, so I can speak with them when I especially need strength or mercy, respectively.
So far, so good. This face is easy to talk to, though I’m not completely sure yet it works for talking to my Higher Power. My concept of a Higher Power doesn’t mind if I borrow a face for the purpose, but it takes some getting used to anyway. It was a bit easier settling my thoughts into prayer this morning. We’ll see.