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Beside Restful Waters

“The Grandmothers show that we must return to our own inner spirit and the spirit of all which we have abandoned while looking elsewhere for happiness.”

-Native American Wisdom

As I pondered the wisdom of this grandmother's words, I asked myself; “what did I abandon in my search for happiness?”.

One of the first thoughts that entered my spirit in response to this question was the persistent message from my wife soon after we were married.

Bloom where you are planted.

I was blessed by her persistence as this became her mantra to me for decades of our marriage. From my first job after college, I thought I should be in a position of importance, surrounded by people of prominence, and sharing my professional intelligence with the world. In hind sight, I see the impact of the graces of my Higher Power as I worked in positions that many others would not consider. Yet, I continued my efforts to live on center stage in the midst of the accolades of thousands. I certainly believed this was life in full bloom.

In my efforts to live in this spotlight, I did not realize who I was leaving for my own selfish sense of identity. This mindset was the very same mindset that lowered me deeper and deeper in to my addiction. My addictive mind was always chasing after happiness measured by the adoration of others, and the ego inflating compliments of others. My sense of happiness always came from 'out there'.

I don't recall any specific earth shattering experience that brought me to my knees in humble acceptance of a voice of inner peace. My Higher Power seemed to offer a sneaky, slow, simmering grace that evolved within me. The persistent message from my wife, and isolated words of wisdom and encouragement of many others slowly festered within my soul.

There was one question from my wife about 30 years ago, after I had to start my own business because my place of employment was closing. This business effort was a halfhearted move on my part. But she asked me if I was enjoying my work. I remember as if it was yesterday. I paused. There was a rush of peace over me. I observed a sense of sacred pleasure as I thought of how my business had evolved and the clients I observed.

I looked to her and said “I think I am in my ideal job and didn't realize it until now”.

This was one of my first experiences of looking to my inner spirit. My response was not based on how others were filling me with a false sense of accomplishment or stroking my ego. I was responding to an inner sense of purpose.

I can say this today. However, at the time, I simply accepted this experience without much deep analysis. This was also a time when my addiction was active so I was in an inner battle between my addictive nature and a growing sense of purpose beyond this addictive lifestyle. Inner conflict was raging. Yet, my Higher Power was fully present to me in spite of my efforts to abandon Her voice.

Today, with 18 years of recovery, and 68 years of life to reflect upon, I can observe how my Higher Power filled my life with subtle, or not too subtle messages of forgiveness, love and persistence. I can visualize the hundreds of faces who spoke the words, offered the forgiveness, and acted in the loving grace we are coming to know as God.

Here is where I get confused. Early in life, I looked to others to stroke my ego with their messages of how wonderful I was. This outward source was a false sense of happiness and purpose. Now, I reflect on how God has used other people to offer a message that has called me inside of myself to identify a truth of purpose and happiness. I don't get it. Both messages are from others, yet one message is false and one is truth. One message encourages me to abandon my inner truth. Your message calls me to deepen my inner truth. Yup, I'm confused.

I'll rest in the confusion and call it mystery.

I'll rejoice in the wisdom to know the difference.

I'll continue to practice the silence that guides me to know the difference.

I'll continue to express gratitude for you all, as you are my source of truth, forgiveness, purpose and happiness.

This is how I practice sobriety – with you.


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