Jack’s Story – The Thirteenth Step

Jack's Story - The Thirteenth StepWho will cry for the little boy

Who will cry for the little boy who walks the burning sand.

Who will cry for the little boy who strives for hope.

Who will cry for the little boy who hold [sic] his faith in hand.

Who will cry for the little boy who puts his faith in God’s hand.

Who will cry for the little boy who tries to still his joy.

Who will cry for the little boy who’s[sic] love for life instill in him.

Who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside of me.

Who will cry for the little boy, the boy inside the man.

By Eddie C

The author understands that “The Thirteenth Step” is sometimes connected to a practice of some 12-stepers who attempt to take advantage of newer and more vulnerable people for selfish, ignoble purposes. That connotation has no part of this story.

Jack had learned a great truth today: one that he felt the need to share with others. Maybe an idea would come to him over the next few days, because this was a message that would be like sunshine after the storm for so many people who wear searching for a little light and a little peace. It was a truth filled with hope.

Jack had been involved with 12-step programs for over 20 years. He’s grown up with an alcoholic father and a mother who struggled greatly as the wife of an alcoholic. Jack’s feelings toward his father ran the gamut from anger to hate to shame to sympathy; but it had been a long time since he had felt any love and respect toward him.

Jack had first visited a 12-step program at the invitation of a close, college friend. Before that, he hadn’t known of anything that might help the family and friends of alcoholics. He quickly learned that there was nothing he could do to change his father, but there were things he could do to find peace in his own life.

Jack had always been an analytical sort. He was deeply curious about why things worked and why they didn’t work. This curiosity grew the more as he became more involved in 12-steps.

At some point, Jack’s father had started going to his own 12-step program and he seemed to be finding some limited success in managing his disease. Jack didn’t feel comfortable discussing the 12 steps with his father because it was such a personal issue.

Jack did introduce his mother to a program for family and friends. Giving her credit, she tried, but never really found personal peace. She was a private person and could never share the pain of her past with anyone else, either in a group or privately. So she drifted back to her own pain-filled world believing that nothing would ever bring her peace.

She and Jack had talked about the program; and Jack was that his mother failed to find any answers for herself.

Jack also attended an occasional “open” session for alcoholics because he wanted to see how the program worked for other people. And he continued to regularly attend his “family and friends” program.

He purchased materials from both programs including the daily readers that contained the dated short topics for meditation.

Let nothing said here be construed as criticism of 12-step programs. Jack was thoroughly convinced that there were great strengths in the programs both for the addicted and those who were near to them.

Over the years he reached several conclusions from his observations of both programs.

  • The steps contain great wisdom and when applied can be life-changing.
  • The traditions provide a focus when so many groups meld into activist or advocacy campaigns.
  • The social contact with others who understand their version of your pain can be supportive.
  • The reliance on a “higher power,” although often criticized, is necessary for any lasting change in the human psyche.

Jack’s observations also led to other conclusions:

  • Many come, most leave.
  • Many who stay continue to dwell on their pain, if the group sharing and individual stories are valid indicators.
  • Some of the encouragement can become trite. “Work the program” seems to be a catch-all response to virtually every need.
  • Some people, like his mother, are never able to share their pain publicly, yet the enthusiasm of the crowd seems to pressure them in that direction. So they leave.
  • Some groups seem to have a somewhat morbid fascination in who could share the most outrageous story.

As the years passed, Jack became even more fascinated with the people who left than with those who stayed. The standard group response of “still in denial” seemed to him to be a little hasty. The group-think was that if someone truly reached the realization that they were an alcoholic or that a family or friend was alcoholic and they needed help in dealing with it, then participation in the 12-step group was axiomatic.

Yet every year, dozens of new people came to local groups and almost as many left still searching for some relief and hope.

Jack began seeking out every newcomer at any meeting; to make them feel welcome and to encourage them to come back.

In doing that, Jack met Chuck – a grizzled septuagenarian – at one of the open meetings. Jack was struck by two things regarding Chuck: one, his simple self-introduction of “I’m Chuck, a sober alcoholic for forty-seven years;” and two, the simple, radiant joy on Chuck’s face.

Jack made sure that Chuck understood that he was himself a visitor and that his active involvement was in the “family of” program. Chuck accepted that with a simple question, “Why are  you here?”

When Jack explained his higher interest in why people left over why they came, Chuck said, “I think I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee at the diner down the street.”

Jack accepted and shortly they found themselves sitting at a table along the back wall of the diner with steaming cups of coffee between them. There were several other people from the 12-step meeting, but the table afforded enough privacy.

Chuck began to share his story with Jack.

“I’m not one who easily gets up and showcases my faults. I acknowledge them; and daily I deal with them; but I don’t like public displays of martyrdom.” He laughed, “You’ve just learned all you’re going to learn about my addiction.”

“I go to lots of meetings and I don’t consider myself a member of any single group. I take a lot of road trips to visit other meetings. I’m always looking for that one person, if any, who wants to know more about the program’s failures, not its successes. You qualified yourself when you told me of your interest in the people who left.

“I love the 12-step programs; but honest people will have to admit that the power of the program is one of mind-control. We teach people to say the slogans, meditate on the writings, call their sponsors, and above all to “work the program” which is to say, meditate, and call. I’m not saying that’s bad; those are just the facts of life in 12-step.”

“For people responsive to this form of mind control, the programs work.”

“For people too ornery, too stubborn, too educated, or too sophisticated, the program will never work. You have to be a little pliable. And my, never-to-be-documented guess is that the stubbornness group is a small percentage of those who leave for the second reason.”

“Like you, Jack, I made a habit of always meeting the new people. I got to the point that I could see the depth of pain in their eyes or the defeated slope of their shoulders and say to myself ‘That one won’t be here long.’”

“You see, 12-step programs require that you face your pain. So you ‘work the program.’ When the pain builds up, you call your chosen sponsor and he or she tells you to ‘work the program.’”

“The dated materials for both groups tell us again and again that negative thoughts will be stirred up and the solution is to ‘work the program’.”

“For many people, thinking about the hurt is too painful to face; and the easiest solution is to return to the drinking or the denial.”

Jack was curious. “Are you saying that we don’t have anything to help the people who get overwhelmed thinking about their pain?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, Jack. As good as our programs are, we are discouraged from using materials other than the officially endorsed books, pamphlets, and publications. So I share the Thirteenth Step for those who can’t deal with their pain with slogans, sponsors, and social contact.”

“Okay! You have definitely piqued my curiosity,” Jack pressed. “What is the Thirteenth Step?”

“It may be too simple for some people to embrace and apply to their lives. Formally stated, the Thirteenth Step says ‘I commit that whenever painful thoughts pop up in my mind, I will consistently say out loud to myself, ‘I will not think about that’. When the thought returns, say out loud again, ‘I will not think about that’.”

“If people use the Thirteenth Step consistently, they will find that the negative thinking comes less and less until it becomes insignificant to us. The fact is that we’re just built to handle negative thinking that way!”

As Chuck talked, Jack began to think of how much the Thirteenth Step could have helped his mother in her own search for peace through the “family and friends” 12-step program.

“Jack, I am living proof that the Thirteenth Step works. After I had gone to a half-dozen or so meetings, I was frustrated. Every time I started ‘working the program,’ my mind would begin to churn with all the hurts I had suffered, the hurts I had caused and the excuses I was making, you know, the typical mind clutter that all of us have, that I would get totally distracted from the program and totally involved with my negative thinking. Can you identify with that?”

He continued without waiting for my answer, “An old gentleman, a WWI vet, came up to me much like you came up to me tonight and asked if he could help me get through my negative thinking. We ended up sitting over a cup of coffee and he shared with me what he call the Thirteenth Step. That step has eased my way through this program for the past forty-seven years. It helped me so much that since then, I have shared the Thirteenth Step with people like yourself in every state in the Union and most of the Canadian provinces.”

“I asked a friend who knows something about computers to create an online course to teach the concept and provide the accountability to make the step a reality for anyone wants more personal peace. In just weeks, you can be free of most emotional pain and negative thinking. Then you can devote your peaceful thinking to solving your real life issues and living the other 12 steps.”

“I’m passing it along to you, Jack. Many old hands in 12-step groups resist ideas like this. I encourage you to keep looking for inquiring minds and share it with people who are truly seeking help. We have this tool already in each of us and all it needs is to be used. The online course shows us how to do that.

Jack and Chuck talked until the diner closed. He sensed that he would never see Chuck again; but he also sensed that Chuck had accomplished exactly what he came to town to do. He passed along the Thirteenth Step.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts in order to minimize the effects of emotional or even physical pain in our lives..

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Thirteenth Step. The principles work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace, freedom, and serenity.

You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

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Brenda’s Story – Playing the Blame Game

“Yourself to Blame.”

If things go bad for youBrenda's Story - Playing the Blame Game

And make you a bit ashamed

Often you will find out that

You have yourself to blame

 

Swiftly we ran to mischief

And then the bad luck came

Why do we fault others?

We have ourselves to blame

 

Whatever happens to us,

Here is what we say

“Had it not been for so-and-so

Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”

 

And if you are short of friends,

I’ll tell you what to do

Make an examination,

You’ll find the faults in you…

 

You’re the captain of your ship,

So agree with the same

If you travel downward

You have yourself to blame

 

Author: Mayme White Miller

Be inspired. Look beyond the blame and let no distract you from your goals, nor convince you otherwise.

Source: FOX NEWS INSIDER

 

Brenda was packing. She’d been at it all morning and had to leave in an hour; but her packing kept being interrupted by sometimes angry, always sad, and sometimes wistful thoughts that swirled through her mind.

She’d found herself sitting on the edge of the bed wondering why Marsha, her best friend from junior high had invited her back to the 40-year class reunion of the class in which she and Marsha would have graduated together had her father not dragged her away from the life she knew to a life that with which she never completely identified. She blamed her father, long dead, for the lifetime of pain that she had suffered because he wanted to start a new business 800 miles away from the town where she and Marsha had lived.

Brenda and Marsha had been Christmas-card and birth-announcement close for the past 45 years. Life had become too busy and too complicated to be any closer than that. She had little desire to see child-hood friends, but Marsha had been so insistent in her invitation and on the phone. “It would be so good to reconnect,” she’d encouraged.

There was an arrival drinks party on Thursday night. She’d need a nice slightly-more-than-casual pants and blouse outfit for that.

Brenda never quite got over blaming her father for his decision; and blaming her mother for being so weak as to let him put everything they owned on the line for his pipe dream. Hardly a day passed that she didn’t spend at least a few minutes in an emotional battle with her father, her mother, or both. Depending on what else was going on in her life, her emotions could range from smoldering hurt to outright rage.

Brenda had never made any real friends in high school and college. The town where they moved was so into Southern heritage and “being part of the right family” and Brenda had neither the heritage nor the family. So she spent a lot of time on the outside looking in.

Every party that she spent standing by the wall watching other kids have fun was the direct result of her father being so mean and stupid as to move the family without considering what it would do to all of them, especially Brenda.

She had no expectations that this reunion would be any different, but Marsha was so persuasive. And Brenda’s kids had thought she should go back home for the weekend, so here she was packing.

Friday’s events included a golf outing, shopping, and an informal dinner in the evening. So she needed to pack daytime casual and something a little dressy for the dinner. Brenda had no interest in the shopping, so when Marsha suggested renting a golf-cart and riding along as others played golf, she’d agreed to do that. Marsha said it would give them lots of time to “catch up.”

Robert had loved golf. Brenda had met Robert in college and married him 4 months out of college. She had no idea why he’d fallen in love with her. She’d never been really happy. She had blamed him secretly for her unhappiness. She didn’t understand why she had felt that way toward him. She was unhappy and it had to be somebody’s fault.  Robert had been totally devoted to her and had provided a good life for her and their son and daughter. He’d also been thoroughly entranced by their grandchildren. That had ended with his heart attack four years ago. So the golf outing with Marsha would be sort of a memorial to Robert, even though she blamed him for leaving her alone.

She’d often wondered why he stayed with her because her kids certainly didn’t. Well it wasn’t that bad, she thought. Both kids lived within an hour, just in different directions. They just didn’t visit her very often. It had always been Robert and Brenda visiting them instead of the other way around. The fact the she was often moody and bitchy (her choice of words) made life hard on her family. As soon as the kids left for college, time together became occasional weekends and holidays.

Robert had always gone to church, but Brenda seldom went. She didn’t think she fit in very well with the church crowd. They’d always gone to church when she was a child and she had lots of friends there. When they’d moved, they had tried church. She still remembered all the faces turning and looking at the weird people from up north as they walked in and took their seats.

That same “outside” feeling persisted throughout high school and college. There were times when she acknowledged that she could have been more friendly; but mostly, they didn’t want her there and she didn’t want to be there; and why did they have to be that away?

Her father’s business venture failed and they lost just about everything but their home. So there wasn’t any money to go back north for college, the out-of-state tuition and travel costs being prohibitive. So she went to an in-state school. It wasn’t too bad, but her shyness and moodiness made it easier for people to have other friends. The frustrating thing was that she had had lots of friends before they moved; and her father destroyed all that; and her mother had let him get away with it.

Robert and Brenda had done okay financially, but the memory of her father’s failure made her worry all the time about going broke. She shared her fears often with Robert and his assurances were never quite enough. She blamed Robert for her worries about money.

She’d told Marsha that she would really like to spend Saturday morning driving around and seeing the town she remembered. Marsha agreed with that and suggested some nice places for lunch. There was a tour of the old school scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

There was a dinner-dance scheduled for Saturday evening and she’d need to pack something dressy for that. She pulled open her lingerie drawer and decided that was absolutely no need to pack anything other than the white utility pieces. She certainly had no black-lace expectations about the dinner-dance.

Marsha met her at the airport about 5:30 and took her to her hotel. The cocktail party was at the hotel so they had a nice time visiting with a lot of old friends. Marsha apparently had prepped everyone about inviting Brenda because not one person asked why she was there since she was not actually part of the graduating class of 1970.

Marsha was twice-divorced and declared that her life was complete with her two daughters, handsome sons-in-law, and the five, delightful grandchildren. She had absolutely no interest in another romantic relationship at this stage of her life, she laughingly shared.

This attitude puzzled Brenda. How could Marsha be so light-hearted and happy considering her history?

Friday was a beautiful day and after lunch Marsha had driven them out to the country club where they arranged for a golf cart to follow the golfing crowd. Brenda was more and more intrigued how Marsha was so happy and jovial with everybody!

After an hour, Brenda steered the cart over to the little bluff overlooking the lake and they found some comfortable park benches and sat down for the talk Brenda had been planning to have all morning.

“How can you be so upbeat with your life: two divorces and everything else?” she asked.

Marsha’s quick reply was, “I just don’t think about it.”

“You don’t think about it! It happened to you, not once, but twice! How can you not think about it? I can’t help but think about the things people have done to me!”

“I have too many blessings to think about,” Marsha replied. “I don’t have time to mess up my life thinking about stuff that will only make me unhappy.”

Brenda didn’t reply, so Marsha asked her, “What do you think about most of the time.”

Thinking for a moment, Brenda answered, “When I’m busy, I think about what I’m doing. But when I have time on my hands, which I have a lot of these days, I tend to think about how my father destroyed my life by moving us away from here; and about how my mother let him do it. I think about Robert dying and leaving me alone. I think about worrying about money so much. I think about my kids not having any time for me anymore.”

“And how does all that thinking make you feel?” Marsha asked.

“It makes me miserable, to tell the truth. I sometimes get so worked up that I have to take a sleeping pill to get to sleep.” As if on a roll, she continued, “It causes me lots of anxiety and stress. I’m such a bitch sometimes that people don’t want to be around me. Then I blame them for being so stuck-up and judgmental. If they only knew how much I’ve suffered in life, they would be more sympathetic.”

“If thinking all those negative thoughts makes you so miserable, to use your word, then why do you think those thoughts?

Brenda shot back, more emotionally than she intended, “Why do I think about the negative thoughts? They’re the history of my life. How can I NOT think them?”

Marsha smiled warmly, “Whenever one of those negative thoughts pops into your mind, you can simply say “I will not think about that.”

Brenda almost shouted, “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard!”

Marsha waited for Brenda to calm down and then said gently, “Let me tell you my story.”

“When my first husband walked out on me for a younger model after twenty-five years of marriage, two children and, at the time three grandchildren, I was furious and I made sure that everybody knew how furious and hurt I was. I was able to calm down after some years and during that time I met husband number two.”

“But every time I saw number one at a family event with yet another bimbo on his arm, I’d get furious all over again blaming him for all my pain.”

“After three years, husband number two told me that he had better things to do with his life than listen to a bitch complain about her first husband; so he left me. And he had the nerve to blame it on me.”

“So I became double trouble as a bitch. My girls stopped coming around, my friends at church deserted me, and I had nothing left but work and misery.”

“My Aunt Annie, since deceased, was in assisted living and I visited her one day. She was sharp as a tack; she just couldn’t walk and take care of herself any longer. I had just gotten off the phone trying to plan something with my daughters and they were using every excuse in the book to avoid being with me. I guess I was wearing my emotions on my sleeve when I walked in Aunt Annie’s door.”

“My ever-direct Aunt Annie nailed me after about five minutes. ‘I’ve known you since I changed your diapers all those years ago and I’ve never seen you this wrought up. Do you want to tell me what’s going on in your life?’”

“So I told her. When I’d finished, she asked me the same question I just asked you, ‘If those thoughts make you unhappy, why do you think them?’”

“I answered exactly the same way you did; ‘How can I not think about them?’”

Aunt Annie shared with me what she called a simple and effective Rule for Peace that she said had served her well for most of her ninety-two years.

She told me that whenever a negative thought pops into my mind, I should say out loud to myself, “I will not think about that.” Then I go ahead with what I’m doing. If the thought pops up again, I should say again, out loud, “I will not think about that.” I can say it softly, but I must say it out load to myself.

She told me that if I was in a social situation where it would be awkward to say it out loud, I could simply use my hand as if covering a cough and say it into my hand, “I will not think about that.”

She told me that I wouldn’t notice much difference at first. But she promised me that if I would dismiss my negative thoughts consistently, it will make all the difference in the world to me emotionally.

She then challenged me to keep a calendar of dismissing my thoughts. I should make a note on the calendar each day of how many times I had said, “I will not think about that.”

She also said that since she got lonely at the home, I should visit or call her at least once a week and tell her the numbers I’d written on my thought calendar.

“Skeptical, I left and had the opportunity to say the phrase in my car leaving the parking lot; and several other times before I got home. I made the notations in my calendar like Aunt Annie suggested.”

“Brenda, I have to tell you that I was amazed to see the numbers on my calendar. By the end of the first week, I was saying the phrase half as often as when I started. And more amazingly, I discovered that I was thinking more positive thoughts, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I have the emotional peace where I could think about other things.”

“I faithfully reported to Aunt Annie every week but after about four weeks, we didn’t talk about my negative thoughts anymore. Each of my visits was filled with all sorts of stories about my family and the life that Aunt Annie had lived. What joy and peace!”

“When she died three years ago, I felt like I’d lost a dear friend, but more than that, I knew I have been given a priceless gift – the gift of personal peace.”

“Do you see why I wanted so much for you to come to this reunion? I had sensed that you were lacking peace and I wanted to share Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace with you. I’ll tell you this, if you hadn’t come up here this weekend, I would have invited myself down to see you in a matter of weeks.”

“This is a fact, Brenda, You can experience personal peace in your life and it will make a world of difference to you!”

Marsha reached in her bag and gave me a card with Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace and challenge on it.

“Brenda, I promise you this works because it worked for me. I predict that before I finish this sentence, you’ll be thinking to yourself, ‘This will never work for me. My problems are too bad.’ That needs to be the first time you say to yourself, ‘I will not think about that.’

At the dinner-dance that night, Brenda felt like a giddy teenager sharing a secret when she discovered how many times she discreetly covered a fake cough and said to herself, “I will not think about that.” She had a great time visiting with childhood friends and even sharing a few dances with some of the guys from the past. Each time she faked the cough, she would glance a Marsha and share a eye-smile.

At the Sunday brunch and later on the way to the airport, she thanked Marsha for caring enough to share Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace. She truly felt optimism and hope for the first time in forty-five years; and that was a blessing.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Rule for Peace that will work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peacehttp://findingpersonalpeace.com. The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 findingpersonalpeace.com. Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.

 

What Do You See?

What Do You See?Two people can be together, at the same time, at the same place, and see two totally different worlds. Let’s think about that.

Do you know people who always see a bright hopeful world? On the other hand, do you know people who consistently see a world of failure and despair?

What’s the difference?

Picture two people standing together looking at and dealing with the same world going on around them. A difficult situation has presented itself to both at the same time.

One has a smile and is thinking of all the good things that are going to happen today; or she is clearly recognizing the issue and considering the ways she can deal with the issue and get beyond it. She sees a solution around every bend in the road.

The other is downcast and completely overcome by the issue as he sees it. There’s no hope. There’s no future. He might as well go back to bed or get a strong drink or something else to mask his painful prospects. He sees failure like a prison wall. There’s no way out of the sadness.

The former has developed the habit of hope. She knows that any problem can be solved. She believes that she already solved this problem and it’s just a matter of uncovering the solution. Her habit lets her approach every issue in life as just a bump in the road; certainly not a barrier..

The latter wallows in the habit of despair. He is convinced that the world is going to dump on him again just like it has so many times before. His habit is dwelling on all the negative things that have happened or that might happen. He may be caught up in reliving anger; or fear, or embarrassment, or guilt and shame; or victimhood.

His negative thinking completely blocks everything from his mind. He couldn’t see hope even if it were standing there right in front of him.

The irony of his pain is that it’s not usually happening right now. He’s ruminating on the pain of something that happened in the past; sometimes many years in the past.

He can’t get beyond the pain because he keeps recreating it by dwelling on it again and again.

It’s entirely possible that what he thinking about actually did happen. But chances are it’s not actually happening again today. But he’s thinking about it and feeling the pain just as if it were happening all over again.

What do You See?Dr. Ben Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who grew up in the poverty of Detroit, Michigan. He gives his mother credit for his success. What would have happened if his mother had seen only the despair of the Detroit slums instead of the hope that an education offered her sons. Click here to learn more about Dr. Carson.

What do You See?Helen Keller, at age seven, was a wild, undisciplined child who lived in a dark, silent world brought on by an illness as an infant. What would have happened if Anne Sullivan had not had the vision of hope that gave her patience to teach Keller how to communicate and to learn? What would the world have lost without Anne Sullivan’s hope? Learn more.

What do You See?For three years, Anne Frank kept a diary of life as she saw it while hidden in an Amsterdam attic with her Jewish family. She saw hope in the middle of despair and death and shared with the world.

More about Anne Frank

What do You See?

What would have happened to America if the millions and millions of immigrants had given in to the fear of the unknown and just hunkered down where they were, imprisoned by despair? Much of the richness, color, and texture of American society would have never been enjoyed. More on Ellis Island.

Given a few minutes, you could make quite a list of people past and present who have risen above circumstances because they could see hope.

In the same few minutes, you can probably make a list of people who never quite made it because they couldn’t see beyond their failure and faults.

Negative thinking has the capacity to make us blind to hope; to success; to peace;

People of faith often use a technique of counting their blessings to overcome times of difficulty. Counting blessings can become a habit that slams the door on negative thinking.

People of faith can also overcome circumstances by singing or speaking praise to their God. That too becomes a habit leading to peace and purpose.

But what if you’re not a person of faith?

All of us are made with a capacity to choose what we let ourselves think about. If a negative thought of a past hurt or shame pushes into our mind, we can simply and effectively dismiss that thought by saying something like, “I take that thought captive;” or “I will not think about that.” Do that and the thought always goes away.

It will probably come back and you can dismiss it again; and again; and again.

Dismiss it consistently and a part of your mind learns that you don’t want to think that thought and your mind dismisses it automatically.

When your mind is free of the thoughts that blind you, even for a few minutes, you have time to rationally consider your circumstances and make decisions that will lead you to a life of peace and hope.

Someone just thought, “That’s too simple. It won’t work for me.”

I suggest that you should immediately dismiss that thought and enjoy a moment of peace. Dismiss it again and enjoy a minute of peace.

Develop the habit of peace; it’s part of your nature if you let yourself see it.

These thoughts were prompted after reading a piece in The Upper Room by Sue McCoulough of Great Britain. http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2014-01-02.

Resources you can use.

The author has developed an online course, Finding Personal Peace, that simply and effectively shows you how to develop a habit of peace and then how to apply what you’ve learned to making better life choices and in dealing with pesky life habits.

You can learn more about and enroll in this free course at http://findingpersonalpeace.com.

What do you see? If you see hope and victory, that’s great. If you see despair and failure, that doesn’t have to be your future. Find and enjoy peace starting today.

I hope Finding Personal Peace helps you with your sadness as much as it helped me with my anger.

What do You See?

Rod Peeks

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

P.S. We’ve written several short stories with some good life lessons. You can check them out by searching by category at the right. My son told me that Ben’s Story gave him something think about in his life. Thanks.

Relationships – Faith, Hope, Love

The absolute key to successful relationships – Faith, Hope, Love

Relationships - Faith, Hope, LoveSomebody said, “That sounds a lot like the Bible.” In fact, it is from the Bible.

1 Corinthians 13:13 – “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Even if you’re one who does not accept the Bible literally, you must admit that there is some compelling logic in these words for anybody who pursues good relationships.

Faithconfidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability; not necessarily based on proof.

In any relationship, you must have faith (believe) in this relationship with your partner; your spouse; your friend; your child; your parent. Believe that great things can happen because you two are together. Believe that things will work out. Believe that you will find what you’re looking for together.

It’s faith that allows you to set high expectations for the relationship. It’s a heartfelt belief.

Hopethe feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

Hope is what gets you up and out each day – you have the feeling that it’s all going to work out. Hope, coupled with faith, will carry you over the rough spots and through the deep water to a secure footing on the other side.

Hope tells you things will get better.

Lovea profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person or a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.

Love is the glue of the relationship. Love is the force that compels you to defend your relationship and the individual against all attackers.

I’m still reading World War II non-fiction. I learned over the weekend that probably the most common basis for awarding the Medal of Honor (our highest ranking medal for valor) to Marines in the Pacific battles was throwing one’s body on a live grenade to protect his comrades.

Are you willing to take a grenade for your spouse? Your child? Your friend? If you are, it’s the love you have for them that always puts their needs before your own.

The verse describes love as the most durable of the three characteristics.

It’s love that is the driving energy in the relationship when your faith gets buffeted by circumstances.

It’s love that makes you keep looking for the peaks when hope has deserted you in the dark valleys.

It’s love that sustains you when attacks from either from your partner or others.

It’s a one-way street

Faith, hope, and love in the context here are outgoing features. They describe you; not your partner. In the 100% – 100% ratio that we talked about in an earlier post, you’re responsible for all the faith, hope, and love in your relationship. That’s all you have any control over. If you partner carries their 100% well, then you have an incredibly strong relationship.

If you struggle with your faith, your hope, and your love in any relationship, take a look at the thoughts that weigh heavily on your attitudes. You don’t have to let yourself be drawn by doubts, low expectations, and low esteem for your partner.

You get to decide whether the relationship is strong enough. You get to take control of any negative thinking that you have. You get to choose whether you will listen to negativity of whether you will be true to faith, hope, and love.

If you have trouble with that choice, Finding Personal Peace can help you.

To an awesome relationship,

Relationships - Faith, Hope, Love

www.findingpersonalpeace.com

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

A Candle of Hope

The Candle of Hope

The Candle of Hope

Today at church we lit the first Advent Candle, the Candle of Hope. Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. What a powerful emotion is hope! Hope is a strong girder that can span wide chasms of circumstances that assail many of us.

Hope is a powerful engine that can push us through the struggles that often seem to block our way.

Hope makes tomorrow seem brighter than today; today brighter than yesterday.

So we lit the candle of Hope and a bold flame shown steady and bright.

A Flicker of Hope

So many people don’t have even a flicker of hope. For them, hope is overwhelmed by a flood of negative emotions and negative thinking. Know anybody like that?

It’s sad when the road is always running uphill and getting steeper.

It’s sad when the storm on our emotional horizon is growing with each passing day instead of receding with each new sunrise.

It’s sad when we don’t care any more.

Life doesn’t have to be that way.

We have an innate capacity for hope. We were built that way.

Something inside us truly wants the best for us.  That inner feeling can begin to grow if we give it time and space to expand.

That inner feeling can be reinforced if by clear thinking we can make timely and good life decisions that need to be made.

That inner feeling can become more real every day as we let ourselves have more peace.

So how is that possible?

We don’t have to let the negative thinking take over our lives.

We don’t have to dwell on every bad that thing that has happened to us or that we have caused to happen to ourselves or others.

We don’t have to stew and foment as a matter of habit. Bad habits can be broken. New habits can be made.

There is neither time nor space here to tell you how this is possible. You’re welcome to visit the link below my name for the details.

The Candle of Hope can become a blazing torch if you give it the fuel of personal peace.

God bless!

A Candle of Hope

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

Which Word Best Describes You?

I’m going to define several words and ask you which one best describes you, okay?Which Word Best Describes You?

Angry – Are you carrying a chip around on your shoulder just waiting for somebody to come by and knock it off? That was my life for more years than I like to think. The slightest offense causes anything from a slow burn to boiling over onto everybody within range.

Depressed – Life isn’t pleasant. Everything’s painted in gray tones. Most things don’t turn out well. People always disappoint you. You always disappoint yourself. The glass is always empty. Do you deny yourself any form of success?

Addicted – Are you dependant on something? Are you addicted to mask some internal pain? I had two addictions – food and work. Actually, a third: I was addicted to approval. If you want to see a partial list of addictions to see if any fit you, click here.

Stressed – Are you burning the candle from both ends? Do your relationships fail because your stress always gets in the way? Does the heartburn come and stay?

Afraid – Does personal contact make you shrink back? Does the thought of going to a party leave you in a cold sweat? Do you skip out on job interviews because you’re afraid of the questions they might ask?

Confused – Do all the thoughts spinning through your mind make you uncertain, unable to make a decision? Which way do you go? Maybe that’s the wrong way? Do you second-guess yourself so much that nothing makes sense anymore?

Envious – Are you resentful that others have more than you. Are you frustrated that your achievements just don’t quite measure up? Do you spend lots of time wishing life could be like so-and-so’s life?

Happy – Insults and offenses roll off your back like water off a duck’s back. Failure happens; you shrug it off and keep going. Your lifestyle is satisfying. Relationships are thriving. Life is good; really, really good.

So which word best describes you. Maybe none of them do. Grab some paper and write down the colors that paint your portrait.

Life doesn’t have to be the way it is if you selected mostly dark, sad colors.

Think through the circle of people who are close to you. Which words, which colors, would best describe them?

If there were a way for you to find peace, lasting personal peace, would you want to learn more about it?

If you could offer a way for someone you love to find lasting personal peace, would you be willing to tell them about it?

There is a way that might be the answer for all of you. To take a look, click here.

God bless,

Which Word Best Describes You?

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!

You’re holding a key . . .

That’s right! You’re holding a key that could be very You’re holding a key . . .important to somebody you know. You’re reading this post and learning about an idea where someone can find the personal peace that they want very much.

What am I talking about? Peace is an elusive concept for so many people. They hurt for all kinds of reasons – secret reasons in many cases – and they don’t know what to do to find relief or peace. They stew in anger, fear, insecurity, depression, anxiety, you name it. They stew and they hurt and they don’t know that a possible solution is as close as a phone call or email from you.

Maybe you don’t like to intrude. After all, your friend never confided in you about their pain. Wouldn’t it be insensitive for you to bring it up? Our culture is so closed and so self-protective. Unless someone specifically asks you to help them, you just can’t get involved, can you?

Maybe you’re reluctant to risk being wrong. After all, this might be the wrong answer for them. Then you would be the irresponsible person that steered them wrong. You don’t want that to happen, do you?

So how could you give them the key without intruding and with minimum risk to your self-esteem?

You could visit the blog yourself and read the posts about Finding Personal Peace. You could actually visit the Finding Personal Peace website and check it out for yourself. Information reduces the risk of being wrong.

Then maybe you could say something like, “It’s none of my business, but you’ve seemed to be a little stressed lately. I visited a website that talked about dealing with stress in a different way. Can I give you the website address?”

So there, you’ve done it. They can decide for themselves if there’s anything there for them.

Or, you could just forget about the key and let them continue to hurt in privacy. What’s it going to be?

I hope you decide to help use the key to help someone you love!

God bless,

You’re holding a key . . .

P S. You can find the key when you click here.

Thanks for reading our blog today. I invite you to respond in several ways: (1) Comment in the space below if you agree or disagree with what I’ve said. A dialogue could be interesting for all; (2) Share the post with your friends using the buttons below; and (3) sign up to get an email with each new post. There’s a place to do that on the right. Then you won’t have to remember to look for our subsequent posts. Thanks again!