I was ill prepared for my adulthood. My father would have gone to jail today for what he did then to us kids. I learned to poker face him so he did not know when he was hurting me. I came into my adulthood quite adept at denying pain and making nice, with a very twisted sense of humor, and carrying way too much internalized anger. Three things brought me through: a soft and caring mother; Boy Scouts, I am an Eagle Scout; and church youth group.
By my mid-adult life, I experienced the cancer death of a father-in-law, an uncle’s suicide, my grandfather’s cancer death, a child of mine died, my father died, my sister committed suicide, my grandmother died, my mother died, a second child of mine died, and I hit and killed a pedestrian. The idea of my own suicide plagued me for a long time. I was divorced three times in ten years. I had learned so well to deny feelings. Being so possessed by all this, I began to drink in order to sleep and became an alcoholic. Alcohol took me places I never dreamed of going.
Pat is my fourth wife and I am so grateful for a 24 year wonderful walk with her. Obviously, I met Pat after I got sober.
I received a lot of counseling on four different occasions in the struggle to move from being angry and hard to being more soft, caring and compassionate.
I have 47 years of consistently coming to this Sanctuary and 27 years of consistently going to Alcoholics Anonymous. At this point, the only thing that is important to me is to just experience God working in my life, listening to God’s quiet inner voice in my soul and doing the next right thing. It is difficult to keep the whole God thing simple.
I know pain as a gift. Without pain, I would not know where I am injured, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. I no longer hide from pain. Pain tells me when there is healing work to do and where it needs to be done.
My experiences have brought so many gifts, truly gifts in some of the more difficult walks of life. Gifts because I have walked in all those shoes. Gifts because I can identify, approach, and support in a more effective way. I am resolved that no matter what happens to me, I will make it a gift. I will make it work for me, no longer against me. I walk today in assurance and am no longer afraid. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
I know I am more well today than I was yesterday and tomorrow I seek to be more well than I am today. Healing is never completed. There are always wounds that need attending.
I am so, so grateful for all of you. Many of you knew me when I was truly lost and wandering. I know because of the nature of life that I will need you again someday. I know you will be there for me.
I rejoice and celebrate all my life experiences. The really difficult ones have taught me so much. I cherish, chase, and pursue life today. Everyday I pray, “Oh Lord, keep me alive while I am living.” I am as alive today as I have ever been. And I take more naps.
Let us join together in prayer:
Oh Lord, keep us alive while we are living for there are so many, many ways of being dead.
Thank you, God, for death, for it brings us a sense of urgency to say it now, do it now, be it now.
Thank you, God, for loss, for it brings a kind of humbling we all need.
Thank you, God, for suffering, for the wonderful lessons suffering brings.
Thank you, God, for pain, for with pain we know where we need to do healing work.
Thank you, God, for grief, for love is the way into a relationship and grief is the way out of the relationship.
Thank you, God, for the demons within that plague each of us for those demons tell us to be wary of evil and what evil can become.
Thank you, God, for healing, for it is the pathway to be whole again.
Thank you, God, for this wonderful Federated spiritual community and AA that has meant so much to me.
Thank you, God, for bestowing upon our Federated Church a huge reservoir of talents, skills, abilities, and resources of all kinds. Give us the insight and courage to return to You in like kind your gifts to us. We are an amazing and blessed Christian community. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you, God, for the God within each person, for it gives each of us that quiet inner voice that tells us what is the next right thing to do.
And, finally, thank you, God, for hope, for hope is our most compelling reason to get out of bed and get into the day.