...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Story

The characteristics of adult children of alcoholics sometimes left me more puzzled and feeling, well, different. Working with a skilled spiritual director equipped me to better see and appreciate the child I was meant to be, born to be.

I grew up Christian, was baptized and confirmed in a healthy community of faith. I went to church and Sunday School regularly. One of the greatest gifts to me from family and church was a trust in a loving God. Without it, I would be in a very different place spiritually, or even no place at all.

At the same time we kept our church experiences and realities at home apart from each other. A dichotomy existed. This is how addictions grow, fester, and persist. They are enabled by a conspiracy of silence. Or we smooth over the dysfunction by using words like "heavy drinker" instead of alcoholic.

In adolescence, I coped by trying to control, manage or avoid the explosive feelings within and people and situations around me. I did what I could do to keep the peace, especially once the booze started talking. I tried my best to reduce conversations to pablum- and even tried not to feel or think at all by numbing -out chemically.

For much of the first half of my life, the true self that God loved and created and called was in almost total dormancy. Yes, I graduated, was ordained, began and continued in full time ministry with major blindness to the one and only self. Spiritual direction and the disciplines were optional. A workshop I once attended on "The Image You Project" well describes the theme of those first 10 years in full time ministry. Don't get me wrong: wonderful opportunities to grow in wholeness did exist. Not easy finding them though. 

Greater acceptance of my true self and honest friendship with others is a journey, not a destination. This journey is wrapped up in the love and grace and movement of God. Refusing this true north is the sin I choose. My choice to live out of God's abundant love is the gift I can offer.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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