I spend my days working with Clients in a 12 step program. If you have never taken a moment to read the 12 steps here is your chance:
The 12 Steps
- Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
- Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
- Step 7: Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
- Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this
Wouldn’t we have a better world if we all lived by the 12 steps!
I talk about this because in my work we generally focus on step 1: Powerlessness. Have you have taken a moment and thought about that? I have (surprise, surprise!). But I truly have thought about this in the past 5 months. We were faced with unemployment just as I was getting ready to graduate and start a career. Notice I said start, not, I had already begun. I became powerless over my life overnight. Needed to take a job, which I currently still have, I needed to take care of my family but I was feeling out of control. Here is where the Faith part comes in…
I grew up in the Midwest (bible belt) and I was raised in the church, which is not a bad thing, in fact it made me who I am today. So I turned to my faith during this difficult time, not specific religious belief but faith in my higher power who for me is God. Through my work, I see miracles happen everyday. We even say to the clients, “Don’t leave before the miracle happens”. This means from the small things like “Don’t worry your day will get better to guess what we found placement for you and you leave in an hour.” To me these are miracles. But when I am in need of a miracle, a new job for my other half and for my world to no longer be chaotic I tend to try to take my will back. Try to control everything around me (I guess that could be the Taurus in me too). I have to remember I am powerless over my world. Only my Higher Power has that understanding of why things happen and He knows I will learn from them. But man, why does it have to take so long!
The good news… My other half started a job yesterday and things will get better financially and hopefully a little easier for me because I will not have to try and take more overtime just to pay the bills. But I was wondering today when I had a very long drive taking my daughter to dance camp, what did I learn through this process? Well here is what I learned… I spent a lot of time working on myself and my faith and trusting in the future that has already been mapped out for me but has not been revealed. I learned to start my day with a devotional and focus on what I can give the world today, not tomorrow and not what I did yesterday, but today! Live in the present! Only focus on the moment right now and what is before me because as much as we try we can’t change what is going to happen in 5 mins because we have no idea. It is the choice we make right now that matters.
I also started January 1 with a gratitude journal. Even though the big event in our life did not happen until February, I had already challenged myself to take a moment each morning and be thankful for what I already had been given. This is especially humbling when you work with people who only have the clothes on their backs and no place to go. I noticed that when we are challenged by events in our lives it takes more to come up with the things we are grateful for, so this was a challenge but now 8 months in I still come up with new things each day (to be honest in the winter I was grateful for that electric start on my car! especially in the snow!) and I start my day that way.
So why say all this and really do I have to be so wordy! The answer is yes to the wordy part!! But why do I feel like I have to say all this, because once we admit that we are powerless and we begin to have faith and trust, the load we carry gets a lot lighter. It becomes easier to get through the day. I look back now and realize all the things we as a family and me as the sole provider made it through. I am stronger and have more faith in myself that I could do it again if called upon (where believe me in the beginning there were lots of tears and doubt). I also have a stronger faith in my Higher Power because for me this verse kept popping up:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
So my therapy for you is… through hard times or even just everyday, be grateful for what you have already been given and trust in yourself. You already possess the skills to survive you just need some faith because we truly are powerless over the future. Be present in every moment!