Step #11

From Rev. Kim:

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, seeking God’s vision for our lives and help in living into that vision.

As Rev. Matt said in his blog post on Step 10, our journeys of dealing with addictions are always in process, whether they are in relationship to substances, poor coping mechanisms, or apps on our phones. The 12 Steps are not about reaching a date of completion so we can move on to other things and not think about those pesky steps anymore. They help us understand what we need to do to practice recovery, and faith.  Like exercise, good eating habits and regular doctor visits help us build and maintain healthy bodies, so we need good spiritual practices or habits to keep opening our lives to God, and recovering from the addictions that can rule our lives.

Step 11 encourages us to “improve our conscious contact with God” through prayer and meditation.  Scripture holds many teachings about prayer, including the Lord’s Prayer.  There are many different ways to pray and meditate so you can find what works for you. Some go into nature, practice meditation, or sit in a space in their house and quietly say prayers.

Over the years, I have found journaling to be a very helpful spiritual practice for me. I like to do it every day, but don’t. I do, however, manage most weeks to do it multiple days, and aim for 5 days each week. I have to set aside time—which is always a challenge.  At different times of my life, the time of the day has varied, but setting aside even a few minutes is really grounding.  I am still surprised, though I shouldn’t be, at how taking the time to journal becomes a gift I give myself. Doing it regularly benefits the quality of my day, my relationships, and how I look at the world.

My process is not elaborate or focused on form, or beautiful language and by no means about grammar or punctuation. It is not an attempt to document every task or experience in my life.  What happens in my journal, could happen for some without pen & paper, but I am easily distracted, and find that a pen on a blank page is centering. The pen physically connects me to the task at hand which is being in touch with myself and with God.  In essence, my entries are scrawled conversations with myself and God.

The pages of my journals are filled with illegible run-on sentences that include not only the good sides of myself, my gratitude and aspirations, but also the most unbecoming aspects of who I am and what I think and feel. It is where I come as I am, not how I want to be seen, though sometimes it will take me some pages to get there! In sharing openly with myself and God my fear, anger, and disappointment, it begins to come into perspective, and it helps me to keep from being stuck there.  I ask God for guidance, help and strength and say I am sorry. These days I often ponder the world, and pray to be an agent of change. And sometimes on these pages I nestle into God’s love and my journal becomes a place of sanctuary where I gather strength for the day ahead.

Writer Anne Lamott, in her book “Help, Thanks, Wow,” says “Most good, honest prayers remind me that I am not in charge, that I cannot fix anything, and that I open myself to being helped by something, some force, some friends, some something.” That kind of prayer and opening up, no matter how we do it, is transformative.

So, as we continue the journey, may we find and practice ways to open our hearts and minds to the transformative power of God’s love. Amen.

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