Suffice it to say that in the last 3.5 years, Jesus brought me through a complete system reboot. I'm still going through the process of deciding what needs to be installed on the new system -- some good old programs and systems need to be reinstalled, but there are far more that need to be left behind for good. I'm still figuring out how to run within the new operating system, learning lots as I go on in learning new ways.
The reboot and "comeback" was long overdue. It was three years ago I came to a point of total give-up surrender. I had just completed working on the final project for a counselling course which involved letting Jesus walk you through your own "stuff" (the premise being if you don't know personally to have Jesus rescue you through your own messy wounds and issues, it's difficult to help anyone else through their own baggage).
For that assignment I decided to be brave and work on my addiction to work and productivity. Literally at the start of the project I felt like I had to "work" on it myself and muster up enough effort to overcome my life-long problem of letting my identity be chained to my career or what I was able to produce or do.
Well by the time I was ushered through the process of understanding the entangled roots of my problem, my eyes were necessarily opened to how I was in way over my head. I was overcome by my sense of helplessness and powerlessness to change anything -- especially matters of the heart which all my external actions flow out of.
And so I gave up -- "Jesus! Understanding my problems and knowing what the right thing to do from here on, does not give me the actual power to do anything differently. I need you to do it. Because I just can't."
And that was the simple, yet difficult, point of turning my way of being into a new direction. I was experiencing the counterintuitive, yet powerful truths of AA's first 3 steps:
- We admitted we were powerless over (our addictions), that our lives had become unmanageable.
- We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
It's counterintuitive that giving up my own self-effort will help me move forward. I'm realizing more and more how Jesus' ways of governing are so entirely opposite of human wisdom. In my mind it doesn't make sense that dying to myself would be the way to finding new life. But that's exactly how I found my way back to myself -- or rather, to my new self.
Shortly after I waved the white flag of surrender, every area of my life (professional, personal family, relationships, spiritual, emotional) surfaced multiple crises that ran me over like several trucks. I crashed.
My old house was demolished. The foundation was brought to the ground. Only then was there possibility for a new foundation to be laid.
With my work addiction slain, I didn't define myself anymore by what I could do. I actually swung to the other extreme where I was repulsed by questions of, "so, what do you do?" or comments of, "wow, you did such a great job on..."
In the demolishing, I had lost all my passions, drives, and dreams -- both good and bad ones. I felt like the North point of my compass was removed completely. And I had little clue as to what my new North should be or look like.
During the time I was a bit befuddled about who I was anymore, I had the amazing opportunity to go visit my friend and her husband who were doctors in Sudan at the time. The town where they lived had only one paved road. The rest were a muddy mess of jeeps, motorbikes, bicycles, pedestrians, and corrupt soldiers and police fining foreigners willy nilly. My friend's husband was helping the government form a primary health care system. It was eye opening to see how much we take for granted in our civilized existence.
The image was loud and clear to me -- it's messy to create a new society. Really messy. It's messy to learn a new way of life. Really messy.
Since then, I've been journeying along to discover the new ways of being, thinking and doing that I feel called to. Some days I'm taking steps forward. Other days I stumble and fall and lose my way, finding myself trying to live by the old ways in the new land.
But I'm back. I may be walking in a different land, but I am slowly learning to walk differently.