Tag Archives: Addictions

R.A.M. – Integrity


Webster defines’ integrity as: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic value: incorruptibility

Theodore Roosevelt – “Character, in the long run, is the decisive factor in the life of an individual and of nations alike”

Thomas Jefferson – “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching”

Ben Franklin – “Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil, so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.”

Defining integrity for myself means I act the same way I would whether someone was watching me or not.

Integrity is a something I place as a high value for my life.  Unfortunately, I haven’t always lived my life this way. I learned to lie as a boy and act differently around different people. I maneuvered my way through life putting an image for others while my personal life was living nightmare of shame and dirty secrets.

Most of my life has been spent covering my tracks, wearing masks and putting up a front that wasn’t real. I spent countless hours having to track all this garbage and plan for the future. It was an utter and complete waste of time. My marriage and ultimately my relationships with everyone were slowly being destroyed because of all this.  Even those who thought they were the closest to me had no idea.

My personality is one where I will continually do something, get hit in the head with a 2 X 4 repeatedly, walk away and go right back to the very thing. I guess it’s tenacity but not in a good way. You’d think I would be brain-dead by now as many times as I have been hit.  Why it took me so long I really don’t have an answer for.  In my mid-30’s I finally came to my senses and decided I was destroying everything I really cared about. I decided it was time I manned up.

When I decided to start truly being a man of integrity, I had to lay aside my pride, begin removing the masks and get real with who I a truly am.  My first steps in attempting this was connecting with a group of guys who were committed to doing the same thing, we all came together by God’s divine intervention. My biggest fear going into this meeting was that no one would understand me; they would reject me. The first meeting I went to I remember being physically ill and intimidated and wanted to run as fast as I could and get away from there. I seriously felt like I was going to have a heart attack. My palms were sweating, my heart was beating and I felt light-headed. I listened as everyone brutally and honestly bared his soul. I could tell from the beginning this was not going to be like any other meeting I have ever been involved in. Because of my addictions and the various choices I have made I have always felt like I was the odd man out.   When it was my turn I hesitantly started sharing my life and my stories.  It all began pouring out.  The tremendous amount of  fear and rejection I had carried with me felt lifted. I was able to begin my first steps in being real about who I am.  As I think back to that day, it felt like I spent an hour releasing all the lies I had kept hidden inside, all the evil, wicked thoughts and deeds I had ever done. Something changed that day deep within me. I soon realized the power of truth and its ability to set people free.

It hasn’t been easy, my mode of operation even after being involved with those men for several years I still fell back to old habits and patterns. When things got difficult I turned back to my addictions and putting on masks.  As much as I said integrity was a huge deal for me, I was choosing not to live my life that way.  It has taken a lot of hard work to go back and deal with layers and layers of junk.  Even at church the one place I believed was safe, I’ve worn masks and made it seem like I was the “All-American Dad” this great Christian man, father and husband who had it all together.  As a man I have purposely chosen other men in my life that I could get real with.  I have shared all the nastiness of my past with them and have asked them to hold me accountable and call me out on stuff if they thought I was being fake and phony.  This has played a significant role in my ability to apply integrity in my life.

I want others who see me, interact with me or even read what I write to know what you see is what you get, there isn’t some hidden agenda here.  If you meet me in person you going to see me and see how I do life.  Through tough times I have learned the value of living a life of integrity. I regret so many things I have done in my life where I have chosen less than wise decisions. Counseling, men’s groups and committed men in my life have all been the reason I have been able to stop wearing masks and see who I really am, see who God made me to be.

Now I live a very different life. I let integrity be my guide in most everything I do. I choose to be a Real Authentic Man, a man of quality and character. Yes I still have regrets from past mistakes, but as I move forward and mature I realize that living a life of integrity means I can be free and not be held back from the mistakes of my past. Choosing to live my life free from lies and masks makes for a sweet life and as Ben Franklin said a continual Christmas.

 

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Surrender


Surrender means to give up.  If you’re a convict and you surrender it means you turn yourself into the police.

I have a friend going through SA that I talk to daily and support him as best I can who’s trying to learn this term.  Part of my profession in dealing with folks who are addicts and providing them skills to stop or surrender from what they have done.  Assisting them in getting rid of the unhealthy things and addictions that have taken over their life.  Some of which I am no stranger to.

Part of following Jesus means that I recognize he is in control of my life.  We are meant to surrender our lives to him because in going it on our own we tend to make a huge mess of things.  I also know from many experiences when I allow him to guide and direct me life seems much sweeter.  However, because I deal with control issues this is not an easy thing.  I have my life planned out, I am a creäture of habit and routine so I do the same things week after week.  I guess this is my way of controlling my life so that I don’t have to worry bout unexpected things popping up.  Many times in my life I have said I was surrendering over my will and life to Jesus to take control, that I had messed it up and I couldn’t do it and I needed his guidance and wisdom to take over.  Only to shortly later take back control and go back to doing it my way.

The other night I was on the way home from work and I really was pondering the idea of surrender.  What does it mean to really surrender?  Somehow I have foolishly believed that surrendering means I turn over my will and “wham”, “pow”, “zap” – it’s a done deal, Jesus is now in full control and I am just along for the ride.  It seems so much easier to do than it is.  I began praying,  “Jesus I don’t know what full surrendering is, but please help me figure it out.”

I gave my friend a call today and asked him what surrendering meant to him and how it was working in his life.  He said it’s a moment by moment choice.  There’s nothing magical about it, you recognize your being controlled by something else that is really unhealthy for you and as hard as you try to stop it, you can’t.  This is where you surrender and say “I can’t do this I need you God” comes into play.  It’s extremely difficult and it take a lot of hard work and practice to put it into place.  He told me he has to say it over and over, some days hundreds of times; because that’s the only way it will happen or else he goes back to his old unhealthy ways and habits.

As I thought through our conversations, the concept is clear I just have done a poor job of surrendering.  I don’t have a give up attitude, I keep pressing on.  I am heard headed in that way.  I will freely admit I don’t have my stuff altogether and that I am in need of guidance, wisdom and the power of Jesus to transform my life.  I want and need to surrender and am praying that Jesus will walk me through the process.

Do you feel like you can surrender easily?