Voices of Recovery today exclaims the summary of most stress-management programs I have studied and is the motto of a presentation I often did as a part of my old job assignment.  It is in a quotation from page 248 of For Today, “Nothing that happened yesterday or that may happen tomorrow is more important than NOW.” 

“God, give me the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, the courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” (from Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer)

Proverbs 22:10 speaks to the removal of strife I wrote about two days ago, “Drive out the mocker and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”  I used to picture a king making the court jester leave the assembly before the serious business started when I read this.  Now it becomes clear to me that the mocker I am to drive out is not someone else, but is the defect of mockery that lives in me.  Quarrels and insults don’t end when I try to drive away those who mock me, but when I drive away that part of me that refuses to say, “You may be right,” and let an argument die.  God, help me find my adequacy in You so I don’t feel the need to step on the throats of my fellows to elevate myself.  Help me drive out the mocker that lives within me, so I may more accurately reflect Your grace and love.

1 Samuel 18 tells of David’s rising popularity and a resentment built on jealous comparison.  King Saul tried to snare David into his family by giving him one of his daughters, but that plan backfired.  Verses 28 and 29 say, “When Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved David, Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.”  Saul’s emotions had taken a turn when crowds cheered for David more than for Saul.  Had he just been pleased for David rather than jealous of him, things might have turned out differently, but verse 8 says he was “angry” and that the crowd’s chant “galled him.”  I think there is something juvenile in people that taunts and teases others to elevate the status of self.  This mockery (as Proverbs puts it) may feel like an equalizer, but it merely kicks off a bitterness that spirals into harmful hate, and even violence if allowed to mature.  (See verses 10 and 11 for an example of Saul’s rage attack.)  Accepting others the way they are and situations the way they come seems to short this circuit of fear, anger, bitterness, resentment and hate.  Holy Father, thank You for a set of circumstances and deliverance that has taught me to have faith.  Help me lean on faith and away from the self-centered fear that opposes it and sparks enmity between me, Your tool of service, and those You would have me serve.

The chief activator of our defects has been self-centered fear – primarily fear that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded.  Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration.  Therefore, no peace was to be had unless we could find a means of reducing these demands.”  (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 76)

Today was weigh-in day, and the result was an alarming loss of four pounds this week.  I already was below my goal weight, and am not permitted by my doctor to lose any more, so I will be making some changes to my plan of eating.  I am accepting that my new job assignment has me a little more active than my old one, and so I will not allow this to instill fear, but will consult my sponsor about elevating my intake target to level out this unacceptable loss, and maybe even compensate for it for a short while.  Over the past week, I have eaten on the plus side of my target (which includes a “plus or minus 100 calories” margin) every day except yesterday.  I did this intentionally, in an attempt to gain back what slipped away a couple weeks ago.  I need to again reach 175, and keep between 175 and 185, but am currently 170. This is not a time for fear, but a reason to remain vigilant.

I watched a movie two days ago about Mother Teresa, in which I heard her pray that God would help her to see the face of Jesus in those who suffered, acknowledging that as she does to “the least of these brothers” she was doing unto Him. (Reference Matthew 25)  I hope and pray that I am more and more able to do just that.  Yesterday, I heard a story on the radio about a woman faced with a decision: she could treat her cancer with chemotherapy and kill her unborn child in the process, or she could forego the treatment and save the baby but surely die.  She chose to sacrifice herself for her baby and died when her healthy baby was three months old.  I hope that my life is lived in preference for those around me rather than in preference for myself.  God’s grace is sufficient for me, so why do I constantly struggle to get more? Why not rather be wronged than to inflict harm?  Why not suffer loss than to take from someone else?