The Man in the Mirror My body is definitely on the mend and my general health is rapidly improving when I receive

a telephone call from the Salvation Army Addiction Treatment Services here in Honolulu. They are interviewing candidates for a Chaplaincy position and inquiring about my interest and availability. By nature I am a yes person so without really thinking through all the ramifications and possible problems in making an employment commitment I agree to an interview. I’m a bit nervous on the drive to the facility, but I’m all ‘prayed up’ about the outcome. It is God who opens and closes doors, I remind myself as I pull into the parking lot and stroll inside the building. And when the interview finally begins I have a tight grip on God’s ‘unseen hand’. The process takes about an hour and I’m feeling confident when I leave and the human resource person promises to be in touch. Charlie, my biggest supporter, is waiting anxiously at the front door when I arrive home. “How did it go?” he asks. “Good, I think, but please come and sit down so I can give you all the details.” Patient Charlie is sitting across from me at the kitchen table when my enthusiasm bursts out in a breathless detailed account of my experience. My words sound like rapid fire from a machine gun while I explain what duties and responsibilities are involved. When my excitement reaches 6.0 on the Richter scale poor Charlie gently takes my hand and says, “Let’s pray”. During our adventures smuggling Bibles to believers in restricted countries we often quoted from the Prophet Isaiah who said, “Here I am Lord, send me.” So when I receive the good news that I’ve been selected to fill the position I’m elated believing that God is sending me into this new mission field. Everyone receives a measure of faith and likewise everyone receives a special measure of love for a particular ministry. For me, it is love at first sight when I meet with God’s mighty men and beautiful daughters recovering from a deadly disease called drug addiction. Participation in any religious program offered at the facility is optional so when the announcement for my first Sunday Morning Church Service is made I’m nervous. “What if no one shows up?” I ask my team mate Charlie?” His grin says it all as we watch a group of clients walking in our direction. Admittedly, several have as many tattoos as birds have feathers while others resemble your neighbor, you know the guy next door with the lovely wife and kids. These are God’s poor in spirit and I know a secret that they probably are unaware of, God sees their souls and they are beautiful. Permit me to introduce you to my friend, one of the men in treatment. His testimony shows how the power of God can take our mess, our brokenness, our mistakes, and our failures and bring healing to our sin sick souls by turning it into His glorious message: * A moral inventory can be compared to an inventory of a kitchen pantry: taking stock of what’s on hand, what needs replenishing, what needs to be dumped out. My first reaction is that my “pantry” is empty. I have a sense of emptiness – loneliness, loss of the life I once knew. It wasn’t just the life of athletic achievement, family, and a job. It was especially the will to always give it my best, to achieve, and the burning desire to give back what was given to you and to live by example. I used to be able to do that and I want to get it back. But the pantry isn’t quite empty—there is blame lingering. Every time I tried to get myself back, I hit the invisible wall – accidents, injuries, divorce, and a false accusation of theft. I tried to do it the right way, but felt like society or the system wasn’t being fair. So I said f___ society and got into alcohol and drugs. Even though I was brought up Baptist and always had belief in God, when things went wrong I questioned God because if I had followed his way and belief, why did He bring me to this 35

level? So I quit talking to him and strayed the other way. I realized that I blamed myself for everything – I carried the whole load for the entire family. I feel like I failed when achievement was so important to me. I didn’t want to just be the norm, the jock, the dummy. So I put so much pressure on myself. I realized that although I vowed I wouldn’t treat my family as my father did to me and my family, I became like my father when I let them down. There is also shame: I was ashamed of how people would look at me if they knew my past. Stuttering as a child impaired my confidence. I was afraid of people laughing, and not understanding. It also caused heightened sensitivity and the intense desire for achievement to do right for my mother. But I tried to do it all by myself. I kept it all in. I mashed everything as a nice guy but hid and carried the shame with me. Even when people knew I needed help and reached out to me, I refused their help. Anger: I still get angry but I feel I am much better at controlling my anger and being able to distinguish what is legitimate anger and what is anger caused by my diminished self-respect and selfesteem. For example, if a guy at work doesn’t pull his weight and plays games so that everyone gets annoyed with him, it’s a legitimate anger because he is taking away from my and others’ work therapy progress. On the other hand, I still get angry when people make negative assumptions about me without even knowing me. I realize that in life, this will often happen – people making negative comments, laughing at me or using a tone of voice that is negative. I am continuing to work on my self-confidence and self-respect and not worry about what other people have to say. If I start belittling myself and allow their comments to get to me, it is a red flag for me to take positive action. This would involve talking to someone about it and not holding it in, praying for those who try to hurt me and giving it up to God. I also can work on appropriate responses to let them know that what they have said will not bother me. The most important thing is to not let the anger fester and destroy the progress on self-confidence that I am working on. Guilt: There is guilt for not finishing school at the University of Hawaii. The scholarship to UH was given to me and I let it go. I know now that it was a decision I made in order to provide for my family. So I need to let this guilt go because I need to realize that I didn’t do this just for myself but for the needs of my family. I also feel guilty about not staying in touch with my mother and siblings. In 2001, my brother passed away and I attended his funeral. I had been away for so long that I saw nieces and nephews that I hadn’t known. I felt like a stranger. So I feel guilty for not being around and knowing my family. I told my mom that I wanted to stay, but she told me that I should leave and not worry about her because she had one son trying to live his life successfully. She told me that if I stayed, I would be just like the rest of the family. While I realize that this was her way of saying that she was proud of me, what made it worse was that when she died, I was in my low point and didn’t have the necessary papers to leave to attend the funeral. If I had been responsible, I could have done what I needed and wanted to do and would have been able to say a proper goodbye to her. There will always be regret that I stayed away from my family and missed my mother’s funeral, but again, I need to let go of this guilt in order to move on. I realize that my mom forgave me and I need to forgive myself. And even though I don’t see my family enough, I am proud that I started a trend of going to college, which many of my nieces and nephews have done. And finally, it is never too late to get back and visit my family and feel the closeness again. There is also guilt about how I handled myself with my lady before she died. We had an argument right before she died suddenly and I could have handled it differently and with more understanding and maturity than I did. While I feel guilt and regret, I need to remember the love we had, of our lives touching each other’s for the brief four years we were together and that in retrospect was a positive part of her life. I will try to remember the happiness we shared and the positive that I was able to bring to her life. 36

Most of all, there is guilt toward my family. My ex-wife understood the sports aspect, but at the same time I wasn’t home enough. In my mind, I thought I was earning a living but her idea of marriage and responsibility was being home for the family. So I feel I did not stand up to the plate as a husband and father. I feel guilty for not being there as a teacher to my children for things that would help them to grow. I feel more guilty about my son because I let my pride get in the way during my divorce and I neglected him. I feel that’s a reason he won’t start a family because of the way I communicated with him. Presently, I have a good talking relationship with my son and daughter but we don’t really know each other past a “How are you doing?” stage. We do not confide in each other. So I need to improve our communication. I need to straighten out my life and set a positive example. I need to have a home and phone number for them to reach me. I would like to be able to help them out even in small matters and would love to be there for them with their common problems in life. I also need to realize that what’s done is in the past and I need to move on and do what can be done NOW. In reflection, when I was in previous 12-step programs, I used to quit when it was time to complete Step 4 because I was never willing to face up to and admit my shortcomings and misgivings. And by not doing this, it created even more pressure on myself. The longer I kept it in and didn’t let it go; it intensified my negative feelings about myself and made me spiral deeper. I realize now that by releasing this to another person, I can feel the weight on me releasing as well. I have to quit running from myself and face up to myself. I need to get rid of the blaming, shame and guilt and to work on positive ways to deal with anger. I need to be willing to openly receive help from others when I need help. I always recall the feeling of peace when I was in a coma and take it as a sign from God of recapturing that feeling while living on earth. I now feel that even though there is a feeling of a waste of my life, I feel things happen for a reason. With my renewed belief in God, I feel it is the walk He wants me to take to reach out to others, to be one of the examples of getting my life back and feeling good about myself. I gave up on myself, but I am working to get me back. But I know that while I am helping others, I can’t repeat the life of putting unneeded pressure on myself and doing it alone. I realize that in order to help others, I also need to open up and receive help from others. I need to not always be the shining inspiration without truly facing up to myself. I need to grow along with everyone else and let others help me while I am helping them. I am inspired to move forward.

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