My faith in God, who is eternally loving and constant even as my understanding grows and changes, makes life not only worth living, but gives me the courage to dare to disturb the universe when that is what el calls me to do.  Sometimes simply being open, refusing to settle for finite answers, disturbs the universe.  Questions are disturbing, especially those which may threaten our traditions, our institutions, our security.  But questions never threaten the living God, who is constantly calling us, and who affirms for us that love is stronger than hate, blessing stronger than cursing.

— Madeleine L’Engle, Stone for a Pillow, p. 140, quoted in Glimpses of Grace, compiled by Carole F. Chase

The Great Joke

“But of course!” said the Spirit, shining with love and mirth so that my eyes were dazzled.  “That’s what we all find when we reach this country.  We’ve all been wrong!  That’s the great joke.  There’s no need to go on pretending one was right!  After that we begin living.”

— from The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis

God’s Choice

For the Christian who has embraced God’s sovereignty, the choice is God’s; and the result, whatever that choice may be, is rejoicing.  In Him is our joy and peace.  If He gives marriage, then in marriage we rejoice.  If He gives singleness, we rejoice in singleness.  In whatever state we are, we know contentment.

— Margaret Clarkson, So You’re Single, p. 117


What is surrendering?  What does it mean to “let go”?  Surrendering is accepting; letting go is releasing.  Surrendering is acknowledging the authority of a Higher Power; letting go is trusting His authority.

What do we need to surrender to and let go of?  Our past, present, and future.  Our anger, resentments, fears, hopes, and dreams.  Our failures, successes, hate, love, and desires.  We let go of our time frame, our wants, sorrows, and joys.  We release our old messages, our new ones, our defects of character, and attributes.  We let go of people, things, and sometimes ourselves.  We need to let go of changes, changing, and the cyclical nature of love, recovery, and life itself.

We release our guilt and shame over being not good enough, and our desire to be better and healthier.  We let go of things that work out and things that don’t, things we’ve done, and things we haven’t done.  We let go of our unsuccessful relationships and our healthy relationships.  We let go of the good, the bad, the painful, the fun, and the exciting.  We surrender to and let go of our needs.  Often, a hidden need to be in pain and suffering is underneath our failed relationships, pain, and suffering.  We can let go of that too.  All of it must go.

Surrendering doesn’t mean we stop desiring the good.  It means that after acknowledging our desires, we relinquish them and get peaceful and grateful about circumstances, people, and our lives exactly as they are today.

— Melody Beattie, Beyond Codependency, p. 240

Finding Thrills

What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction.  The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening.

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live unless it first dies.  It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do.  Let the thrill go — let it die away — go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow — and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time.  But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life.  It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them.  It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.

— C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Emerging Differences

At some point in a marriage, differences erupt.  It was pleasant to dwell in the fiction that nothing could blight the serenity you shared.  You could smirk at couples who argued, certain that you would never find yourselves at loggerheads.  But no more.  Troublesome topics that had been relegated to the background now clamor for attention.  Once one or both of you begin to divulge what’s important to you, you’ll land yourselves smack in the midst of some pretty rough strife.

Why go there?  Because it’s necessary.  Because after the intense togetherness of the Honeymoon Stage, there’s a need to assert separate desires.  Because, if you don’t, you’ll get drawn back into the dark side and feel smothered.  Because the realities of who your partner is and how you function together are hitting you in the face.  Because the old deceptions you had relied on for equilibrium don’t work any more.

And also because you’re intrigued by what you’re finding out about your partner.  You intuitively feel that your partner has something to teach you.  When you struggle through serious disagreement, you may understand and appreciate each other more deeply….

When you can deal with differences that arise, you will bring both tolerance and dynamism to your marriage.  If you suppress them, however, you’re setting yourself up for trouble….

The process of reckoning with differences is essential to the vitality of a relationship.  Couples need to know that they can work through conflict; otherwise, they’ll always live in fear of it.  Partners need to know that they can speak their minds; otherwise, they’ll bottle up everything, and wind up angry and estranged.  You must be able to own up to the lies that you’ve told yourself and each other.  If not, those lies will dominate the relationship.

— Ellyn Bader and Peter T. Pearson, Tell Me No Lies, p. 102-104

Believe in Recovery

Some days, we may do particularly well.  We may assertively refuse someone’s invitation to be codependent.  We may deal well with a particular conflict or feeling.  We may have a few moments of intimacy or closeness.  We may buy ourselves something special, then not wreck it by telling ourselves we don’t deserve it.

Some days, we may have to look more closely to notice what we did.  Maybe we took time out to rest when we were tired.  We said The Serenity Prayer during a trying moment.  Things got crazy and we detached when we noticed ourselves getting hooked in.

On our worst days, we still look for something we’ve done toward recovery.  Sometimes the best we can do is feel good about what we did not do.  We pat ourselves on the back because we didn’t run to the nearest bar, drag home an alcoholic, and fall in love with him or her.  For some of us, that’s real progress and not to be overlooked on the gray days.

All the days count.  Believe in recovery.  Our lives and experiences can be different and better.  The process of getting better is happening right now, this moment, in our lives.

— Melody Beattie, Beyond Codependency, p. 236-237

Americans and Failure

“Here in America, on the other hand,” he went on, “people don’t fear uncertainty so much, and they fear failure even less.  You change from one job to the next like you’re changing channels on the television.  If you get tired of working for other people, you can try to start your own business, with hardly a moment’s thought about the risk.  Look at how many businesses fail after only one year, and almost none make it past three.  America is a land full of failures, and I say that only because that is what makes it great.  In this country, when your dreams crash and burn all around you, you’re expected to simply learn from your mistakes, pick up the pieces from the wreckage, and start all over again.  There’s no shame in it.  And if you’re tired of your job or of running your own business, well, then you can go back to school at night and learn how to become a lawyer or a doctor or an architect or whatever you like.  If you’re willing to work, there are no preconceived notions about what you can become or how far you can go.  Trust me, it’s not like this in other parts of the world.  It’s the main reason so many people come to this country — to be free of the old ways of thinking about themselves.”

— Peter Pezzelli, Italian Lessons, p. 70