Mountain skyIt has happened several times to me.  Life can be complicated, confusing.  It’s easy to lose our bearings.

While backpacking with family a few years ago, we lost the trail when we entered into a very large clearcut area.  No sign of the trail remained, no markers on trees that were now gone.  We struggled to figure out where we should go.  Only by retreating to where we entered the clear cut and using map and compass could we determine the approximate exit point.  After a little exploration the trail appeared before us and we continued on our way.  By retreating to our entrance point we returned to what we knew was the trail, we could figure it out from there.

The way out of addictive behavior is often not clear.  Our thinking and judgement so clouded by compulsive behavior that our decisions and feelings are often suspect.  They most often take us farther off the trail, not back to it.  As we are reminded in AA, “Your best thinking got you here!”

Sometimes in the clinical setting I will ask a client, “What is the most important thing you know?”  The answer usually revolves around knowing there is a loving Heavenly Father and that we are his sons and daughters.  That is a good place to retreat to for finding our bearings.  Go back to what you know is absolutely true and move forward.

A friend shared a story from his life.  He was prone to being a bit paranoid.  He was constantly questioning people’s motives and actions.  He harvested bumper crops of insecurity and anxiety.  He could not enjoy much of anything because his paranoia would show up and start questioning even the most innocent things.  He described those kind of thoughts as toxic and found them poisoning his life.  He could even look into the future and see how his toxicity was poisoning his family and the legacy it was creating for his children.  He was not being a nurturing father because he was attending to his obsessive paranoia.  He was simply not available to his children in the way he desired to be.  He concluded it wasn’t worth it.  He retreated to the thought, “I am my Heavenly Father’s son and I am in His hands.”  We don’t need to be paranoid if we can maintain ourselves in His hands.

Sometimes my faith gets challenged.  By life, or sometimes people.  I retreat back to what I know.  He is real.  He is nearby.  He knows my name.  Even though situations may be confusing to me or feel hurtful or unfair, only two things can happen:  He will either part the Red Sea and let me walk across or He will give me just enough support that I make it through and learn something.  Both are good outcomes.

I have had some extraordinary spiritual moments.  They are sacred and I rarely share them.  But they have left a profound conviction of His reality.  When my confusing moments come, I often retreat to those undeniable moments and know that even though I do not understand in this particular moment, all will be well.

Often my biggest challenges come when I establish what the outcome should be.  I love having expectations!  So do a lot of other people.  My expectations are often the shower that can turn into a tornado.  Writing the ending before we arrive is one of the biggest emotional traps we come across in this life journey.  In the confusing aftermath, retreat to what you absolutely know and start again.