God’s Mysterious Ways

Welcome to another entry of God’s Mysterious Ways, where I write about things that appear to be more than just coincidences, where God may very well indeed have a hand behind it, which for today is with something that happened more than four years ago now with my home security system.

When I decided to finally move from Boston to Toledo to live with my partner at his home, I opted to upgrade his alarm system, which was rather outdated, mostly for my own peace of mind. On the day the installer came, I was told the system upgrade would probably take a full day to complete. Little did they, nor I, know just how complex the upgrade would be. After a full day of being there and wires exposed everywhere, I was told they would have to return the next day to continue. When the next day arrived though, they came and left in a very short period of time, never to return again, leaving me wondering what the heck was going on. After repeated phone calls to the alarm company, I learned they had abandoned my job for personal reasons, which left me hanging with a system that was no longer operational. It took several weeks and countless hours for the security company to rectify the situation he had left behind. In the end, it took about a month to get my alarm system fully operational, all because of the mess the original technician had left behind. Needless to say, I was quite angry by that point and told the company to never send this installer out to my house ever again. Whenever I had a service call with my alarm over the years that followed, I made sure to ask who the installer was, always ensuring it wasn’t this original technician. Yes, I was harboring a resentment, yet never even saw it that way, and felt my actions were truly justified. In the end, I think God saw it was finally time for me to forgive, because what happened just recently, made sure to cross our paths again.

I had to set up a service call for a minor issue with my alarm system about a week ago now, and as always, I inquired way ahead of time who the installer was. After making sure it wasn’t that original technician, I moved on with my life as always. But, the day before that appointment, I received an odd phone call from them that told me I needed to call their operational team who coordinates the installers schedules. During that phone call, I learned that the window they were supposed to arrive had somehow switched from the time I originally established. Unfortunately, the time they had moved me to no longer worked with my schedule, which led to management having to switch me back to the 8am to 12pm time slot. I never thought to ask after all that, who the installer was going to be, because I had been so caught up with frustration over the time mishap. So, when the service installer showed up at my door the next morning, the first thing he said was, “Do you remember me?” And for the life of me, I didn’t. Yet, when they introduced themselves, I suddenly remembered, and it was then I froze. Part of me felt myself clench in frustration, while another part of me said that maybe it was time to finally let my resentment go.

As this installer stood before me, they apologized and told me that they had been going through a divorce during the week I was being installed and a huge fight had ensued over custody of their kid, which had forced them to take the rest of the week off to handle matters. After hearing that, I had much compassion and knew I needed to forgive, which honestly, I look back and wished I had done so long ago. After shaking hands and saying I forgave them, I could see the tension in their eyes lighten. They told me that every time they had done an install anywhere near my home in all the past years that had passed, they had always wanted to come back here and apologize, but the company had refused to allow them to make any contact with me, all because of the words I had originally expressed in anger.

I must admit I have some sadness that it took well over four years for me to let this go and offer my forgiveness to someone who deserved it long ago. Yet I’m incredibly grateful that the Universe saw fit to bring two people together, one who seriously needed to let a resentment go, and one who humbly sought nothing but forgiveness from them. How they got assigned to my service call in the first place is honestly beyond my understanding, given the red flag that had been placed on my account and given the number of installers the company uses. Yet, that’s precisely the reason why I feel this is just another great example of God’s mysterious ways…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another entry of Grateful Heart Monday, where I start my week off on a positive note with a piece of gratitude, which for today is for a recent day trip I took to Cedar Point with my partner and a few friends.

For those who don’t know, Cedar Point is an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, that’s considered to be one of the supreme places for riding roller coasters in the world, given there are 17 of them there. Many years ago, prior to when all my health issues began, I was an incredible roller coaster enthusiast who always tried to visit a slew of amusement parks every season. That all changed in the spring of 2010 though when my physical health began to decline. When I attempted in July of 2010 to spend a day at Six Flags Antonio with my best friend Cedric and struggled to enjoy any of the coasters I went on, I decided to temporarily shelve my amusement park days until I got better. Eight years later and many declined opportunities to go with others to various theme parks, I finally opted to join a friend and his family in their final visit to Cedar Point for the year, solely because their kids had asked if my partner and I would do the haunted houses with them that go on during the September and October time frame there.

Leading up to our late October Saturday visit, I must admit that I secretly had hoped something would happen to cancel the trip like severe weather or something else. I wasn’t too excited to go mostly because the levels of pain I’ve been enduring have made walking for any length of time not much fun.

Yet, I experienced my first piece of gratitude very quickly upon arrival at the park, when my friends let me know they had a handicap access placard so that I didn’t have to walk a big distance from the parking lot to the gate.

Shortly thereafter, upon entering the park, a second piece of gratitude came when guest services granted me a special access pass that allowed all of us to board the rides at the handicap entrances, where I wouldn’t have to wait in any of the 2+ hour long queues, as having to stand for long periods is extremely challenging for me.

Having that special access pass also proved to be a blessing given it allowed me to make it on a number of roller coasters I never experienced before, all before the high winds and rains came in later in the day that ended up shutting everything down.

And when they did, when everyone began to head indoors where it was dry and warm, my partner stood in line for a good while at the Starbucks (yes, the park actually has a Starbucks!), to get me my favorite drink, an extra hot venti decaf soy latte. Each sip of which definitely brought me a token of gratitude, especially, as the line grew longer and longer and was almost an hour at one point to order something there!

But, if there was one thing that made me the most grateful overall that day, it was the fact that I hadn’t cancelled my trip to Cedar Point and I never gave up while I was there, even when my pain was hurting incredibly. The truth is, I gave it my all the entire time, so much so, that I ended up accumulating over 5 miles of walking, which for me in my current state has been something I never thought possible.

So, for a guy like me, who has been spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically broken more than not these days, I feel I actually accomplished quite a triumph on my first trip to an amusement park in over 8 years. While it did take a physical toll on me in the end, especially because of the roughness of the rides, I can at least be thankful for the good that came out of it and the notion that I once again defied the odds and my ego. And I’m truly grateful for my friends Clark and Shannon, as well as their kids, for helping to make it all possible, something I never thought would be, given all that I continue to go through with my health…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.” (Unknown)

Quote #2

“He who loses money, loses much. He who loses a friend, loses much more. He who loses faith, loses all.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Quote #3

“If you want to know what a man is really like, take notice of how he acts when he loses money.” (Simone Weil)

Quote #4

“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.” (Benjamin Franklin)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

1 in 302 Million…

1 in 302 million. That’s the odds that everyone faced in the Mega Millions $1.6 billion jackpot this past week. It was definitely the talk of the town wherever I went, with people dreaming big about what they’d do if they won. I’ll admit I bought a single ticket for a mere $2, just to say I participated once again in the lotto fever that struck, but sadly, I didn’t win. Yet, somehow, at least in my case, I wonder if that was a good thing.

Money truly corrupts the soul, as the more one has, the more it seems to drive a person into selfishness and self-centeredness. There is a general belief that money is power and the more one has of it, the more one can do anything. Some even say that everything has a price and can be bought. I’ve known of a few who went to jail that might agree because they didn’t have enough money to pay for those high-priced lawyers who always seem get their clients out of serious hot water.

Regardless, I believe I’m a far healthier person overall today without all the money I once had. As when I did have a bunch of it, I carried an attitude that definitely wasn’t filled with gratitude, I walked around like I was better than everyone else, and I used it to control and manipulate those I was attracted to.

As a recovering addict now, I see so clearly how having money was just like any other addiction. I chased after it and it controlled me more than I controlled it. When I lost the majority of it, I truly felt like I had lost my identity as well, because I had completely built my life around it, but I honestly didn’t like myself much back then, as all of my happiness was defined by what all that money was able to get me.

There were so many people, places, and things, that it allowed me to access, that I never would have accessed without it, yet I never appreciated any of it. It was all part of a spiritual sickness that kept growing the more I chased after it. One, that made me quite ugly in the way I operated and lived out my entire life, which brings me back to this most recent billion-dollar lottery payout.

For the one who wins a $1.6 billion-dollar lottery, the cash payout after all the taxes are taken out is a lump sum of $904 million. I’m quite sure there are plenty of people who feel that having that amount of money would solve all their problems for the rest of their life. But, I can promise you that it’s the ego saying that, as there are far more complications that come with having a lot of money in your pocket.

New friends come into your life because they want what you can offer with all that money, not because they inherently like you. People come out of the woodworks with frivolous lawsuits, hoping to get a piece of your pie. Long-time friends start to expect you to pay for their meals, bills, and vacations because you have far more than they do. People begin to spread rumors about you, constantly talking behind your back, spreading gossip, due to their jealousy, always trying to tarnish your reputation. You also become more of a magnet for charities, scams, criminals, and much more. Thankfully, I only had to experience the tip of the iceberg with this, but I’ve done enough research to know these are indeed the many headaches that come with having a lot more money.

Nevertheless, I discovered that having ample money during a period of my life was also my Achilles heel for trying to live a spiritual life. During that period, I rarely cared about anything spiritual, especially God, as money made me feel like I was invincible to the many sufferings on this planet. Yet, when I lost the majority of it back in 2010 and began to experience both life without it and life in chronic pain (as that is when all my health issues actually started), I quickly realized just how much money had created an illusion in my life and had been poison to my soul.

So, maybe it really isn’t a good thing for someone like me, a recovering addict who’s trying to serve God on every level these days, to win a $1.6 billion-dollar lottery. Maybe indeed God sees I might never become the spiritual being I pray I’m meant to become if I was filthy rich. While I may never know the truth to this, I do have to laugh at God’s sense of humor, as I wrote on the back of my ticket this past week after purchasing it, a single statement three times. I said “This ticket is a winning ticket” and you know what, it actually was.

I got the Powerball number right and won my $2 back. And somehow, I think that maybe God was trying to send me a message in that… 🙂

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

 

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

An elderly Muslim lady was well-known for her faith and for her confidence in talking about it. She would stand in front of her house and say “Allah be praised” to all those who passed by. Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, “There ain’t no Lord!!” Hard times came upon the elderly lady, and she prayed for Allah to send her some assistance. She would pray out loud in her night prayer “Oh Allah! I need food!! I am having a hard time, please Lord, PLEASE LORD, SEND ME SOME GROCERIES!!” One night the atheist happened to hear her as she was praying, and decided to play a prank on her. The next morning the lady went out on her porch and found a large bag of groceries. She raised her hands and shouted, “Allah be praised!.” The neighbor jumped from behind a bush and said, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.” The old lady laughed and clapped her hands and said, “ALLAH BE PRAISED. He not only sent me groceries, but he made the devil pay for them!”

Silly Joke #2

A little boy was afraid of the dark. One night his mother told him to go out to the back porch and bring her the broom.The little boy turned to his mother and said, “Mama, I don’t want to go out there. It’s dark.” The mother smiled reassuringly at her son. “You don’t have to be afraid of the dark,” she explained. “Jesus is out there. He’ll look after you and protect you.” The little boy looked at his mother real hard and asked, “Are you sure he’s out there?” “Yes, I’m sure. He is everywhere, and he is always ready to help you when you need him,” she said. The little boy thought about that for a minute and then went to the back door and cracked it a little. Peering out into the darkness, he called, “Jesus? If you’re out there, would you please hand me the broom?”

Silly Joke #3

A husband and wife are sitting quietly in bed reading when the wife looks over at him and asks the question. 
WIFE: “What would you do if I died? Would you get married again?”
HUSBAND: “Definitely not!”
WIFE: “Why not? Don’t you like being married?”
HUSBAND: “Of course I do.”
WIFE: “Then why wouldn’t you remarry?”
HUSBAND: “Okay, okay, I’d get married again.”
WIFE: “You would?” (with a hurt look)
HUSBAND: (makes audible groan)
WIFE: “Would you live in our house?”
HUSBAND: “Sure, it’s a great house.”
WIFE: “Would you sleep with her in our bed?”
HUSBAND: “Where else would we sleep?”
WIFE: “Would you let her drive my car?”
HUSBAND: “Probably, it is almost new.”
WIFE: “Would you replace my pictures with hers?”
HUSBAND: “That would seem like the proper thing to do.”
WIFE: “Would you give her my jewelry?”
HUSBAND: “No, I’m sure she’d want her own.”
WIFE: “Would she use my golf clubs?”
HUSBAND: “No, she’s left-handed.”
WIFE: — silence-
HUSBAND: “sh*t.”

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“We may not understand why certain things happen or why certain prayers go unanswered, we can know that in the end everything will make sense.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)

Quote #2

“It’s so funny how at one moment we want something so bad that we wish and pray for it and when we don’t receive it we are crushed, but only to find out later down the road why we didn’t receive it. It’s because we were destined to receive something much greater. I’m thankful for broken wishes and unanswered prayers.” (Urs Trulee)

Quote #3

“Remember when you’re talking to the man upstairs that just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” (Garth Brooks)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“His silence was part of the rescue…” (Lysa Terkeurst)

I read a devotional last week that was about a woman (Lysa Terkeurst) who woke up one morning with her insides feeling as if knives were mercilessly carving their way through them. She was rushed to the hospital immediately and being a devout follower of God, she began crying out for the pain to be taken away. It wasn’t and not for five excruciatingly long days. During each of them, she wondered where God was, wondered if God even saw what she was going through, and wondered whether God even cared. Eventually, the doctors ran one final test after finding nothing in any of the previous ones and discovered that the right side of her colon had ripped away from the abdominal wall and twisted around the left side. It had been in danger of rupturing and if it had, she would have gotten the relief she sought, but at the same time, that relief would have been an illusion, as her body would have turned septic and led to a quick death. When the emergency surgery was completed shortly thereafter the discovery of the source of her pain, the surgeon told her that the cells in her colon were already in a state of autolysis, which is where the brain has signaled the body to start self-digesting itself. In other words, it was in a decomposition state and what happens when one dies. Basically, she couldn’t have gotten any closer to death and the incredible pain she went through was what saved her life in the end. Had God answered her prayer and taken all her pain away, she most likely would have gone home, her colon would have ruptured there, her body would have turned septic and she would have died.

I found great inspiration from Lysa’s story. While I’ve never dealt with her level of pain that was great enough to warrant an immediate visit to the hospital, I have known pain to a level that has made my life a living hell. There have been countless days over the years I’ve suffered from it, where I have cried out to God, asking for it to be removed, only to receive silence over and over and over again. But maybe there has been a reason beyond my understanding for this? Maybe God’s silence has been part of my own rescue? While the circumstances may indeed be very different in regards to Lysa’s story and mine, I have been told more times than I can count from various practitioners, teachers, seers, gurus, and guides that the pain I’ve been experiencing is actually my body healing itself. For as much as that has been hard to believe and accept, something deep within me has told me to keep on trusting in that, even when I awake on most days, wishing for an imminent death. Living with chronic pain and not feeling like God has been answering my prayers or even listening to me, has led to an incredible test of faith, one that I honestly don’t know how I’ve lasted this long. Yet, I have. And somehow, I keep on believing that maybe, just maybe, God’s silence on the removal of my pain and suffering for all this time, has merely been to continue driving me on the path I’ve been on for healing. One that is bringing a much deeper healing from within, and one that will lead to a resolution that only God has seen will achieve the very end result that would never have been possible if God had answered any of my many cries for it all to be taken away.

Dear Lord, I struggle immensely every day now to keep going. With no relief in sight and no tangible answers to my pleas for relief, I have wrestled with my faith and wondered if You even care. Yet, I choose to keep on believing and to keep on trusting, that maybe, just maybe, your silence has been part of my rescue, and for that I only pray for the strength to not give up on You or this healing. Amen.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin each week with a piece of gratitude, which for today is for something that might sound a little odd, given it’s for my Toyota Camry Hybrid.

I own a 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and while I never named my vehicle, it truly has been something special to me and has been a blessing many times over. I currently have over 230,000 miles on it and am also its original owner, having driven it off the lot back in December of 2006 with a mere 10 miles on it.

Why I’m filled with gratitude for my car though is for a number of reasons, which I decided to numerically list the top ten:

  1. It helped me commute from Boston, MA to Chincoteague, VA (where the bed and breakfast I used to own was) countless times.
  2. It helped me commute from Boston, MA to Toledo, OH for two entire years while I was dating my partner long distance.
  3. It has kept me safe and helped me narrowly avoid a number of accidents over the years, and even protected me immensely when I actually did have a significant accident in 2012.
  4. It has been a great haven for me to vent and scream at the top of my lungs over my frustration with my health issues.
  5. It has been an extremely reliable vehicle with relatively low maintenance issues.
  6. It has been my “recovery shuttle”, given it’s been the only vehicle I’ve used to get me to all my recovery meetings ever since coming to Alcoholics Anonymous in 2007.
  7. Its license plates have been great talking points and motivations for a good number of people’s spiritual lives. (I’ve used “23RDPSM”, “BEURSLF”, and “DNTJDGE” over the years in case you’re wondering!)
  8. It has taken me on a number of long-distance vacations and helped me to go visit plenty of beautiful people, places, and things that I will cherish forever.
  9. It has maintained amazing gas mileage, even after all these years, as I tend to still average at least 35 miles to the gallon with every full tank.
  10. It’s been the home of much of my 11thStep life of prayer and meditation and mantra recitation.

So, as you can see, this vehicle has brought me a multitude of gratitude and remains very dear to my heart, given how integral it’s been to my life. Ultimately, I give all the credit to God though, as I feel it was God who was the One to lead me to actually purchasing it so long ago now, as I originally had my sights set on a much flashier automobile. Nevertheless, I truly have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to my 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid and I feel blessed for it to have been a part of my life for as long as it has…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Question To Ponder For The Day

There’s a question I’ve often asked people I’ve gotten to know on a spiritual level and decided to ask it here as well. For most people, eyesight and hearing are two things often taken for granted. But what if one of those was going to disappear for you in this lifetime, which of those would you hope would NOT be taken away and why?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

God’s Mysterious Ways

I recently subscribed to a magazine titled “God’s Mysterious Ways” (published by Guideposts), which contains real life stories about things that appear to be more than just coincidences, where God may very well indeed have a hand behind it.

That being said, I’ve had a few of those experiences myself and have already written about some of them for The Twelfth Step, which is why I thought it might be best to group them all together into a new category for my blog. From now on any article with this subject material is going to be titled exactly like my new subscription and my hope is that each of them may help people who may be questioning their faith, as I have done quite a bit in the past year myself.

In light of that, I actually do have a story to share today that involves this very blog and a prior article I wrote. As many of you know, I am in recovery for a former sex and love addiction that once plagued my life and have written about that subject material many times over already. One such article I wrote a good bit ago was about romantic obsession and talked about what that means and the toll it can take on a person’s life, like it did mine. Like many of my articles I’ve written, I simply posted it and hoped that one day it might somehow reach the people that could benefit from it. But, like most of my articles, it went mostly unread, at least according to the statistic counter I have access to behind the scenes that tells me how many times it got viewed.

Sometimes that very action of me seeing how very little my article was read has made me want to quit writing and shut down this blog. But it seems like every time I get close to making a drastic decision like that, God sees fit to show me that there is a greater purpose to The Twelfth Step, beyond just being a place to collect my spiritual musings of life.

I say that because just last week, I was sitting down with a new sponsee from the SLAA program, where in the course of our work together that day, I asked why they chose me as their sponsor. The answer I received was not one I expected. You see, they had done a Google search on romantic obsession weeks prior and what arose on page two of those results was that very article I had written about that subject material. When this person looked up the program of SLAA after learning about it in my article, they found a local meeting to attend, which just so happened to be the one I helped to start here in Toledo, Ohio. On the night they showed up to it, they quickly discovered the author of the very article that had guided them to that meeting and to SLAA was sitting right next to them. And that was all they needed for motivation to ask me to sponsor them through the steps.

So, was it in God’s mysterious ways that my writing actually helped to guide someone, not only to a program they desperately needed, but also to someone only God knew would be a great fit to help get them on the path of healing for an addiction that was destroying their life? I leave the answer for you to decide, but as you can see, mine is pretty clear…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

Harvey’s grandfather clock suddenly stops working right one day, so he loads it into his van and takes it to a clock repair shop.In the shop he meets a little old man who insists he is Swiss, yet has a noticeably heavy German accent. He asks Harvey, “Vat sims to be ze problem?” Harvey says, “I’m not sure, but it doesn’t go ‘tick-tock-tick-tock’ anymore. Now it just goes ‘tick…tick…tick.'” The old man says, “Mmm-Hm!” and steps behind the counter, where he rummages around a bit. He emerges with a huge flashlight and walks over the grandfather clock. He turns the flashlight on, and shines it directly into the clocks face. Then he says in a menacing voice, “Ve haf vays of making you tock!”

Silly Joke #2

A psychiatrist was conducting a group therapy session with four young mothers and their small children. “You all have obsessions,” he observed. To the first mother, he said, “You are obsessed with eating sweets. You’ve even named your daughter Candy.” He turned to the second Mom. “Your obsession is with money. Again, it manifests itself in your child’s name, Penny.” He turns to the third Mom. “Your obsession is with alcohol. This too manifests itself in your child’s name, Brandy.” At this point, the fourth mother’s face suddenly turns red, but before the psychiatrist gets a chance to address her, she swiftly grabs her son’s hand and heads out the door, whispering to her son as she does, “Come on, Dick, it’s time to go!”

Silly Joke #3

A young couple, just married, were in their honeymoon suite on their wedding night. As they were undressing for bed, the husband — who was a big burly man — tossed his trousers to his bride and said, “Here, put these on.” She put them on and the waist was twice the size of her body. “I can’t wear your trousers,” she said. “That’s right, said the husband, “and don’t you ever forget it. I’m the man who wears the pants in this family.” With that she flipped him her panties and said, “Try these on.” He tried them on and found he could only get them on as far as his kneecaps. “Hell,” he said. I can’t get into your panties!” She replied, “That’s right, and that’s the way it’s going to stay until your attitude changes.”

A Bonus Silly Joke

Two nuns were driving down a country road when they ran out of gas. They walked to a farmhouse and a farmer gave them some gasoline; but the only container he had was an old bedpan. The nuns were happy to take whatever they were offered and returned to their car. As they were pouring the gasoline from the bedpan into the tank of their car, a minister drove by. He stopped, rolled down his window and said, “Excuse me, sisters. I’m not of your religion, but I couldn’t help admiring your faith….!”

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“When you let go, something magical happens. You give God room to work.” (Mandy Hale)

Quote #2

“Letting go is letting happiness in. In trying to hold on to what’s familiar or what we think we need in life, we limit our ability to experience joy in the present.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“If only we would learn every day of our lives to overcome those things in our character which are negative, to let go and let God take them over, we would all know what iw as to experience harmonious living.” (Albert E. Cliffe)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Yes, I Know I Need To Fully Let Go And Let God…

There has been a repeating lesson in my life lately, one that has been extremely difficult to learn. It continues to manifest in different ways, but the message is quite clear. I need to fully let go and let God, and for someone who has spent their entire life trying to control everything, I find myself struggling to give up the last bit of perceived control I think I still have.

I began to notice this with my yard actually. It got a bad disease this summer, a fungus, that essentially started back in late May when the high temperatures first hit here in Toledo. When they did, I observed one morning this cotton candy looking substance in a certain area of my backyard and wondered what it was. The next day, the same area where it was had turned brown and the grass had died. As the days moved forward, I saw this fungus pop up in other areas, so I began to spray various things on it, hoping it would prevent it from spreading any further. Unfortunately, none of my efforts worked, so I called in the cavalry, that being a yard company that does my fertilization bi-monthly treatments. They proceeded to apply a fungicide, not once, not twice, not even three times, but four in total, as it kept coming back, and spreading even more throughout my yard, killing everything in its wake and leaving a wasteland of brown dead grass in the process. I tried everything after that to restore my yard. I planted seed, I aerated, I watered, but anything that came up kept dying off, even when the summer came to an end. Sadly, the disease travelled into my front yard as well along the way and none of my efforts there accomplished anything either. When my neighbor told me one day as he observed my frantic efforts at controlling it, that I should just trust mother nature and let go and let God, I almost hurled a few obscenities his way in frustration. When the fall season began, much of my yard started to return to its former glory, until a few days ago when the temperatures spiked to the mid 80’s, bringing the disease back all over again and with it, the death of parts of my yard once more. At that point, it became overly clear that I wasn’t going to be able to control this and that it was out of my hands. Ironically, not a single house on my street, or even in my subdivision got this disease this year, which left me wondering, if maybe I was the only one meant to experience this, simply to learn this lesson of letting go and letting God, once and for all.

You see, this yard thing has been just another example of something I feel the Universe has continued to try to show me, of my remaining attempts to take control to make things as I think they need to be. Take my health for example, which is at the top of this pile. I have been fighting my health issues for a very long time now and have done everything I can to restore my health by staying as active as I can, through holistic treatments, by eating well, by getting out and helping others, and by repeating various spiritual and energy routines every single day. Yet, none of that has improved my health whatsoever at this point in time, at least from my conscious perspective, causing me to throw my hands up in the air and question if God even exists, which has only led to my ego searching for any further ways to grasp some control back.

But, it’s become pretty clear, if not abundantly clear, to me now. I can’t control my yard, my health, or my partner, or anyone or anything for that matter. As all attempts to do so seem to be failing these days, making me even more miserable in the process. Most recently, I have had a few skin issues going on to prove it, as I have put one topical thing after another in affected areas, only to see the spots go away and come back shortly thereafter in the very same spot or just above it, almost as if it was mocking me and saying, “Hey Andrew, don’t you get it yet? You need to just let this and everything else go as well, and trust that God’s got it under control!”

But, for a guy like me, who was abandoned by his parents through their tragic lives and deaths, and for a guy who used addictions to make his way in this world for several decades, control has been my only means for survival for much of my life. Thus, truly trusting God has got my back and that it’s safe to fully let go of control of ALL things to Him, has been an exceptionally scary thing.

I need to do it though, and I’m praying for the strength to do so on a daily basis now and am asking for all of you to pray for that for me as well. I’m ready to move into a new phase of my life, one that fully does let go and trust God with everything including my yard, my health, my partner, and anything else that my ego thinks it needs to exert control over.

So, please pray for me. Pray for the release of my fear of letting go of any areas of control I still have left in my life. Pray for me to truly trust in the Lord, and pray that it comes soon, because I know what’s on the other side of this is a peace and joy that is going to be far better than the misery that’s been with me for far too long, all because I haven’t fully let go and let God…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another chapter of Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin my week writing about a piece of gratitude I have from my life, which for today is for my home group in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the Perrysburg Staying Sober Group.

One of the main things that is continually stressed throughout any program of recovery from an addiction is to find a home group and get active there. The main reason for this is that having a meeting you return to week after week, and taking on some responsibility there, helps to keep the focus on recovery and off of one’s addiction. It aids in feeling supported and tends to increase one’s sense of connection versus the isolation that living a life of addiction tends to lead to.

Over the years, I’ve been a member of quite a number of AA groups in each of the prior places I’ve lived in. Each provided me much growth in my recovery and helped to learn a lot more about myself and what I needed out of a group to remain sober. When I moved to Toledo though, I struggled to find one that truly worked for me. The first one I joined was an early morning daily meeting that accepted me until I eventually came out of the closet to them, after which I received considerable rejection. The second one I became a part of was gay-based and met on Sunday evenings, which helped a lot after receiving those rejections, but sadly, some tensions that were regularly going on amongst a few members began to drain me. I soon left there as well and joined a group that met daily at noon. At first it was a great fit for me, but when my health issues grew worse, it became harder and harder for me to make it there and in all honestly, I also struggled immensely with a regular trait of that meeting that other meetings didn’t allow, which was cross-talking (interrupting someone’s sharing or directly providing them guidance or advice). So, I began to look yet again for another home group, which led to a small town outside Toledo named Perrysburg. There, on a Sunday night in September of 2015, I walked into the Perrysburg Staying Sober meeting where I was immediately and quite warmly greeted by both a guy name Mike and a woman named Barb. And because of that, I decided to join the group shortly thereafter.

Three years later, I’m still a member there and have plenty to be grateful for when it comes to them. I’ve never been judged for my sexuality and my partner has been warmly accepted by them as well. Thankfully, the group has been drama-free and has done a superb job helping to lift me up when I’m hurting and feeling down. I’ve become the chip guy there who hands out the tokens of sobriety under one year and medallions of over a year, and have come to really like this job, as it’s given me the ability to help lift other’s spirits in the process. We’ve had some good fellowshipping too with each other over potlucks and meals dined out and I’ve developed a good coffee relationship with one of its members who meets with me before most of the meetings. One thing I really like in this group is how much people seem to want to help out. There’s a guy who buys fresh fruit and provides it each week as a giveaway. There’s another who always arrives early to set up. And everyone else generally likes to lend a helping hand wherever needed. But, if there’s one thing that I’m exceptionally grateful for when it comes to the Perrysburg Staying Sober group, it’s that I feel like I come home to a family each time I attend that meeting. Every Sunday night when I walk in those doors, I feel the warmth coming from the rest of the members and truly feel appreciated and loved. There hasn’t been a meeting yet with this group where I’ve left feeling alone or that I didn’t matter. Rather, I tend to always be in better spirits on my drive home and I attribute that to the family I feel we’ve all become. This group supports each other and helps to show that each of its members are important and that is precisely why I’m starting this week out with a slice of gratitude for the Perrysburg Staying Sober group.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“There’s not a drug on Earth that can make life meaningful…” (Sarah Kane)

Quote #2

“People are not addicted to alcohol and drugs. They are addicted to escaping reality.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“When it’s the middle of the night, when the rest of your world is fast asleep, and when all attempts to reach out for help are thwarted, who’s going to keep you sober from an addiction? For me it’s always been God and always will be…” (Andrew Arthur Dawson)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

What Keeps A Person Sober From An Addiction?

If you were to ask someone in recovery from an addiction, what keeps them sober, you’d probably get a wide range of answers.

Some might say it’s by going to a lot of meetings.

Others might say it’s in keeping to regular contact with their sponsor.

I’m quite positive that some would say it’s in sponsoring people as well.

And there’s even those who would say it’s in staying around sober individuals and fellowshipping with them on a regular basis that does it.

For me though, it’s none of those answers. For I’ve learned over the years that there is NO person, place, or thing that will ever be able to keep me sober.

I’ve sponsored many people who went to meetings every single day and still relapsed. I’ve known others who reached out to their sponsor daily as well and still relapsed too. The same holds true for people who were sponsoring individuals and still fell back into their addiction. And sadly, many of my friends who did their best to only spend time with others remaining sober, found their way back into their addiction anyway.

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, once said that there is only one reason and one reason only why anyone would ever fall back into their addiction and it’s because they failed to enlarge their spiritual life, of which I wholeheartedly agree.

Given what I’ve bene going through these past bunch of years with my health, it hasn’t been the recovery meetings, or my sponsor, or my sponsees, or the fellowship times with others that has kept me sober. What’s kept me sober is my constantly seeking the Light of God through prayer, meditation, reading devotionals, and spending time alone in reflection. And through those things, my Higher Power has led me to attend many meetings, has helped me find a sponsor, has guided me to sponsor others, and has steered me towards sober individuals to hang out with, all of which only added to my remaining sober.

Overall though, if there is one thing I know in recovery, it’s that God is the One who actually keeps me sober and so long as I keep seeking God and remaining open to expanding my relationship with Him, that I will remain sober for the rest of my life, one day at a time of course…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

Bill and Marla decided that the only way to pull off a Sunday afternoon intimate session with their ten-year-old son in the apartment was to send him out on the balcony and tell him to report on all the neighborhood activities. The boy began to shout out his commentary as his parents put their plan into operation. “There’s a car being towed from the parking lot,” he yelled. “An ambulance just drove by.” Then a few moments passed.”Looks like the Andersons have company,” he continued. “Matt’s riding a new bike, and the Coopers are having sex.” Bill and Marla both gasped at the same time and immediately shot up in bed. “How do you know that?” the startled father hollered back. “Because their kid is standing out on the balcony too Dad!!!”

Silly Joke #2

Q: Why did Jeff decide to change his Facebook name to ‘No one’?

A: So, when he saw a stupid post from anyone from then on out, he could always click the like button and it will say ‘No one likes this’.

Silly Joke #3

A driver was racing down the road at a very high rate when suddenly he gets pulled over by a policeman. The police man approaches the driver’s door.
“Is there a problem Officer?”
The policeman said, “Sir, you were speeding. License and registration please.”
The driver responded, “I’d give my license to you but I don’t have one anymore.”
“You don’t have one?”
The man responded, “I lost it because of getting caught four times for drunk driving.”
The policeman is stunned. “I see. Well just hand me your vehicle registration then please.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t do that either.”
The policeman said, “Why not?”
“I stole this car.”
The officer reacted, “Stole it???”
The man said, “Yes, and I killed the owner too.”
At that, the officer exclaimed in horror. “You did what?!!!”
“He’s in the trunk if you want to see.”
The officer, knowing the situation now required back up, told him to remain seated in his car and slowly backed away to his patrol car to call for it. Within minutes, five other patrol cars showed up and surrounded the car. A senior officer slowly approached the vehicle, clasping his half-drawn gun, and yelled, “Sir, step out of your vehicle now and place your hands on the car!”
The man immediately got out of his vehicle, placed his hands on the car, and said, “Is there a problem officer?”
“One of my officers told me that you stole this car and murdered its owner.”
“Murdered the owner?”
The officer sternly responded, “Yes and I’m going to need you to open the trunk of this car right now!”
The man swiftly walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk, revealing nothing but an empty area.
The officer said, “Is this your car???”
The man responded, “Yes” and after getting permission, reached into his vehicle and quickly handed over the registration papers.
The officer, understandably, was quite stunned. “I was also told you don’t have a driving license???”
The man slowly dug into his pocket, pulled his wallet out, and handed it to the senior officer. When the senior officer opened it and examined its contents, he found a valid driver’s license for the man. He became very puzzled by that point. “Thank you, sir, I don’t understand though, as I was informed you didn’t have a license, that you stole this car, and murdered its owner.”
The man replied, “I have no idea why the officer would say any of that? Honestly, I’m just as shocked as you are right now. He probably told you I was speeding too?! May I please go now?”

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Like the good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love.” (Pope Francis)

Quote #2

“The first question which the priest and Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

Quote #3

“We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbor. Not everyone is your brother and sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbor, and you must love your neighbor.” (Timothy Keller)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

When Did Filming Videos Become More Important Than Being A Good Samaritan?

Why does it seem like there are so very few good Samaritans these days? And why are people more interested in filming from their mobile phones now, instead of actually doing something to help? Have people become that self-absorbed, that they are more concerned about their videos going viral, rather than trying to make a difference on this planet?

I say this because I saw in the news recently a video recording of a Dunkin Donuts employee taking a huge pitcher of water and then dumping its entire contents on a homeless man who had fallen asleep at a table while charging their phone there. Then, if that wasn’t enough, they began to verbally abuse the homeless person, shaming them, and telling them they weren’t welcomed there again.

My question is this.

How does something like that even remotely come across any person’s thinking as the right thing to do?

Watching that video reminded me of something I once read about many years ago. It was the story of a pastor from a very prominent church in Texas who had dressed up as a homeless person and sat upon his church’s steps one Sunday morning with his hands outstretched looking for a handout. In a congregation of hundreds who had shown up that day, not one single person had offered anything to him. When everyone was inside waiting for the pastor to appear, he suddenly entered and walked up to the pulpit, undisguised himself, and told the congregation they should all be ashamed of themselves, that their action was the exact opposite of the teachings of Christ. He then ended the service that day.

What a powerful message right?

Sadly, it really does seem like our world is becoming more and more consumed with pleasing itself than in helping anyone else out from the kindness of their heart. All one needs to do is peruse through the countless YouTube videos where people have witnessed crimes in the making, bullying, and sometimes even of someone attempting to take their life.

I was horrified when I watched a movie the other day where a guy had fallen onto some train tracks after having a seizure and instead of anyone helping to rescue him, they had their phones out and were filming it as it happened. While that may have only been something from a movie, it’s actually not an unheard-of thing and is really just art imitating real life. People have become so concerned now to get noticed that they would rather film something like this that could become viral and get them noticed, rather than step in and try to help.

I sincerely hope that if I ever was in a coffee shop and was about to witness an employee taking an action like dumping a ton of water onto a homeless person, that I would say something and try to prevent it from ever happening.

I sincerely, hope that if I was ever waiting for a train and someone had fallen on the tracks or was about to jump in front of an oncoming train that I would do everything I could to rescue them.

And I sincerely hope that if I ever saw someone being bullied that I would step in as well.

I can promise you this. There is no video that I could ever record, no amount of likes that I could ever get, and no amount of fame that would ever be worth the sacrifice of overlooking someone who might be in need.

Frankly, I’m ashamed of that employee’s action from Dunkin Donuts and hope for their sake that they might see the err of their ways at some point down the road. Equally as important, I also hope that one day, we all might wake up and stop trying to get our 15 minutes of fame by doing things like filming videos of people in need. Instead, I pray more of us will walk through any fears we may have and become the good Samaritan who tries to make a difference, as our world truly needs a lot more of them right now…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, where my writing begins for the week with a piece of gratitude to express, which for today is for a new show on CBS named “God Friended Me”.

Airing on Sunday nights at 8pm, the show revolves around a proclaimed atheist named Miles Finer (Brandon Michael Hall) who suddenly receives a friend request on Facebook from someone named “God”. After repeatedly declining the friend request, Miles eventually accepts it, only to immediately receive a friend suggestion from “God”. After initially shrugging it off, a person abruptly bumps into him on the street, at which point Miles quickly realizes it’s the very same individual from the friend suggestion. He then witnesses the guy get dumped by his girlfriend in the middle of the road, which prompts him to follow the guy from a safe distance when he descends into the nearby subway. But, when he sees the guy is about to jump in front of an incoming train, Miles runs into grab him, narrowly pulling him back just in time, and saves his life. Is it just a coincidence? Is someone trying to convince him that God is real? Or is this really God working through Miles? As the show continues to unfold, it’s these very answers that Miles aims to get.

Why I’m grateful for a show like this, is quite simple really. My own faith has been dwindling as of late. I have questioned the very spiritual beliefs I grew up with and sometimes feel as if I’m on the fence of agnosticism and atheism versus a person who truly lives by faith and has an absolute belief in God. All of that of course is related to the long duration of pain and suffering I’ve been going through for years now, where joy has been hard to experience and despair has been more of my constant companion. Thus, watching a show that uplifts my spirit and helps me to have a little more faith and belief in God is extremely important to me right now. Add in the fact that there are too many television series right now that continue to glorify the madness going on in the real world with guns and violence and terrible acts of anger and revenge, I find that a show like “God Friended Me” is a much-welcomed relief.

Sadly, many shows like this have come and gone and never lasted for very long like “Joan of Arcadia”, “Wonderfalls”, “Eli Stone”, and most recently “Kevin Probably Saves the World”. Each were shows that I couldn’t wait to watch the next episode and many-a-times I found myself crying, praying, and talking to God during it. Frankly, in my opinion, we all need more uplifting shows like them and like “God Friended Me” these days. People are losing hope left and right and turning to the world for answers, which is only leading to greater darkness, pain, and suffering in the long run. Agnosticism and atheism is on the rise and I find myself fighting the urge to give up on God every, single, day as of late. Living with high levels of pain sucks, and if something as simple as a television show about a guy finding faith in God again can change my own stance, that’s absolutely something to be grateful for.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Question To Ponder For The Day

What is something that was taken from your life, that you struggled with immensely when it was, but in the long run, proved to actually be a blessing instead, and helped you move beyond a place you might have been stuck at if it never had happened?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“There once was a little plant that was small and whose growth was stunted, for it lived under the shade of a giant oak tree. The little plant valued the shade that covered it and highly regarded the quiet rest that its noble friend provided. Yet there was a greater blessing prepared for this little plant. One day a woodsman entered the forest with a sharp ax and felled the giant oak. The little plant began to weep, crying out, “My shelter has been taken away. Now every fierce wind will blow on me, and every storm will seek to uproot me!” The guardian angel of the little plant responded, “No! Now the sun will shine and showers will fall on you more abundantly than ever before. Now your stunted form will spring up into loveliness, and your flowers, which could never have grown to full perfection in the shade, will laugh in the sunshine. And people in amazement will say, “Look how that plant has grown! How gloriously beautifully it has become by removing that which was its shade and its delight!”

Today’s short parable was taken from a page in the “Streams In The Desert” devotional and is one that I can definitely relate to. For most of my life, I had plenty of things shading me from the harsh realities of this world. From once having an abundance of money, great health, close friends, Higher Power guidance, and deep support from spiritual teachers, my life has been entirely stripped of most of them now and become devoid of all that I once thought was needed to keep protecting me in my own shade of life.

Yet, somewhere in my depths is a similar belief like this parable, in that maybe each of those things were stripped from my life to help me grow stronger, to blossom more in the long run, and to become all that which God always intended me to become. It’s a hard thought I know, and one that I must step out in faith every day, as of late, to keep believing in, given how much I feel the world seems to be scorching me these days. But, in the end, I believe that my faith and belief in the meaning of this parable will deepen my spiritual roots and brighten my spiritual blooms to a level I’ve never known and that alone helps to keep me going, one day at a time.

Dear Lord, I may not understand why all the things I once thought protected me have been stripped away from my life. Yet, who am I to question Your actions? Because in the end, I have faith that maybe it is in all those things you have been stripping away, that were necessary to remove to help me become a beacon of Light for You. May I continue to trust in You God, no matter how much I may be feeling exposed to the harsh realities of this world.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Silly Joke Friday

Silly Joke #1

After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me for my driver’s license to verify my age. I looked in my pockets and realized I had left my wallet at home.I told the woman that I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later. The woman said, ‘Unbutton your shirt’. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair. She said, ‘That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me and she processed my Social Security application. When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office. She said, ‘You should have dropped your pants! You might have gotten disability, too!’

Silly Joke #2

A letter written in a childish scrawl came to the post office addressed to “God”. A postal employee, not knowing exactly what to do with the letter, opened it and read: “Dear God, my name is Jimmy. I am 6 years old. My father is dead and my Mom is having a hard time raising me and my sister. Would you please send us $500?” The postal employee was touched. He showed the letter to his fellow workers and all decided to kick in a few dollars each and send it to the family. They were able to raise $300. A couple of weeks later the same post office received a second letter addressed to God. The boy thanked God for the recent infusion of cash, but ended with this request: “Next time, would you please send the money directly to us? If you send it through the post office they deduct $200.”

Silly Joke #3

A man is driving down the road and his car breaks down near a monastery. He goes to the monastery, knocks on the door, and says, “My car broke down. Do you think I could stay the night?” The monks graciously accept him, feed him dinner, and even fix his car. As the man tries to fall asleep, he hears a strange sound. A sound unlike anything he’s ever heard before. The Sirens that nearly seduced Odysseus into crashing his ship comes to his mind. He doesn’t sleep that night. He tosses and turns trying to figure out what could possibly be making such a seductive sound. The next morning, he asks the monks what the sound was, but they say, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk. “Distraught, the man is forced to leave.Years later, after never being able to forget that sound, the man goes back to the monastery and pleads for the answer again.The monks reply, “We can’t tell you. You’re not a monk.” The man says, “If the only way I can find out what is making that beautiful sound is to become a monk, then please, make me a monk.” The monks reply, “You must travel the earth and tell us how many blades of grass there are and the exact number of grains of sand. When you find these answers, you will have become a monk.” The man sets about his task. After years of searching he returns as a gray-haired old man and knocks on the door of the monastery. A monk answers. He is taken before a gathering of all the monks.”In my quest to find what makes that beautiful sound, I travelled the earth and have found what you asked for: By design, the world is in a state of perpetual change. Only God knows what you ask. All a man can know is himself, and only then if he is honest and reflective and willing to strip away self-deception.” The monks reply, “Congratulations. You have become a monk. We shall now show you the way to the mystery of the sacred sound.” The monks lead the man to a wooden door, where the head monk says, “The sound is beyond that door.” The monks give him the key, and he opens the door. Behind the wooden door is another door made of stone. The man is given the key to the stone door and he opens it, only to find a door made of ruby. And so it went that he needed keys to doors of emerald, pearl and diamond. Finally, they come to a door made of solid gold. The sound has become very clear and definite. The monks say, “This is the last key to the last door.” The man is apprehensive to no end. His life’s wish is just behind that door! With trembling hands, he unlocks the door, turns the knob, and slowly pushes the door open. Falling to his knees, he is utterly amazed to discover the source of that haunting and seductive sound… But, of course, I can’t tell you what it is because you’re not a monk!

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“True faith is doing what no one else is doing and traveling the road no one else travels.” (Unknown)

Quote #2

“True faith is seeing light with your heart when all your eyes see is darkness.” (Unknown)

Quote #3

“True faith does not so much attempt to manipulate God to do our will, as it does to position us to do His will.” (Philip Yancey)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“Man says, ‘Show me, and I’ll trust you.’ God says, ‘Trust me and I’ll show you.’” (Jeanette Zahler)

Haven’t we all at some point wanted that burning bush type of experience to prove that God exists? Well I sure have, especially as of late, given how great my pain and suffering has become. I mean, who wouldn’t want to walk by a bush suddenly and see it burst into flames, and then abruptly hear a calming voice that brings a level of peace and knowingness within them that has probably never been felt whatsoever in their waking life?

While I’ve never heard of anyone having this type of experience as of yet, I can say I’ve felt the presence of God in other ways in my past and when it’s happened, I really have felt a level of peace that’s hard to describe. And man, would I love to feel something like that these days. It’s been more than a year now without any real sense of connection to God, which has left me feeling a vast emptiness deep within and an ache I wish I could make go away.

I continue to want God to show up in some way, shape, or form in my life, just to reassure me that He’s still there and that everything is going to be ok, because I feel so afraid of what’s going on within me now. But is that true faith? As I’ve read that having true faith is trusting in God, even in the absence of all signs of His presence. The reality is that what I used to call faith was relatively conditional. You see, I used to have what I thought was faith when signs kept coming my way, when life felt grand, when my health didn’t feel upside down, when money was coming in, and when my biggest worries were pretty trivial in nature.

But, ever since my suffering has become as intense as it has, when it went from days, to weeks, to months, and then to years, when communication from God fell silent and all attempts to reach Him have gone unanswered, that great faith I thought I had was nowhere to be found. Believe me, I’d love to have some miraculous sign occur in my life right now to prove that God is still with me, but I know to have a deeper faith, one that is unshakeable, no matter what my circumstances, I must keep on believing, even when everything points to believing otherwise.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to fully trusting God, EVEN when life feels like it’s at its darkest, EVEN when all signs of God’s presence have seemingly disappeared, and EVEN when suffering feels like it’s at its greatest, because maybe it’s in those moments where true faith blossoms and when the true face of God can appear and be appreciated at one’s very core.

Dear God, my faith has wavered quite a bit as of late. With life often feeling so very dark for me, I’ve questioned Your very existence. I pray that You may help me keep the faith in You, even in these darkest of moments, so that when You bring me out of it once and for all and back into the Light, I may never question Your presence again.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to another Grateful Heart Monday, where my week of writing begins with a single piece of gratitude for someone or something that has truly touched my life, which for today is for a guy named Randy Anderson.

Before I talk specifically about why I’m grateful for this person, I must first begin with an amends. You see, I wasn’t a kind person to Randy when he was actively a part of my life between 2007 and 2012. Sadly, I was more consumed during the majority of that period of time with how he could console me through all my addiction-based tendencies, rather than see him as someone who was filled with nothing but a kind, caring, and giving heart.

Randy was a loyal friend, someone who could light up the room with his many acts of kindness. Someone who made a difference in just being himself. But, I couldn’t ever see that because I was so wrapped up in a sex and love addiction that plagued my entire existence. I only saw Randy through my disease’s filters and failed to see the love of God constantly working within and through him. I became verbally abusive, demeaning, and made fun of Randy more than not during the majority of our time together, all because I was totally afraid of how much I had let him in.

Why was I so afraid of that? Because the majority of my life was always filled with abusive relationships and friendships, with individuals I had to chase after to get even a twinge of love, but Randy wasn’t one of them and that scared the crap out of me. That was so unfamiliar to me and being caught up as deeply as I was in that sex and love addiction prevented me from ever seeing his true gold. Instead, I became fully blinded from seeing any good in him and instead, I lashed out and hurt him again and again and again. I eventually wounded him so much so, near the end of January in 2012, that I placed the final nail in the coffin with our friendship. When I began this blog a year later, even though I had gotten sober from that addiction, I still wasn’t able to see Randy in his purest form and wrote about him in this blog in a very negative light. I was wrong for that and have lived with sadness over it ever since.

Because Randy is someone that never deserved that and never deserved to be treated the way I treated him. Randy is someone you’d actually want as a friend. He’s that type of guy who knows just what to say or not to say to offer comfort when you really need it. He’s that type of guy who buys a gift just to brighten your day and just because. He’s that type of guy that opens his door and allows you to crash at his place just so you don’t feel so dam alone in a world filled with so much aloneness. He’s that type of guy who would delicately prepare a home-cooked meal just to bring a smile to your face and a little warmth to your soul. He’s that type of guy who would show you what true loyalty and integrity means in a friendship. He’s that type of guy who would fully accept you, warts and all. And he’s that type of guy who would never abandon you, no matter what.

Sadly, I know it was my toxic state that led to our friendship becoming toxic and ultimately, its demise and there hasn’t been a single week since we parted ways, that I haven’t thought about him. The more I’ve worked through my addiction-laden life, the more I’ve been able to see him in such a different light. One that has helped me to clearly see that God put him in my life back then to help me learn quite a bit about myself and to spiritually grow. Much of my interest in crystals, holistic healing, and in the etheric evolved because of Randy. He had such a gift with pendulums and often used it to help me through some pretty dark times. He also supported me in every bit of my new-age healing journeys, and, of course, it was his constant acts of unconditional love that helped me to eventually learn to embrace that in future connections with others.

What Randy never knew back then and probably still doesn’t know to this day, is that I never stopped loving and caring about him in my heart. For the many times he helped to pick up the pieces of my life, especially when all my health issues began, and for answering the one and only call I made in the middle of one night back in 2011 and knowing just what to say, when I was attempting to kill myself in a running car, in a closed storage unit, it’s reasons like this that fill me with plenty of gratitude for Randy.

My sister informed me recently that Randy has found a partner now and is living in Arizona these days and for that I’m extremely happy for him. I know he’ll make a fantastic husband and with his childlike sense of humor and unique ability to explore the world for all it has to offer, I’m sure he’ll bring many blessings and smiles to that relationship.

Nevertheless, if you should ever read this Randy, know I’m truly sorry for how I treated you for the majority of the time God had our lives intersect with each other. I always put myself first back then, and everyone else, including you, second, and frankly, you deserved to be treated far better than that. I’m happy to know that someone out there in Arizona may well be doing that very thing for you these days. May your relationship be blessed by the light of God and may you know that I am truly grateful for you, and love you brother, and always will.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson