Daily Reflection

“Most people need love and acceptance a lot more than they need advice.” (Bob Goff)

On the day of my 50th birthday a week ago, I wasn’t feeling well, mentally or emotionally, both due to the very heightened state of physical pain I was feeling. Some days have been worse than others when it comes to the pain I feel, but on my 50th, it was far beyond what I could handle. Honestly, I was pretty upset with God about it, after all, it was my birthday dammit, couldn’t I have one day of relief on THIS day God?! I know, I know, a birthday is just another day, even so, heightened pain has this way of making it very hard to feel, see, hear, or connect with any of God’s love, however it may manifest. Considering that, as my 50th wound down, where tears and angst had plagued most of my half-century mark in life, I suddenly received a message from a friend. I began to read it, hoping it might be one of those “God’s Mysterious Ways” moments, where God knew exactly what I needed when I most needed it, that my birthday sorrows would all be eradicated in this one message. I’ve had many of those moments, but unfortunately, this wasn’t one of them. Instead, it was an unsolicited piece of advice of something that worked to ease much of my friend’s own bouts of chronic pain. While their intention was genuine, it only caused me greater doubt, stress, and pain, as well as a very restless sleep that night.

People often say that God communicates through others and tend to tell that story about a person who drowns in a flood after praying to God for help and then turns away the help that comes in the form of people at their door, the boat on their second-floor window, and the helicopter on the roof. Here’s the irony in that story. To believe God speaks through others, which includes a lot of advice at this point, it would include, but not limited to, countless diets, drinking my own urine, revoking my sexuality by taking up a life of celibacy, consuming edibles or some other form of medical marijuana, and even seeking out Tony Robbins and plenty of other motivational gurus. So, was God sending me people, boats, and helicopters by telling me to drink my own urine? Of course, I’m being slightly facetious here, but more than not, humans offer advice because it makes them feel better, rather than helping the very person they are wanting to help with their advice.

Nevertheless, when God has chosen to communicate to me through another, it’s always come in a way that’s left me feeling completely loved and accepted, usually with tears flowing, and with no doubt in my mind that what’s being said to me is that person, boat, or helicopter coming to help. But, when advice has been just that, just a person wanting to fix another’s brokenness, I typically feel one predominant feeling, doubt, which in this case with this friend, is all I felt.

The fact is, many of us, me included, have often played God simply by offering unsolicited advice, simply by thinking just because it helped us, it will help another. But, to the brokenhearted, the suffering, and the like, unsolicited advice like this can have the opposite desired effect and do greater harm instead. So, maybe the only thing we should be doing when we see another hurting person is to say three words, “I love you” and leave the rest with God to figure out.

I pray for the wisdom to know when the advice I want to offer is coming from my own ego or from God and when in doubt, to refrain from sharing it, knowing it could be me just trying to play God.

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

Daily Reflection

“He who is slow to anger has great understanding and profits from self-control. But he who is quick tempered exposes and exalts his foolishness for all to see.” (Probers 14:29 AMP)

“Hot tempers start fights; a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.” (Proverbs 15:18 MSG)

“The slap heard round the world.” It’s been a few weeks now since Oscar night landed Will Smith on everyone’s radar and not in a good way. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now what happened, but for some reason if you don’t, Chris Rock made a tasteless joke that night about Smith’s wife, Jada Pickett, and her lack of hair, telling her he was looking forward to seeing her in “G.I. Jane 2”. At first Smith laughed it off, but, after seeing his wife react negatively to the joke due to her having a skin condition called Alopecia that causes one’s hair to fall out prematurely, he quickly ran up on stage and slapped Rock in front of the live audience and about 15 million viewers that included me. He then returned to his seat and verbally swore at Rock twice saying to keep his wife out of Rock’s mouth. Since then, Smith has resigned from the Academy and became banned from attending any Oscar event for the next 10 years. While I’m very sad over Will Smith’s demise due to his Oscar night’s physical assault and expletives, the spiritual lesson continues to remain very clear to me when it comes to uncontrolled anger.

Having personally suffered the consequences in life from many acts of uncontrolled anger as well, especially during my alcohol and drug addiction days, I came to realize the cause was always allowing my ego to be more in control than God. It was abundantly clear that Smith was allowing his ego to do the talking on Oscar night, rather than God, which I found surprising when Smith talked later that night about his devotion and gratitude to God during his Best Actor acceptance speech.

Nevertheless, there are countless days I feel people make me angry. The most recent was a client lashing out at me during one of my alcohol and drug presentations, shouting obscenities my way in front of 50 others. How I handled it was simply talking in a calm and collected voice, one I feel came from my Spirit, that simply showed the individual he was loved even in his anger and judgments of me. In the past, how I would have reacted to it would have been far less humble, probably shouting expletives in defense.

Thankfully, I see now that the more I humble myself before God and not let my ego control my actions, the more I’m able to remain at peace and refrain from anger when attacks come my way. I wished Smith had allowed God to remain more in charge on Oscar night than his ego, because in the end, the cost of his uncontrolled anger will have far worse ramifications on both his personal life and career than if he had simply just prayed to God for help…

Dear God, I know how easy it is to become angry in this world and lash out, especially when we feel unfairly attacked. May you always help me to control my tongue and my actions and lead me more to acts of peace and love, than letting my ego be in control.

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

Daily Reflection

“So, in everything, do unto others what you would have the do to you…” (Matthew 7:12)

I was sitting in a Starbucks the other day (I know, I know, go figure! LOL!) meeting with someone for an afternoon coffee when I noticed an individual sitting near the front of the store with an elaborate computer set up containing multiple cords, two small monitors, and a gaming console. The friend I was meeting there attempted to make conversation with the individual, as they were amazed at the complex set-up. The individual looked over at my friend, ignored them and went back to immersing themselves in what looked to be a game. I saw they had earbuds on so I assumed they didn’t hear her. But after I sat down with my coffee in hand, I watched as another person approached the individual and asked about their setup as they were looking for some guidance and direction. The person tried several times to communicate with them, only it was obvious the individual couldn’t be bothered as they outright ignored the person, even looking at them directly and rolling their eyes, to communicate to leave them alone. I wanted to believe the person didn’t speak English or had some other inability to communicate, but that wasn’t the case when I saw them on their phone. I felt much sorrow over this.

Why do people act like this? I often ask myself this question, especially when I see people who claim themselves as Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, or follow some other devout religious path only to exhibit behaviors like this. I’m sure if this gaming individual had this happen to them when they approached another, they would have been taken aback and frustrated at the very same response.

I tend to see this happening a lot in our world these days. People like to complain about how they are being treated, yet those same individuals often do the very same behaviors and are completely oblivious to it. It only gets their attention when those behaviors come from another and affects them.

Seeing this the other day brought back the thought of the earliest golden rule I learned in life about doing unto others as I would want done to me. I’ve had many people approach me in many different coffee shops asking me about the various things I’m doing there. Whether it’s been my 12 Step recovery work, writing for my blog, or even watching a movie or playing a game, I always give them my focus because I would want the same done to me. Sadly, I wasn’t this way at all during my active addiction years. During them, I was no different than that gaming individual and might have even gone a step further to tell the person I was busy who was asking me a question.

So, if you should ever find yourself complaining about someone being rude or disrespectful to you, I encourage you to take a moment, breathe, and reflect upon all areas of your life where you may be doing the very same thing, as there’s a good chance you’ve done the exact same behavior with another and the Universe is only showing you this so that you can make a positive change on your spiritual path in life…

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

Daily Reflection

“For the love of money is the root of all evil. While coveting after money, some have strayed from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

When this article is published, the Superbowl will be long over, a new champion crowned, and life will have moved on from all the annual football hoopla for one more year. But, presently, as I write this, I’m sitting at my friend Mike’s house, waiting for the big game’s opening festivities, where I’ve just learned the cost of a barebones trip to actually see this year’s Superbowl in person was around $6000, which included the cost of a ticket, parking, and food!

$6000! Just to see a game! While I love watching the Superbowl on TV every year, and while I do have various teams I’ve supported over the years in football and other sports too, I can think of a million things these days I’d rather do with $6000 than spend it on a sporting event. Truly, I think if I even had won tickets to this year’s Superbowl, I would have sold them and used the money on something far more practical in my life. Yet, I know I wouldn’t have been able to say that earlier in my life.

How often I spent money on the dumbest of things in my life looking for happiness is countless at this point. Most of those superficial purchases generally ended with me asking myself why I had wasted my money on it. Probably the silliest of which came after my father died, where I bought a brand-new Acura Integra GSR to cope with his passing and had parts of it dipped in 14K gold! Yes, I really did that. (SMH!)

If there’s one thing I’ve absolutely learned in this life in the year I’m about to finally turn 50 is that money never brings about any long-lasting happiness. If anything, it has always created for me an itch that no amount of scratching was ever able to take away.

While I’m quite sure that some great memories were probably made for those who spent $6000 to see this year’s Superbowl, especially if their team ended up winning, in the end, it, like anything else one lavishly spends money on, only will create a drive for more. An endless search for one pleasure after another in this world, where that drive itself becomes far more important than anything else, where having faith, sharing unconditional love, and even caring about others becomes second to simply pleasing oneself…

Dear God, help me to always remember that all the physical pleasures of this world will never bring about true happiness, something I’ve seen has only ever come in seeking You and in serving others rather than myself. 

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

Daily Reflection

“When you truly understand karma, then you realize you are responsible for everything in your life.” (Keanu Reeves)

“A man reaps what he sows…” (Galatians 6:7)

I was having a late breakfast in the early afternoon a few Saturday’s ago at The Original Pancake House here in Toledo, when suddenly a frantic waitress looked out a nearby window and yelled ‘I can’t believe they left without paying!’. I inquired on what happened only to discover that her party of two tables had left her with their $130 bill when no one was looking after over an hour’s worth of waiting on them. I felt sad for her and angry at the same time, but honestly trusted that everything would right itself eventually, because karma sure has a funny way of coming back to haunt a person. When I paid my bill and discussed the situation with the manager, I told her I was sorry to hear what happened but that I believed karma would fix itself through something like those people’s cars breaking down with a hefty repair bill. They chuckled. And why I felt comfortable saying that? Because I have most certainly learned a lot about reaping what I sowed in this life.

How many times I deliberately hurt another for self-gain is probably countless at this point in my life. But how many times those same things came back far more painful down the way is also countless. I firmly believe that all those years I was so selfish with the money I was given led directly to the loss of my former business and almost $700,000 of cash investments. I also firmly believe that the many health issues I’ve experienced over the past decade also correlate to how I treated others in the past. But, on a far smaller level, if one truly pays attention to how things work in this world when it comes to karma, it’s easy to see how things come back sometimes three-fold and more.

I clearly recall times when I bargained for this or that, “nickel and dimeing” my way through something, only to experience things like my own car breaking down or a major appliance going out shortly after. People often don’t see that correlation though because they are spending so much time living out of their ego trying to stay one step ahead of everyone else, often at other’s expense.

Nevertheless, all of this reminded me of the one time I deliberately did something similar in my younger years when I went bowling with a few hoodlum friends. At the end of our time at the alley, they all quickly jetted out without paying, telling me no one was going to get hurt doing so. I didn’t say anything because I was trying to act cool. But I went back later and paid the bill for all of us, because deep down in me I knew then like I firmly accept now within me, that profiting off another’s expense never pays in the long run.

I pray that all who try to profit off the expense of another will learn that what one reaps one sows, and that there is such a thing as karma… 

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

Daily Reflection

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 MSG)

I was amongst a few people recently having a very interesting conversation surrounding religion and spirituality. One of them would absolutely have labeled themselves as atheist. While I didn’t get too deep into the conversation, given far too often those types of discussions end in tension and arguments, I did express one truth surrounding why I have faith in God, and it dealt specifically with the benefit of living in the maybe.

I live in the maybe every, single day. The maybe I’m speaking of is God actually being real, even though I have no definitive proof of that, which is the very thing that atheists and agnostics alike want. Why I live in the maybe, rather than in a reality of needing definitive proof for my faith in God, is simply because living in the maybe gives me hope. Hope that there is something better than my current unfortunate circumstances in life.

To live each day believing that there is nothing beyond this life and having to accept that I just got dealt a bad hand of cards, especially over the last ten years or so with all my health issues, leaves me with no hope and no desire to keep going. But, living in the maybe, the maybe that there is something far Greater than I. The maybe that there is an actual reason for all of what I’ve been going through and that it’s on a far Higher level of comprehension than I could ever fathom. The maybe that God’s got this, meaning me, in His hands, even on my worst of days. The maybe that my prayers surrounding my health are indeed being answered in ways that are benefitting me even when my mind tries to convince me otherwise. And the maybe that God does have a joyful path for me still ahead. Living with this type of maybe guiding me leaves me with at least a shard of hope, a mustard seed of faith if you will, and a tiny ray of light in a sea of darkness, all of which being just enough for me to keep going and not give up.

Maybe the concept of God was originally created to cope with when life deals us a bad hand of cards, or maybe God has always been there through it all. Maybe God is nothing but something we’ve all made up to handle life on life’s terms, or maybe God is something far beyond anything we will ever be able to understand. I choose to live in the maybe that God is indeed real on every level. Living in this maybe is far more hopeful for my present difficult reality, one that often makes no sense to my limited thinking. So, I choose to live in the maybe that God does exist, because choosing to believe otherwise brings me no comfort whatsoever in a world that often feels unfair and not worth living in anymore.

God, it’s been very hard to have faith lately. But today, I’m asking You to help me to keep living in the maybe and trust that You are at work whether I’m 100 percent sure of You or not. I pray You fill me with joy and peace knowing You’ve got me in Your hands, even when I struggle to believe if You’re even real or there at all.

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

Daily Reflection

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. ‘” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Having spent much of my adult life working on all the broken parts of my past, I’ve found myself lately wondering if any of it has done any bit of good because it really seems as if all the things I thought I worked through already have been resurfacing again.

Agnosticism and doubting God even exists, deep insecurity, overly needy, high maintenance, irritable and short-tempered, negative thinking, and living in active addiction, each were things I spent countless hours working through over many years in 12 Step recovery, personal therapy, men’s groups, and the like, which by the end of 2014 I was mostly free of. I’d go so far as to say I was feeling extremely confident on my spiritual journey moving into 2015. Sadly, as my health issues began to rapidly intensify after that, many of these issues began to resurface again, which has left me wondering if God has a plan for me to ever prosper again.

Other than a five-day period of incredible relief in late August of 2017, where I felt God’s presence and trusted I was exactly where I was meant to be on this healing path, I’ve had no other moments of major relief. Plenty have said I’m crazy and even dumb for not choosing to take something to cope with it. Some have even suggested that maybe God was talking through them to tell me to medicate. A few even have gone so far as to suggest that maybe God doesn’t exist and that he’s just some “guy in the sky” one creates to cope when they’re in chronic pain. While I didn’t embark upon this path of natural healing initially specifically to grow closer to God, as it was more to just clean up a mind and body I had abused for too many years and lives, it has become the predominant thing I’ve sought now.

Lately though, I have so very little confidence in myself and in God, especially on days when my pain seems to control my words and actions more than not, but somehow, I still cling to a shard of faith, which in of itself I guess doesn’t qualify me for agnosticism yet. Living in pain though, for long periods of time with little to no relief on most days, truly does do a number on one’s faith. If you’ve ever been sick or ailing for long periods of time, then you’ll know what I mean. All of this has made it hard to remember what it feels like to be at peace, to know joy, or even by happy with anything. Yet, I continue to resist the urges of the world telling me to medicate or take things like CBD or medical marijuana because it simply doesn’t feel like the path God wants me to be on or what my soul energy even desires.

So, as people continue to tell me what I’m doing isn’t working and that I really need to change something up, I’m doing my best to keep trusting I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to with my health and healing. While my mind may not want to believe in this anymore, I cling to the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, that God still has a plan for me to prosper, one where my future is filled with hope and light…

Dear God, please help me to keep trusting You still have a plan for me to prosper in this life.

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

Daily Reflection

“We have become masters of projection, pushing the responsibility for our own thoughts outward, so that the consequences of our own thoughts become someone else’s problems.” (Darren Main)

Often it really feels like I’m a magnet for people to dump their crap onto, projecting their own life’s misery outward, blaming me for their own personal drama and baggage of life. It’s been that way ever since I was a kid with an alcoholic mother doing it to me with regularity. Nowadays, I find myself struggling immensely with this, with taking ownership of someone else’s problems.

For example, just because I’m still unvaccinated from COVID, doesn’t mean I’m the cause of the virus, or the cause of anyone’s death from it, or an anti-vaxxer, or an evangelical who doesn’t believe in this specific vaccine, or anything of the sort, because I’m none of those whatsoever. Yet I’ve been accused of being each of those things many times over from others, all because I remain presently unvaccinated, where most never take the time to really understand or accept my personal situation.

Another great example is this. Just because I’m outside at times for hours every single day, cleaning up my yard and two others, and even sweeping a good portion of street around me of debris, doesn’t mean that that the noise I make doing so during the normal hours of the day is the true source of two neighbors’ anger at me. It’s merely a projection they place their anger on.

One final example is what I wrote about in a previous blog where I made an honest mistake on the road one day, narrowly missing another driver in the process. It brought out road rage from them, where they ended up pursuing me for a good 15 minutes, doing their best to scare me, when none of their toxic anger was about me whatsoever.

Lately, it seems like the world is filled with this, with one person after another blaming someone or something else for the source of all their anger and frustrations of life, when the real source of it is themselves. It’s taken me a long while to see this because I once was that person who always looked outward in anger for my inward anger.

I typically get great reminders of this in my current relationship with my partner Chris. At times I fall back into this illusion and find myself projecting my anger onto him, and he with me, when in reality, we’re both broken individuals lashing out at each other.

In the end, I believe the only way to fully deflect this, is to keep working on my own inner peace, as truly, when one is filled with true inner peace, it doesn’t matter how much anger and projection is thrown my way, because when it is, that peace will help me see it’s not about me, it’s about them.

Gracious and most Heavenly God, I pray for help in seeing the true source of all my anger and frustrations of life isn’t about anyone else, but me. Help me come to peace surrounding all my circumstances of life, so that when others project any of their unwarranted anger my way, that Your peace will help me rise above it all, enough so that I’ll no longer own anyone else’s baggage in life.

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

Daily Reflection

“Everyone makes mistakes, if you can’t forgive others, don’t expect others to forgive you.” (Unknown)

I was driving on a highway a few weeks ago when I went into the next lane on my right. What I didn’t know was a car was already there in my blind spot. Thankfully, I didn’t hit them, which they let me know I was in the wrong with a strong blow of their horn. I was honestly grateful for the warning, as without it, my mistake could have turned into a major fender bender. What I didn’t know was going to happen was what came next. After realizing my mistake, I sped up and got away from the car, to give them enough space. I then got into the lane I needed to be for my upcoming exit. Suddenly, the other driver sped up and cut in front of me, braking hard, as if trying to set a strong example of how wrong I was. I became nervous over the situation, as I’ve seen things like this lately go very sideways and end in violence. So, I went back into the left lane and sped up enough to get several cars away from the individual. They proceeded to then follow me, right on my car’s tail end. When I came to my exit, I waited to the last second and then turned onto it, which they did as well. I wanted to believe I was just imagining what was happening, but I wasn’t. When I reached the next light that I normally go straight through to head home, I abruptly turned right, as did they. Now I was heading away from my home with an obviously very angry person still following me. When I reached the next stop sign, I took a right, which they did as well, keeping right with me. I became really scared at that point because there have been cases of serious road rage around here. I decided to drastically speed up at that point purposely trying to evade this person, which eventually I thankfully did.

Why people struggle to forgive mistakes like this and instead resort to anger and sometimes even violence, I don’t know. I’ve had many people almost hit me, cut me off, and sometimes even worse on the roads, which I simply just silently forgive them and let them be on their merry way. I rarely ever resort to even blowing my horn unless they don’t realize I’m there. Never do I feel the need to teach someone a lesson, to intimidate, or threaten anyone for a mistake they’ve made, regardless of what it is. I’ve learned far and wide in my life, that mistakes happen, and everyone is worthy and deserving of forgiveness, for even the worst of mistakes. And truly, if I can’t forgive, no matter what the mistake is, why should anyone ever forgive me when I make a mistake. Nevertheless, hopefully this angry driver who felt the need to follow me for over 15 minutes on the road may find forgiveness for whatever is going on in their life that would lead them to do such a thing in the first place, as I know ultimately this wasn’t really about me. Regardless, I’m quite sure whatever it is, that they were looking to diffuse their anger on anything, which I just happen to be the recipient of in that moment when I made the mistake. Mistakes happen. I only pray this individual may learn to forgive the next time it does.

Dear God, may I always forgive when a person makes a mistake that affects me, no matter what it is, as I know I’d want forgiveness if I made one, just as much as I know that not forgiving someone’s mistake is only going to cause me more harm to my spiritual journey than good.

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

Daily Reflection

“One of the most powerful things I’ve learned since getting sober is to love and accept life on life’s terms. Alcoholics have a hard time doing this; we’re little id-driven crybabies, guzzling and complaining about how nothing in this life goes the way we think it should. Accepting and even embracing the world as it is can be radical, and it can have powerful, positive results.” (Michelle Tea)

Just over a week ago now, I was embarking upon a trip to Northern Virginia to visit a few of my old friends I hadn’t seen in over a decade. As I entered the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and approached the ticket terminals to print my boarding pass, I was seriously dreading my flight, not because I don’t like traveling, but because my pain levels were through the roof. Once I had my boarding pass, I noticed my seat had been changed from the one I had booked months prior. I had purposely selected the seat I had because it was near the back of the plane near the bathroom, given I have the tendency to go frequently during a flight.

When I finally made it out to the gate where my plane was leaving from, I spoke to the agent there and asked about my seat. She said it had been changed because she was trying to accommodate a family that wanted to sit together. I was in my head, being selfish, and expecting the seat I had been changed to wasn’t going to meet my expectations, so I asked for my original seat back. After she re-printed my boarding pass with my original seat, I felt a ping from my Higher Self saying I really should accept the seat she had moved me to. After much reluctance and a quick fight between my brain and my heart, I told the agent I was sorry for being so difficult and said it was fine to put me in the seat reassignment she had. She was very grateful.

About 30 minutes later, I boarded the flight and headed to my new seat assignment. It was then I discovered I was in an exit row now with an incredible amount of leg room, something a 6’5” guy with chronic pain issues can find an extreme appreciation for! But what was even more interesting, was where I would have been sitting, where that family was now in one single row rather than across from each other, was also their baby, who cried quite loudly the entire flight. I would have endured not only very little leg room there, but a screaming kid for about an hour and a half!

I guess it just goes to show that acceptance can have powerful, positive results sometimes…

Gracious God, help me to love and accept life on life’s terms, rather than allowing my ego to always convince me otherwise…

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

 

Daily Reflection

“Feed my sheep.” (John 21:16)

For the longest time I never quite understood what Christ meant exactly when he spoke to Peter and said, “Feed my sheep”. At first, I really believed it meant I was supposed to help people become Christians by talking about the Bible and giving them some sort of Biblical testimony about the love for God. But this never worked for me for several reasons.

For starters, I believe there are many paths to God, following the love of Christ is just one of them. Secondly, I don’t label myself a Christian because that’s a man-made term. I simply follow the teachings of Christ and choose not to label it any further. And lastly, I’m not a religious type of guy who feels a calling to do missionary work where conversion to a type of faith is at its core. This is precisely why I struggled immensely each time I read that passage in the Bible where Christ told Peter to “Feed my sheep”. But, could it mean more than what I once thought? Only recently did I come to a deeper understanding with this.

Maybe Christ was simply talking about loving his children through the gifts we are each blessed with? Maybe we all are meant to feed Christ’s sheep in our own unique ways? In my case, maybe I’m doing just that in all the passion I put into my 12 Step recovery work, especially when I do any of my speaking engagements where I share my testimony of addiction to recovery? And maybe each time I work with anyone in my recovery work in general, whether that’s with an individual or in front of a group, passing on my own message of understanding, hope, and love, is feeding God’s sheep?

As I pondered this, maybe doctors are already feeding God’s sheep when they work to help improve the health of their patients? Maybe musicians do the same each time they sing or play their instrument to their hearts content in front of an audience? And maybe gardeners beautifying nature at another’s home, therapists working to help improve their client’s mental and emotional health, chefs preparing tasty culinary cuisine for another, etc., each feed God’s sheep each time they utilize their gifts with love in their heart.

So, maybe all Christ meant when he said to Peter to “Feed my sheep” was simply to just follow whatever our passion is in this world and offer it to others with unconditional love in our hearts, as isn’t that at the core of all of Christ’s teachings? Regardless, this is the very basis of why I continue to follow Him and do my best each day to feed God’s sheep in the unique ways He blessed me with.

Dear God, please help me to always use whatever gifts You’ve given me to do my part in feeding your sheep.

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

Daily Reflection

“Age is only a number we count until we’re old enough to know it doesn’t count.” (Katrina Mayer)

I’ve always heard that age is nothing but a number. But, in just under a year from now, I’ll be the big 5-0, which presently, I find myself getting particularly bothered by, especially when my partner Chris jokes about it with me or with others we’re spending time with. Why does this bother me so much when age probably really is nothing but a number? Because at almost 50, I feel like I haven’t accomplished much in this life other than getting clean and sober from alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes 26 years ago.

While I know that sober specific achievement is nothing to balk at and something I continue to be thankful to God for, I honestly believe my issue with my age is really because I’m not happy with me right now. I tend to believe that the greater the happiness a person has within themselves, the greater the acceptance they will have with all their circumstances of life, including their age. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find that within ever since all my major health issues began back in April of 2010. Prior to that, when I was able to be far more active in my life in plenty of ways, I definitely felt happiness within. But with each passing year since I was 39, I have done my best just to survive through a number of mind and body health issues, each making it so very difficult to see the looming 5-0 with anything but dread. While I have no problem accepting anyone else’s age with grace and unconditional love, and even find great appreciation and attraction in those far older than I, I can’t seem to get there within myself. That has become all the more apparent since turning 49 a few weeks ago. Maybe this is that mid-life crisis people always talk about when they reach this age? I’m not sure, but I had a lot of dreams for where I wanted my life to be at by the time I reached 50. Sadly, those dreams feel so far away presently, as all my energy continues to go into just coping with my health limitations and doing the best I can to make it through each day. Frankly, I know if I could just find peace and joy within regardless of my health or any circumstances of life, it wouldn’t matter whether I was 49, 50, 61, or 80.

In my soul, I ultimately know what matters isn’t my age at all, or how I look, or even with any of my life’s achievements. I think what truly matters is just being a good person, a loving person, a caring person, a kind person, a giving person, and well I think you get the point. Except, I’ve struggled with them all the more my mind and body is plagued with one health issue after another. Because of that, anger has often got the best of me lately, something I’ve been disappointed within myself, which is working directly against the very thing I want, that being to accept whatever age I’m at.

It really is ironic how I can look at someone else far older than I, who feels the same way as I do about their age, and offer them the very compassion and love they are struggling to offer themselves, yet I can’t seem to offer that to myself! I know all of this is my ego working against me, something I’ve seen quite a bit of in my writing as of late. While deep down, I know age truly is nothing but a number and that it doesn’t matter in the overall grand scheme of life how old any of us are. I just pray for that part of me to overcome my ego that continues to tell me the lie that I’m a failure at almost 50.

Dear God, I know that age is nothing but a number, especially to You. Please help me find peace and joy within, no matter what my circumstances in life are or will ever be, as I know in doing so, I won’t be dreading turning the big 5-0, or any other age for that matter.

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

Daily Reflection

“The people who are trying to force you to be circumcised are the ones who want to show off and boast about external matters. They do it, however, only so that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even those who practice circumcision do not obey the Law; they want you to be circumcised so that they can boast that you submitted to this physical ceremony.” (Galatians 6:12-13)

How many have you ever known in life who try to “save” someone, who have this agenda of getting someone to become a Christian, but yet at the same time, do many things that contradict much of the very religion they are trying to “save” someone into?

Today’s Daily Reflection’s passage is one that speaks to this very thing, but from long ago in Apostle Paul’s time. In this Galatians passage, Paul’s referring to the many who were so intent in his time on getting a person circumcised for them to become Jewish and then proudly sharing that with everyone when they did, solely to boast of their success, even when many of them weren’t even following the very laws of their religion they were converting people into.

As I’ve stated plenty of times already in my life, this is why I don’t label myself a Christian, because I will never match up to its laws, rules, and practices that are laid forth in the Bible. It’s why I never try to “save” anyone either, because frankly, I need “saving” myself and work on that daily with God directly for Him to guide me in His own way. I honestly believe people are meant to find their own individual paths with God, paths that allow God to speak to them in unique ways, but not paths that are shoved onto them through fear or force, which is often how the practice of “saving” comes across.

I’ve known of many Christians in my life who do this, who try to force their religious views upon another, often through fear, and especially to those who aren’t of any religious background. They try so hard to get a person to see their ways and hope that they’ll get them to become a Christian, and when they do, they tend to share that achievement with everyone, feeling so good about themselves. You know what all that really is. It’s ego and nothing more.

I learned on my spiritual walk with God how important it is to move away from ego and become humble, and to demonstrate that by often putting myself and my needs second and another’s first. When I’ve done that, I find I’m able to emanate more of what I wish to become in life, that being a man of peace, love, light, and joy, and each time I have, it seems as if people have naturally gravitated to me and wanted to know more about my spiritual walk, which is ultimately how I think God wants people to get to know Him. But trying to get people to know God by “saving” them tends to become an action more of the mind than of the Spirit and places the focus more on the “saver” than the “savee”.

I just wish people would let God talk to them in God’s own awesome ways. Because God really does have an infinite number of ways for each and every individual on this planet to connect to Him. But trying to force one’s religion and views upon another, in an attempt to “save” them, I think is the very reason why so many continue to fall away from God these days. Maybe it’s time we all start practicing a lot more humility on our spiritual paths by letting everyone find their own path to God, rather than shoving our own paths upon them. Maybe in doing so, more will start finding the true light of God within them, as then the world will become far more filled with peace, love, light, and joy.

Dear God, may I never force upon anyone the things I’ve learned on my spiritual path with You. May I instead work on becoming more and more humble each and every day in the hopes I too will one day embody the peace, light, light, and joy, I see in You.

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

Daily Reflection

“Every moment of your life and everything happening around you is the result of some past karma.” (Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar)

I should know by now that karma always comes back around at some point. Sometimes it happens quite quickly and sometimes it takes a while to manifest. But, it always does rear its face at some point, as it did for me recently. For those who don’t know what karma is, it’s a term used to describe the principle of cause and effect, where the action of a person in one moment directly influences what they’ll receive in future moments. (I.E. Good intent and good deeds bring good karma and bad intent and bad deeds lead to bad karma.)

I do my best to generate good karma in my life by remaining honest, accountable, and kind, but I do fail at that at times with this, as I did recently when my rental car door I was temporarily in for a few weeks flew open one day while in a parking lot, when it caught a huge gust of wind. The result was the edge of it hitting the car next to me, leaving a nice white scuff down their passenger door. I tried to rub all of it off and was only partially successful. I looked over the rest of their car and saw noticeable scuffs elsewhere, so I justified I didn’t need to do anything and left. A week later, I picked up my car after the warrantied repair was complete and was super happy because it looked quite new now on the outside, as there were no longer any visible dents, rust, big scratches or dings anywhere anymore. The next day day though, after parking my car in a local shopping center where I went into a restaurant for dinner, I discovered when leaving there, several big scratches were now on my rear bumper. It was apparent someone had backed into it just enough to have their license plate scratch it pretty well. The first thought I had after seeing it was this was karma playing itself out.

When things like this happen, I often find myself wondering if my long gestation of physical pain and ailments I’ve battled and endured over the past decade of my life is also a result of past karma. The number of people I’ve hurt through many addictions in both my words and actions is countless if I include both this life and several of my previous ones. But, the thought of that even being true is actually quite comforting, because maybe there is a reason for all this pain, that eventually it will restore balance to all the imbalance I created in this world.

Regardless, I believe karma is a real thing and have a number of examples from my life that can support that belief. So, I’m thankful at least for the reminder of karma with my vehicle’s less than perfect look now and pray I’ll handle it far better the next time something like this happens.

Dear God, thank you for helping me to remain accountable for all my actions in life, no matter how big or small they are, or how positive or negative they are, through karma and the lessons it continues to provide me.

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

Daily Reflection

“Sāi Wēng lived on the border and he raised horses for a living. One day, he lost one of his prized horses. After hearing of the misfortune, his neighbor felt sorry for him and came to comfort him. But Sāi Wēng simply asked, “How could we know it is not a good thing for me?” After a while, the lost horse returned and with another beautiful horse. The neighbor came over again, but this time congratulated Sāi Wēng on his good fortune. But Sāi Wēng simply asked, “How could we know it is not a bad thing for me?” One day, his son went out for a ride with the new horse. He was violently thrown from the horse and broke his leg. The neighbor once again came over and this time expressed their condolences to Sāi Wēng, but Sāi Wēng simply said, “How could we know it is not a good thing for me?” Not too long after, the Emperor’s army arrived at the village to recruit all able-bodied men to fight in the war. Because of his injury, Sāi Wēng’s son could not go off to war, and was spared from certain death.” (Old Chinese Proverb)

There is a great passage in the Bible that I feel applies to this old Chinese proverb as well. It says, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14) So often in my life I have become angry over things that have brought pain upon my life and when they have, my emotions often have gotten the best of me. On the contrary, whenever things my ego deems as good occur, I usually rejoice. Oddly enough though, I’ve seen the inherent truth behind both this old Chinese proverb and Ecclesiastes 7:14 because I’ve experienced it firsthand.

When my father took his life in 1996 for example, the pain from that was incredible. Yet, it was the very thing that eventually led me to go on a retreat with The ManKind Project, a spiritual men’s organization that would go on to change my life and something I remain active in, even to this day. On the other hand, joining the ManKind Project would directly contribute to a number of broken friendships and the loss of connection with people I truly loved over the years. But, even there, through those losses, doors would close while others would open to even closer connections, and so on.

The same could be said for my mother’s passing, as there too, the pain that came from her tragic fall down the stairs while drunk was incredible. But, it was what directly led me to go on a 10-day silent retreat to deal with it where I learned how to meditate deeply and connected to something far Greater than I ever had before. Yet, when the buzz of that deep connection wore off after about six months of time, I felt a void within me like I’ve never felt before. Even there though, that void is precisely what’s driven me for the past decade to keep searching and experiencing more and more of the vastness of God, and so on.

On a much simpler level, I like to think of my partner Chris’s career path here as well, as when I met him, he was working quite happily at First Solar. When they laid off a number of their employees including him, the pain of that really depressed him immensely given his 11+ years there. That loss though would lead him to get a job at the Postal Service where he excelled right off the bat. There he found an amazing appreciation for being out in nature while he walked his routes, all while losing a ton of weight in the process, something he constantly struggled with doing prior. But then he took a serious fall one day on the job and ended up losing the job in the process because of it. Yet not too long after putting his resume back out there, he was hired by a company who found his resume, a place he’s still happily employed at now. There he’s gone on to get his bachelor’s degree and become the lead in his position as well.

Life is so much like this. We hate what we think is “bad” and crave the “good”, yet it’s the “bad” that always tends to lead to the “good” at some point and the “good” that always seems to bring about some “bad” at some point as well. Buddhism talks about suffering in this way. That suffering is essentially craving what we deem as good all while trying to avoid the bad, but freedom from that suffering comes from accepting both without purposely placing attachment to or detachment from either.

So, in the end, I see both the Chinese proverb and Ecclesiastes as great reminders that I don’t need to create more suffering upon myself by labeling anything as bad or good, when in reality, it’s all relative and it’s all God.

Dear God, I pray to fully accept what my ego often labels as either good or bad, knowing neither are inherently good or bad, and are instead just things happening in life in perpetual motion. Help me to experience the synchronicity of You, rather than constantly living in the suffering that comes from craving the good and running from the bad. 

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

Daily Reflection

“Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.” (Mary Engelbreit)

I often worry about the dumbest of things. Many have said throughout my life I can really be a worrywart sometimes. Case in point, a few years ago, I had a hiccup with an annual renewal process to my healthcare, which led to the temporary termination of it for a short period of time and was very stressful to get resolved. Ever since, each year this renewal process arrives, when the paperwork shows up in the mail, my heartrate automatically goes up, as does my level of worry. This year I purposely submitted the paperwork very early hoping it would help ease my mind, but when I hadn’t heard anything from them after a week, I began to call repeatedly, checking to see if everything was ok. I even had one agent hang up on me because I was talking to her in worry-based circles. The agents did their best to reassure me they had everything they needed, yet, I still churned inside over it day after day, gripping my mailbox every time I opened it, worried I’d have another termination letter stating they didn’t have everything they needed in the revaluation of my benefits. All that worry did nothing but zap me of my daily strength! And then one day, I came home and saw the response letter had finally come. I could barely open the envelope because my hands were shaking so much. Everything had gotten approved, my worst fears had never actualized, and I realized how much serenity I had lost during the entire process of waiting.

Have you ever spun out of control in worry like this, about something that really should never have been made into such a big thing? It’s almost embarrassing to admit such a character defect of mine still exists, because ultimately, I know what the solution is to fix it. No, it’s not alcohol or drugs or medications or anything that can numb that worry, as I’ve tried all of those and them some to handle this worrying part of me and it only has ever made me into a person who just doesn’t care about anything, which is the exact opposite of being a total worrier. Rather, the answer has been to turn it over, something the third step in my recovery world from addiction reminds me of every day. Step Three in 12 Step recovery reads, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.” I’ve often failed quite miserably with this, notably when a worry arises about something, especially when I want it to go a certain way. But what good has it ever done for me to live in this worry and hold onto it every day? Zero! Because It’s like carrying a backpack behind me filled with heavy boulders, weighing me down so very much. I know the remedy though, I just need to practice it more. It means each time a worry arises over something, that I consciously say “I turn this over to you God and trust You’ve got this, even if it results in a different outcome than what my ego wants.” Saying that has such power because it creates strength rather than zaps me of it by essentially giving that backpack of boulders to God to carry, rather than me. And you know what, 90 percent of my worries, maybe even 95 percent if I’m being totally honest with myself, have never come to fruition. Maybe it’s time to really put the 3rd step into practice and trust that God really does got my back with all my worries and can and will handle them far better than I ever have…

Dear God, I turn over “place your worry here” to You. I trust You that it will be far better handled in Your hands than my own and I know that You truly do got this under control, no matter how it gets resolved.

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

Daily Reflection

“Sometimes it feels like there are so many things in this world that we can’t control. Earthquakes, floods, reality shows. But it’s important to remember the things that we can – like forgiveness, second chances, fresh starts. Because the one thing that changes the world from a lonely place to a beautiful place is love. Love, in any of its forms, love gives us hope.” (Josh Duhamel in the film New Year’s Eve (2011))

There were so many things in 2020 that reminded me how very little control I have in this world. From pandemics, to police brutality, to presidential election craziness, to massive losses of life, to not being able to see a number of friends and loved ones, to the many state and local restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, to one setback after another with my health, and well you name it, 2020 most assuredly was a year that made me feel more helpless than I’ve ever felt in my life.

While I’ve gone through many challenging things at varying times in my life, 2020 became the year where it truly felt like it was one difficult thing happening after another with no reprieve. I honestly pray that 2021 will feel far better, not just with my health of course, but with the rest of the world as well, as I often felt in 2020 that I was constantly walking on eggshells, afraid to talk about anything for the fear of setting someone down another negative and judgmental rant of how the world would just be better if only (“fill in the blank”). And through each and every one of those rants, I heard one conspiracy theory after another that only left me at the end of the year not really knowing what’s factual news versus fake news.

In the end though, the biggest thing I learned in 2020 in all my moments of silence, aloneness, emptiness, and observation is the very same thing I learned long ago but failed miserably at doing for the longest time because I was always more focused on pleasing myself than in helping others. What is it? That love is the only solution for all the madness we experienced in 2020.

Personally, I beat myself up more than I loved myself in 2020, which in turn had me acting more judgmental with others, rather than loving them unconditionally. I know I must love others better, including myself, no matter what my ego may think needs to change in me or the world for life to get better. Peace begins with loving more unconditionally.

So, maybe it’s time for all of us to stop thinking things like this presidential election was rigged and instead embrace the new president with love by giving him a chance? Maybe it’s time to stop judging how anyone is handling this pandemic and instead do our best to be there for those who need our help to navigate through it? Maybe it’s time to stop focusing our energy something “out there” needing to change for life to be better and instead work on changing our attitude to one of acceptance and love? Maybe in doing so, 2021 will become a year of healing versus harming, helping versus hurting, and loving versus hating.

Maybe true healing can begin in 2021 by all of us working a little harder on accepting each other just as we are and forgiving each other as well, even if there was harm, as continuing on the same path we were on in 2020 is only going to make 2021 feel even worse. If we want to see positive change come in 2020, then it’s time to finally start loving each other, including ourselves, far more than we have.

I pray to become filled with an abundance of peace and joy in 2021, so that I may have a never-ending source of love and light to extend to both myself and everyone else I meet.

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

Daily Reflection

“The Federal minimum tipped wage is $2.13/hr. The next time you don’t tip your server, remember that they live off their tips! Most get paychecks that are $0.00 since that $2.13/hr goes to pay taxes on tips.” (Unknown)

My partner Chris and I dined in a very nice restaurant in Columbus, Ohio recently. During our meal there we asked our waitress how her Thanksgiving went. She told us she had worked the entire day and when I asked if she had experienced any difficulties during it, she told us a very disheartening story.

She was getting ready to go home to be with her family at the end of Thanksgiving Day when a group of six came in at the last minute for a holiday meal. She took the table because no one else would. When all was said and done, two hours later their bill came to $263. While she had hoped for a nice tip to end a long day, where a 20% tip on that bill would have been around $50, what she got instead was nothing. Yes, nothing! No tip. Nada. The reason? The group of six felt the cost of the food was too expensive for what they got so they made the waitress suffer for it.

It’s hearing stories like this that truly make me sad, especially when I know the people have the money to give a nice tip or even worse, call themselves a Christian. While I can’t confirm the nature of this group’s story, I can say it honestly doesn’t matter. Why? Because doing such an action to any waiter or waitress in this country is outright selfish and self-centered knowing they rely upon our tips for their livelihood.

I often wish servers in this country were paid salaries so things like this would never happen. In Europe, servers are paid far higher wages to do their job and many times restaurants already include the cost of tip in the bill, where extra tipping is only for extraordinary service, but never counted on or expected. Yet here in America, where tipping is a server’s livelihood, I hear stories like this of people who find every reason under the sun to short change their server by either not tipping or leave something negligible.

While there have been countless times over the past bunch of years where I’ve had either poor service or poor-quality food, I’ve still left 20% to my server. Why should a server work for my benefit and get nothing for it? Are they my slave? Of course not. But that’s precisely what people insinuate when they don’t tip or tip at such a low amount, it’s not really a tip at all. The fact is, I give all of my servers the benefit of the doubt for any problems that may arise with my meal because I don’t know the full story, especially from their perspective.

Regardless, if you have a job and work for a wage, imagine what it might feel like for you to do your job for an hour or two and get nothing for it? Also, know that many of the problems that happen in restaurants often do so because of poor management and not because of the wait staff. And lastly, and maybe most importantly, if you truly have the money to go out to eat in the first place, then you probably have the money to leave a nice tip for your server who waits upon you and relies upon you for their living. It’s precisely why I left a 30 percent tip to this waitress that night, as she genuinely deserved that and more, like so many other servers do as well!

Dear God, please help me to always remember that those who wait upon me in all the places I dine at rely upon me for their livelihood with the tips I leave them. And help me to always be generous in my tips, even when my ego isn’t satisfied with my dining experience.

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

Daily Reflection

“I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining. I believe in love, even when not feeling it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.” (Written anonymously on the wall of a cellar by a Jewish individual in the Cologne concentration camp during World War 2)

When I saw today’s quote sitting framed on a bathroom countertop at a church I had just attended an AA meeting at recently, I was really moved by it. Learning later that it was actually written anonymously by a Jewish individual imprisoned in a concentration camp during World War 2 moved me even more. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fathom the depths of darkness and despair all those that were placed in concentration camps like this person must have felt on a daily basis. What I can relate to though is knowing my own form of darkness and despair that has come my way via my health many years ago and plagued me incredibly ever since, especially the last few years.

Like this Jewish prisoner so eloquently put, I have struggled these last few years to feel the sun shining warmly and favorably upon me. I have struggled even greater with feeling unconditional love for others and even myself. But I have struggled the most with feeling that God is still there for me, as its most definitely felt like He’s been on full radio silence with me. Yet, in each of these cases, I know the sun still shines on me, that I’m still a deeply loving person, and that God hasn’t abandoned me and still has a beautiful plan for me. How do I know this?

Faith.

Faith is something I’ve come to know a lot more about this year more than any other year of my life. Even through massive days where I have felt nothing but that dark night of the soul, my faith has kept the image of the sun shining alive within my heart. It’s also kept the love I have for others and myself from evaporating from within me as well. But what my faith has done the most, has kept me believing that God is still with me, protecting me, and guiding me, even when I don’t feel I can see or hear Him anymore.

While I may not ever experience the depths of darkness and despair that this Jewish prisoner once felt in that concentration camp during World War 2 and yet still kept believing in the sun, love, and God through it all, I can say I’m experiencing my own form of it and that my faith is the only thing that’s kept me going and kept me believing, even when my mind told me long ago to stop.

Dear God, thank you for helping me to continue believing in You, even when it really feels as if you are on complete radio silence. I know it’s my faith in You that has helped me to keep going and to say without hesitation, that I believe the sun will shine again favorably upon me one day and love will pour forth once more profusely from my heart.

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

Daily Reflection

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” (John Pierpont Morgan)

I really didn’t have any Christmas decorating spirit this year, which is no different than how I felt about decorating for Halloween just over a month ago as well. With the continuing worldwide COVID pandemic, our seriously divided country on leadership, and of course my ever-present frustrations surrounding my health, it honestly feels as if I’ve been zapped of any drive to participate in any annual holiday decorating festivities. But, something I learned long ago when I was going through my first bout of severe depression is that sometimes you just have to begin somewhere by simply deciding you’re not going to stay where you are.

Ultimately, there are times I’ve found that life truly requires me to take a baby step forward, even when I haven’t felt like it. There’s been plenty of those moments over the past 25 years of my life where my mind would tell me why bother doing anything, that it wasn’t worth it, while my Spirit attempted to tell me exactly the opposite. It’s so hard sometimes to listen to the Spirit though when going through severe bouts of depression or anxiety, or any of those really trying times in life. Because during those periods, the mind often tells an individual to just give up. Unfortunately, doing so prevents any further forward momentum in life, which is exactly what my mind has been attempting to convince me to do these past few months.

Thankfully, I know well enough now that sometimes I just have to take those blind steps forward doing the very thing I have no energy to do, because every single time I have, that energy has suddenly materialized to keep doing it. And once it does, it’s always been enough to propel me to complete whatever the task was that I initially had no energy to pursue.

Halloween and Christmas decorating were two of those very tasks that I really didn’t have any desire to do this year in light of how low I’ve been feeling. But in both cases, I made the conscious decision to just begin because I didn’t like that feeling of where I was at either. So, I began decorating one day in both cases, and sure enough, the energy to continue and to complete the tasks actually did show up.

So, if you should ever find yourself in a low place in life with little to no desire to do much of anything, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is simply to decide you’re not going to stay where you are. And once you do, take a small step forward into the unknown by starting even the smallest of task, as there’s a pretty good chance once you do, that you’ll find the energy to finish whatever it is and even more energy to keep moving forward.

Dear God, thank you for always helping me to take those small steps forward in life, even when my mind has tried to convince me otherwise. For I know every time I have, my Spirit has provided me what I need to keep going and to not give up.

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

Daily Reflection

“Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)

Recently I went into a Target store near my home to make a quick purchase. As I headed to the back of it where the item I needed was located, the store manager suddenly appeared from some back room and briskly walked by me shouting loudly into a phone she cradled tightly. She was communicating with the local police, describing a shoplifter who supposedly was a repeat offender attempting to steal again right then in her store. As I listened to her describe what this person was wearing and what he had just hidden in his clothing, that being two new video games, I suddenly saw the guy she had described walking towards me. For a moment our eyes locked just as he caught wind of her conversation. It was then she saw him as well and he realized the graveness of his situation. He abruptly discarded the games and immediately sprinted out the store. What happened after that I have no idea, but it definitely brought back many memories of my own days of thievery.

There was a time in my life long ago during my alcohol and drug days, where I actually was a kleptomaniac myself. I stole a ton of things that ranged from cigarettes to candy to music to alcohol and more. It became a game in of itself where I got a rush each time I got away with my petty life of crime. I used to tell myself every time I did it that no one was getting hurt by my actions. I further rationalized it by saying the stuff I was taking was overpriced and took a Robin Hood stance surrounding it, even though I was always stealing whatever it was for myself.

The first time I got caught was at a Rite Aid I worked at. Beyond the many small things I stole almost every day from there, I also had been taking coupons from the sale flyers and putting them in the register, as if a customer had used them, when they hadn’t. I’d pocket the cash value of those coupons and then buy something in the store with it. I had done it so much that the store’s profit margins were greatly being affected, but I hadn’t even realized that until I got accused of it one day by the manager. I played innocent and then quit on the spot, blaming them for it being such an unhealthy place to work at. Yes, I was that spiritually sick! Later that summer, karma finally caught up with me when I got caught attempting to steal two musical albums, ones I’m almost embarrassed to say now! The feelings I had inside at that moment were no different than the look that shoplifter gave me when our eyes locked in Target that day.

Guilt, shame, conviction, you name it, I felt it in that moment when those security guards took me arm in arm back into the store. My little game of thievery was up and the result, a court case that ended in a misdemeanor that thankfully got expunged by doing 40 hours of community service. For a guy who came from a life of privilege, it was such a huge ego deflation and most certainly one of the first spiritual wake-up calls I had in my life and one that probably protected me from ever entering into an even bigger life of crime.

I’ve worked hard to make restitution for all those I harmed from that part of my life over the years and am thankful getting caught back then made me never want to steal again. It probably was the first Commandment I truly learned to respect in my life and definitely wasn’t the last.

God, I thank You for helping me to understand the spiritual sickness of stealing long ago and that I continue to fully embrace one of the Ten Commandments even to this day. 

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

Daily Reflection

“Thankfully, we have a God who does not quit being God when the situation is bad.” (Daniel Brown)

I have two small ornamental ponds in my front gardens. Two or so feet wide by maybe four feet long, they merely are for decoration with a bubbling fountain in each’s center. For as little as they are and for having nothing in them but the fountain, they require a lot of maintenance, which includes skimming them daily from the day they’re opened, usually around Memorial Day, to the day they’re closed, usually the day after Halloween.

So, as I stood there the other day skimming the leaves and debris out of them for what felt like the umpteenth time this year, I watched a cricket swim around, totally unable to get out. Quite typically I find a half dozen of them dead in it on any given day late in the summer and through the early fall. Lately, this has me wondering why they continue to jump into the water over and over again when they see their fellow crickets already in there dead or desperately trying to get out but unable to do so.

The more I pondered this as I skimmed my ponds, the more I realized this is a lot life my life. How many times have I jumped into some pond I couldn’t get out of on my own? Countless. All those “beautiful bubbling waters” I’ve often dived into throughout my life where each have led to numerous mishaps, missteps, and some almost to the brink of my death.

Jobs, relationships, addictions, and more where each began with me staring transfixed into some bubbly fountain of perfection I believed they had, that the answer to all my life’s problems was somewhere within their depths. Only to discover me struggling to get out of their grasp eventually, clinging to some wet side of their murky walls that had now become my prison, until I was forced to cry out for help to escape.

While these crickets have me on most mornings saving most of them from sure death by skimming them out of there, many still never make it. Thankfully, I can’t say that of myself when it comes to all my pleas for help. Because God most assuredly has saved me time and time and time again, day after day after day after day, from one alluring pond after another that I’ve quickly jumped into, thinking that happiness was somewhere within its depths, when it never was probably from the start.

I’m just glad I can say that God has been there for me repeatedly to skim me out of places I never should have been swimming around in the first place.

Dear God, I know I’ve repeatedly jumped into one pond after another that I was never meant to jump into in the first place and have often been unable to get out of on my own. Thank you for always being there for me to skim me out of each of them and thank you for knowing you’ll be there again for me when I most assuredly will probably fall into yet another at some point in my flawed humanness of life. 

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

Daily Reflection

“Hell is just a state of mind, a radical separation from God.” (Marq de Villers, author of ”Hell and Damnation”)

Does Hell exist? This is a question I’ve often pondered in my life, ever since my United Methodist upbringing that introduced to me this fire and brimstone type of place that all terrible sinners end up going to. Many Christians have argued its existence throughout the centuries based upon how they interpret scripture, while many Theologians have profusely debated the very same scriptures and believed it’s something that human beings themselves created the existence of.

Take Theologian Micah J. Stephens, author of “Hell Is Not For Real: Re-Examining What the Scriptures Actually Say About Eternal Torment”. In his book, he writes, “The word hell in the Bible is a very poor translation of the original Hebrew and Greek words that speak of the resting place of the dead (Sheol and Hades) and a literal valley on the south side of Jerusalem (Gehenna) that became symbolic for the judgment via an invading army. We see Jesus in the Gospels speaking of Gehenna while in or around Jerusalem, not long before Rome sacked and destroyed the city in AD 70. Eternal torment of the soul in the afterlife is not a concept that is found in scripture.” On the other hand, take Brian Jones, Christian author of “Hell Is Real (But I Hate To Admit It)”.  In his book, he interprets scripture totally different and adamantly states, “The fact of the matter is: Hell is real. Deciding or not hell exists isn’t an intellectual exercise, it’s a matter of eternal life or death.”

The majority of Christians I’ve met over the years have said they’d rather not risk the chance of hell existing, even if it possibly doesn’t exist. They worry about the damnnation of their soul and because of it, they tend to live out their lives in total fear of committing some cardinal sin that may send their soul to that fire and brimstone type of place once they die.  And boy, do I know what it feels like to live in that type of fear, oh, so, very, well.

Because of modern day interpretations of the Bible stating homosexuality is a sin (even though the word homosexuality didn’t even exist back in Biblical times), I’ve frequently been told in my life by Christians that I’m either absolutely going to Hell or am risking the possibility of going there once I die because I’m in a gay relationship. Telling me this has never done anything more than leave me in this terrible fear-based cycle of a punishing God who cruelly created me with only an attraction to the same-sex that I’m not even allowed to be with, instead to spend my life in total celibacy, loneliness, or fake heterosexuality.

None of that logic has ever worked for me and I truly mean none of it. It’s never felt right within my own soul. The idea that God made me in his own image, but somehow screwed up in my sexuality, and then is going to send me to some fire and brimstone type of place if I continue to engage in the sexuality he created me with, with a same-sex person I absolutely love just makes no sense.

That’s why I have more of an inclination to believe in what Marq de Villers states in his book, “Hell and Damnation”. In it, he says, “Hell is a state of mind, a radical separation from God.” That computes a lot more with me because living with chronic pain, or formerly in far too many addictions, or all the times I’ve suffered from severe anxiety or depression, feels exactly like being radically separated from God. When you live with a condition that makes your muscles feel like they are burning and on fire for days on end, for years and years, you too might feel that Hell is nothing more than the state of your own pain-based mind.

So, do I believe hell exists? While I may be stoned metaphorically for saying this, what if Hell is right here on Earth, based upon our mindsets? And what if all of us are actually accepted home with God after we die, NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF SINS WE LIVED IN?

This concept of living out a fear-based existence due to the conception that all chronic sinners go to a fire and brimstone type of place once they die, especially when my sexuality will probably always be thought of as a sin to many Christians, is not indicative of the unconditionally loving God I’ve come to love and worship. Choosing to believe that God picks and chooses who comes home is creation of Hell itself, which is why I choose to believe otherwise, that God loves me just as I am, gay and all.

Dear God, help me to always look to You as an unconditionally loving and accepting Father, who created me just as I am, who will welcome me home in your arms when I die, no matter what.

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

Daily Reflection

“Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” (John Mayer)

I often find myself wishing I could go back in time to “do things” all over again in a different way. I’m definitely one who has played those head games quite a bit with myself asking “What if I had done ‘that’ in ‘this’ way instead?” Yes, I’m absolutely guilty of regularly wishing I could go back to my childhood knowing what I know now, so that maybe I could do things better. But, what if everything truly did happen as it was meant to? What if even I could go back in time and choose different paths, that I still ended up here at the very same point I am now, with the very same lessons learned? Maybe all the lessons I was meant to learn in this life were unavoidable no matter what I did?

I’ve watched plenty of time travel movies that have shown various points of views of people who pursued different paths than the ones they originally chose once they went back in time. What’s ironic about all of them is that life still got out of control at some point and sometimes even worse than before, until the same lessons got learned. The message was always the same in all those movies, that things were meant to happen as they did, that everything happens for a reason.

I know! That is such a hard concept to swallow!!!

I think about my life of addiction, my parent’s tragic deaths, my countless failed relationships, my failed business that led to so much financial loss, my many health issues, and well basically one poor choice after another, where each led to nothing but one more bout of pain and suffering after another.

Could I have lived a life without addiction? Could my father’s suicide and my mother’s tragic drunken fall down the stairs been prevented? Could I have avoided all those miserable partnerships and pursued the healthier ones I kept avoiding? Could I have skirted financial disaster by never buying the bed and breakfast I did? And the biggest question I face almost constantly these days…Could my present health issues that I’ve battled for 10 years now been totally prevented?

When I meditate on this, my Spirit says no. Because maybe if I didn’t pick up alcohol and drugs, I would have still succumbed to some other addiction. Maybe if I had been there more for my father or mother in their final weeks, it only would have bought them a few more? Maybe if I had avoided those painful relationships, I only would have fallen into other painful ones instead? Maybe if I had told my ex-partner that I didn’t want to do his Bed and Breakfast dream, I only would have invested in some other financial disaster instead? And maybe, just maybe, all this dam pain I continue to face in my body, would still have happened, no matter what I did, because it like everything else had to happen for me to learn what I have and to become that what I’ve become thus far.

I’m a better person because today because of all of these things from my past. I’m more capable and desiring to help others from a place of selflessness now, more unconditionally loving to the masses, and more compassionate and kinder to all, all because of the difficult past I’ve experienced. While my ego has often tried to convince me that it could have handled things differently and made my life far easier to become those things, the irony is that it was my ego that led me down all those crazy paths in the first place.

So, maybe, just maybe, everything really does happen as it’s meant to, that no matter what paths we take in life, that we are always going to be led to learn the same lessons we were always meant to learn? And maybe, if we all could just get out of our egos for a mere minute or two, we might just be able to see how amazing we all are right here, right now, all because of having gone through all that we did.

Dear God, help me to lovingly reflect upon my past, but never fall prey to the illusion that I could have done things better. Help me accept that everything truly happens as it’s meant to for me to become that which You always planned for me to become…

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

Daily Reflection

“A lonely day is God’s way of saying that he wants to spend some quality time with you.” (Criss Jami)

Loneliness. Something I’ve felt quite a bit throughout the majority of my life. I used to think it came from the lack of love I often experienced growing up in an alcoholic family. But when I formed a new family with those who loved me unconditionally I still felt the same. I used to think it came from not being in the right intimate relationship as well. But after having been in a number of long-term committed relationships over the course of 25 years, I can say I still felt lonely during each of them too. I also used to think it came from not having enough friends, but even when I’ve been surrounded by them, I continued to feel lonely. I tried for years to fill that loneliness up with other things too like possessions, addictions, moving from place to place, jobs, and more. Each temporarily made me forget about it for brief interludes, only for it to eventually return. Because of this, I came to accept that there was no person, place, or thing on this planet that ever would fully take away that loneliness. Instead, I came to believe that my loneliness was all about me simply wanting to be home with God, wherever that is, from wherever I came from.

Why I say that is simply because I believe that wherever God is, is pure love and any time I’ve done something in this life that surrounds me living out pure, unconditional love, I’ve not felt as lonely. Like when I volunteer my time to help a suffering alcoholic or addict. Or when I sit down with any hurting individual and fully give them my attention and compassion. Or when I snuggle up with one of my cats and pet them. Or when I spend time in my gardens pruning the flowers. Or when I take a walk in the woods or on the beach. Or when I give someone a long embrace. Or when I share my addiction story to nursing classes or the Greek life at the University of Toledo. Or when I spend my mornings in deep prayer and tears. Or when I visit a sick friend at their home or hospital. I could go on.

The fact is, I do each of these things to deal with my loneliness, to overcome that constant longing to go home. And whenever I’m doing any of those things, I most definitely have felt far less alone and far more connected to something Greater, something full of a type of love that one day I trust I’ll fully be enveloped by again, where loneliness can’t exist. Until then, my solution to feeling loneliness is to find all the ways I can to offer unconditional love in the world, to others, and to myself, and to do them as often as I can. As only then, do I feel less lonely in a world where it’s so darn easy to feel that way.

Dear God, I pray You continue to help me find more and more ways to feel less alone, whether that’s with unconditionally loving time alone with just You and me, or time with others where I offer my unconditional love to them like You would. Either way, I know my loneliness will never fully go away in a life without You.

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

Daily Reflection


“I’ve heard that no matter what you’re going through, someone has it worse. I don’t like that statement. I’ve never liked it. It’s emotionally dismissive, and it teaches us our personal struggles are insignificant. So, we hide, and we refuse to cry out, and we try not to burden others with our pain. Someone might have it worse, true. But we are all broken, and we are all human, and we are never alone.” (Sarah Beth McClure)

A long-distance friend of mine texted me one day recently and asked if I was free to catch up with them over the phone during an hour-long drive I was on to see another friend I visit each week. I wasn’t in the right headspace to have a conversation with them that day due to my health issues and how heightened my mental and physical suffering felt. So, I politely declined via return text, letting them know I wasn’t in the best headspace and was having a rather difficult day. I told them I didn’t want to risk getting into any heavy conversation (as many of my prior conversations with them often tend to get that way). I then asked for prayers and said I loved them, hoping they would understand. What I got in return was a message that reminded me how I had a car that had gas, with good tires, and insurance, along with a legal license, and how I was on the road to visit a friend who was looking forward to spending time with me to have a decent meal together. All of which was followed with “and you’re in bad headspace, yep, you definitely need some prayers.”

At first, I was extremely vexed at their response, and responded via text that carried much of that tone. Later, after talking it through with my partner, as well as the friend I had visited, I simply was left feeling quite sad. Sad for the amount of people that have often done this to me, whenever I’ve shared with them about the pain and suffering I continue to go through.

This experience reminded me of Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, who in the Bible showed up just after Job had gone through a tremendous amount of loss and was now sitting in great pain and suffering. They initially offer him comfort that lasts for about a week and then proceed to start lecturing him about all the things he has either done wrong to lead to his pain and suffering or is currently doing wrong that’s making it remain. Thankfully, God eventually has the last word, and strongly reminds Job’s friends how none have spoken any truth whatsoever.

What my friend and so many others never seem to understand is that reminding a person going through great pain and suffering of all that they should be grateful for, or reminding them of all those who are far worse off in their own pain and suffering, doesn’t offer the sufferer any comfort or relief that they’re desperately seeking. It truly is emotionally dismissive. I’m sure all those out there who have experienced great pain and suffering, especially those who have for long periods of time, would agree.

Nevertheless, minimizing someone’s pain and suffering by comparing it to others who may be suffering worse or attempting to point out where gratitude should be instead, isn’t being compassionate, or unconditionally loving. It’s being judgmental and saying one’s personal struggles are insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

So, the next time someone opens up to you about their pain and suffering, even if they’ve done it countless times before, if you feel the need to say anything, just let them know you love them, as saying anything else is more for your own benefit than theirs, and probably only coming from your ego and not your heart…

Dear God, may I always have unconditionally loving words of support for anyone who may ever open up to me and share about any of the pain and suffering they’re going through. 

Peace, love, light, and joy
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Daily Reflection

“And Jesus concluded, ‘In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbor toward the man attacked by the robbers?’ The teacher of the Law answered, ‘The one who was kind to him.’ Jesus replied, ‘You go, then, and do the same.’” (Luke 10:36-37)

One of my closest friends was struggling a few weeks ago with whether to remain on Facebook or not mostly for the very same reason why I have myself in recent times, that being due to the overall lack of kindness from numerous others in their postings and comments. Thankfully, I found a workaround for this long ago that I passed along to this dear friend, that being the “mass unfollow” option that allows a person to unfollow everyone connected to them so that their newsfeed becomes essentially blank, all except for their own postings.

Facebook, like much of the world seems to have become these days, is a big dumping ground for individuals to express their negativity surrounding all those hot-button topics out there, often with no regard for how polarizing their postings and comments can be. In the past six months, the majority of what I’ve seen on social media has been filled with vast amounts of criticism towards political and religious leaders, towards how people are handling COVID-19, and now towards police brutality and the racism that still exists in our world.

I specifically don’t follow anyone on Facebook for this very reason, as I don’t want to subject myself to anyone’s polarizing comments and postings that quite often seem to be weighted with unkindness towards someone or something. Some may say they are simply expressing what they believe is truth, but if expressing these “truths” means placing more unkind words towards anyone or anything out there, the sad reality is that doing so is only going to create more unkindness in our world.

Unkind words and unkindness in general only lead to more unkind words and more unkindness from others. For example, for every posting that places “truths” through the usage of unkind words towards say our President or those running against him, the opposing side then gets charged and sends their own unkind words back, thus creating a vicious cycle that truly goes nowhere. Hence the reason why I steer clear of following anyone on Facebook, so that I don’t have to see any of this whenever I log in. Instead, I always see a newsfeed of my own postings, which has provided me, and now my friend as well, some much-needed relief from having to see all that toxicity coming from so many postings weighted with unkindness.

The fact is, a kind word will go a long way, even when directed towards those we may not like, just as much as an unkind word will go a long way as well. Each ripple outward creating either more kindness or more unkindness, whichever is used. That’s why I never post anything unkind on Facebook and why I rarely look at anyone’s timelines, so I can remain free from feeling any desire to become unkind myself.

Like the good Samaritan who expressed kindness and helped a person truly out of generosity who would otherwise have spit upon them, I choose to be a vessel who wishes to do the same, in all my actions, including on social media and throughout the rest of my life as well. Thankfully there are options like unfollowing the masses on Facebook, to help keep that focus, rather than exposing myself to any of the many weighted postings and words out there on social media that far too often are filled with so much unkindness, yet labeled as “truths”. While indeed some of them may be “truths”, using unkind words to express them will never accomplish anything but creating greater unkindness and polarization amongst us all.

I pray to always use kind words in all my thoughts, words, and actions, so that I may do my part to creating greater kindness in this world. 

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

Daily Reflection

“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence, toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love…Our aim must never be to default or humiliate the white man, but to win his friendship and understanding.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

George Floyd’s death was truly a tragedy on every level, and one that should never have happened. Sadly, police brutality and their use of excessive force continues to be a problem in our country and far too often it’s been with persons of color. Oscar Grant, Rodney King, Anthony Baez, John T. Williams, Christopher Harris, these are just a few of the many names of others who like Floyd, were victims of police brutality. While I’m in total support for change to come in our country to prevent police brutality from happening anymore, I’m not in support of it ever coming through acts of violence.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my hero’s, and someone I’ve always modeled in my own code of conduct in life. King believed in non-violence and peaceful demonstrations. He stood in the face of hatred and received many-a-beating, all unfairly, and yet never once fought back. In the end, it was his non-violence movement that helped to establish greater equal rights for blacks in our country. But, it’s apparent we still have a long way to go to fully achieve that, as evident in George Floyd’s tragic death.

The problem with violence as King once said, is that it only creates more violence. So, with Floyd’s death being a violent crime in itself by an officer of the law, the response from much of the public soon became a desire to give violence back. In the days that followed Floyd’s passing, demonstrations initially peaceful turned violent, leading to looting, fires, altercations, anger, and rage, none of which accomplished anything except the creation of greater fear and more violent responses from the police, which in turn is only going to lead to more wrongful deaths of people of color in the future. It remains a vicious cycle and thus, the main goal of reducing police brutality never even gets a chance to begin because as King observed in his time, violence never creates peace.

I get people are angry surrounding all this and rightfully so. Something truly has to be done about the police brutality in our country. But the answer’s not violence, as that’s only going to lead to more of the very same thing. Sometimes I really wish Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive, as I know he’d have the answer on how to fix this, which I most assuredly would be following his lead. I can even see myself going to his first public demonstration surrounding this, all in the hopes of doing my part in helping to achieve greater peace, unconditional love, and equality for all, as the last thing I want is to ever let my own anger get the best of me, where I resort to some violent outburst that’s only going to lead to more violence and more police brutality.

I pray to be a vessel of peace, unconditional love, and equality for all.

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

Daily Reflection

“You can put things off until tomorrow, but tomorrow may never come.” (Gloria Estefan)

“I should spend more time with my Dad.” “I should make more time for him to visit me or vice versa.” “I should call him and take the time to see how he is”. These were all things I used to tell myself quite frequently when it came to my relationship with my Father, always putting a closer connection with him off for another day, until one day, the phone call came where I learned my Dad was gone and there wouldn’t be any more chances to connect with him except in memories and in prayer.

Have you ever been through something this? Have you ever put off making time for another repeatedly, only to have a day come before that ever got to happen, where that person was no longer alive and there weren’t any more chances to connect with them?

Losing my Father and Mother, and a number of dear friends over the years as well, so abruptly due to tragic means changed my outlook upon life with all those I care about. Without any addiction driving my life these days, I’ve learned to place greater value upon those I care about, knowing a relationship with any of them may not be around tomorrow.

I had a teacher once who asked me when I was going through a difficult ordeal with an ex of mine, whether I’d be acting the same towards them if I suddenly found out they had six months to a year left in their life due to a rapid onset of some terrible disease or illness. The answer was always the same, I wouldn’t act the same. In fact, I’d do everything I could to spend as much time with that person. My teacher’s response after hearing that was how I should be acting that way all the time then with them, because that tomorrow I kept putting reconciliation off to, may never come.

In the past few months, I’ve been going through a similar situation with my sister. While I’ve spent the last few years being willing to go to whatever lengths to spend time and connect with her, I’ve struggled with how busy she is and how limited our time is connecting. I’ve often wondered if she would do more to connect with me if I suddenly developed some condition that gave me less than a year left to live. Would she then make more time for me? I don’t know, but what I do know is how easy it is to put something off to tomorrow under the guise of how busy we are today. But tomorrow is never a guarantee and may never come for us, not just for reaching out and spending time with those we love, but also for ourselves too. I learned that pretty quickly after losing my health literally overnight, back in late April of 2010. In the years since, I’ve had to face the reality that there are things I once said I’d do, that now my physical body isn’t capable of doing.

The fact is, life is too short. We’re here today and gone tomorrow. So, if you have a loved one you keep thinking you want to connect more with, or if you have something you’d love to do in life but haven’t yet, and you keep putting either off for one tomorrow after another, know that tomorrow may never come. And if it doesn’t, it may just leave you with an ache in your heart and a longing that you’d wish you had made the time for whatever it was, when you could…an ache I know oh, so, very well…

Dear God, help me to not put off anymore, anything that my heart desires to do today, knowing that tomorrow may never come.

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

Daily Reflection

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” (Confucius)

The following is a true story from one of the spiritual publications I read daily that really reminded me of an invaluable lesson I’ve faced in life a number of times.

“Many years ago, my stepfather, a retired engineer, went out to oversee his vegetable garden. He noticed excessive puddles of water scattered throughout his yard. There had been no rain and so it seemed that an aging pipe or water main break was to blame. He estimated the route of the underground line and began digging up the lawn in hopes of finding the source of the problem. Holes turned into trenches, and his backyard soon became a mixture of dirt piles, mud, and mysterious expanding puddles of water. After fruitless hours of digging, he searched for the garden hose to clean himself off and call for backup. It was then he discovered the outdoor faucet was already turned on. Water had surged out of the mouth of the hose and had been flowing into the yard for well over a day. He had forgotten to turn it off the last time he’d watered the garden.”

How many times have I done something just like this? Countless. There was that time I was at the International World Convention for Alcoholics Anonymous in San Antonio in 2010 where I had just gone to the bathroom and was now out in a very busy hallway with thousands of other people heading to various meetings. I went to make a phone call when I suddenly realized I couldn’t find my cell phone. I frantically searched the floor around me and then retraced my steps to the bathroom, thinking maybe I had placed it on the urinal, only to discover from some very annoyed individuals attempting to relieve themselves that there was nothing sitting there in front of them. As my heart raced and raced, panic setting in, I emerged back into the crowded hallway once more and thrusted my hands in frustration into my back pockets to rest them there from swinging so wildly in the air, whereupon I discovered my phone had been with me the entire time!

Why do we make things like this so complicated? Is it our ego? Probably. I’ve definitely wasted countless bouts of energy over the years in many different projects overcomplicating things that were meant to be so simple. It’s why I tend to avoid at all costs doing any of those assemble-at-home types of furniture from places like IKEA. And dare I say how many times I’ve had incidents just like that “lost phone” occur in my life? If I only took a moment to slow down and take a deep breath when things like this happen!

You see, that’s always been my problem. Fear strikes and I react. I run headfirst into a situation trying to solve it with rash thinking, rather than slowing down, assessing the entire situation, breathing deeply, and allowing the Spirit from within to lend a hand. But, I find the more I slow down when any crisis strikes, rather than exasperate myself into anger, frustration and fear trying to solve it, the more I allow myself to breathe through the issue, and the more the solution seems to come through something very simple and usually quite painless too.

Dear God, please remind me the next time any problem strikes, to take a moment and breathe, and allow You to work from within me, so that I may see the solution with far more simplicity and far less complexity… 

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

Daily Reflection

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (Ephesians: 4:29)

Have you ever noticed how many people these days seem to like using social media to criticize someone else’s posts, rather than focusing on anything positive about them? Why do so many seem to steer more towards seeing the negative in another and commenting on that, rather than commenting on any of their positive qualities? Is it just easier to express negative viewpoints of another, rather than ones that uplift and praise them?

First off, I’ve always learned that one can only see the positive in another, if they see the positive in themselves first. When one is a positive person, it’s usually because they have a good amount of self-love behind it, which in turn leads them to see and concentrate more on the positive traits in another. My mother didn’t love herself much at all when she was alive and because of it, she tended to be more negative than anything. She frequently cited out all the things about my sister and I that she felt could use improvement, instead of lifting us up and praising our accomplishments. All that did was give us the worst of self-esteems, even though she truly believed it was going to help us to become healthier and better individuals.

Ever since, I’ve had many friends and partners who have been just like her, constantly pointing out all my flaws and shortcomings and any areas they felt I could improve. None of it was ever really helpful for me in the long run, because it only made me loathe myself a lot more and in turn, made me see the negative in others, because that’s what I saw in myself from all that constant criticism.

Thankfully, I’ve learned through it all that it’s far better to offer helpful words, to praise and uplift one’s achievements, then to cite out anything negative. As when someone places a negative comment on my any of my blogs for example, and then justifies it’s just them being honest and helpful. It isn’t helpful to me at all, in any way, shape, or form, as it only makes me doubt myself even greater. The same is true when someone hears me at a speaking engagement and the first thing out of their mouth is a comment on something they didn’t agree with. That too is more harmful than helpful because ultimately, I’ve had enough criticism of my life to last an eternity.

The last thing I need are people in my life these days who tend to comment on the negative parts of me, rather than the positive ones. What I need more of now are people who utilize helpful words, that build me up rather than tear me down, that motivate me instead of discourage me, that nurture me, rather than harm me.

Nevertheless, if we want to build a world with a lot more positivity, wouldn’t it be better for all of us to cite out the good we see in others, and not the bad? I’m inclined to believe from my own journey that citing out anyone’s negative attributes will only lead to them seeing themselves in greater negativity, which in turn will lead to them seeing the world around them in greater negativity as well.

So maybe we should all begin to use more helpful words than harmful ones. Ones that focus on a person’s achievements, accomplishments, and positive traits, that build a person’s character more up than down. And maybe we should all start by doing that with ourselves first, as when we do, we’ll be able to see that far greater in the world around us to the point where we share from that perspective instead…

I pray to love myself enough that I focus on all the good I am and all the positive traits I bring, and in turn, start seeing that in the rest of the world enough to where I communicate that more so than anything else.

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