A Testing of Faith

Faith is a strange thing. It’s easy to say that I’m faithful when everything is going great in my life. When I’m on the top of the world earning great money, where my health is awesome, where I have a great relationship, and where my social calendar seems quite full, sure it would be easy for me to say that life is grand and that I have faith in God’s plan for me.

How about the reverse? Where is my faith when I’m unable to work and am earning no money?Where is my faith when my health is filled daily with chronic pain? Where is my faith when most of my friendships have disappeared and where my weekend nights are spent alone? I’ve been pondering these questions a lot lately as I continue to deal with a shift that I’ve been praying is an energetic one to raise my spiritual vibration.

First, what is the definition of faith in God (or a Higher Power). It is when one makes the Words of God (or Higher Power) the main determining factor for every action you take, and remaining at peace whether you know the outcome or not.

Not too long ago I remember feeling like I was living on top of the world. I was earning $82,000 a year, had a partnership with a person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, had all the latest and greatest gadgets, owned a nice single family home, had two cars, and a nice retirement building up. Back then the excitement of my life consisted of living in the indulges of what this world had to offer. Traveling often, dining out frequently, engaging in multiple sports leagues, shopping for whatever I wanted and thought I needed, and often being driven sexually either with my partner or on the web with images and chatrooms.

I went to church at that time in my life. I did weekly bible studies too. I even was serving communion and had become a Deacon. And I told everyone how faithful I was in God and that God was rewarding me daily with plenty of abundance. Using the definition of faith in God that I just wrote in here, I knew the outcome of where I was at every day. There were relatively little surprises in my life at that time. And other than some minor incidences that I call hiccups in my life, my life went pretty smoothly and I made sure to always present to others that I had faith.

Faith is truly the absence of proof of anything tangible. Faith is something that one does not go around and tell everyone it is within themselves. Faith is walking through ANY situation and being ok with it no matter if the results are favorable or not.

Somewhere along the lines, things fell apart in my life and things became very unfavorable. I turned to addictions to sustain my life force and vitality. I chose quick highs to keep myself going. As the years passed, I lost that partner. I lost my home. I lost my business. I lost most of the money I had saved up. I lost many friends who I thought were close to me. And then over the course of the past three years, I lost my health and my ability to work. Since then, I have been in chronic pain with serious Fibromyaliga, prostatitis, and severe sciatica and numbness on my left leg and foot. Add in depression and anxiety and that is my current state of health.

So where is my faith now? Where is my faith in God? I wish I had the perfect story to share. I wish I could say that I felt everyday that everything is going to be ok and that God is going to get me through this and that all this was a healing process. I can’t say that. Where I once walked around with my head up high telling everyone how much faith I had. I find myself questioning God a lot. I find myself asking if God exists a lot. I find myself asking if there really is a plan for me. My faith has been shaken. On most days when the pain is high like today or like yesterday, I find myself asking those closest to me if I’m ever going to make it through this. Where I’m at now I find myself reflecting on the story of Job a lot.

I love the story of Job. Job is a wonderful story in the Bible that although I’m not religious, I love to read and reflect on it. Job had everything and then he lost everything. Job was faithful to God when he had everything and even when he had nothing. And even though Job didn’t understand why he lost everything for a period of time, he continuously prayed and asked God for understanding. The worst Job ever got was cursing the day his own birth happened and demanding God take his life. And Job eventually did have God speak to him and after God spoke about faith, Job was rewarded with everything he lost and then some. Job had lost his wife, his land, his ability to work, his children, and his health. And Job gained it all back at the end. How much time in between did the losses last for? It never says. I wish it did.

It’s been 9 months now where I’ve been living free from all things that I would say are poison to a spiritual life. I have a very diligent list of spiritual things I do each day to keep me on that path. And while I everyday thank God for making it through one more day of what I endure, I do find myself often asking why I’m here and going through all this now. I find myself asking if God has a plan for me through all of this. I pray a lot throughout the day. Much of it is me just asking for strength and help to make it through one more day, one more hour, one more minute, or even one more second of the pain I endure.

I’m not taking drugs or medicines to deal with what I’m dealing with. I was reacting violently to every medication when I tried that route and also feeling extremely numb and indifferent to life. I was either a zombie then or a sponge for pain now. Truthfully I’d rather be a sponge for the pain right now as I at least am able to feel tears, my sadness, and my emotions in general.

On any of the drugs I used to take, or any of the medications, or even with any of the people I put in my life to chase after, all of it just numbed me from the pain that was there. It wasn’t healing any of it.

I’m not sure what I believe right now in this moment on what’s happening to me. I wanted to write an article that showed my truth. The real me. I had written a lot of hopeful stories so far about my life that all are indeed very true. But there is also much in my life that is challenging that I would not wish upon anyone and I felt today it was necessary to share those truths with the level of pain I’m feeling today.

I know one thing. My faith is being tested. I pray to God everyday to make it through this and to heal holistically. I pray to become a complete servant for God’s needs. I pray that I don’t ever go back to the toxic living that I once did not too long ago. I pray that my DNA makeup in my body will shift to drive me down spiritual paths rather than the toxic ones. And I give God thanks at the end of each day in a journal writing down at least nine things that happened that day that I was appreciative of.

Does God exist?

If so, is He watching me?

Is all of what I’m going through a test of my faith?

Is all of what I feel just a shift to make me spiritually healthier?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I do know one thing. I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing, which is praying to the God that I believe is there, to the God that has gotten me this far, and to the God that has sustained me through so much already. And I’ll hope that one day I’ll see this from a better perspective, one where I can look back and understand why it is that I went through it all in the first place.

Regardless, I will keep on sending out my love to God and trusting in an old AA saying, “This Too Shall Pass…” And in doing that, I know I am being faithful…

Peace, Love, Light, and Joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

My Sunday Best

When I was a kid, every Sunday I was taken by my family to Community United Methodist Church in Poughkeepsie, NY. For just about 17 years of Sundays, you would find me at the 11am service wearing “my Sunday best”. In other words, the nicest clothes I had to wear for a church day. My parents and my sister would also be wearing their best and we would walk into church and give the customary greetings to all the people our family knew.

There were plenty of smiles and hugs. There were many who said “it’s good to see you” to us. And there were a lot who thought our family was the family to be. A few years ago I ran into some of my old parent’s friends who knew them before they had passed. I remember telling them how bad things had gotten when I was growing up. How my father was bi-polar and an alcoholic and how my mother was also an alcoholic. They were shocked. They said our family always looked so happy and that many of their friends said they wished they were more like our family.

From the outside looking in, especially seeing us at church on Sunday with us wearing the nicest of clothes, with my mother in the bell choir, and my father being a layman and plenty visible in the church hierarchy, it’s no wonder people thought that. Sadly, it was all an act. That’s what alcoholic families do. They fake it. They cover up the truth. My mother was so deathly afraid that anyone knew just how insane things were in our household.

So there we were, sitting in church each Sunday, together as a family and I remember wishing I was anywhere but in that pew. My parents made everything seem so great with us and I remember the pastor always blessing us and being so kind to us. If he had only known just how much pain we all had inside within the safe confines of our home.

To make matters worse for me back then, I never understood church in the first place. To me, it was a lot of all rising and all sitting, reciting words that weren’t coming from my heart, singing songs that even if they felt inspiring, we weren’t able to clap at the end, and listening to a message that provided a singular viewpoint of the pastor and his relating it to some passages in the Bible.

I’ve learned that God is everything and not just about going to church on a Sunday and practicing a religion. God is in all religions not just one, and He is in nature, He is in all the people we see around us, and He can be in everything I come across each and every day. I can experience a sermon at hearing an uplifting AA message at a meeting. I can experience a reciting of words when I pray on my knees throughout the day. I can experience the church music by singing or listening to an inspiring song on the radio. I can experience my connection to people by just smiling at those that may seem down, by holding the door for those going into a building, or by just reaching out and calling someone and listening to what they are going through.

I didn’t go to any church service today and I’m not currently a member of any church. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to it. I just haven’t met a church today that embraces God in everything especially with me and my sexuality. So while my family may have covered up the truth on Sundays when we were wearing our Sunday best, I too have found many places of worship presenting similar illusions.

Even though many churches say they are, many are not all encompassing, all friendly and all welcoming. I went to church services and got the friendly handshakes, hugs, and
hellos, and was greeted with the usual “I’m so glad you’re here today”,
but when I made attempts to join those churches, I was subsequently rejected because of my sexuality and told I wasn’t welcomed. I dug deeper at those churches and I was truthful about me and I saw their truth. If anyone had dug deeper with my family, they would have seen the truth too.

The thing I’ve learned about church, religion, people, and life in general, is that what I may see with my eyes and hear with my ears isn’t necessarily the whole truth. The whole truth is what rests within my own heart and soul and all those thoughts in between. The whole truth is something that I’ve had to discover through a journey alone in prayer and meditation, and with God. The Bible, The Koran, the Torah, and any other great text are all wonderful tools to use for discernment on who God is within our own being.

I love God and I am truthful to the extreme today on every level of my life. What you hear me say, what you see me do, and how I live my life is as truthful as one is going to get. I don’t paint any illusions nor try to present myself as something other than I am. Using a famous person in the Bible; Jesus, well he did just the same. From what I read in the Bible at least, it seems Jesus never wavered from who He was and what He was all about. Why couldn’t my family have been that way? Why don’t churches just state openly their truths? Why don’t people just be honest about where they are at in their lives? I can’t really answer any of those questions because I’m not any of them. I know for me, I wasn’t truthful about my life because I was afraid of not being accepted and liked.

With the work I’ve done on myself so far, I like myself a lot more today. I’m OK with being alone and I love who I’m becoming. I present who I am to everyone else as the same that I present to myself when I’m alone. I’m rejected a lot today from people who don’t understand me and I’m often attacked on some level for reasons that I don’t even understand. But because I love myself and how I live my life today and because I have God at the helm of my life, none of that matters. I just continue to be honest and truthful because that’s how all the spiritual teachers throughout history have been.

On a final note, I still attend a church service every now and then and I’m not against it. There are some wonderful messages that I can hear and some wonderful music that I can feel at them. What’s different today is that I go to church when I would like to, I wear what I want when I go, and while I’m there, I am exactly who I am just like when I’m not there.

JUST BE YOURSELF. I know I am today.

Peace, Love, Lights, and Joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Lonely Saturday Night or A Saturday Night Enjoyed Alone?

Saturday nights many, many years ago were once nights filled with whooping it up, drinking and boozing until the wee hours of the morning or until I passed out. When those days passed on by and I found sobriety as a new way of living, Saturday nights were ones filled with clubbing and chasing after the “potential options” that were out there. Or maybe, they were spent online from nine at night until three in the morning chatting to people I knew I never was going to meet, and having conversations with people that usually happens after dating for awhile. I call all those Saturday nights, my addiction years.

From the age of 17 until 39 I occupied my Saturday nights with one intention and one intention only, to get high on something or someone. And it wasn’t a good Saturday night unless that happened. It’s amazing how many years passed doing the same behaviors over and over again and never changing it. Sure, the situations changed, the locale changed, the people changed, but I never did. I was always on the prowl for “my fix”.

So here I sit in front of my computer at just before 7pm on a Saturday night and have no plans. My roommate/landlord on the other hand just left to go out to a dinner party and said he most likely won’t be back until tomorrow morning. I remember those days. I remember them well. I remember the blackouts. I remember waking up next to people that I asked myself “Why?” I remember feeling disgusting, dirty, shameful, remorseful, negative, and sometimes even fearful. And I lived that way on just about every Saturday night for 22 years. 22 YEARS! Wow, to even say that aloud, well in words that is, seems surreal.

1,144. That’s the number of Saturday nights that I spent achieving this sole task.

Nine months ago, I made a decision to clean my whole life up. In my recovery, the pivotal nature was the 3rd step. I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood him. During those 22 years, I lived in my own will more than not. God was always someone to rescue me when I was in trouble. I called God my 911 God. Nine months ago that changed. It was then that I added two words to the third step.

I made a decision to turn my ENTIRE will and my ENTIRE life over to the care of God as I understood him.

What I came to understand was that if I wanted to life fulfilled within solely by the love of God, I need to let everything go and let God put the things in my life that truly mattered to achieve that. The result? I have gone through a complete housecleaning.

All the things that were toxic, all the things that I thought were making me happy, all the places I went to that made me feel good, I parted ways with each of them. Every facet of my life was encompassed prior to this action with some level of self seeking motive. I lived a life of placing things and people in my life and going to those places that I would get what I wanted.

Zoom forward to now. I am sitting at a desk typing this and sharing my heart to no one in particular. I got a salad from the salad bar at Whole Foods and plan on eating that and watching a show or two on the television. I’ve been reading the Beautiful Creatures book series and am towards the end of the 2nd book and will probably find myself in the throngs of it before the night is over.

There is a part of me that is lonely. I’ll be honest with you. There was no one that made a phone call to me and said they would really like to see me tonight and hang out. In the same aspect, I’m ok with that today too. Why? Because I’ve learned to be ok with being alone. My loneliness is really not about the people who didn’t call me and ask me to hang out. It’s not about missing all those people that are still out in the bars who might have found me attractive. It’s not about the vast numbers of individuals who are still online in the chat rooms conversing and looking for “a special friend for the night”. It never was about any of this.

In the amount of time I’ve spent alone these past nine months, I discovered that the loneliness was about missing my best friend, God. It’s my belief that inherently my soul comes to the Earth and occupies a vessel for a lifetime. Why I would leave God’s side and incarnate into a vessel with there is most likely a ton of love and warmth with God I don’t know. Is it to continue to learn lessons? Is it required? Is it to evolve? I don’t know the answers to this. What I do know is that most people come to the Earth like I did, and get lost. They lose their focus because they are born into lives with people that were already lost.

I’m not talking about being lost directionally. I’m talking about being lost spiritually. In my life, I got lost rather early, and I spent most of my life seeking to numb that feeling of loneliness with alcohol, drugs, smoking, sex, gambling, caffeine, and well the list goes on. Now I’m facing that loneliness head on, on a Saturday night no less.

While I feel lonely, I actually am enjoying spending it alone. Tomorrow I will wake up and will not be next to someone who I’m kicking myself that I just did what I did. I will wake up having another day of sobriety. I will wake up free from hangovers, guilt, and frustration about where my life has taken me. Instead, I will wake up and ask God to be in charge of my life for the day. I will ask God to guide me in all my thoughts, actions, and words for that day. And I will wait patiently upon God to find more meaning, purpose, and direction in my life doing what I’ve been doing day in and day out for the past nine months.

I believe I have a purpose, a spiritual purpose, for God. I believe that my self will prevented this from every materializing. I’ve been detoxing on some level and energetically shifting on many levels these past nine months. All those years of doing what I did had a cost. It may have felt good doing what I did when I did it, but it sure doesn’t feel good on the way out of me as I purge my system of all of it.

The bottom line is this. I’m truly grateful that I can sit here on a Saturday night and feel lonely because I really do miss God, but I’m ok with being alone and having a night with just me.

After all, the best relationship next to mine with God is one spent with me.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson