Lust

I am so excited (and saddened!) to reach the final installment of Buzzkill's 7 Spins on 7 Sins series! We finish off with the sin of lust. Lust is an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially of the sexual kind. Like gluttony, lust allows a brief relief from the reality of life. It hollows out our soul for the exchange of quick and simple satisfaction. It erodes our spirit as we fall to the temptations of the flesh in an unhealthy way. Mark Goodson, a spectacular writer and poet, approaches the topic of lust with insight, intelligence and honesty. He delves into the sin with keen perspective borne of struggle. I want to thank Mark for this fantastic post to end our series. - PS

I am currently reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

It is a series of notes the philosophizing Roman Emperor wrote to himself. Notes he never intended to publish.

Aurelius was a stoic. A rare man of power that avoided the corrosion of power. Aurelius, despite all the conquered land he ruled, understood that a person’s greatest battle lies within, articulated by St. Augustine as: “Conquer yourself and the world lies at your feet.” I like the analogy that the soul is a battleground. I go to war for my soul every day. And I lose plenty of battles.

Pride is my soul’s chief combatant: the Genghis Khan to my Roman Empire. And lust is it’s wildest, most impetuous warrior.

Aurelius summarized my battle with lust in Meditations:

“How all things quickly vanish, our bodies themselves lost in the physical world, the memories of them lost in time; the nature of all objects of the senses — especially those which allure us with pleasure, frighten us with pain, or enjoy the applause of vanity — how cheap they are, how contemptible, shoddy, perishable, and dead.” (Aurelius 18)

Lust is the cheapest, the shoddiest of the sins. It is a sucker-punch in the dark. It is the freak storm rolling in on your walk in the park. It is the impulse you know is wrong but you indulge in anyway. If lust can be conquered, I am a monkey’s uncle — or Jesus Christ, or Buddha.

I want to be a stoic; I want to conquer myself, but lust keeps ripping down the walls of my empire. And much like the barbarians who constantly tested Rome’s borders, lust is growing in strength all around us. Our culture is weak against it, from the tacit acceptance of pornography, to an uncensorable pop culture driven by the slogan sex sells.

The internet is a wilderness of temptation. A few clicks and you can take a voyeuristic ride down Dante’s 9 layers of hell like a slip-and-slide. I could lie to you; I could blame society for my lustful ways. I could pretend that if I lived back when Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore slept in separate beds my conscience would be clean.

I could lie to you some more and write that our sexual lewdness is a healthy and mandatory expression of human instinct. But I’ve grown tired of lies — especially the lies I tell myself. Those rationalizing fibs in a world of relativism where nothing I do is wrong because someone somewhere at some time has done worse.

I didn’t come all the way over to Buzzkill to spin this sin with lies.

Why don’t we all just face facts. Lust is unavoidable, but acting on lust is a personal choice. For those of us suffering from sex addiction, lust is a disease that requires treatment. Let’s look at another fact: on a macro-level, we are making poor choices. For proof, I need look no further than my blog.

I wrote a post on porn this summer. I have taken it down since. I was proud of it, but felt, as a teacher, removing it was right once the school year started. My brand — the Miracle of the Mundane — does not have a thing in common with pornography, but the search engine results would make you think otherwise.

Here are a few searches that have directed people — very disappointed people — to my page:

“miracle porn”

“mundane porn”

“recovery porn”

“mark goodson porn” (hmm…)

“unfiltered porn”

(I did a bit this summer celebrating the life unfiltered, but Google doesn’t know that)

Those searches summarize what is wrong about watching porn. Porn is that impulse we need to learn to say no to. Searching for “miracle porn”, someone succumbed to impulse, to lust. Why resist? We say yes to it, because it’s easy to keep private. We watch and it changes how we view sex, intimacy, and ourselves.

The facts presented by Fight the New Drug  (www.fightthenewdrug.org/) are startling. The non-profit offers many layers of involvement. Even a simple #NoPornNovember post or mission could help influence someone you know.

The difficulty is that lust — in porn viewership — is the thing that everyone is doing but no one is talking about. A real boogeyman. The skeleton in our closet. Shoot, you can’t tell me iPhone unrolled its “Private Browsing” mode for any other reason.

It helps to talk about things. In my experience, nothing worth a damn is worth hiding. Sometimes a discussion is the best armament against those lustful legions, the barbarians at the gate of your spiritual empire.

 

Mark David Goodson writes about the miracle of the mundane on his blog:www.markgoodson.com. When he isn't writing, he wishes he were writing. He teaches high school English, coaches football, and raises two children with his wife in the suburbs of Washington D.C.

 

 

Sloth

The sixth installment of the 7 Spins on 7 Sins series features the sin of Sloth. It's the hardest sin to define, but it comes down to the disinclination to exert any effort. While we associate laziness to this sin, it can also mean the avoidance of any spiritual work as well. Sloth is one of the Five Hindrances found in Buddhism, which sees sloth as the heaviness of body and the dullness of mind which drags one down into inertia and thick depression. But, as the terrific piece by Damien DeVille also demonstrates, sloth can be defined in so many other ways. Damien's post is a wonderful example of how sloth can be disguised as work, and Damien pulls it off with humour and honesty. Thank you Damien for being very un-slothful in contributing this marvelous work! - PS 

When Paul told me he’d like me to write on sloth, the first thing that went through my head was, “Why did it have to be sloth?” I pride myself on not being lazy. I pride myself on my effectiveness. I get things done.

I just checked off the last task of the day in Todoist and the app gave me a virtual high five with a serene picture of I don’t know what, and the message “Enjoy your day. Today you completed 19 tasks and reached #TodoistZero!” I do love checking things off the todo list.

A few years ago, I read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done and fell in love with the idea of getting my lists of things to do out of my head and into a system. For me, this entails making lists of things that I need to do, organizing them, sometimes reorganizing them, categorizing them, and setting due dates on things that have to be done by a certain time. It’s close to the system that Allen describes in his book, but I’ve customized it to a degree.

Allen wrote the book in the nineties, before smartphones, and advocates a lot of paper in his system. Not for me, I’m a modern man. I can’t stand paper, so of course I’ve tried all sorts of apps to do this: Lotus Notes, Outlook, Toodledo, Remember the Milk, 2do, Omnifocus, Things, Clear, Reminders, and lately Todoist. There’s an entire cottage industry for To-do apps out there, and they all do essentially the same thing, keep track of our lists digitally.

So once you’ve nailed down which app you want to use, or which one you’re going to move to next, you make your lists and categorize your items. Tasks are usually part of a project, so you begin organizing them by project. Some tasks have due dates, so you give them due dates. Some have different priorities, so you can give them priorities. And then Allen talks about things called contexts — as in the context of when and where you can get something done. Contexts might be things like, @home, @office, @phone @online, @desk, @computer, or @anywhere, Oh man, you can get crazy, one task can be categorized in a project, as a subtask of another, and it might have several contexts. For example a call that you need to make from work might have the contexts @desk, @office, and @phone.

For a long time, I was on the search for the Holy Grail of task mangers. I’ve spent significant amounts of money on various different apps. I’ve spent vast amounts of time working on my GTD System including, countless hours moving tasks from one system to another, hours learning the syntax of a new application, days and weeks trying to code my own stupid computer programs to interact with said programs because they don’t have the exact functionality that I want. This doesn’t even account for the time I’ve invested in simply organizing my system. And in all that time spent on perfecting the system, I’ve gotten zip, zero, zilch done.

Some may argue that this is a form of sloth.

The dictionary tends to define sloth as purely laziness, and while laziness is certainly a form of sloth, it’s not the only form. Procrastination, unwillingness, idleness, indifference, and even busy work can be forms of sloth. I like to think of the antonym of sloth as productivity. Note that productivity is not the same as work — sometimes people make a big show of how much work there are doing to cover up the fact that they aren’t actually productive. That’s the trap that I’ve sometimes fallen into with my, ahem, system.

As I mentioned, I’ve kind of modified the GTD system for myself. See, David Allen, he’s what I’d call anal retentive. The dude suggests that everything, and I mean everything, needs to be written down so that it’s not in your head so that you can ostensibly get things done. So, when you think of something you need to do, write it down. Need to make a doctors appointment, don’t call them and make the appointment — write it down. Running out of gum, write it down. Did you just remember that you need to floss your teeth? Put it in your system. And then, go back and organize it all…

One can get so caught up in the Getting Things Done system, that one never actually gets things done.

I once had a project for nearly everything in my life. Some examples included:

Admin Tasks
Monthly Tasks (also admin)
Bike Maintenance
House Maintenance
Car Maintenance
Birthdays
Certifications and Training
Someday/Maybe
25 different projects for different customers I work with
Budget
Renovations
Health and Wellness


And there would be things that sat in those projects for months on end (probably because they weren’t important enough to write down, they’d been mere thoughts not actual tasks that needed doing). I was suffering from analysis paralysis. It’s no wonder that I didn’t get much done.

So, I’ve pared down my system over the last year or so. I basically have four main projects, start the day, daily review, personal, and work. Personal is where anything not work related gets dumped. It does have a single sub project called Birthdays and Anniversary, which should be self explanatory.

Work is a little more complex, because I have a sub-project for each of my active customers, which is about 15 rather than 25 or more. I don’t really put contexts around things, because really, when a task is “Pickup sand at the hardware store” I can pretty much figure out that I need my car, that it’s an errand, and that I can’t do it in my office. It’s a much simpler way to manage my life and it prevents me from getting lost in the trap of over analysis of where a task goes.

But, I still have the ability to be slothful. Today, well before I checked off the last item at 2:30, I was staring down an item called “Expense Reports” that was due at 9:00 AM, and it was well past 9:00 AM. It was like 12:30 PM, and I dreaded the idea of doing this task. See, I’ve just come off a solid couple of weeks of travel, and I had a fist full of receipts in three different currencies. Some of them I can’t even read because they are in French. I truly wasn’t sure how I was going to get these reports done.

So, I started at the item, which was now in red, on my screen. My wife called, and while I was supposed to be on another call with a customer, I chatted to here and confessed that I really didn’t want to do the expense report. She said, “but we get money!” Not exactly, most of the expenses were on the corporate card. This was simply an administrative task that I needed to do and on this fine Friday afternoon, it was not something I wanted to do at all. No doubt about it, I was procrastinating.

If you’re anything like me, having something hang over your head is not a good feeling going into the weekend, so I soldiered on and got that task done. And guess what?

It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I’d made it out to be way worse than it actually was. My old sponsor used to call this “living in the wreckage of your future.” It’s not easy, but I try not to live in the wreckage of my future these days.

Some days I’m more successful than others. Some days, I don’t reach #TodoistZero. And that’s okay. It’s about progress, not perfection.

Damien lives near Annapolis, MD, USA with his loving wife and son. He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in English.  In the late nineties he began working at an ISP and taught himself how the internet worked.  He has spent working IP networking ever since. He loves to cook and eat. He also enjoys photography, art, music, and cycling. He blogs at soberboots.org and goes by the handle @soberboots on Twitter.  Damien has been sober since September 23, 2015.

Gluttony

The fifth installment of the 7 Spins on 7 Sins series features the sin of Gluttony. This sin can be best described as the overwhelming desire to consume more than that which one requires. It's overindulgence to the point of waste. It's about wanting to not only fill our stomachs but our lives with excess and still wanting more. It is selfishness made flesh. I am so thrilled to have Rose Lockinger share her experience and her take on this sin. She writes with openness and clarity into her understanding of Gluttony. I want to thank Rose for being a part of this series! - PS

Gluttony

The original meaning of the word "sin" was to error, or miss the mark. Nothing more and nothing less. It simply meant a flaw in which the level of perfection that was being sought was missed. We all sin pretty much every day. It is part of being human and it is in our errors which we find that we need God, in order to help direct us towards a better life and a better self.

Though to sin just means to miss the mark, there are times when the sinful action can lead to horrendously disastrous results, such was the case with my consumption of alcohol, drugs, and food to cover the feelings up.  Addiction in any form is all-consuming, cunning, baffling, and powerful, easily taking over once it has established itself.

Gluttony or self indulgence is something that I have been well acquainted with for most of my life. In fact, my first foray into addictive behaviors was with my eating disorder when I was just 13 years old. It started out rather innocently, with overeating and making myself throw up once a day. At the age of 13 I wasn’t aware that this was not a healthy behavior and I only saw the positive effects in my life. By overeating and throwing up, I was able to find some semblance of control in my life, when I felt that everything else was out of control, and I was also able to control my weight, which I began to become transfixed by.

By the end of the first year of my eating disorder I was throwing up 13 times a day. I don’t think I need to tell you how much of a toll that can take on the body and my mental and physical health really started to decline.

Around this time I also started to abuse the Adderall that was prescribed to me for my ADHD. I not only found that the Adderall made me feel good, but I also found that it suppressed my appetite, and so it was a win-win all around...or so I thought.

 

See the thing with gluttony is that it never really ends well. Even though at the time it may seem like we aren’t hurting anything by just overindulging a bit, for someone like myself who suffers from the disease of addiction and an eating disorder, gluttony in any form becomes an obsession that I cannot control.

This was the case with both my addiction and my food. The dramatic jump from throwing up just one time a day to 13 times a day in a year should have showed me that something was not right. That I was incapable of controlling of these actions, but I just wasn’t ready to see that yet.

When I was 17 years old I was sent to my first treatment center for my eating disorder. I learned a lot while I was there and I really wanted to change the way that I was living. I no longer wanted food to rule my life, and when I got out I really tried my best for a bit. But my disease was of the kind that I have cannot be combated by sheer willpower alone and I was not yet ready to concede to the idea that there was something great out there among the stars that could possibly help me in my fight.

I didn’t want to talk about God. I didn’t really want anything to do with him at the time, because the only reference point that I had was the childhood God that I grew up with one who I could only see as a punishing God. A God, who had allowed me to be sexually abused as a child, and so to say that he and I were not really on speaking terms is an understatement.

So I tried my best to battle my addiction on my own and in a short period of time I wound up back in the same predicament, drinking, using drugs, and binging and purging.

I followed this path for the next 10 or so years. I started a family, had 2 children, and all the while I was unable to stop using and eating in the manner I had grown accustomed to. That was until almost 3 years ago, when I finally was able to surrender and I entered into treatment yet again.

I spent almost 6 months in treatment, and I am so grateful for the amount of time I was able to stay. It gave me the ability to really work on myself and rebuild a relationship with God, a God that I could relate to and that could help me with my obsession and compulsions.

I started to work the Steps and got involved in Alcoholics Anonymous and started to deal with my eating disorder as well. I found out that there was no human power that would be able to alleviate these problems for me and that I would have to seek a power greater than myself in order to be free from them. This brought me some semblance of peace because I always wondered why I couldn’t just stop. It always baffled me when I returned to the drink, drug, or food, and it always made me feel like a terrible person.

After I got sober I found that indulging in sin didn’t mean that I was unlovable, or that I was a bad person, it just meant that I didn’t have the power to battle these flaws on my own. I am only human and in being only human I am only capable of doing what I can. In my own case this means that I have a spiritual malady which results in my an insatiable desire to fill an emptiness inside of me with anything, and that only through a spiritual experience can I be rid of it.

I am pleased to say that today I do not drink, I do not use drugs, and I try my best to stay on my eating program. I have found peace in my life today and I am no longer bogged down by my insatiable need to fill the black hole that rested squarely in my soul for most my life. I have been released and it is amazing.

Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

Wrath

Wrath

The fourth installment of the 7 Spins on 7 Sins series features the sin of Wrath. Wrath can be described as very strong anger, rage or indignation which reveals itself in the wish to seek vengeance. Wrath manifests when one chooses fury over love. Dante described vengeance as "love of justice perverted to revenge and spite." With this, I offer Daniel Maurer, a man who needs no (or very little) introduction in recovery and writing circles. His take on this sin is breathtaking, and has taken the fantastic liberty of demonstrating Wrath through fiction, a first for the 7 Spins on 7 Sins series. I am very excited to offer this to you all. Thank you Dan for your terrific piece. - PS

 

 

The confessional was a typical oaken eight-and-a-half foot high two-for with one side for the penitent and the other for the confessor. A satin red curtain hung on the right side, filling an open cutout window above a little half-door. More function than form, the curtain did its job by concealing the priest’s listening post.

The left side had a full, proper door with miniscule slats carved in its center, which only allowed the person awaiting confession to ascertain whether the penitential space was occupied or not. The woodworker had opted to convey a more staid, stoic impression with the entire piece of religious furniture, a style that in Father Perry’s opinion did not match the ornate granite sanctuary of St. Goodwin’s Catholic Church.

Father Perry did not enjoy confession. How many times would he be obliged to hear of petty lusts, of stolen candy bars from the Woolworth on the corner of Central Avenue, or of failures to pray in times of need?

A person’s soul unquestionably stained from birth took more forgiveness than a simple household polish of Hail Marys or Our Fathers could ever achieve. Father Perry remembered his time in seminary polishing the refectory’s floors with Johnson’s Glo-Coat and the inevitability that hundreds of seminarians’ dirty rubber overshoes would—once again—require a further application of polish. The chemical smell from the past crept in Father Perry’s nostrils once more; his heart lightened for a brief moment that the comparison would make a decent sermon illustration. Floor Polish and Sin: The Sisyphean Task of Forgiveness. Yes, he thought.

Still, he believed in grace upon grace. But it all seemed lacking somehow.

The fact was humanity continually engaged in sins with much deeper gravity (and depravity) than those Father Perry dealt with at St. Goodwin’s Parish in Stearns County, Minnesota. The ungodly acts of the Nazis—recently revealed in the Nuremburg Trials—were only one instance. The Communists had the bomb. Society rotted from the inside with husbands striking their wives, and never thinking twice about the act. His fellow priests—some with whom he attended seminary and saw at his quarterly retreats— buggered little boys and stuffed the act away as if no one knew. For goodness sake, even that liar from Wisconsin, McCarthy! None of these sins opened the plain confessional door at St. Goodwin’s to beg forgiveness from Christ’s infinite well of contrition.

What of justice, O Lord? he thought.

There was no justice in a world where selfish cares and motherless sons were in no short supply. Father Perry knew all too well of the latter—his mother had suddenly up and left when he was twelve. Neither his father nor his brothers knew what had happened. Only that one day . . . she was gone without a trace. It was difficult enough tending a farm in rural Minnesota during wartime—back in ’15, they called it the Great War—without a mother to tend the home, he saw firsthand what pain her absence caused his father and brothers. Him too.

No, there ain’t no justice on the Great Plains. Not with me, Father Perry thought, brooding. The title to a chapter of a book he’d just read came to mind. It was from O.E. Rølvagg’s opus magnum, Giants in the Earth, about immigrant farmers. The chapter’s title seemed fitting, not only for farmers trying to make ends meet, but also for his pointless situation in a dinky parish in the middle of nowhere: The Great Plains Drinks the Blood of Christian Men and Is Satisfied.

Father Perry dealt with the dearth of significance and lack of justice the way he always did . . .

He got lit as a Christmas tree on the 24th.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

It began with excess wine destined for the Sacrament of the Table. The altar guild never seemed to take inventory anyway. Soon, however, the wine ceased to do the job. A good thing he wasn’t serving a parish in the dirty thirties, too. In the fifties, scotch whiskey was easy (and legal) enough to obtain anonymously in St. Cloud, a larger town to the north. With a simple drive with the parish car on Fridays, Father Perry could set aside enough for one week. Modern convenience, he thought.

Father Perry glanced at his wristwatch. It said 9:30pm. No one had yet come to Saturday night confession and he was bored, even in his inebriation. He glanced around the inside of the confessional and wondered what his predecessors had done to pass the time. Maybe some jerked it. Father Arnold, maybe. The dirty bastard, he thought. In any event, he thought that some probably had been more pious than he was. Perhaps prayer wasn’t a stranger to this late nineteenth-century cabinet-of-overly-personal-divulgence. He could hope so, anyway.

Father Perry didn’t have time to mull the thought any further, because he heard the side door of the sanctuary open with its instantly recognizable metallic squeak. Then, the unmistakable whunk of the door’s closing.

Alrighty then, he thought, another customer to appease. Briefly, he made a quick bet with himself: lusting husband or little daughter who won’t do her chores? He opted for the husband. The footfalls were too heavy.

He adjusted his black horned-rim glasses on his face and grabbed the bottom of the satin curtain. The curtain bit had two purposes: one was to really adjust it, since the left side always seemed to creep to the center. The other was to let the penitent know that the confessional, indeed, was occupied and ready.

The shoes striking the granite floor echoed in the sanctuary not unlike a horse’s hooves slowly processing in a giant cave. The whisky-induced haze transformed the echo for Father Perry—the clomp clomp clomping he felt as much in his skull as it was coming from the outside.

He raised his hand, covered his mouth and attempted to sniff the air in the tight space. But his attempt to determine whether the liquor had permeated the area inside was unsuccessful. Besides, he was too snookered already and didn’t care. At least his hands weren’t shaking, the whiskey made sure of that.

He then realized that the footfalls had ceased. Perhaps a parishioner had come by only to light a candle and say a prayer. Father Perry resisted the temptation to peek around the curtain—what if someone were looking?

But then the footfalls resumed. They got closer. Ever steady and rhythmic, Father Perry had to prepare himself. Although, in reality, he had done so many confessions he could probably recite the needed liturgy in his sleep.

The confessional door opened, and a man wearing a fedora stepped inside, closed the door, and sat on the little wooden bench attached to the back wall of the confessional. And . . .?

Nothing. Silence.

The man sat there. The confessional was dark to begin with. And the black metal screen separating the penitent from confessor made it nearly impossible to determine the identity (other than the gender and age) of the person sitting opposite to him.

Soon as he speaks, I’ll know anyhow. Okay, Mister. Keep your silence for now.

Father Perry knew his congregants well. Despite his tendency to nip from the silver flask he kept in his suit coat pocket, he did care about them and had a knack for names.

But the man kept sitting. And breathing. Each breath came through his nose. Bizarre, too. The air would rush in through his nose slowly, then exhale in a soft whoosh. The brief worry that the man’s breathing was maybe his attempt to discover whether his priest had been drinking Father Perry soon put aside. No, he thought, he’s in . . . contemplation. Let him be, Nathaniel.

Then the man spoke. To Father Perry’s surprise, he did not recognize the voice.

A traveler seeking forgiveness? he thought.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been . . . many years,” the man spoke, then paused. Father Perry wondered if he was going to break down, but the man continued without emotion, “. . . since my last confession.”

Another pause. For Christssake get on with it, buddy. A nervous twitch entered Father Perry’s arm.

“My sins are many. Too many to recite all at once.”

Oh, Dear God, another crazy! Perry thought.

“So I will begin with the most dire,” the man said.

“Yes. My son, continue . . .” Father Perry replied. Although his interest was slightly piqued, his annoyance was only held back by the booze in his gut.

The man continued, “I have committed a murder. Long ago.”

Holy Jesus! Father Perry began to wish he wasn’t so drunk. The uncertainty made his skin crawl and the seriousness of the man’s confession shot adrenaline through his veins. He shifted in his seat, sat up straight, and felt the haze in his brain clear, although only slightly.

He said, “Yes. Please continue . . .”

"I wanted to come to you to give you this . . . gift. Because only you can properly forgive me, Father Perry.”

Nathaniel realized that the man knew who he was. What was he playing at?!

The man said, “In 1915,” the date sent a zap of electricity through Father Perry’s spine. Continuing, he said, “I was still young man. An . . . impressionable young man.”

Father Perry could bear it no more. “Who are you!?”

The man ignored him and continued, “Your father hired me for the harvest. The threshing. It was fall. Do you remember?”

Struggling to dig into his memory, but only sloshing through a whiskey fog, Nathaniel Perry couldn’t recall. For God’s sake, he was only twelve back then!

“Your mother—I believe her name was Francis, like the Saint. Don’t you think that’s a strange name for a woman, Nathaniel? The Saint is a man. Your mother was a woman.” Father Perry’s hands began to shake. He was too involved to notice. He fixed on the man’s voice.

“Let me continue. Your mother Francis made an advance to me, don’t you know,” the man was clearly taunting. “She was older, yes. But her hair was the color of the durum wheat your father had me harvest. And she smiled. She and I were lovers. No, wait . . . that’s not correct. We were fuckers. We fucked, Nathaniel.”

“You goddamn son of bitch . . .”

“Oh? Really, now. That’s not a very polite response from a priest in a confessional. I’m making a confession. You’ll hear me out, Father Perry.”

Nathaniel felt a righteous rage and a thousand-nights’ motherless sorrow build like an erupting volcano from deep in his gut.

“Well. Your mother got . . . tiresome. So I killed her. Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.”

Time drew out like taffy stretched at the carnival at the Stearns County Fair. Seconds seemed like minutes.

Nathaniel stood and exploded through the metal screen separating this penitent one from himself.

He thought he heard the man laugh as he landed on top of him. The metal screen fell to the floor of the confessional and Father Perry’s eyes protested with wide hatred. A wrath to burn a million false gods entered his arms as he reached to seek justice for his mother upon the man’s throat.

But it was too late. The man had planned it. He’d planned it all. Nathaniel felt the blade of a knife enter his chest. It felt weird, as if his body were warm butter set out on a counter and the man simply pushed his finger into him.

“You’re . . . killing. Me.”

The man replied, “My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you, whom I should love above all things . . .” A final insult? To recite the liturgy of penance? Father Perry thought.

Nathaniel’s wrath shot another surge of strength into his arms, but he couldn’t reach the man’s throat. He had overpowered his last-ditch attempt at avenging his mother’s death by pressing the blade further into his chest.

There . . . ain’t . . . no justice,” Father Nathaniel Perry managed to eke out.

The man gave a soft smile. “No there ain’t. Not in this life,” he said.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dantheman.jpg

Daniel D. Maurer is an award-winning author and freelance writer. He serves as chief wumpus and head goat herder for the fantabulous blog, Transformation is Real. Daniel openly lives in recovery from addiction and depression and lives with his family in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Envy

The third installment of the 7 Spins on 7 Sins guest blog series features the sin of Envy. Envy is known as the most joyless of the seven sins. Envy is counting other people's blessings. It's the tendency to be saddened by another's good as if that good was an affront to our superiority. Charity and humility are often antidotes to envy. I want to thank Olivia (Liv) Pennelle for her honesty, vulnerability and positivity in tackling this sin of Envy. I certainly could relate to so much of what she offers. Thank you so much Liv! - PS

Envy

I approached steps six and seven with the same vigor as all the previous steps. I was fastidious. My thirst for the process of uncovering, discovering and discarding was insatiable. I read Drop the Rock, The Steps We Took, The Big Book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, It Works How and Why and basically every piece of recovery literature and recording I could get my hands on. I couldn't get enough. This early work stood me in good stead, and I’m now over four-and-a-half years in recovery.

I feel, amongst others, that steps six and seven are the forgotten steps, covered in just two paragraphs in The Big Book. Conversely, the NA workbook lengthens the process to the same amount of work as a step four! Whilst thorough, it felt a little excessive—particularly for someone with a propensity to obsess. That is why I loved Drop the Rock—it provided the context that was missing, for me, in literature. What stood out most was this quote:

In this place they call life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities in action.”

I love that. So much so, that I wrote it on my bathroom mirror. I still find that to be true today, when I practice it.

When I reviewed my defects of character—which I did with a 20-page defect and 7 deadly sins working table, typed up—I was acutely aware of my defects. Did someone say obsessive? What became most apparent was my inability to communicate and speak my truth. This is where my addiction stems from. That resulted in an inordinate amount of anger and resentment. I thought they were my greatest defects. After all, I had listed over 100 resentments on my first inventory!

Envy, however, had never (or so I thought) been an issue for me. I bundled it together with jealousy. In my eyes, both were futile emotions and feelings.

Then more was revealed, as they say. Oh how I love it how that happens! And my next round of step work, I went through the working guide of Narcotics Anonymous. My word, was more revealed. I wrote over 120 pages. What I discovered is that I suffer from all of the deadly sins, including envy. Which is defined as:

envyˈɛnvi/

noun

noun: envy; plural noun: envies

  1. a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck. "she felt a twinge of envy for the people on board"

synonyms: jealousy, enviousness, covetousness, desire; resentment, resentfulness, bitterness, discontent, spite; the green-eyed monster.”

My feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness that result in low self-esteem, manifest in feelings of envy. Specifically, comparison. More so than ever when I am at home, in the family unit. I compare myself like there is no other way to interact. I come from a family of doctors and high achievers. They are all highly functioning, married, outwardly successful, financially stable, have families of their own. And I, in my unfair appraisal of myself, judge that I am less than because I am not, and do not possess, those things. Yes, I am rich emotionally and spiritually, but I am not yet financially free, due to the tens of thousands of pounds of debt my recovery cost me. And I don’t have a dream job and I don’t earn six figures. I don’t own my house, I am not married and I don’t have the financial freedom to pick up a check when out for dinner. I sometimes feel like a child.

When I take that recovery space—that precious place between thoughts and actions—I know this to be untrue. Here is the evidence to the contrary: I have spent four-and-a-half years clearing the debt and am now in the black; I have plans afoot to quit my job and move to the U.S in December; I have created, designed and produced a website that communicates my passion to the world; I have retrained as a nutrition coach; I have lost fifty pounds; I have emotional and mental freedom; I have become a writer and get paid for that; I have developed an online presence within a wonderful recovery community, with people who love me and do not look at me in that negative way. And most importantly, I have developed my own sense of worth. But this is something I have to keep reminding myself of. With time, and continuous work, that precious recovery space broadens, and I react less. I am becoming more aligned to the real truth, but this shit takes time. And every time I go home, the green eyed monster rears its ugly head.

So the work I undertake is to continue to speak my truth and in doing so, I shine a light on that monster and its starts to wither away. I am worthy. I am so fucking worthy—with or without material possessions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Liv.JPG

Writer, blogger, nutrition and recovery advocate, Olivia Pennelle (Liv), is in long-term recovery. Liv passionately believes in a fluid and holistic approach to recovery. Her popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen is a resource for nutrition and recovery. In her probing interviews, she gives a unique insight into the lives of prominent figures in recovery. Liv is qualified nutrition coach, has lost nearly 50 pounds and shares her delicious recipes. She also gives a very raw account of her own journey in recovery and weight loss. For Liv, the kitchen represents the heart of the home: to eat, share, and love.