Clear Springs Ranch

Spiritual Corner

Cats and Old Doors

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Last week, we moved into a house two doors down from the one we were previously renting.  I was warned that a move down the street could be harder than a move to a different state.  This was proven true as I made countless trips with a loaded up red wagon going from one house to the other.

In addition to our handful of kids, we have two cats and a dog.  Our codependent dog didn’t leave our side, but Crumbs and Crookshanks, the twin tabby cats, weren’t so sure about the new house.  Every time I went to the old house to pick up remaining hair ties, batteries and whatever else fell behind the couch, the cats tried to come in with me.  Even though their food and supplies were at the new house two doors down, they waited at the front door of the old house, meowing to be let in. 

As any normal human would do, I tried to reason with my pets:  “There’s no food for you here.  We moved.  There’s nothing here for you anymore.”

There are days when this scene describes my recovery.

Entrance into recovery is an incredible, soul-lifting, hope-giving move into new life.  We’ve been freed from the old prison of addiction and the futile, destructive ways in which we’ve tried to care for ourselves.

Yet, the old voices are still familiar.  The previous attempts to get what we think we need are always outside, asking us to reconsider our journey of recovery.  We’ve learned enough to know there is nothing there for us anymore—any shadow of addictive behavior is just that—a shadow, incapable of truly satiating our deep hunger.

Yet when we are stressed or alone or in pain, when relationships are difficult or we’re misunderstood or sobriety doesn’t “feel” good, we may find ourselves outside of the old door, wanting to go back to what we’ve left behind.

There’s nothing here for you anymore.

We’re naïve to think there won’t be times in which we want to step off the path of peace and connection to question what we’ve left behind. 

“Maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was.  What if I can’t do this new life?”

At times, recovery feels too unknown or too difficult.

Even in the midst of life’s challenges, the journey of recovery provides a way to receive what we need, through connection to ourselves, a Higher Power and others.  The old ways don’t work.  They never did.  They were never capable of giving us what we needed.  They were avenues of temporary relief, but it came at a high and soul-crushing cost.

When we are hurting, our vision can become clouded.   In confusion and frustration, we wander back to the old door.

Countless times a day, I had to pick up my cats and carry them to the new house.  I did this until they were willing to come in on their own.

There are times when we experience pain, rejection and loss and we forget the gift of recovery.  We may be tempted to shut our eyes to real love, acceptance, grace and provision.  It’s in these moments we can listen to our friends in recovery and our Higher Power who reminds us that we don’t need to stand outside of a locked door. 

The Divine Love has offered a way out of the self-made hell and this same Higher Power will continue to remind us of the unending love, guidance and strength available to us. 

We are the only ones who can walk away from the old door—no one can do it for us.  But as we turn our lives and will over to the care of God, we will receive strength, comfort and energy to choose new life.

There’s nothing here for you anymore.

But within our recovery, we find the connected life that offers far more than we ever could have imagined.  And taking this life, allowing our Higher Power to guide us, letting others love us—these things will direct our steps to the hope and strength we need.

-Chris Gibson, MDiv

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