Saturday, 12 January 2013

On Visions and Bad Habits

Day 156
209 Days Remaining

What are your thoughts on visions?  As in, someone "seeing" something that is interpreted as a message from God, through them, for you?  I had an experience this week that made me realize that God is not only speaking to me when I'm asking Him to, but He is also using other people to reinforce things that I already know.

One of the things I said I was going to do with this time off from dating had to do with redirecting my focus to myself and the things I have long wanted to do.  I also wanted to work on changing my habits so that I will not eventually find myself once again all wrapped up in a man - that is, not basing my identity and my self-esteem on what other people think of me.  I mentioned, back when I posted about The Contentment Project, that I would like to get rid of the whole idea of "MEN" in my life, and in making that decision, I also made the decision that I was going to take the step of seeking out counseling.  And that is what I have done.

The thing is, it can be more difficult to find a counselor than one might imagine.  I did a Google search for therapists who deal with relationship addiction and co-dependencies, but any therapist I contacted was way out of my price range and quite politely dismissed me when I asked if services were covered by my school benefits plan.  I had thought that I had counseling or therapy included as part of my extended benefits through the college, but it turns out that the only counseling services they offer are by specific people employed at the school...and there is a long wait list.  I didn't give up hope, though; I still wanted to find some way to fix bad habits and understand why exactly I lose myself in relationships with men.

So, it looked as though I wouldn't be able to find a counselor.  As an alternative, aside from reading self-help books - which are a whole other subject I will address in another post - I've been spending time with my two really close friends Stoney and LouLou and praying through things.  I find it greatly helps me to focus on the direction that I want to go and grounds me - keeps me steadfast in the decisions I made.  And in that vein, while I was trolling the Internet in yet another fruitless search for a therapist, I came across something that caught my eye: Prayer Counseling for Women.

It was one of those Meetup groups; free groups where like-minded people get together to enjoy chat and coffee and share similar experiences and ideas.  I looked into it and, although I was slightly skeptical (after all, this could be anyone!) I decided to give it a try, and asked LouLou if she wanted to join me.  So, on Monday after I finished school, I met LouLou as she was finishing up work, we went for sushi, and then we headed to the apartment building where the meeting was held.

It turned out to be one of the most amazing times we have had together.  The leader of the group is a young Christian woman - younger than either myself or LouLou - who has a Masters in Social Work and wanted to combine her degree with her love for people and God.  It's a small group, and  has been meeting for a couple of months, but due to others having other obligations this week, LouLou and I were the only ones there, which I think was the best possible way for us to be introduced to the Meetup.  Our hostess led us into the meeting room and set us up with coffee and treats, and as we settled in she invited us to tell her about ourselves.
We talked.  And talked.  And talked.  I have never found it difficult to talk to strangers about myself (in fact, it's often easier than talking to people who do know me, or at least know only a part of me - I worry about disappointing them or letting them down if I tell them things they may not want to know!) and her open and accepting attitude made it so easy for both LouLou and I to confess many of the things we've been struggling with and the unhealthy patterns we keep finding ourselves in.  She listened without judgment, asked clarifying questions that helped us to focus, and encouraged us to talk - or not talk - about whatever we felt we needed to.  And then LouLou and I joined hands and she prayed for us.

It is hard to explain the feeling that sometimes comes over me when someone prays for me.  It's amazing to think that someone cares enough about what I am going through to petition for God to help and heal me; that someone wants the best for me, and most of all, I feel in those moments the most definite assurance of the potential I have for change.  Her prayers were so thoughtful, and well-constructed without being contrived and feeling fake (think televangelists; she was the complete opposite in her earnestness).  She then shared with each of us a vision that she believed that God was giving to her for our particular spiritual needs at this time.  LouLou's is hers to keep or share as she wishes, but I would like to share mine here.

She told me that she could see me in a grove of trees that kept growing up around me.  I would swing at the trees and knock them down, and they would fall, but one by one they would rise up and grow around me again.  After time and time again of knocking down these incessantly rebounding trees, I reached into my pocket and pulled out something that had been there all along, and sprinkled it on the ground.  And that was where the vision ended.

As I thought through the vision, at once it became clear to me what it meant.  The trees are my old habits, the bad ones that keep cropping up again and again despite my efforts to block them from my life.  They keep recurring because the roots are still there, and because although I keep trying to use my own brute force to get them out of my life, they are still fed by the attention that I have given them, and the roots are nourished enough to send the tangled and grasping branches curling back around me again.  As long as I keep trying to do it on my own strength, and remain focused on getting them out of my life, they will continue to thrive.

It's the new habits that I need to focus on

But in my pocket I have held all along the seeds of new habits.  I need to plant them and cultivate them, and as I pay attention to the new - healthy - good habits, the roots of the trees that I am now ignoring will finally shrivel up and die.  All along I`ve been trying to browbeat down those old habits, but I am refocusing on making new ones now, such as the need for boundaries that I mentioned in my last post.

So there you go: my experience with a vision.  LouLou and I both got a lot out of the Prayer Counselling, and we plan to go back every second Monday, and it looks like Stoney may be joining us as well.  I'm thinking this just may be one of those new healthy habits that I'm cultivating.  I feel refreshed and ready to take on the world!


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