Posted by: silverback | 2010/04/23

getting what we give


for the greater part of my life, i was under the misconception that the world was out to get me, and that i needed to protect myself. this was another one of those implicit lessons taught to me by a somewhat damaged man making his best effort to pass along life’s hard lessons to his son. i was taught to say please and thank you, even though sometimes it didn’t matter. i was taught that people were generally greedy and self-centered, so i should hold tight to what was mine. i was taught that no matter how hard i worked for something, somebody was probably going to try to take it away.

none of these lessons were what was spoken. i was introduced to the church, and taught the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule. i was told to treat my neighbor as myself, but to build a fence. that i shouldn’t lie, unless the truth would get me in trouble or cost me money. that i needed to honor my mother and father, but despise my mother-in-law. all of life’s hard lessons.

i don’t mean to sound bitter – i’m not. i’m just painting a picture of a few of my core beliefs as i entered adulthood. what these beliefs allowed me to do was to always look outside myself for the cause of my problems. and my pile of problems was fairly significant after close to 20 years of drinking & using drugs. strangely, my pile of societal problems kind of depleted itself over time once i stopped acting in a self-destructive manner. once i stopped spending every spare dollar on getting fucked up, for instance, my bills started to get paid and my credit score improved to the point that i now hold a mortgage. my strained relationships with my family righted themselves once i showed myself able to be present and sit still long enough to be loved. but my pile of resentments and bitterness and cynicism was not so quick to diminish.

i finally learned  the secret, and it has changed my entire life. it’s probably not such a huge or well-kept secret that i’m going to be able to start a church or gain a following by sharing it, but it seemed fairly well-hidden and mysterious enough to me that most days, when i practice it, i am mystified.

that secret is that the Universe gives us exactly what we give it. no more – no less.

the first inkling of this trickled into my consciousness one day when i heard a man say that he had heard another man say, “in order to be a friend, one must first be friendly.” this came during a period when i had been contemplating the nature of my friendships, agonizing over which ones were healthy and which ones were destructive and who was using me and who i needed in my life and going around and around in my head over inanity. when i heard this, i made the decision that i would just try to be generally more friendly and see where that took me. surprise! all my friendships improved, almost instantly. dare i say “magically?”

following that, i became aware of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace;
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

i had been struggling with Faith, which is a vital part of Recovery. my problem wasn’t Who, but How? developing a relationship to an arguably superior Consciousness was a daunting attempt for me. this prayer struck a chord in me, as most truths do. i believe that we are all attuned to discerning truth from untruth, if we’ll just listen. i spent a good amount of time in quiet meditation in this period of my life, developing an ear for that truth.

i began to put these things into practice. i began trying to trust the Outcome (call it what you will – Fate, God’s Will, Chance, Life) to my concept of God. if i felt i needed someone’s respect, i practiced respecting them first. if i felt i needed forgiveness, i practiced forgiving my own transgressors. if i wanted people to pay me on time for my goods and services, i practiced paying my own bills on time. if i felt the customer service associate wasn’t giving me adequate customer service, i practiced serving my own customers in the manner i wished to be treated. when i felt my wife wasn’t acting affectionately enough towards me, i practiced showing her more affection.

it worked in every instance. it still works today, if i take the time to put it into action. and i’m continually surprised by the remarkable results of what amounts to a fairly simple rule. for whatever reason, i have a “built-in-forgetter,” so i’m forced to rediscover the secret over and over. usually i have to endure some period of discomfort wherein i decide the World isn’t treating me fairly, isn’t giving me my due, then agonize over what i’ve done to deserve this.

the eternal Truth is that the World is giving me back that which i’m putting in.



  1. exactly profound my dear friend, cheers

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