Dealing with angels, ducks, and alligators   

I’m blessed to know a lot of folks who lead very purpose driven lives. Nearly all of them are in recovery from trauma, addiction, and/or other bad things that happen to good people. Each of them has a Higher Power that they feel directed by, but none of us have burning bushes, nor do we receive emails directly from God. That leaves the communication feeling one sided, where we whine, demand, and question and then wait for “signs.”

The problem with signs is that my HP can put a message on a billboard specifically for me and I will walk right past it, pretending I don’t see it because I don’t like what it says. I’m still waiting to receive the message, “Stay home, relax, and don’t put on pants today.” Instead, the messages are more like, “I want you to go three more steps outside your current comfort zone to better serve others.”

My response is deeply spiritual. It’s along the lines of, “La la la la la….I can’t hear you!”

The Universe is endlessly patient with me. It gives me countless opportunities to learn the lessons. I have needed to go through most lessons repeatedly (learning fully = acceptance). The two most difficult lessons are both disturbing and liberating:

  • My resistance is always fear
  • I may hate the learning experience while I’m going through it, but I will enjoy everything that follows acceptance of it.

The thing about seeking spiritual growth that nobody necessarily tells you is that it makes life wonderfully weird.

It starts with surrender. You come to terms with the idea that no matter how hard you try, “my way” simply doesn’t work. So, you ask something more powerful than you to save your ass and to guide you.

Shortly after that, if you pay attention, you’ll start noticing an uncanny number of connections and coincidences. Following these leads leaves you with keener intuition – like you meet someone by chance and you have a profound sense that you’re supposed to know them, even though you have no idea why.

You have to learn to roll with it, but even the best of us find ourselves overwhelmed at times and feeling lost. I met with such a person this morning. She presented a number of “complicated situations” and asked my clinical opinion. I told her:

“You’re being nibbled to death by ducks while you’re up to your ass in alligators, but it seems clear to me that God keeps putting angels in your path to direct you.”

That’s not the type of diagnoses they taught me in therapy school but it seems to fit nicely. My suggestion to her was, “It’s time to clear out the swamp and shoot the damned ducks.”

The alligators are adversity. They’re pretty clear-cut problems with pretty clear-cut solutions. They’re overwhelming because unclamping them from your ass requires that leaving your comfort zones and make significant changes in your life.

The ducks are small problems and small people that feel important, but aren’t. I reminded my client of a video game that was very popular in the 80’s called, Duck Hunter. In this very low-tech game, we shot ducks as they moved across the tv screen. The best part of the game was the goofy looking dog who laughed at you every time you missed one.

I miss a lot of them, but they come back around, and sooner or later I dispatch them.

That just leaves the angels – the best of us, whose wisdom typically gets overlook because we dismiss the messenger. We don’t meaningfully take their words to heart because they’re children or they’re elderly or they live with Down Syndrome. We’re too busy taking ourselves and our lives so very seriously that we miss seeing God even as She reveals Herself to us.

The God of my understanding has an incredible sense of humor, and on days like today, I hope I’m doing my best to amuse Him.

“Silly human race…” – Yes “Yours Is No Disgrace”

 

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.