4-28-2016 Courage

UCE Addictions Ministry
April 28 Agenda

 Opening Words

Courage has roots. She sleeps on a futon on the floor and lives close to the ground. Courage looks you straight in the eye. She is not impressed with power trippers and she knows first aid. Courage is not afraid to weep and she is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to. When Courage walks, it is clear that she has made the journey from loneliness to solitude. The people who told me she is stern were not lying, they just forgot to mention that she is kind.
The Book of Qualities J. Ruth Gendler


Welcome to the UCE Addictions Ministry Group. We are a group of people who have struggled with our own addictions and the addictions of others. We hope to struggle well together as we work towards finding sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships in our lives. We will strive to spend our time together in a spirit of love embracing the inherent worth and dignity of all. We accept and respect the varied paths that our members will take to find sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships. We covenant to be together in a safe, confidential environment where we can explore our paths and our stories.

 Our Relational Covenant

  • Embrace and practice deep listening
  • We will strive to be respectful of our limited time and try to keep our comments focused on the issues that have brought us here.
  • Experience the group in a non-judgmental frame of mind.
  • Build trust within the group.
  • Confidentiality about specifics shared or discussed is imperative for our success.
  • We each take full responsibility for what we share or say, recognizing retractions are acceptable as well.
  • Meetings will always start and end on time.


Check-in and Processing of Check-in

Discussion: Courage

When confronted with news of a stranger’s unimaginable pain – a suicide, an overdose, a protest for justice and basic dignity – we have two choices: We can choose to respond from fear or we can choose courage.

We can choose to believe that we are somehow insulated from the realities of these traumas and that our willpower or our strength of character makes us better than these displays of desperation and woundedness. When we seek shelter in the better than – safer than – different than thinking, we are actually choosing fear and that requires us to self-protect and arm ourselves with judgment and self-righteousness.

Our only other option is to choose courage. Rather than deny our vulnerability, we lean into both the beauty and agony of our shared humanity. Choosing courage does not mean that we’re unafraid, it means that we are brave enough to love despite the fear and uncertainty. Courage is my friend Karen standing up and saying, “I am affected.” 

The courageous choice also does not mean abandoning accountability – it simply means holding ourselves accountable first. If we are people of faith, we hold ourselves accountable for living that faith by practicing grace and bringing healing. If we consider ourselves to be smart and curious, it means seeking greater understanding. If we consider ourselves to be loving, it means acting with compassion.

It’s difficult to respond to the tragedies of strangers – even those we think we know – because we will never have access to the whole truth. In the absence of information, we make up stories, stories that often turn out to be our own biographies, not theirs.

Our choices have consequences: They make the world a more dangerous place or they cultivate peace. Fear and judgment deepen our collective wounds.  That rare mix of courage and compassion is the balm that brings global healing.

We have two choices. Let’s choose courage. Let’s choose to love despite the fear.

Brene Brown, http://brenebrown.com/2014/08/14/choose-courage/


The Courageous Path is paved with Anxiety

Just as you can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability, you cannot take the path of courage without feeling the substance of the road you walk.

“Anxiety is the key to courage, for courage is the decision to tolerate maximum amounts of anxiety.” – Peter Koustenbaum

The path of courage is paved with anxiety.

Courage is not the absence of fear, courage is the decision to immerse yourself in the very things that threaten your sense of safety.

Courage is not something that strong people feel, courage is what every person feels when they embrace their vulnerability and step out into the unknown.

I’ve become fascinated by anxiety over the last year or two. Perhaps because I’ve experienced so much of it. Perhaps because I had an unshakable sense that the way we often think about anxiety missed something huge.

I still remember the first time I read about anxiety from an existential perspective. It was again in a book by Koestenbaum, but his notion of existential anxiety goes back to the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard.

I covered this topic extensively in a previous piece. But I return to it, because you can’t get to the heart of courage without understanding anxiety.

 “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” – Soren Kierkegaard

Anxiety, it seems, is not so much an emotion, but the existential mood of life. Its literal Latin root means the pain of passing through a narrow passage.

What single experience is more existentially vulnerable than passing from the soft safety of our conception to the hard reality of birth? That formative moment, when before we even know how to think, we feel the reality of living. And it is anxiety.

Yet anxiety is not a dysfunction in need of medication, or a negative emotion in need of releasing. No, no, it is the very fabric of freedom, as felt by our powerfully permeable human beingness.

Kierkegaard continues…

“Because it is possible to create — creating one’s self, willing to be one’s self… — one has anxiety. One would have no anxiety if there were no possibility whatever.”

Anxiety is not simply the price we pay for being creative beings, it is the actual feeling of becoming who we are. It is the emotional mood of courageous self-authorship.

It is the immense energy of our freedom that we have not yet found the courage to claim.

Free to Choose Your Nakedness

The root of the word courage is very old. It comes from an ancient language we know very little about.  At its core, courage means simply ‘heart’.

Courage for me feels like nakedness – showing my inner heart to the outside world.

It is opening my hand, and allowing my precious creations to be set free into a world who’s  embracing or rejection of them, I cannot control.

It is the opposite of comfort. It is the opposite of safe.

And yet it is the path that leads to realization.

You choose to come and live this life because you have a story to tell.

It is your story.

Ewan Townhead, Excerpt from http://www.therealizedentrepreneur.com/into-the-heart-of-courage/

Closing Words

"Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences.
David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words   

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