Sunday, February 13, 2011

Life Stories: Judy L., "the next right thing"

David Markham: Judy, I know you've had a tough time with your addictions to alcohol and crack cocaine, and you seem to be in a better place now.

Judy L.: Yes, I 've stopped trying to control everything. I realize that I can't. I stop myself from worrying about the future. I say the Serenity Prayer and tell myself to just focus on doing the next  right thing.

David Markham: The "next right thing"?

Judy L: Yeah, I am only worried about doing the next right thing.

David Markham: Wow. That's an interesting way to put it, "the next right thing." That sounds Buddhist. It's part of the 8 fold path.

Judy L.: I'm Catholic, but I realize I can't control things.

David Markham: It's a  humble approach to life, isn't it? We've accepted our limitations. We've given up our perfectionism, and our control issues. I am promising to live in the now, surrender, and only concern myself with doing the next right thing.

Judy L: Yes, it seems to be working for me. I feel better, and I am feeling more grateful for all the things in my life but especially the little things.

David Markham: You are taking things one step at a time, one day at a time as they teach in Alcoholic Anonymous.

Judy L.: Exactly, it's like a weight off my shoulders. I feel freer.

David Markham: One of the 7 principles in Unitarian Universalism is the acceptance of one another and the encouragement to spiritual growth. It's seem like this has been a spiritual insight for you not just a psychological tool to manage your addiction. Do you experience this as a spiritual development in you life?

Judy L. : Oh yes, Jesus says something about the birds of the air not worrying about what they will eat, and the lilies of the field not worrying about how they are dressed and so we should not worry either but have faith that things will work out and we should only worry about today. I think Jesus would tell us not to worry but only focus on the next right thing too.

David Markham: From my reading and learning from the New Testament and the life of Jesus I agree with you. I'm going to have to stop and I wonder if there is anything else before we finish.

Judy L.: No, not really. I am relieved that I feel better. I know I could still use, but I don't want to and I hope I'm on a better track this time.

David Markham: It sounds like there has been a qualitative shift in your life and I really like your new freedom in just focusing on the next best thing and letting everything else go. I think most people's lives would be improved if they adopted your approach. Can I share it with others?

Judy L: Absolutely! Anything that can help anyone else I'm all for.

David Markham: Thank you, Judy.

Judy L.: Thank you, Dave. I feel better, this is good.

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