What I Learned About Love, I Learned From My Dad

“All right now, hold my hand real tight, don’t let go until you know when.” Dad peered down from his dusty baseball cap marked 88 and gripped my hands in his big bear palm. From my tiny viewpoint, the world was blanketed by the nighttime sky and littered in stars. Dad’s smile lit my heart, and at once, I release10422042_748861415164380_5452174188489951681_nd my faith and threw back my head, revealing a deep, belly laugh.

“Anda- one, anda-two, anda-three!” Dad swung me higher and higher, until the third count, when he released me and I soared, just for a few seconds, like a superhero amongst the crowds of blurry faces who were scattered amongst the bleachers. It was race night, and like every other Saturday, it was our time; we didn’t get to see each other often, but when we did, time stopped and life became precious.

I hit the rocky ground on both legs safely with a resounding “thud,” and, although shocked, I quickly dusted myself off and turned to face the one person who I knew would be right behind me. “That’s my girl! Didn’t think I’d let you down, did ya?” Dad swept me up in his arms and carried me back to the bleachers, as all fear of the unknown faded away.

My dad has always been my hero, whether or not he truly knows it. In my eyes, I couldn’t tell him enough. And when it comes to my relationships I’ve learned a lot through my biggest one: the one with my father. He’s taught me so much about what it means to love people for who they are on the inside, to see beyond the exterior package. The obvious is not what we see, it is what we choose to get to know about someone that makes them beautiful. Growing up in a small, country, two-bedroom home that raised over twenty children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Dad learned early the value of staying close and loving through it all. As I went through my struggles, he not only taught those to me, he showed them, too.

I’ve learned what it means to let go and allow love in. What it means to heal. For most of my life I shut myself off to love and used relationships as a way to abuse myself and others, long after my abusers left. Dad has always been there, in the background, offering advice and encouragement in his own kind way. The faith that he instilled in me as a child has slowly grown over time, and without his care, I don’t know where I’d be. At thirty and through two marriages, I can’t deny the huge role that his stability has played.

I finally know what it means to love myself. Although this one, like every relationship, is one that is a constant work in progress, the love I have for myself is mirrored by the love Dad has for himself. As we’ve grown and constructed healthier lives, our self-images have been strengthened. My dad has a much better image of himself than he used to, especially when I was living in the depths of my eating disorders. A perfectionist at my core, Dad’s voice was always in the back of my mind whispering, “You don’t have to be perfect for someone to love you.” When I was at one of the lowest points in my life at eighteen and attempted suicide, I never imagined that I could flourish and get to the place of contentment that I am in now.

Because of our relationship, I’ve learned what I want in a partner, and what I don’t want, the latter through my own trials and errors. I learned that I want someone faithful, loving, and kind. A person who looks past the obvious; someone who sees my soul. And just like Dad, someone who is always there to catch me when I fall.

God Bless,
Nikki DuBose

The Hope Diary: Step One, I am Powerless!

The Hope Diary: Step One, I am Powerless!
October 30, 2012

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I have been spending the evening quietly reflecting the past couple of days and how so many people in Jersey City and NYC around me are without power, submerged in water, scared, alone and helpless. I am extremely thankful that by the very Grace of God, my home was one of the only to not be affected with loss of anything, and I am definitely counting my Blessings.

The running theme right now of helplessness around the East Coast reminds me of Step One of my Twelve Step program for recovering from an eating disorder. Step One states that when we finally come to the realization that we have a true problem that is destroying our lives and many times, the lives of others, we say that we are “powerless.”

It took me 19 years to admit to myself and to others that I was powerless. Even after going for help 17 years into my bulimia and anorexia, I still did not admit that I was powerless. I sought help mostly for the wrong reasons; to please others and to make myself look better. I wanted everyone to think that I was again…perfect. That even though I had had an eating disorder for so many years that I could, in fact, pick myself right up and get help and be recovered immediately.

How absurd it was to pridefully seek help, and never really admit my powerlessness. The outcome of this was I went around and around my problems for much longer than needed, with results far more atrocious than the past.

True admittance of my powerlessness came when I found myself with nowhere to look than up at God for my life and my answers. Hopefully you will be smarter than I was and learn from my and others’ mistakes and seek help before you have to just about kill yourself to get there.

My Twelve Step Program defines powerlessness as such, “Step One: We admitted that we were powerlessness, that our lives had become unmanageable.” My unmanageable life, emotions, finances, and relationships all became sure-fire signals that my addiction had taken over and that I was powerless over myself. It was a sad realization but one that truly set me on the path to God, self-discovery, recovery, and ultimately, saving my life.

If you are thinking that maybe you have a problem with food, anorexia, bulimia, taking laxatives, over-exercising, or binge-eating, here are some questions and correlating Bible verses taken from The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop that are truly valuable in helping you get on the way to recovery.

Genesis 16:1-15
No-Win Situations

1). What feelings do I experience as I acknowledge people in my life who have power ( such as supervisors, spouse, religious leaders, and sponsors)?

2). What do I try to escape from?

3). How do I escape my feelings such as anger, boredom, fatigue, or loneliness?

4). When things do not go my way, or when I am in a no-win situation, what is my reaction (with relationships, work, promotions, kids who question or rebel, traffic, drivers in front of me, people talking on cell phones in public places, financial difficulties, people who hurt or disappoint me, or God, who seems to be silent)?

5. If I could, how would I change my response?

Dangerous Self-Deception
Judges 16:1-31

1). What is the longest time I have been able to stop addictive behaviors or using addictive substances?

2). What are some of the reasons I use for starting my behaviors or substance abuse again?

3). What are the things I think I can control? How do I lie to myself, and about what?

4). What is so scary about telling the truth?

5). As I explore powerlessness, what blind spots have I discovered?

6). What are the results of pride in my life?

A Humble Beginning
2 Kings 5: 1-5

1). What is the difference between humiliation and humility in my life?

2). How do I regard myself as being a little more important than other people?

3). What makes me think I am in control of anything?

4). How do I try to influence or control God or his representatives?

5). When have I places expectations on other people or God?

6). When have my attitudes shown that I believe I know better than God?

7. Why is it difficult for me to follow another’s instructions?

Hope Amidst Suffering
Job 6:2-13

1). What kind of people do I hang around with and trust– people who criticize, or people who encourage truth?

2). What emotions can I identify with when I am at the bottom?

3). What have I done in the past to tidelands with pains or sadness?

Like Little Children
Mark 10:13-16

1). What happened in the past that still provokes fear in me today?

2). When do I feel the most cared for?

3). What do I see in my life that reveals God’s care for me?

A Time to Choose
Acts 9:1-9

1). When I continue to pursue my own agenda without asking God for direction, what happens in my life?

2). Are there areas of my life in which God may have to use extreme measures before I will listen for direction? Which areas?

3). What will it take for me to listen to God?

The Paradox of Powerlessness
2 Corinthians 4:7-10

1). These are examples of when I have demonstrated acceptance of my own powerlessness and God’s Powerfulness.

2). How do I respond to trouble?

3). How do I respond to being perplexed?

4). What do I do when it seems that God or someone else has abandoned me?

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

“Six Tips on How to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You” by Karla Downing

Christian Relationship Help: Six Tips on How to Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You by Karla Downing

“Forgiveness is a commandment for Christians (Matthew 6:14-15); yet, there is a lot of misunderstanding on how to forgive. This Christian relationship help gives you six tips on how to forgive someone who has hurt you:

1. Understand that it is a process.The first step is to commit to that process. Some people erroneously suggest that someone should forgive right away when they find out about a major offense. This isn’t possible. Before you can forgive, you have to know what you are forgiving. It takes time to figure out what has happened and how it has affected your life.

2. Reflect on the facts of the situation, your reactions, and how it is affecting you. You have to count the cost in order to forgive by first recognizing how you have been affected by the offense. This way you know what you are forgiving.

3. Understand what the offender did and why it was done.This is putting yourself into the shoes of the other person. It gives you a perspective that can help you to be empathetic. Hurt people hurt people. This doesn’t mean you excuse the wrong or not hold the person appropriately accountable; it only means that you try to understand the problems the other person had that would have caused him/her to do what was done.

4. Choose to let go of the right to get revenge.You turn the person over to God and allow him to judge in his way and time (Romans 12:19). This can include allowing the person to face the legal, relational, financial and situational consequences of his/her actions; however, you need to let go of your bitterness and resentment and not take pleasure in the person’s pain and demise.

5. Treat the person with dignity and respect.You want to love your enemies and offer them a cup of cold water, as Jesus suggested (Romans 12:20); yet, you can still set boundaries to protect yourself. This requires that you take a step of faith and treat the person well. When you do it, it will help you to maintain the forgiveness and allow God to work in the person’s life.

6. Choose to no longer be defined by the offense.This is where you integrate the offense into your life as another thing that has happened that you have walked through that God has used to shape and mold you. Your identity is not: “The spouse who was abandoned,” The parent who lost his child,” or “The unloved child.” You have a different perspective that involves acceptance, forgiveness, and faith and a self-image that includes how you have been refined through your life experiences and how God is using it for good.

This Christian relationship help offers you these six tips on how to forgive someone who has hurt you. These tips will enable you to move on from the offense in a way that sets you free and pleases God.”

God Bless,
Nikki