Taking Life On Life’s Terms

Those of us who have spent any time in recovery circles have heard the term, “Taking life on life’s terms.”

There are days when I feel like I’m playing some type of volleying sport with life, and it seems life does not play to lose. Life likes to slam things past us at speeds that make our necks snap. She plays to win and she plays for keeps. The more challenges she spikes over the net at us, the more we realize just how much of life has to be lived on her terms.

After all, we don’t get to choose the diseases we get, the jobs we lose, the children we have or don’t have, not to mention the floods, fires, and famine that plague us. We don’t get to pick our families, our gene pool, or how our ancestors were treated.

On the surface, life could convince us that we have no recourse but to hand over the match and walk away in a quandary of confusion and convoluted thinking. As people in recovery, however, we have another piece that follows us out on to the court: the element of faith and belief in a Higher Power and what a surrendered life looks like in light of the potential for despair.

We believe that the God of our understanding has uniquely placed us in the story for a purpose. We believe that our purpose is to ultimately bring hope into the darkness—to leave things better than we found them.

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Learning To Live Life On Life’s Terms

In the process of doing so, I’m learning that life is lived in that thin, snug space where we experience pain and peace at the same time—where the pain turns out to be the peace. It is the narrow gap between swinging back at life and despairing that we call home.

If we view life as something to be won instead of something to be embraced and cherished, we will be in perpetual conflict. Freedom comes as I learn to discern what is and isn’t mine to take on. That’s far different from hitting back at life again and again. On the occasions that I can make a difference in the world that life hands me it will be from a place of peace and conviction, not because I hit it back hard enough or often enough. Serenity will be more about releasing than resisting.

There is certainly an appropriate time for God-given tenacity. The times when we are fighting for justice, doing the work of mercy, and living from a place of humility. If, however I am to live from a place of true peace and serenity, I am going to have to receive life on her terms.

When it feels like life is playing for keeps I am reminded that I experience more comfort in the thin, snug space of what is when I finally quit trying to compete with it.

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David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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Certified Addiction Professional

Cindy Hardy