Finding Gratitude or Trapping Monkeys is Easy…or Not

In order to trap a monkey (assuming you want to), all you must do is place some nuts in a bottle that’s attached to something immovable. The mouth of the jar has to be big enough for the monkey to place his hand in it, but small enough that once the monkey grabs the nuts by making a fist, the fist is too large to escape the bottle. When the monkey’s curiosity gets the best of him, he reaches for the nuts. And as long as his fist is closed, he’s trapped.

I was just like the monkey, holding tightly to the nuts in the bottle – unable to get the nuts, but unwilling to let go. What the monkey can’t understand is that he is, in fact, his own captor. Letting go sets him free.

I “carried around my own bottle” for years. I prayed, read books and went to seminars on addiction not realizing that I could be set free by just letting go…letting go of my pride, the need to be in control, my ego, fear, and shame. There’s a commonly used phrase attributed to John F. Kennedy, “Knowledge is power.” I disagree! I had the knowledge I needed and I knew how to fix it, but didn’t. A mixture of brutal honest, humility and help from others allowed me to eventually let go.

The paradox that my real strength came from my greatest weakness is a journey that I’m still on, but I do understand and am seeking to live a life that fully accepts this premise. I am working towards a life of total gratitude – that I am where am I because of that painful past, which now also includes recovery, vulnerability, truth, steadfastness, and forgiveness. I can never be the father, grandfather or husband that I really want to be, or that God wants me to be until I am willing to embrace my brokenness.

It took me a long time to realize that precisely in the root of my failure and in the midst of my problems is the key that leads to my healing. Through repentance and hard truths told to those I love came the power of forgiveness and new life.

And most importantly, my family knows that when we are willing to embrace failure and learn from our mistakes, that deeper love, forgiveness, and healing are possible. It is because of my past experiences that my son, Jeff and I have the relationship that we do today. Precisely in the failure of the past is the seed of the future success.

Please share this blog with your social media network, & like or follow us at the links on the bottom right of this page. This blog is an edited excerpt from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son.

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