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PREFACE to The Grace Plan

Updated: Apr 18

from the book, as it is being written

In my late twenties I went through a nervous breakdown of significance. My life was severely disrupted by circumstance leaving me in a state of despair nearly unable to function. Church, faith, and prayer offered no solution. Psychotherapy was expensive and underwhelming. I had become a single father with a five year old, three year old, and a baby that I was bottle feeding. I could barely get through a day and desperately needed help. My situation seemed impossible, my life goals were completely derailed, and I was plagued with hopelessness. I lost faith as I lived in torture and God became a distant useless fairytale not meant for real life. My churchy friends offered more judgment than support and the weekend show on Sundays came across as a farce.

I was about to shut down like I was going over an emotional cliff that would forever change my personality. Bitterness was strangling my soul but it also tempted me with pain relief. My life would become passionless and loveless but I would be protected within its armor. To deny it would be a living hell. God had forsaken me, but hate would never let me down. As a victim, I was right and I did not need to self reflect which only caused more pain and confusion. I only needed to get tough to fight through life with resentment as my sword.

Except, that’s not what happened. There was a tiny part of my consciousness that wouldn’t leave me alone. It was willingness. I was willing to be wrong about ...everything, especially God. And, I was willing to ask for help. I tried to ignore this willingness but it persisted until I showed up at church. But this time, it was not the weekend service. It was a small men’s group. In that group I discovered something I had never seen. There were strong men, not macho but strong spiritually, that were sharing their shortcomings with vulnerability while at the same time showing wisdom, a combination I had never witnessed. I listened to their stories of personal brokenness and how they healed through faith. Instead of getting stuck in theology, they discussed how to let go. I had been taught to believe and behave and to prayer for what I wanted because that’s the deal. But now I was being taught to pray to let go of what I wanted and to stop playing God. At first it made no sense. Given the severity of my circumstance, it was almost offensive. But willingness prevailed and I took their direction.

I immersed myself in prayer and surrounded myself with the brothers I had met. The path was not easy, but it was my own and I had support, encouragement, and guidance. I started to focus on principles more than specific behaviors. I learned to discern what motivated me and whether it was bringing me closer to God or further from God. As a result of the spiritual principles I applied, I experienced an awakening of significance. The fears and insecurities that plagued me left me. What could’ve taken years in therapy happened within months by the grace of God.

I committed my life to serving others. I pursued clinical holistic medicine while weaving in life changing spiritual principles into all my pursuits, including patient care when appropriate. As my journey in higher education continued I completed my first doctorate. The didactic hours of the program were based on physiology with a focus on clinical nutrition but for my dissertation I chose to incorporate all that I had learned spiritually into a patient care model. I proposed that a spiritual program could be used as an adjunct therapeutic care model for chronic illness patients. This concept was framed by research in a field called Psychoneuroimmunology, which is the study of how the emotional state affects the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. An example is that when we are emotionally stressed, the adrenal glands make stress hormones like cortisol that lower immune function that can contribute to chronic illness patterns. I implemented my research into my practice by running a support group to discuss the application of spiritual principles. The group went on for five years and many experienced incredible breakthroughs on many levels of healing.

In this book, I offer you what I learned from personal suffering to healing, to academic research and writing, leading group discussions, and over 20 years of patient care.

The Grace Plan provides spiritual principles to navigate the challenges of life through understanding how we, as individuals, get closer to God and how we get further from God. It is a non-religious spiritual based study that implements self-reflective assignments and prayer. This plan is for any human that has suffered. Those with or without any particular belief are included. It is the intention of this book to offer a solution to the pain through a shift towards meaning, which can only occur when the ego has been conquered.

If you are not sure you need a shift in your approach to life or you are not really being challenged in life enough to need to self reflect, and you have no interest in spiritual health, then this plan is not for you at this time. Come back to visit this plan when you experience hardship.

Many of you have had the challenges of life interrupt you in a way that has left you demoralized. Even if you have a faith, or have learned some personal psychology, your current state of mind offers no solutions. You find yourself, as I did, in a state of restlessness, irritability, and discontentment with an increasing number of hopeless situations. During this time, I had a faith but somehow could not see it as a solution to the very real problems of life which resulted in a feeling of hopelessness.

There can be many life situations that lead a person to this point in their life. Relationship pain, loss of loved ones, work dissatisfaction, and health conditions are common but suffering can show up anywhere and anytime and doesn’t always have an obvious reason. Not only can us humans feel bad for no reason, but it is a breakthrough to realize that our state of upset shows up first and then we add reasons to support it. Those reasons might appear to be based on factual challenges, but this plan will guide you to a understanding that all forms of upset are a spiritual disease that can be detangled from the real life problems that are seemingly holding our state of well being hostage.

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