When Sorrow Comes – A Poem

When Sorrow Comes

I'm old enough now
and have lived through
enough winters to know
that as you begin reaping joy
sorrow already begins to grow.

This life promises many harvests
but one crop it's certain to sow - 
that beyond the warmth of summer
comes the cold, winter snow.

It's not about protecting yourself
from the pangs of life
but what you trust in
when the harsh winds blow.

For I'm old enough now
and have lived through
enough winters to know
that after joy
sorrow will follow.

Justin Farley

Hello, everyone! I have recently published my first chapbook of Christian poems titled “A Voice in the Wilderness – A Chapbook of Poems about God”. This has been developed and polished over the past six months or so. I am happy with the final product and hope you find encouragement in the poems but also a validation that the spiritual life is not all sunshine and rainbows. We all struggle. We all have periods of questions and/or doubt. But it is the yearning that keeps us coming back for more and allows us to experience joy.
You can purchase either on Amazon or on my own bookstore (it is cheaper and has free shipping on my store) and is available on the Kindle and in paperback.
Amazon: Kindle Paperback
Inkspiration Books (my bookstore): Paperback

Thank you for your support!

The Road to Recovery – A Poem by Justin Farley

The Road to Recovery

I tried walking away from madness,
seeking peace.
But found I was bound and a captive,
unable to retreat.
Astonished, I looked down at shackles
clasped around my hands and feet.
I have hollered until I was hoarse;
solitude is the only company I keep.
What is left now other than to shrink
within my cell and accept defeat?
But wait...what if this freedom I seek
lies juxtaposed to relief?
Maybe I need to start asking why
these feelings run so deep.
Yes, the road to recovery
begins with acceptance
and ends with peace.

Justin Farley

Losing Myself Poem About Mental Illness and Recovery

Losing Myself

I’m losing myself in pieces –
every year fragments of my soul
feel swept away by time.

My identity constantly decreases,
and I’m beginning to feel like a stranger
within the confines of my own mind.

Yes, I’m losing myself in pieces –
the jigsaw puzzle’s lovely image
has jumbled into an abstract mess.

But my search for meaning never ceases.
I continue holding the lantern,
calling out to myself in the darkness.

I’m searching for the lost pieces –
putting myself back together
one discovery at a time.

With faith, hope increases,
and despite being far from perfect,
I’m able to begin recovery’s climb.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

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Poem About Addiction to Drugs Alcohol and Recovery

Starting Today

If resisting was an easy task,
who would be a slave?
Who would part with a piece of themselves
for the chance at an early grave?
Willpower alone is enough to put you in hell
but not enough to pull you out.
You’ll never have a chance at getting well
until you accept living by a different route.
If change is what you want,
you’ll have to change much about you.
You’ll have to learn to become humble
and do what trusted advisers tell you to do.
The road is long and hard
but worth every step of the way
because you have the opportunity
to be free again starting today.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

How Anxiety Distracts Us From God

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 The Noticer

Let me be a noticer of things in your world
instead of a dweller of my inner thoughts,
worries, and selfish longings
that only keep me distracted from you.

For when I uproot myself out of the present moment
and plant my focus on myself,
I rob myself of the joy
of witnessing your glory and beauty
all around me.

I have always been a highly observant person, picking out minor details that others often miss. On my morning walk in the woods today I noticed an old, wooden beam with rusted barbwire wrapped around the edges that had clearly once been a fence post. The problem was that I’d walked this path dozens of times before. Worse, it only stood a few inches off the trail.

What may seem an unimportant observation worried me. I should have noticed this a long time ago. But then again, maybe I’m not quite as observant as I once was…not since anxiety and worry have become a constant companion.

I sat there looking at that fence post, noticing for the first time the rotting wood and the crumbling decay of age. In my perifocal view I then noticed a bee hovering around a flower and insects crawling along the earth. I was struck with the realization that I have formed a habit of being so stuck inside my head observing my anxieties and worries that I have lost an awareness of the world around me.

I’ve decided I’m still a highly observant person; I’ve just been preoccupied with the wrong details. Anxiety and worry cause us to retreat inward, focusing on only our thoughts and feelings, preparing for the “what ifs” of the future. In the process they rob us of the joy and experience of life in the present moment.

God dwells in the here and now. God speaks in the present. God walks with us in this moment. When we try to place ourselves in the future, we make no room for God. For the future is determined by His will, not ours. And that is what anxiety and fear inspire us to do, don’t they? To just sprint past God and try to prepare, plan, and control what happens next. We lack faith in God’s providence, so we seek out our own providence. We are finite creatures who are not built to withstand that kind of responsibility. When we put ourselves in control of managing our future, we collapse under the weight of worry.

Even more importantly, when we are constantly distracted by our worries and removed from the here and now, we miss out on the wonderful experience of witnessing God’s glory and beauty all around us.  The beauty of a sunset, the feeling of the wind against your skin, the magic of the leaves changing colors, the love in another’s eyes, the wisdom God passes on in seemingly unimportant things.

It’s a hard fight to pull yourself out of your own head and leave all the worrying behind. It’s maybe an even harder fight to trust in God. But there are opportunities for redemption all around us, yet we have to be attentive to the present moment to recognize them. If we remain focused on the incessant cycle of self-centered thoughts, we deny ourselves the gift of seeing God’s divine presence right here, right now.

-Post and Poem Written by Justin Farley

The Cost of Freedom – Recovery Addiction Poem

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The Cost of Freedom

Confining walls, prison cell;
there’s no shame in wearing a straight jacket
if it makes you well.

Dirty dishes, soiled clothes;
it’s a heavy burden to keep
your house clean on your own.

Hidden secrets, concealed lies;
they are the extent of your sickness –
the enemy of recovery is pride.

Foolish illusions, blind in the dark;
the most harmful delusion is believing
you can trust your heart.

Death’s agent, the loser’s bane;
sometimes winning means folding now
to remain in the game.

The humble lives, the prideful dies;
better to trust in another’s truths
than to keep living by your lies.

Safety in numbers, self-reliance self-destructs;
an unchecked mind quickly becomes
unreliable and corrupt.

Freedom is sometimes choosing not to be free;
better to serve a great master,
than sit on the throne of insanity.

-Poem and Content Written by Justin Farley

As a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober for almost 11 years and someone who can become addicted to about anything that makes you feel good, one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my recovery is the need to let go of my freedom sometimes. The hardest times in recovery are often the ones where we’ve still got one foot in and one foot out, believing that we can be both fully free and fully accountable living by our will power.

For me, I’ve learned that when I’m free I’m a slave, and when I’m a slave I’m free. Quite paradoxical, but I’ve learned that I can’t trust myself to do what I want myself to do. If I sit with temptation long enough, it will eventually over power me no matter how much will power I have.

We don’t want to accept defeat. We don’t want to admit that we’re weak. We want to continue to live by the lie that we’re able to conquer our demons on our own, despite file cabinets full of evidence to the contrary. Sometimes giving up some of your freedom is the only way to protect yourself from yourself. For addicts, I believe the cost of freedom is often freedom itself.

You want to be sober? Well, you’re going to have to give up the freedom of  being able to go to bars. You want to be free from addiction? You’re going to have to give up the freedom of hanging out with people that are still using. You want to be free from your shopping addiction? You’ve got to give up the freedom of carrying cash and credit cards.

Is it possible to keep all your freedoms and remain free from your addictions? Maybe. At least for a period of time, but it’s like playing Russian roulette, never knowing when your addiction is loaded in the chamber. Play long enough, and I believe you’ll eventually self-destruct.

For me, I’ve realized the cost of unchecked freedom is misery and death. And today, I choose to live.

You may also like my other addiction and recovery posts.

Poem About Birds Singing In Spring

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Birdsong

The birds of morning take their places
upon the stage of life’s amphitheater
where their voices have remained mute for months.
But today, they rise in joyful chorus,
belting out melodious tunes.

Isn’t it funny how such a small animal
can make a giant footprint upon the soul
and lift a heavy heart higher
than pharmaceutical cocktails and cognitive endeavors –
a voice that sweeps the soot from the chimney of the soul
with only chirps in rhythmic time and playful ruffles of feathers?

Somewhere subconsciously we believe
they are the gatekeepers of spring
and have enough magic in their beaks
to end this bleak, cursed winter.
Their songs are beautiful incantations,
awakening nature from its deep slumber
and inviting all who hear their music
back to life.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Poem About Recovery From Addiction – The Streets of Delusion

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The Streets of Delusion – A Poem About Addiction Recovery

I walked the streets of delusion
where the streetlights glow
with golden spheres of flame.

Dancing like fireflies in a glass jar,
their seductive splendor tempted me,
whispering my ego’s name.

I walked the streets of delusion
believing them to be paved
with adventure and romantic ecstasy.

Each footstep outpaced reason,
while my sole pounded values into the pavement,
And my feet stepped over morality.

I walked the streets of delusion
until life’s traffic slammed into my body,
cursing as I fell on my face.

Pride poured out of every gash,
every cut and every broken bone,
yet desire still yearned for one more taste.

I walked the streets of delusion,
or rather crawled without care of judgement –
broken, but not yet ready to accept defeat.

But suddenly stopped in horror
when I saw Death approaching
from the end of the street.

I stared down the streets of delusion,
wide-eyed and finally willing
to see the truth of where they lead.

No one is exempt
from reaping death and ruin
when they plant Destruction’s seed.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

About the Poem

Every recovering addict remembers what it was like walking “the streets of delusion”. Inside every addict there is a point where you deceive yourself into believing that you are not addicted, that you just like to have fun, and that you’ll stop as soon as “x” happens. The elation that we feel while drunk or high is greater than the warning signs that surround us, and we turn our backs on everything that once mattered in our life for the brief comfort and feelings of power alcohol and drugs provide. The strongest and most dangerous lie that addiction tries to convince us of is that somehow we will outsmart a disease and won’t be like all the others that are on the same path we are on…that we can control it without recovery. We will somehow find a happy medium between sane and crazy, drunk and sober, addiction and recovery. Somehow we will keep ourselves and those we care about out of danger and prevent chaos in our lives, all the while brewing it wherever we go. The difference between active and non-active addiction is usually nothing more than an honest look in the mirror and having the courage to expose the lies that have led us down the path we’re on. Obviously admitting we need help is the next step, but until we get off “the streets of delusion” we will never see the truth of how desperately we need recovery and how out of control our addiction and our life has become.

If you enjoyed this poem, you may also enjoy my poem about alcoholism,“One More Taste”.

Grace – A Poem

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Grace – A Poem

I am awed by the way you move me
like freshly fallen snowflakes dusting across the frozen ground.
Some days I forget the barren tundra from which I came
and how you whispered by name, echoing across that vacant landscape
so that a lost soul could be found.

Some days time passes by me without a single thought
that each waking moment is a treasure –
a gift granted, light years away from being deserved.
But despite all my wrongs and all the foolish footpaths
I chose to walk, in my time of desperation I called
and without hesitation you answered.

Each single second is abounding opportunity,
a renewed possibility for new life.
My destination was one I was unable to arrive at
by the work of my own hands, but while I lingered,
withering away in the darkness, you nestled me
within your loving embrace and brought me back into the light.

The fact that I breathe and my heart beats
is a living testament to your endless love and grace.
May I never forget from where I came and that each day is a gift
that I should unceasingly praise and never waste.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: Morning mist via photopin (license)

Today – A Inspiration Poem

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Today – A Inspiration Poem

The sun is rising.
Open your eyes to the possibility of a new life
That waits for you upon the horizon.
Let the aroma of fresh brewed coffee stir you in bed
And lead you from where dreams remain fixed in your head
To where they are transfigured in motion through action.

Today we set course for the future;
We throw all past failures overboard
And load our cargo of dormant potential in the hold.

Today we set sail to new destinations
We’ve been planning for years,
But never had the courage to leave the comfort of familiar harbors.

Today we become masters over our inner self
And shed the shackles of slavery,
No longer submitting to the will of our weaknesses.

Today is the first day of your new life –
Reborn, awoken, reformed into the image
You’ve always desired and known you’re capable of.

Today will find us working
And not bewildered by fear or past distractions.
We will set course on a path of purposeful, rigorous action.

Today we set sail for the future,
Which does not come to us,
But we confidently create and seek.

Today is the only day of your life that’s guaranteed.
So pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Smile, don’t fret. Let’s make it one for the ages.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

photo credit: The Grassy Knoll via photopin