Tag Archives: alcohol

One o’ Those

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I’ve had one of those days or maybe not so much days, but weeks. One of those days when everything I throw at the trash can (think full coffee filter. Why do I throw those things?) doesn’t actually go inside the trash can and one of those days when you look up to the sky to try to get a handle on things and breathe, but a weird worm from a nearby tree drops onto your upper lip. (Ok, that didn’t really happen, but I did visualize it happening as I looked skyward that day. I have a very active imagination that can be a pro or a con at any given time.) So as I’m walking along, wondering about weird worms, I realize so much about our day is perspective and where we place our focus. My thoughts after I missed the trash can were, “Geeeeez, isn’t anything gonna go right today??” In that moment, I felt a much gentler thought almost audibly whisper, “There are many things that have gone right today.” That whisper, I believe, is the Holy Spirit. There’s no describing it, but I’ve heard it with my heart before many times. (“You don’t have to do this.” Is one of my favorite statements the Comforter has ever made to me. That was when I thought I had to drink. A lot. That’s a previous blog post.)

When I was gently corrected and reminded of the many blessings God had poured out on my ungrateful head that day, I realized that there are only moments of discouragement. Not “bad days.” It’s unlikely that every minute of a 24-hour period could be bad. It’s only moments we, in our fleshy ways, try to make out to be worse than they truly are by focusing on those instead of the good ones.

When Jesus left this earth after being raised from the dead, He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV) I know I need an Advocate. Somebody who’s gonna help me out by reminding me that every little thing’s gonna be alright (some of you now have a Marley song stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.) Even on one o’ those days I throw the banana away and start to eat the peel.

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Salvation Secured

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I heard today that a lot of people, based on a certain statistic, think that Christians are just “hate-filled hypocrites”. And I’m sure that’s exactly what the enemy would have all who will listen to believe. But I have to say, and maybe it’s just because I’m one of them (one o’ them thar Christians, you know) that I don’t see any hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is defined as “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense” and some synonyms include empty talk, dishonesty, and insincerity.
I can understand how this would get annoying. After all, I get annoyed at the way some Christians act (red cup, anyone?) but in all honesty, I believe a lot of it is they aren’t secure in their salvation. I was a Christian for years and still did all kinds of things that would make a lot of church-goin’ folks blush. But here’s the deal: God didn’t lay out every part of His “moral standard” for me at that point of my journey. He knew I’d be completely overwhelmed. I couldn’t possibly live up to His idea or beliefs about who I was in Him when I was in that place. So maybe that’s what some individuals see as hypocritical. They’re living by a different code because maybe they don’t have difficulty in the same areas as you do. Their 2 X 4 is something different than yours. All that being said, the Christians I know and the ones that I hang around, know full-well of who they are. Both who they are with God and without Him. They don’t shade the truth or cover up their human tendencies and forget what Jesus did for them. They’ve accepted the fact that without God’s help, without the Creator lining up their days, that they would indeed be hypocritical. They would go back to their old ways, whether it is drugs or alcohol, or lust and sex, or finger-pointing and a judgy, critical spirit, whatever the case may be. The Christians I know are all learning to trust God in each of their personal trials. They don’t stand and say “No, I never do that and I don’t think you should either!” The Christians I know say “Oh yeah, left to my own devices, that’s exactly what I would do. Without God’s help I couldn’t make it through a day without a drink.” Or “There are times when I’m tempted to go back to the drugs, but thank God I don’t.” Because that’s not what they look to anymore. Those leave us feeling hollow, searching for more. It’s no surprise that addicts don’t keep doing the same drugs and the same amounts; it takes more. And more. Then more. Because that’s not a hole-filler. The Christians I know look to God for their help because He is our strength, the ultimate Hole-Filler, and He is their joy. They don’t feel like they’re better than everybody else. They feel very much like they are everybody else. The Christians I know have experienced the freedom that no man and no 12-step program could ever give. They are free. I am one of them.  He is my strength and He is my joy. I was addicted but now I’m not and that is because of God.  So, that being said, if people from “yesteryear” see me “nowadays” (where do these terms come from?)  then yeah, they may see a hypocrite. They may look back and remember what I used to do and what I used to be, but that’s not me now. And it’s not the Christians I know.

My Shiny Ship…in the Midwest

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I backed up a little to Isaiah 60:1 tonight. It states that we are to “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” I think this is one of the coolest verses ever because it says we are to shine…possibly as a reflection of God’s glory on us. It’s not easy to shine when the rest of the world doesn’t shine back. ( I got a dirty look/head shake/possibly a not-nice finger from an elderly man today.) After all, if we were surrounded by mirrors and got what we put out back, when we shone bright, life would be so simple. As it turns out, God said nothing of life being simple.

We are called to speak about good things when the rest of the world meditates on the bad (Philippians 4:8-9), we are called to act righteously, faithfully, blamelessly, and pure too (Psalms 18:24-28). There’s a lot more in there about how we are supposed to be, but I gotta tell ya: This is enough for me to mull over right now. I don’t know who these people are that don’t put pressure on themselves to act the way God wants them to, but that isn’t me and I’m weary of the pressure.

I can only do so much, right? I’m just me and I’ve come to realize that it’s not God I’m worried about liking me or what I do, it’s other people. I worry about what other people will think if I do this or that…say this or that…I’m not perfect. So far from it I wonder why I’m raising kids to be honest. The fear is crippling sometimes.

I don’t want to try to fix it or try to find a cure for awhile. I just want to be. I just need God to take over here and steer me because I’m too tired to figure out where I’m heading. I picture Him behind one of those big ship’s steering wheels (I’m from the Midwest, I can’t be expected to know what they’re really called.) while I’m slumped in the passenger seat. (Yeah, my ship has a passenger seat. What of it?) I think being a Christian is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, things I’ve ever done. Drinking, smoking, and all the other ugly stuff that comes along with it was super easy. Sure it was expensive, it was horrible for my health, but it was easy. The temptations come back every once in awhile, to turn off the Christian and turn to a different source of “help.” What a joke. Those idols did nothing for me. They didn’t drown anything I went through or dealt with, didn’t heal any wounds, didn’t fix anything to say the very least. It’s for this reason I know that it would be a slap to my God’s face if I picked up those habits again. Not to say that I could never, ever, possibly screw up, but I know that it would hurt Him. There have been days when that’s all that has kept me from it. I don’t know that I would ever stop if I started again and with that statement running through my brain, I hear Him whisper, I could rescue you again. For some reason, that alone allows me some breathing room to remain imperfect, to take some of that pressure off myself.

With that being said, it’s not what I truly want. I want more of Him, the One Who rescued me from all that mess and myself. I turned to that junk for years and years. I know that if I drank again, it wouldn’t even be a temporary relief from the stress or the pain. I need more Jesus and I won’t settle for any less than what He has for me. I’ve tried what the world has to offer. It ain’t much.

Background at the Forefront

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Let me begin by saying I’m trying my best to follow where God leads me here. I have no desire to put myself first (ok, maybe a little) but most days I’m content to stay in the shadows. As I look back over some of the very ugly, stupid choices I’ve made in my life, I feel the need to place blame. Unfortunately, it lands on me.

I was a drinker for many years and I’m sure you can use your imagination as to what kinds of choices alcohol and its addiction brings about. God protected me in so many ways, but also let me screw up. We are given those choices to make, based many times on where we’ve placed ourselves, and we have to manage the consequences. I have thoughts of pure shame regarding the hell I put myself through. I suppose I literally brought hell into my life. It was chaotic and confusing and our God is not one of either of those.

I remember wanting to quit drinking but was unable to picture my life without it. It’s a really strange place to be now as I have people tell me they can’t picture me drinking or smoking. That statement in and of itself is a testament to how powerful my God is. He showed up HUGE in my life when I needed Him the most. He loved me when all I could do was ask, “Where in this hell are you?? It’s too much for me to handle and you’re nowhere to be found. I knew I couldn’t count on you. What do I have to do to get you to do what you said you would?” (Notice no capital ‘y’ as I wasn’t exactly showing much respect at that point. I can’t turn the “editor” in me off so I had to explain myself.) Looking back, I realize I had to let go of His hand before I was able to throw my hands up in the air and ask where He was! How ridiculous is that?

He was there the whole time, waiting for me to have that “Hmmmm…AHA!” moment. Thank You God for being merciful and forgetful!! New mercies and no memory of past faults are like a big, fuzzy blanket. They wrap around you and warm you until you think you get it. Then the next time you forget and get chilly, they wrap around you again and you’re reminded of that comfort that only He can provide.

Our past can be the cause of those chills I think. I shudder not only to think of some of the things I’ve done, but all the things I haven’t accomplished because of my chosen track. “Where could I be? If only I had…” Regrets. See? God tried to save me from those regrets but I chose to head down that wide path. We try to throw the blame someone else’s way but it boomerangs back and hits us in the forehead. That’s when we need to get up off the ground, acknowledge that we were wrong, and repent. Eek! “Repent.” That word scares so many. I personally think of the guy holding the sign while standing on a busy street corner. Nonetheless, repenting simply means “to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc. To feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent. To remember or regard with self-reproach or contrition: to repent one’s injustice to another. To feel sorry for; regret: to repent an imprudent act.” (Thank you Dictionary.com!) Um, that’s me, fer sher.

My prayers today are for those that feel they can’t get themselves out of that muck that they’re stuck in. And to you, as I pray you’re reading this, I say, don’t even try. You’ve probably already tried before anyway and you’re right back where you started, most likely even deeper. Apologize (aka repent) and let God fix it from there. There is nothing He can’t handle, especially when you’re in a place where you feel as though you can’t handle anything. I’ve been there. I thought I’d never leave there. But I did and you can too. God pulled me out of the muck and is using my background to help others. Nothing is wasted.

Stupid Blue Recliner: Part Dos

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Now, the enemy of our souls had a field day with all of this, don’t cha know? He not only attended the pity party, but also began the battle within the battlefield of my mind. (Thank you Joyce Meyer for writing a book just for me.) You see, it hadn’t been that long…maybe 6 months prior to all of this that I sought help for my drinking. This occurred because of many prayers of my husband and others I won’t meet until heaven I’m sure. I listened to the bottom of a beer can speak to me: “You don’t have to do this.” I sure thought I did. It had always helped me to block out so much before. That was the last one I drank before I called up a Christian counseling group in the area and made an appointment with an angel. Now, keep in mind that my plan was to hit the liquor store drive through after my session with her, but God had other plans. I didn’t realize it then, but I liked His so much better. That woman with the amazing God-smile prayed for me and March 12, 2009 was the beginning of my new life. It was a 1-step program for me and I was never more thankful as I adore skip-stepping whenever I can. (Ask my husband, I can’t follow a recipe to save my life.)

That was March, glorious March, praise God! In June, my husband and I left our addiction to nicotine on an altar and haven’t touched them since. Only God can do that. I had smoked for 14 years and tried to quit on my own numerous times before, no less than 10, and to no avail. It’s one of the most discouraging things in the world to finally get up the nerve to do something and then fail. The enemy weasels his way into that like a, well, weasel.

At the beginning of my newfound freedom, I was training for my first 5K. I’ve always wanted to be a runner! Gracefully sweaty with a driven purpose to reach that goal, giving God the glory and simultaneously repenting for the way I bashed the body He created for so many years. (Important note: I plan to cross a finish line somewhere this summer, whether I’m running, limping, or crawling.)

I got sick not long after I/we had been freed from the ugliness that is addiction. I had so many thoughts enter my mind on a daily basis that it made me sicker…more sick?…I was sick. I would go out and run/walk and collapse when I got home, not in the usual way one might. I’d be dizzy and lightheaded while my muscles decided to give out and quit for the rest of the day. I tried to be all righteous and run anyway, but it turns out people get concerned when a woman runs in a zig-zag pattern beside the road, ironically seeming as though she is drunk.

God is so good and I sit amazed as I type that He makes a way to change lives no matter what. For some reason. God always has a plan and I try my best to stick with it. Most days…except on the days when I throw pity parties for myself and no one comes.
Be a blessing to someone today–they may just be going through one of the hardest times of their lives.

From Addicted to Free

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Reflecting on last night, I am amazed at what God can bring people through. As I type that, a little voice inside my head says, “how do you know it’s God?” (I also wonder if that little voice gets steaming mad when I capitalize that “G”) Last night I stood on a stage in front of quite a few people with a sign stating “I WAS ADDICTED TO ALCOHOL AND CIGARETTES.” For those of you who have never taken one of your greatest shames and broadcast them in such a way, I would have to encourage you to do so.
A downward spiral of events led me to believe that I needed alcohol and nicotine as well to deal with stress and drown out the pain that PTSD had brought into my so-called life. Guzzling down a 12-pack (minimum) each night and smoking (a pack-2 packs) until my lungs hurt every day/night is no life at all. Not only was I addicted, but I didn’t care that I was addicted. A feeling of apathy consumed everything. My addiction took me to a place where I didn’t care if I lived or died. I remember having dreams where I would drive off a cliff and being ok with that. I remember a time when I told my husband about such a dream and he said very solemnly, “You’re scaring me.” It’s a sad thing to scare the people you love most. And it’s even sadder when you think about the enemy of your soul rejoicing as you do.
I never thought I’d be in this place. I never thought I would look back on my life at some of the things I’ve been through, wondering how I made it; how God kept me safe all those years I neglected to revere His Holy Name. It’s about so much more than “religion.” It’s about the best relationship you could ever hope to have. Words, spoken or typed on this computer, could never express what God can and will do in your life. If you let Him. He never pushes anyone into anything they don’t want. When I prayed with that beautiful counselor on March 12, 2009, fully intending to hit the drive-through liquor store on the way home (who put that on the same street for cryin’ out loud?) God knew the desires of my heart and rescued me from my enemy and my self. He is so good and so cool and He knows you better than you know your stubborn self. He doesn’t force you to give up things you love. He loves you until you choose to give up the things that don’t love you back.
The other side of side of my sign said: “NOW GOD’S BANNER OVER ME IS FREEDOM.”

5-Year Plan

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As I robotically meander through the kitchen with a partially-wet paper towel stuck to my barefoot, I have to reflect on how much my life has changed. Not only because I’m an ecstatically-happy married woman and mother of two, but also because of where I’ve been and what God has held my hand through. Those who knew me in the past have got to be wondering, “What’s going on with her?” And let’s be clear, “my past” was no more than 5 years ago.
I literally quit drinking a 12-pack or more a night 4 years ago this month. I was in such a horribly dark, ugly place with no one to talk to, I thought, and even worse, didn’t care so much that I didn’t have anyone. I simply didn’t care anymore. I got up, went to work, stopped off at the liquor store or my favorite gas station on the way home, gave them my cash (so my husband wouldn’t see exactly how much was disappearing from his hardearned paycheck) and made the trek home, sometimes cracking one open on the way. (It was literally a 3 minute trip home.)
I would proceed to clean house, cook, gab on the phone, even read, while drinking. I would start dinner, only to finally eat it hours later, after the 12-or 18-pack was gone.
A lot of the friends I had disappeared and I have yet to hear from them since I stopped. After all, what do you do if you don’t get together and go out to the “hottest clubs”? It’s a heart-breaking thing to lose people you truly love because you no longer participate in certain activities. I remember letting one “true friend” in, the one I thought would understand as she had been there herself, then sadly returned after counseling. She said, almost mechanically, “I had no idea that it was a problem for you.” Her almost-numb reaction surprised me but I’m a grrrreat hider! I think we all are, if you want my honest opinion. We all have things we keep tucked way down so no one, not even the people who are supposed to know us best, knows. I didn’t hear from this friend again for years and to this day we still don’t speak unless we are face to face, which isn’t often. This one act, cut me to the core and I felt so alone. I didn’t have anybody I could turn to. My parents had no idea my alcohol consumption was as bad as it was, and my husband (God bless my dear, sweet, prayin-man-of-a-husband), even though he saw what I tried so desperately to hide, feelings as well as aluminum cans, he was at a loss as well. I don’t think it was any coincidence however, that hordes of helpers didn’t show up miraculously floating on clouds to smack the cans out of my quivering hands. Be it the work of God or the enemy, it was an issue I had to tackle, not we, as a collaborative group, needed to face.
Today I pray for those who know as well as those who may not know yet what keeps them from being the individual God wants them to be.
Oh, and that paper towel? It “unstuck” itself the second I decided to lift my foot to remove it, so I had to bend over to get it.