I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.
The holiday season has me all nostalgic and lethargic at the same time. I’m exhausted. I try to slow down, but when everyone else is running at full speed, if I break pace, then I might as well drop out of the race. I’ve done that before. I’m not a fan. I was out of the game for longer than I want to think about, unable to work or do too much of anything for myself. I’m thankful for each day, but it’s very difficult to learn the speed at which I can go versus still staying in the race.
What race is it? I sit here and wonder. Am I in a competition? With who? The Joneses? I don’t even know them. Family? They typically want what’s best for me. Co-workers? Eh, I think they have their own issues. So who’s the instigator? A collective whole? Maybe. The enemy who wants to see us discouraged and feeling like failures at everything we do? Most likely. After all, there is an enemy and he doesn’t exactly want to see us happy, content, and successful. (that’s not what enemies do.)
So I find myself very reflective on what makes the holidays amazingly successful. I think back to the music, live nativity scenes, the caroling, the cheer and chill in the air, visiting relatives and laughing, running with cousins, playing games only we knew the rules to, being a part of something special, and then the gifts. Not necessarily in that order, but the gifts, who remembers the gifts? I don’t. Sure, there are a few. But if it were all about stuff, wouldn’t we recall more than a few? That feeling of contentment that went deeper than a full belly after a meal shared with family was a much better gift than any truck or stereo or teddy bear.
Are the traditions that began so long ago still traditions if not carried on through us? What is important this season? Hot chocolate and time spent comes to mind. Not mowing people down and throwing elbows to get to the latest toy craze. (No, I don’t know where you can find a Hatchimal.) I say JOY instead of fatigue this year! Cheers (it’s coffee) to getting your rest and focusing on what’s truly important this year—let’s not run ourselves ragged so that our kids only remember how grouchy the holidays made us.
So on the days that we don’t float 12” off the ground on our “Holy Spirit high,” how do we cope? How do we deal with the voice in our head that tells us He’s not Who He said He was and we’re not who He says we are? We’re not constantly and consciously reminded of our worth in our everyday lives unless we work at it. The grocery store cashier doesn’t tell us we are pure and lovely and good. The guy in the car next to us doesn’t have us roll down our window to say, “Hey! You’re a child of the Most High God!” Angels don’t wake us up with the fluttering of their wings. Our aches, bruises, and twinges are still there. So what do we do when we don’t feel like God is right there with us?
What if I said it’s not about feeling? Right here on this page you’re reading, I say: It’s not about feelings at all. It’s fact. He’s there. Always is, always will be.
You may have heard or read that He doesn’t move we do. I would venture to say more often than not, we don’t move at all. We sit stagnant, waiting for God to come to where we are. Now don’t misunderstand, God is always there and He’ll meet us where we’re at…all we have to do is ask. But 1.) we ain’t askin’! 2.) we ain’t goin’ anywhere! (Forgive the southern roots and “grammar” but sometimes it’s necessary to get a point across.) God says ask and we shall receive. We have not because we ask not. (See? Even God says we ain’t askin’!) I think many times we’re afraid we won’t get it. THEN where does that leave us? With an unresponsive God? I don’t think so. I think we get discouraged and do our own thing if it’s not in the allotted time frame. Secondly, we’re called to seek God. Does that mean He hides at times? Yup. At least that’s what I believe. If He was always right out there in the open, why would He ask us to look for Him? Seek and ye shall find. It’s not about us feeling Him, it’s about knowing Him…knowing Him well enough to know that we get closer to Him when we move in His direction. Seems silly, huh? That it takes so long to figure out in order to get closer, we have to move toward it?
You didn’t win again. You are not victorious. It’s bigger than you. All you have to do is look around at what others can do and realize you certainly can’t do that. You create confusion, which admittedly you are pretty good at. That’s the only compliment you’re going to get. You can’t do it. It’s too much for you. Here I stand, staring you down. Remember the look in these eyes because it’s the determination of the Most High God Himself. He lives in me and makes me invincible like the very best kind of superhero. Every victory on His side is a failure on yours. I am forever in His debt and you are forever under His thumb. I am no longer scared of what you do and I won’t be discouraged. I am stronger. I’m stronger than you. Stronger than yesterday and I’ll be even stronger tomorrow than I am today. So look out devil. It’s on. You lose. We win. A toddler can understand that. You lose. We win. I laugh at your attempts to show your “power.” I will no longer cry because I feel overwhelmed. I will laugh as you struggle to come up with some new plan. One that will inevitably fail. You will always fail. But don’t give up trying. It only shows just how much bigger and stronger my Father is in each of your failed attempts. I will shout “Victory!” and “Hallelujah!” and “Praise God Almighty!” for all He has done through me and to you. Take your place and get comfy there under my sole, enemy of my soul, because that’s where you’ll stay from here on out.
A role model. That’s what I heard. I heard this when asking God what in the world He wanted me to be when I grew up. A role model. Me? I didn’t see it. As someone who was compelled to head to the gas station/liquor store and buy a 12-pack every night, then proceed to drink that 12-pack…every night, smoking a pack or 2 to boot, I just wasn’t seeing how my life would be a role-model-y one. Not in a “Follow-me! I’m-a-leader!”-kinda way, a financial-kinda way (I spent approximately $60–tax not included–each week on my addictions) or a moral compass-kinda way either. I was depressed, discouraged, distressed and downtrodden. (And perhaps another d-word I can’t think of right now.)
I remember just shaking my head and practically rolling my eyes upward, muttering something along the lines of “Yeah right” in typical Eeyore-fashion. My life meant nothing to me at that point. I truly didn’t care if I lived or died. I remember waking up, laying in bed, and thinking, “Maybe this is the day it ends.” I didn’t necessarily want to die, but I sure didn’t care much if I lived at all. I needed someone desperately. I needed someone to notice the torture my mind went through, the sheer agony of not caring, the element of feeling so hopeless and so worthless that you could see your car driving off a cliff and then, cut to you: simply sitting there, not screaming, not upset, just staring off in the distance, on the way down.
Even now, as I type a fraction of my story, I feel those same feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, dread of a new day of nothing new at all, depression, and anxiety.
Then, just like that (snap your fingers here for effect), God set me free. He was the someone who cared. He was the someone who noticed my torturous days. He loved me even though I didn’t love myself, or maybe especially because I didn’t. He was the voice at the bottom of that beer can that said, “You don’t have to do this.” I don’t? I would think. But I like it! (I believe this is the part where God rolled His eyes at me.)
My life and my mind began to change when I started to face the truth. I, in fact, didn’t like it. I hated being a slave to a beverage and tobacco and I surely didn’t benefit from the junk it brought along with it. Contrary to popular belief, alcohol doesn’t fix anything! Who knew?
It was March 12, 2009 when I met with a Christian counselor, fully intending to hit the drive-through liquor store on the way home. It was on the same road as her office. How convenient! After our session, I’d sit on the back porch, working my way through my drinking issue and a 12-pack at the same time. (I’ve always been a multi-tasker.) After all, people didn’t just STOP drinking miraculously, did they? No! It required time and effort on their part and I’d get there. I just needed to think about it some more.
How many of you can agree with me when I say that God ALWAYS has a better plan? That night, the woman of God and I prayed. I can’t even tell you that my heart was totally in it, so it wasn’t because I believed really hard or wished with all my might. My depressed mind kept me from any of that. I held her hand and felt the tears well up, I willed them to stay right where they were, firmly pressed down. But they wouldn’t. And it was with those tears, that God saw my true heart, before I did. I am ecstatic to tell you that I haven’t touched alcohol since, and laid the nicotine habit down in June of that same year. God is so good that words cannot possibly describe…but I can sure try.
Today I pray for each and every person who struggles with addiction in any way and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that all they have to do is pray to the God Who created them and the truth shall set them free.