I suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction for over a decade. It really didn’t get absolutely terrible until I turned 19. I really didn’t even identify as someone having a problem till I was 17. I just thought, I did it because it made me feel better. The first time I got blackout drunk was when I was 16. My dad had died the year before, and instead of grieving I used substances to cope. I would get so drunk that I would black out, and then I could deal with it, or so my friends told me. That I was an uncontrollable, crying mess. My bestfriend died when I was 18 and I thought it was my fault, because I had ended our relationship. A few months later he passed away due to an accident from using drugs and alcohol. I blamed myself for a very long time. I would get drunk and cry about my loved ones and feel sorry for myself. It was an awful cycle that repeated itself over and over again.
As a teenager it was all fun and games until it wasn’t. I was about 17 when I first realized I might have an issue. I don’t remember much of the night. I don’t even remember what I was doing. I snuck out all of the time as a kid, because my mom pretty much grounded me from the time I was 16 until they finally kicked me out. I don’t even remember if I was coming or going, I just remember asking myself. Why am I doing this? It’s not even fun anymore. The scary thing was, it didn’t even phase me.
One night my mom checked my room and I was gone of course. She called me and told me to come home. When I got there, they just looked at me so perplexed, and asked me, “Why are you doing this?”
I didn’t know. I couldn’t answer them. All I knew was that I couldn’t stop and it terrified me. My mom put me in treatment for the first time at 17. It was good. I finally started to feel better. I got to talk out my sad story and we looked at alot of root issues. I had my trigger list. I knew my REBT coping tool. I had some really nasty side affects from coming off all the stimulants I had been using, and quite a few from the mood stabilizers, but despite all of that, I was finally feeling better. I felt like I could stay healthy and sober. I remember thinking honestly to myself on the last week I was there, that I didn’t want to do drugs or drink. I wanted to stay sober. I was thrilled at the prospect, but I was so afraid. I had been in a safety net for over 80 days. What would going home be like for me?
Without even a second hesitation I snuck out the very first night and my friend scooped me up. I was drunk within hours of returning home. I was amazed and didn’t understand how I went from being totally wanting to be sober, to drunk in a matter of hours. My mom had enough. She kicked me out. I was staying with a much older man, until he finally had enough of my escapades. The night he kicked me out was totally demoralizing. A few weeks later I checked myself into rehab. From the time I was 16-19 I went to 4 different rehabs and several outpatient programs. At 20 I went to a sober living home. Then I was kicked out and then accepted back in.
Through all of that, I still couldn’t stay sober. When I finally decided that I needed to do what I wanted, which unfortunately was do drugs until I wanted to be done, not because everyone else wanted me to stop. You can’t get sober for anyone, but yourself. Not for your job or for your kids. Not your spouse. If you are the real deal alcoholic or addict, then nothing but a spiritual solution to a spiritual malady will get you sober.
After some harrowing experiences and some real deep soul searching. I finally came to the end of myself. All those treatment facilities and programs isn’t where it clicked for me. I got sober on someone’s couch and the crazy thing was I managed to stay sober for sometime after that. I followed direction. I worked the 12 steps. I got honest and I did whatever I could to stay sober. I was willing to do whatever it took.
I’m not knocking rehabs or anything of the sort. It just wasn’t what helped me get sober and stay sober. Really, the sobriety of any individual isn’t a building or treatment plan. It’s the person willing to do the work. Regardless, I’m thankful for each and every person from those places that tried to help me.
Sobriety was awesome. Working the steps was awful and hard at first. I was like this little kid learning how to ride a bike without handlebars. There was so much emotional work I had to do. It really sucked, but about 6 months in it really began to change my heart and life. I fell in love with life and the people around me. I loved going to my meetings. I loved helping other girls. I finally found something I rocked at that was good for me. More than anything, I fell in love with Jesus.
One of the conditions of me living with the family that took me in off the streets was that I had to go to church every Sunday. I believed in God and I really liked what I saw in my sponsor, but I had a lot of resentment and shame when it came to God. Working the 12 steps really enabled me to start building that relationship with God. The cool thing about the 12 steps, was that I could make God more approachable in my mind. I could throw out those old conceived notions of an angry and mean God and I just pictured an old wise man. Someone that I wasn’t afraid to talk too. I began to read the bible and the more I went to church the more I began to really fall head over heels for Jesus.
Surrounded by people who cared about me and loved me, I flourished. I’m so thankful for that family that took my brokenness and showed me how to live and love Jesus with whole my heart. If it wasn’t for them, I dont know where I would be today. I’d probably be dead.
I stayed sober for nearly three years, but relapsed just shy of picking up my 3 year chip. I stopped working my program. I’d like to say I got complacent, but looking back I had made an error very early in. I was a very codependent person. I had experienced so much loss and abandonment in my life I didn’t feel like I was worthy of love unless I had someone to fill the gaping whole inside of me. Instead of turning to God having him tell me my identity, I had other people in my life fill that gap. Men and my friends. Obviously, that did not work. I got married quickly and had a baby. I stopped praying and seeking God and soon I found myself worse off spiritually then I had ever been.
I contemplated suicide. Tried a few times. I was a mess. It was awful. I don’t think I had ever been in such a dark place before. Once you taste the sunlight of the Spirit and choose to walk away from it, it does really crazy things to your mind.
I spiraled for quite sometime. My husband was a God send. He chose to love me and fight for me every step of the way. He truly showed me what mercy and grace was. He never gave up on me. Not once. There are memories and years I’ll never get back and that breaks my heart. More than anything, I deeply regret all of the trouble and pain I caused my family.
I’m now going to tell you a story inside of my story of how God met me where I was and pulled me out of my self-made pit.
One evening I sat outside and my soul cried out to God. I wanted to stop I didn’t know how. I tried so many different ways. I knew the answer. I knew I needed to have a spiritual overhauling. I didn’t just need to be connected to God, I needed to want to be connected God. I began writing.
It started out about my step child and then morphed into my anger towards God and then ended with me asking him to rescue me. To reach down and throw me a rope so that I could climb out of this pit I had led myself into. I asked plainly, I prayed and asked him to be so completely obvious to me. I wanted a relationship with him.
Do you know that I trusted you?
I trusted you to take care of us.
I know that it’s our own freewill that allows us to encounter the pain that we do.
I know also that it’s the sin and evil that is in the world
But I trusted you.
I grew up believing in all that good that you did, I grew up literally feeling the love you had for us.
I grew up knowing no matter the pain and the hurt we endured, I grew up believing that you would always be there.
YOU HAVE been,
but I came to believe that, somehow foolish me, that you saw me. You saw me in my pain and You rescued me. I trusted you. Life is life, but after all I had been through, I thought somehow foolish me, that I had lost enough. That I had failed enough. Yet, when I finally met you, that was the best experience I had ever gone through. I grew so much. I was thrilled. Life finally felt like an adventure instead of a prison. I was excited. You were driving, I let you. I always got us lost, I always made the wrong turns, you led me to freedom. It was truly amazing. I finally felt all the mercy and grace I knew you had for me. I saw myself the way you saw me. No not all of the time, I’m not perfect, That’s why I have you. I had the time of my life with you in the driver’s seat. Yet, one day I stopped calling, I took the lead, I stopped seeking your truth in my life. I stopped caring if people saw you in me. I stopped caring if I was hurting them and hurting you, and hurting me. I started making decisions for myself, but not very good ones. I started free falling. I’d catch myself by pure luck most of the time, but still I couldn’t commit for very long. I’d sit, I’d pause, I’d talk and you would listen. Peace would reach me, but before you even had chance to really work in my life, in my heart, I’d fall again. I’m not very good at this. At relationships. I ball myself up and remain so closed off. It was better this way, I thought, after all that loss. I had had enough I thought.
When she got sick, I knew. I knew when they told us, I knew. This was a familiar pattern, but rememer, I trusted you, why? I’m asking why, even though I shouldn’t. That’s your business. Their business, I didn’t have a place to ask. I didn’t have a place to fit in that hand I was dealt, but I really did chose it. See all that, it could have been something, had I not stopped seeing you. I remained hopeful and faithful you would come in and save the day. I truly did. I was ready, for your miracle. I know there was one, there’s a miracle somewhere that isn’t about me, but about you, but I wanted that miracle for me, for them, for her. I wanted that miracle most of all for me though, because I’m so utterly selfish, because I trusted you, but I realize now that I really didn’t. I really haven’t. Or I’d be fully committed. I wouldn’t stop calling, I’d be there everytime I could, but I haven’t and I’m hurting. I miss you. I miss them. I miss who I was, who I wanted to be, who I could have been. Will you help me, get back to that, but most of all move forward. You will you take me on that journey again? I want you in the driver’s seat. I’m lost. I’m broken. I don’t want to bring my brokenness on them. I want it gone. I want that freedom. Will you show me how? I’m gonna be honest I’m out of ideas. I don’t want this life. This life I created, this prison I made it. Will you set me free? I know you did. 2000 years ago. You gave us Jesus. We couldn’t do it, you knew it, you gave us love, in the form of your son. You gave us a helper in the form of a spirit, all parts of you, but will you help me embrace it? I’m so selfish so broken so needy, so desperate. I am weak. You are strong, so will you help me? Please answer this time. Help me, help myself. Deliver me, help me, give me the eyes to see you at work, give me the ears to hear you at work. Help me turn my back on the darkness. Shine a light in my life. Because we need it. We so very need it. I’m asking you if you can come back? Will you receive me with joy? Will you forgive me for the hurt? For the destruction I caused? Will you help me say I’m sorry to those who need to hear it. Will you lead me?
Only two days later. My husband meets me in the bathroom he had found a tiny little speck of marajuana. What are the odds? I had been so careful of hiding all evidence of my deciet. I immediately fell into my old habits of shame and guilt. I was ready to leave and walk away from my family. They deserved better. Then as my husband turned to leave me alone in my despair. I heard God so clearly. This is what you asked me for. I have thrown you a rope and I have made it obvious. Had my husband not found that tiny little speck of weed, who knows what would have happened. I was on the verge of no return. I shared my experience with him. We had a long discussion and he gave me some advice and asked me too look at my wounds. Why did I keep turning back to my addiction? The very next morning I began a devotional I had started in the middle of my relapse, but hadn’t really begun it. The devotional was literally about how Satan will use our pain and weakness to cripple us and keep us in slavery. And the first bible verse was 1 peter 5:8, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
God was speaking so clearly to me. A few days later, I was looking through my old writings. Things I had written as a teenager. As I was reading them I began to cry. My parents were both addicts. I felt so alone and abandoned by them. Over and over again, I wrote and wondered why I was not good enough for them, why did they choose their addiction over me? I had taken their faults and labeled myself as unworthy because of it. That followed me into adulthood. I thought I had worked through it and that I had gotten over it. I had parshely. I had indeed forgiven them, but I still identified myself as shameful and dirty. Those labels that I held onto fiercely was killing me. God spoke to me then, living water fell over me and engulfed me in healing. I again heard him so clearly. He said, you are mine. I made you, you are loved and wanted. You are my child. You are not an orphan.
Satan used my addiction to keep me in bondage and slavery. My addiction is my thorn (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). My addiction is my dislocated hip (Genesis 32: 22-32). My addiction is not my end, but my beginning. It is a gift from God, to keep me weak, so that I will always turn to my God for strength. He knew me so well, he knew without it, that I would not turn to him, because I’m so prideful. This was a revelation that he gave me over the course of a few days. Each time it was so obvious to me what he was telling me, and each day it was my prayer being answered again and again. I keep praying and keep seeking him. Every day, I must call out to him. My plight is a beautiful gift in disguise. I am so very blessed. I am not cured, to remain free I must turn to Jesus, my redeemer. My goal is not to remain sober, but to continuously seek God and go deeper in my relationship with him. My addiction is a symptom of being Self-reliant instead of God-reliant. Satan is waiting in the shadows, but my God is my protector, with him I cannot fail.
God really began to work wonders of miracles and healing in my life.
Some of which I’ve already posted before, but the miracle I want to tell you about now is how God has transformed me from an Alcoholic into a fully healed and redeemed daughter of His Kingdom.
My husband and I began a marriage class given by the pastor of my new church and his wife.
As we poured over the word, I truly began to learn about who God is, what Jesus dying on the cross has done for us. The first thing I learned is that inside of every believer is two parts. Our flesh is our, guaranteed since Adam and Eve, sinful nature. The other is our soul. The part that God created. The spirit that lives inside of us is God. Our soul and our flesh are constantly at war. The helper, the spirit, given to us by Jesus is what leads us and helps us overcome our flesh. The only way we can overcome our own sin, is by knowing and loving Jesus. We actually don’t have the power over our own sin, the spirit is what helps us conquer our sin. The only true way to do that is by living out the word and having faith in Jesus. Living righteously. Which is a daily thing. Daily prayer and meditation. Daily repentance. Daily doing good and feeding your soul with the word of God.
The cool thing was, the more I learned the more I realized I was kind of already doing all of that through my 12 step program. I did daily prayer and meditation. I did daily repentance. I helped other people.
We started diving into the old testament and I realized that I had a lot of faulty ideas about Christianity and God.
Which really got me thinking about my life. I began to question every thing I knew and what I was doing. I became convicted of certain things in my life.
In the beginning everything I was learning matched up perfectly with my 12 step program. Then slowly, it began to become evident that they were very different. For instance, step two of the 12 steps, was
Came to believe in a power greater than myself that could restore me to santiy
Which for me, was no big deal. I already believed in Jesus. I had no issue there, but what about the ones that didn’t?
Looking back over my years as a 12 stepper, I have told many people, it doesn’t have to be my conception of God, but any conception. Your own conception. As long as it’s not something you can destroy you’re fine. The hope of course is that the more deeper they go in their relationship with their higher power that they’ll come to know and love Jesus, but that isn’t the case.
I was completely convicted. I was selling a story I didn’t believe in my own heart. I was telling people to believe or be willing to believe in any God they wanted and that was enough to get them to the next step. I had helped people build a foundation on a false God and that totally broke my heart. How could I be a believer and continue to do that and stay sober?
I knew that the number two things I had to do to stay sober and connected to God was being willing and honest. I wrestled with that forsometime. I loved the 12 steps. My identity was wrapped up so much in being a recovered alcoholic. In fact, my first blog post was mainly about being recovered alcoholic.
I spoke about my fears with my pastor, my husband, my friends, and my sponsor. Basically, from the 12 step side they told me I was looking at it wrong. That step two is to get them to the door and through it and that the rest was up to God. Which, is what many of my Christian 12 steppers told me and what gave them peace about the whole thing. They all have wrestled with it as well.
My pastor on the other hand, asked me if I believe that Jesus has the power to heal and transform lives. I said yes. He asked me, if I had been born again? I said yes. He said you aren’t a recovered addict. You are born again and risen from the dead from coming to believe in Jesus Christ. He said that God doesn’t see me as an addict. He said the God sees me clean and pure because of Jesus.
This rocked me to my core. I thought at first. No, he just doesn’t get it. I knew in order to stay sober I must live in the 12 steps. Without them, I will fail. I shared my fear. He gave a sermon a few weeks later that was the answer to my questions.
The bible tells me how to live righteously. The bible has the steps of becoming sanctified. The bible calls us we who were once dead in our sins, once having been born again Saints. We are called God’s holy people.
How am I holy?
I am holy by living righteously, Jesus makes me holy, by his sacrifice which enables me to live righteously. The only way to the Father is through him. Apart, from Jesus I can do nothing.
How do I live righteously?
I said it earlier.
Inside of every believer is two parts. Our flesh and our soul. Our flesh is our, guaranteed since Adam and Eve, sinful nature. The other is our soul. The part that God created. The spirit that lives inside of us is God. Our soul and our flesh are constantly at war. The helper, the spirit, given to us by Jesus is what leads us and helps us overcome our flesh. The only way we can overcome our own sin, is by knowing and loving Jesus. We actually don’t have the power over our own sin, the spirit is what helps us conquer our sin. The only true way to do that is by living out the word and having faith in Jesus. Living righteously. Which is a daily thing. Daily prayer and meditation. Daily repentance. Daily doing good and feeding your soul with the word of God.
The books of Romas makes this very clear. How had I missed it for so long?
The Word makes it very clear on how to life in the freedom of Jesus and live a righteous life.
The thing is, you have to read the Word. You have to want to be connected to God. You have to love him and want to know him. You have to obey his command. Obeying the word is more important to God than anything else!
So this was the beginning of my journey into true freedom. I came to the sad and heartbreaking realization that as a believer I couldn’t promote a program that promoted a false or unknown God. As a Christian, I could only point to Jesus. This was radical thinking and I knew it. I knew I would be met with dismay from my fellow 12steppers.
The bible is radical and so I don’t apologize for being radical. The bible is very clear. The only way to the Father is through Jesus.
When talking to my fellow 12 steppers, some tried to reason with me. The point of AA they said, was that it is all inclusive and that people of all race and all religion can partake and find freedom. That’s great, but the bible makes it very clear that the only way to true freedom and eternal life is not all inclusive in the way AA is. While, yes, Jesus is for everyone, may they find him now, but the path to the Father, is only one way and that is through Jesus.
And as the bible says,
After parting from AA I was so in fear of what my daily life would like and I honestly felt as if my identity had been stripped from me. I felt alone and terrified of a relapse. During my time in AA I thought I had found my purpose in helping other addicts to freedom. I was heartbroken at thought of losing that purpose.
Then one evening I shared my fears with myhusband, he said this is great news! I was bewildered by his response. He explained, that my identity was based in a man-made program and now I could finally find and rest in the identity given to me by God.
Not long after, one Sunday morning during worship God spoke so clearly to me. He said, you are mine. You are my daughter. A daughter of my Kingdom. Your purpose is me and to help other lost sheep to my Kingdom.
It totally wrecked me. I realized after all this time, that Jesus totally had the power to heal and transform my life. I was just going about the wrong way. I thought being a Christian meant that I went to church, read my bible, and tried not sin and tried to lead a good life, but it is so much more than that!
I am so thankful for AA, because it showed me the foundational tools on how to live a spiritual and righteous life. I would never have know that, otherwise.
The church should have been my answer to my addiction and brokenness to begin with. The church as a whole has become a lukewarm movement of saying how to live, but not actually living the Word out. The message of freedom and grace has been spun so positively and watered down that, man had to create a program to help broken people find healing. The crazy thing is, AA had the rightanswer. GOD. They just left out the most important part, Jesus. All of the 12 step work is taken straight from the bible, but unfortunately, the only way to an Eternal life and real spiritual birth is through Christ dying for us. Jesus says, apart from me you can do nothing.
Now, I know this message will offend so many people, and I apologize for that, but not for my God. My hope is that many will come to realize that true freedom can be found in the pages of the bible, and that the Christian walk is more than bible studies, church buildings, fellowship, and trying not to sin. My prayer for every man and woman is that they find the love of Christ and walk the narrow path.
If you have any questions please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org