It’s been almost exactly a year since I broadcasted one of my potentially most shameful and embarrassing struggles to you. This past year has gone so much differently than I would have originally hoped. I thought I would be celebrating a year of sobriety this month. But I’m not. I have about a month and a half of clean time. I thought by now my struggles with alcohol, pills, and men would be old news; but turns out I made a lot of poor choices when I finally admitted I had a problem. It’s almost as if I finally gave myself permission to not hold back from anything. I went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I couldn’t decide if sobriety was something I truly wanted to pursue. Sometimes it just didn’t seem worth it. Sometimes I convinced myself that I didn’t even have a problem, and I had blown everything out of proportion. (I’ve learned that those thoughts are my addiction speaking quite loudly.) Sometimes all I wanted to be able to do was drink a glass of wine like a normal person. But I know for me, that isn’t an option.
So would it surprise you to hear me say that I’m happy with where I am at today? No, I’m not where I expected I would be, but I’m now in a far better place. See, sometimes it takes breaking multiple times…finding multiple bottoms, before you become sick of the floor. I have learned invaluable lessons about myself- but more importantly, about the grace and sovereignty of God. I’m thankful for every relapse I’ve had, because each time I found a new bottom, I was met with the Spirit telling me to dust myself off and rise again. In the past month, I have come to hold Romans 8:12-13 so close to my heart- “Therefore dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. for if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.”
No title like “Addict” or “Alcoholic” holds more power than the Word of God. In Him, I don’t have to give into my overwhelming desires. Because if you keep reading in Romans 8, you will come to verses 29-30. “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, He called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them His glory.”
Jesus knew I was going to be an alcoholic, yet He chose me and brought me into His glory- flawless before Him. WOAH. Seriously. Go back and read that again, but this time replace the word “them” with your name, and take your biggest struggle before God as you do this. It’s life changing, I tell you!! As I have come to understand my freedom in Christ, the Lord continues to reveal new truths and revelations on my heart. So can I share a couple with you right now?
The first one comes from the book of John chapter 18. This chapter is all about Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. He was in the garden praying, leading up to verses 4-8. Jesus’ words will be in bold.
“Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. ‘Who are you looking for?’ he asked. ‘Jesus the Nazarene’ they replied. ‘I AM he.’ Jesus said. Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. As Jesus said “I AM he’ they all drew back and fell to the ground! Once more he asked them, ‘Who are you looking for?’ And again they replied, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ ‘I told you I AM he’ Jesus said. ‘And since I am the one you want, let the others go.’“
Jesus knew the humiliation and torture he was about to encounter, yet he boldly approached pain. He didn’t cower. He didn’t avoid it or run from it. He stepped forward to meet it, trusting that God’s strength and sovereignty would carry him through. How often do we run from pain…even if we know it might be what God is calling us to? We need to pursue Christ in both the painful and restful times. Whatever pain would look like in your life-is it worth running away from the perfect plan God has for your life? Be bold, be brave. Step forward.
The second tidbit I’m going to share is that preparation takes work. Common sense, right? In January the Lord made it clear that this would be a year of preparation for me. It’s been my mantra, to a degree. I have two jobs and a living situation that is really teaching me so much about living life well. I’m gleaning so much insight and truth from these situations already, and I’m about to start training for a new volunteer opportunity that is going to help prepare me for future career endeavors, as well. God has been filling my life with so many opportunities. I sat back, kicked up my legs, and said, “Alright God, these things are a great, let’s see how you prepare me! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!” Yes- I told Him that. But in the past two weeks, there has been a quiet stirring in my soul. Actually, more like a nagging, and it was becoming more and more uncomfortable. If I am going to experience all of the preparation the Lord has for me- in my life, my body, my mind, and my heart- then it starts on my knees with my Bible wide open. It starts by me pouring into Scripture and meditating on God’s words, going to Him about my deepest desires, my greatest struggles, and so importantly, with a heart of gratitude. I find it so easy to disregard prayer, put it off, shove it in a corner, or tell God I’ll talk to him later. I make prayer out to be a chore. But as I’m reading an old book called “Releasing God’s Power” there is a quote in there that says, “Prayerlessness is a sin.” Well that slapped me in the face. But it’s true. How do I expect God to prepare me into the woman I need to be if I’m not dedicating my time to knowing Him better? If you want to grow, get on your knees. I want to be still in God’s presence, waiting patiently, and with confidence and hope in all that He promises. I want my prayers to echo into Heaven, I want my Bible to be worn. I want to pursue a new lifestyle- one that starts and ends on my knees, because I know that’s the only way I will stand at all.
As God continues to speak to me, I’ll share it with you, If you’ll let me. I walk confidently today because I know I’m far from who I was a year ago, and the Lord certainly isn’t finished with me now. Am I done fighting my battles? Absolutely not. It takes daily surrender to Christ…but isn’t that what this life is all about anyway?