Sometimes it’s almost unfortunate that our Creator has endowed us with this thing called “free will.”Free will has gotten me into a lot of jams.
God, if you knew me, you totally wouldn’t trust me to me.
You know, the will that keeps telling you that you don’t have a disease called addiction.
That you can stop anytime you want.
That you have a plan and it looks like doing what you’ve always done.
But if nothing changes, nothing changes.
Recovery in real time doesn’t look like a baby-steppable feat, but a free fall. Every single day, I surrender my will to my Father’s, because I know he only has my best interest at heart.
Every single day, I don’t drink today. No matter what happens, I don’t have to take a drink on this very day.
And tomorrow, I will wake up and surrender my free will again, just for tomorrow.
Bite-sized pieces, you see. Bite off enough recovery today to nourish yourself today. Then free fall into the love of a very real Father.
So often we try to do the opposite. Bite off more than we can chew by declaring we can never, ever drink again and poor pitiful us! And we chase it with ‘babystepping’ just to make it through the day.
This is not the life your Father desires for you!
You don’t fail God when you fail, dear one! That’s an old trick of the enemy. He wants you to feel like a failure. Don’t give that rat bastard the pleasure.
Instead, surround yourself with other people whose free wills are also prone to malfunction. Find as many as you can and watch what they do to just NOT drink. Take what you need and leave the rest, as they say in the Rooms.
Here’s the thing – God totally does know you. He isn’t tolerating you and your janky free will. He is madly and passionately in love with you, in all of your jankyness. He gave us free will so that when we choose to receive His love, it comes from us mind, body, and soul.
Be still and trust in His perfect will for you….
That He has only your best interest at heart.
That He knows you intimately and loves the bejeebers out of you JUST AS YOU ARE.
That He has the most amazing adventures for you to enjoy, and to enjoy SOBER so that you can be mindful of the miracles as they unfold.
If you can’t be still and know that He is God, be mad that He is God. Let Him know that you relinquish trying to push Him out of a job, and if you can manage it, surrender your will to Him.
You’ve got this, daughter of the Most High, because He has YOU.
I woke up in a panic today. Sick and tired, and tired of being sick. I have basically been ill since I had shoulder surgery 3 1/2 months ago, and I’m so over it. Feeling like crap for nearly 4 months straight would depress dang near anybody.
I’m really fighting the emotional funk, and I know I’m not alone – so I’m posting my prayer here. I know several of my friends are fighting (or have fought) the same funk. Depression and anxiety are real bugaboos, even for believers. I’m so tired of the stigma that gets perpetuated in churches. Jesus People should be the LEAST stigmatizing, for crying out loud. (No, really, I have cried out loud a few times this week.) Being of good cheer seems out of the question. Getting dressed today might be doable.
Every day in February, I have declared that THIS is the day I shall get it TOGETHER already! Mind over matter, right? (Wrong.)
I tell myself that TODAY, I shall work on taxes, get caught up on seminary, write another chapter for the book (AND get busy on some other projects) and lose 10 lbs and basically be a better version of me – the me in her PJs 24/7 this week, the me bingeing on Munchos. The me that feels so weak, she can hardly sit upright for more than 30 minutes.
Everything seems to be beyond my control right now, and I need Your comfort. I am asking for more faith, which comes from You. Help me with that, please.
There’s a scripture for that….
Your Grace is sufficient, I seem to recall. Praise Jesus for that sweet, amazing GRACE!
In your Word, you tell me that radical weakness is not a character flaw, but an opportunity for You to really bring home the razzle dazzle. You know how you do. Paul said it best:
“…Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (MSG)
Let me preface this piece by saying that I’m going through a bit of a depression. And yes, I know that depression is “not of God” and that if I had mustard seed-sized faith, I could declare to this mountain MOVE, and verily I say unto thee, it shall be done as it is written.
But I’m kind of a regular Joe, who navigates the terrain in fits and starts, wholeheartedly loving my Jesus, but not always making the grade.
So this morning, I found myself in the ice cream aisle of our local grocery store, crying, and in doing so, made the stock boy feel kind of awkward. I’m sure I’m not the first menopausal lady to cry in the ice cream aisle but who knows. At least I’m not crying in the liquor store, which is – in all honesty – where I’d end up in days of yore. I’m 15 years into sobriety from alcohol, praise Jesus. I’ve cried in liquor stores many times.
I came home and put my ice cream(s) in the freezer, and sat down on the hardwood floor because my energy was gone right that very minute and I had no auxiliary source in which to plug. I’m kind of slow-burn crying, and my amazing and very codependent tuxedo cat, Catsby, threw all 20 pounds of himself against me in purry solidarity. Oh my God, I love that little guy.
“Ugh,” I told God. “I’m so tired of being SAD. Why won’t you just come pluck me out of this Sad?”
And then God – who was sitting on the floor with Catsby and I, his arms around me – gave me the craziest vision. I feel I should make the distinction right now that my depression is rather garden variety, and not psychotic, and my the vision was not an apparition. I don’t hear audible voices. It is more like a vivid and comforting thought visual. But whatever, I’ll take communication from God any way I can get it.
And it looked like this:
I’m sitting in the forest, wearing climbing gear. All around me are beautiful mountainous peaks and lush valleys, and I have NO IDEA where I am. None. I’ve gone missing in perilous terrain and I radio for help. A chopper appears from nowhere, lowers a rope, and whisks me away from all danger. I am plopped into familiar territory and the helicopter leaves, having done it’s job. And I’m alone.
In an instant, I understood what Abba was trying to tell me.
Do I want a God who will be my Genie in a bottle and pluck me out of every precarious situation, and then be on His merry way? (Although that sounds good sometimes, it’s not the deity I crave.)
I felt Abba say, “How deep would our relationship be, if I were only ever your rescue party?” In my mind’s eye, I imagine Him sitting with me and my big fat cat, and in my imaginings, God is also wearing climbing gear.
That’s the thing. (Warning: Cornball mountain / valley analogy ahead:)
Our Father longs to hike the tough peaks and deep valleys alongside us. That’s where the relationship grows. When we don’t have the strength to command the mountains to move, Jesus treks with us. He knows the way out, He has all the right tools and equipment, and most of all, He has a passionate love for me that will not allow Him to leave me behind.
Valleys are depressions in rock formations. Depressions. He could easily pluck me from the midst of my circumstance, and sometimes He does. But other times, He is my mountain guide, walking with me every step, talking with me, laughing and joking, picking flowers, climbing seemingly insurmountable peaks. He is my Spotter, my Safety Net, the Director of my Steps. He holds on to me and refuses to let go. He CARES about the little stuff along the journey. We are BONDED, man. We have a bond. It’s deep and rich and personal.
A bond we would never have if I only depended on him to pluck me from danger and depression every time I asked. It’s such a comfort to know that He will never leave me behind!
I kept sitting on the floor with my cat and my God. I sat til I stopped crying (for now.) Catsby got up and stretched, and so did I. And I thought I’d better write this down before I forget it. So here it is, I’m sharing it with you in the hopes that your Sad might be lessened if you’re reminded that Jesus treks with you, too. It’s not instant wisdom or bottled Genie wish-granting, but reassurance that you aren’t climbing alone and you were never meant to.
Today, I’m still sad, but that’s okay. Everything isn’t coming up sunshine and rainbows and unicorn farts because I have the best mountain guide ever. It just doesn’t work that way. And I’m pretty sure Jesus GETS that.
I’m still going to eat my ice cream to make myself feel better, and that’s okay too. I’ll share it with Jesus, if he wants. I don’t have any Mustard Seed flavored ice cream, but I do have Belgian chocolate, and that’s got to count for something.
He will be sitting right next to me just like always, in this perilous terrain. I’m never alone.
This morning, I came across this on Facebook this morning, and I just HAD to share.
Please forgive me for climbing atop my Mental Illness Soapbox, but I feel really strongly about this.
Christians, please stop shaming people for taking medicine for mental illnesses.
Oh how I wish more believers understood THIS SUBJECT. If you have a minute, click the link below and read the comic that pretty much sums up the experience. And share it. Share it lots with as many Christian friends as you know.
In my periods of depression and anxiety, I have been told that it wasn’t ‘going away’ because I wasn’t ‘letting God have it,’ or that I didn’t believe ‘hard enough.’ Look, I’m all about some supernatural deliverance and totally believe in it. I’ve experienced it several time in my life.
HOWEVER, sometimes God allows us to experience things for reasons He doesn’t explain to me, and you know what? I accept whatever He wills in His time.
It doesn’t help my anxiety to feel guilty for feeling anxious.
I can ASSURE you that nobody “holds on” to depression and anxiety.
And no, I have NO shame about suffering depression and anxiety. Jesus may still be allowing me to do battle with it on occasion, but I am completely FREE of the shame that too often accompanies a legitimate illness.
It is 2,000 times worse to pray for someone in depression and then spiritually guilt them for not immediately getting better than it is to not pray at all for that person. That’s kicking a dog when she is down, and not at all the Christ-like thing to do. Ditto medication, which helps people with brain chemistry deficits or disorders have the chance to experience life as you do with your ‘normal’ brain.
Thank GOD that medicines are available.
Sometimes depression is chemical. Sometimes its situational, but no matter WHAT, God doesn’t hold it against me if I don’t snap out of it. He walks with me THROUGH it, every single time. I wish I could say the same for some of His followers.
There isn’t a pill yet to help people stop judging others so harshly. If there were, I doubt the haters would ingest it.
Saint Paul had a ‘thorn’ to carry all his life and managed to minister to others like nobody else in history. I think we can all do WAY better to minister to the modern-day thorn-carriers. There are so many of us.
I’ve been watching a lot of Anthony Bourdain shows during my recovery from surgery. For those of you unfamiliar with “No Reservations” (his finest show, in my opinion) Bourdain trots about the globe in search of both culinary and cultural discoveries. He often visits rural pockets of Asia, where people live in jungles that stay wet for months at a time.
He and his film crew will be chugging along in the bright sunshine of Pasay City in the Philippines, and BAM! Torrential rains come out of nowhere. It will rain for the duration of their entire shoot. And everyone who lives there, films there, and visits there concurs with Anthony Bourdain’s ironically dry narration that “It is now the Rainy Season here.”
That’s it. Queue The Rainy Season.
Everyone on film is totally resigned to the fact that it is now officially rainy season. It wasn’t five minutes ago, but now it is. So deal with it. It isn’t going away until The aptly-named Dry Season. Suck it up and learn to survive wet ankles.
Nobody tries to argue with The Rainy Season. It is what it is and there is no negotiating with it. It reminds me so much of depression. When the conditions are just right, it is sudden and debilitating.
I am an individual on mild antidepressants, and sometimes those antidepressants hold the tears at bay. Even times that I WANT to cry, I often cannot. But when I start? Torrential tears. I get the sadness everywhere, between my bones and cartilage. Between my toes.
There are perfectly legitimate reasons that I am feeling depressed.
My body is recovering from the dual surgical insult of general anesthesia and 500 stitches. Major surgery. I hurt, inside and out.
I stay tired.But there are things to be done all around me that I cannot do quite yet, and that’s frustrating.
And worse, someone I love very much hurt my feelings to such a degree that I it crushed the little corner of my spirit blanky where I first look for solace, the silkiest edge. Stomped on. It’s been a long time since someone has hurt me so much, and that’s not by accident. I will build a boundary quicker than you can say “Aw HELL no.” I’ve had to learn how to do that to survive. But this was someone with whom I have no natural defense and didn’t ever for-see having to build one against
But then there many, many other hope-stealing soul sucks that aren’t helping at all.
The world is a mess. I’m tired of hearing about aborted babies and their brokerage, tired of having everyone’s sexuality shoved down my throat (Ok, we GET it now, move on with your life, whatever that life looks like!) I’m tired of being made to feel less-than by women’s magazines. I’m tired of the Emperor’s New Clothes atmosphere surrounding this presidential administration. I’m tired of hearing about mothers leaving babies in hot cars. I’m tired of addicts and alcoholics being stigmatized and dying of their legitimate, treatable diseases. I’m tired of pretending that Christians don’t get depressed.
Yeah, I’m really tired of that one.
Oh, and menopause. ‘Nuff said on that one.
I’m just so tired. Overwhelmed.
I guess I should become resigned to the fact that it is now officially The Rainy Season. It wasn’t “five minutes ago” but now it is. So deal with it, Jana. It isn’t going away until The aptly-named Dry Season. Suck it up and learn to survive wet ankles.
I’m writing about this bout with The Rainy Season because I refuse to deny it’s fury. Giving voice to The Sad keeps it from taking over. I will not allow it to be a silent coup. Identify your enemy, profile the ever-loving shit out of it. You cannot fight an enemy you deny exists.
Talking about depression hastens the arrival of The Dry Season – a place of sun, and sane happiness, and making the best of things, and NOT crying 24/7, just a little earlier. Best of all, talking about my depression hastens the arrival of the spiritually nutrient-rich LAUGHTER sooner.
I also know that I’m not alone in experiencing this. Depression is a bitch, and not a ‘resting face’ bitch – a true vixen of vexing viciousness. Depression isn’t just kicking a dog when it’s down, it’s kicking a whole litter of dogs when they are down, and making sure they fall off a very steep cliff and into a briar patch. Or at last that is how fatalistic and hopeless my own personal depression bitch is.
I woke up a couple of times during the night last night to pee, and ended up crying. Couldn’t even get up to pee without crying! I cried waking up this morning, and decided that being awake was too sad and I needed more sleep.
Then I had bad dreams. More crying.
I love to laugh so very much. I absolutely love to laugh, even at the really frustrating things. I’m radically silly.
But I can’t seem to muster that right now.
Depression is SUCH the Drama Queen! It tells you that you will never muster laughter again. It’s all too hopeless. But that’s a lie. Call it OUT as a lie.
This season too shall pass and I will be the happy, silly, hope-filled person I am at my core. And I know that my God has not forsaken me, nor will He ever.
But He does allow my ankles to get pretty wet in The Rainy Season.
Which is, after all, still just a season. And seasons pass.
Until then, I will crawl up in God’s lap and cry already. Cry because I’m sad. And because it’s not FAIR! And because I’m so tired. There is no shame in crying to Daddy. He cares and He listens, and He soothes.
I’ll try to focus on all the things I am grateful for, which are more than I can count. Oh the loving people God has put directly on my path, how I adore them! I’m so blessed, I know. My sphere includes people with whom I can ‘be real’ and they just love me any way. Go figure. They are weird that way.
Oh, and I will re-read for the 100th time Allie Brosh’s “Hyperbole and a Half” – a colorful graphic novel that manages to address depression in the most colorful, poignant, honest and hopeful way possible. I highly recommend it. It is not a “Christian book” but a very, very funny and relate-able one.
(Here is one of the graphics, which I think I might blow up poster-sized and hang on my bathroom mirror…)
And I will keep the faith.
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.
Because moods and feelings come and go, but faith is eternal and eternally only good.
A long time ago, when I was just a new human being, I decided that I wanted to go places. As I grew, I came to realize that I could not merely transport myself to that place called Destiny; I would need a vehicle.
I made up my mind that I would take the fastest route there. It would need to be sleek, and “smart” enough to get me around in unfamiliar places. I needed it to know where I was going, since I had no clue.
Fast modes of transportation are fun for a while, aren’t they? “Wheeee! I’m headed for Happy and nobody is going to stop me!”
The vehicle I chose was alcohol, and the disease it led to was addiction. For many years, alcohol fueled the fast rattle-trap that took me everywhere, and oiled all the bothersome squeaky parts.
It never really took me to Happy, of course, although I saw tons of directional signs claiming I was getting close. It always started off in the right general direction, promising to get me where I needed to go. But it lost its way every single day. Sometimes it took me to places that could pass for Happy, if you squinted really hard and were in pretty deep denial. Sometimes it got me worse than lost, landing me in neighborhoods of darkness and despair. It even tried to kill me a few times. Every night as I lay my head down to sleep (or black out), I swore I would never ride in that vehicle again. Never. Never. Never.
Still, every new morning, I stepped into the same means of transport, chiding it to take me to Happy, and to remember the way this time.
“My destiny awaits!” I would tell it, every single day. But it couldn’t hear me over the bravado of it’s own engine.
I was so cocky in my disease, so confident that I was calling the shots. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The transportation I stepped into every day by choice was addiction. And every day, for many years, alcohol fueled that fast, rattle-trap, and oiled all the bothersome squeaky parts.
If you choose not to disembark from your addiction, you will miss all of the amazing sights. And that’s tragic, because the scenery is breathtaking. The things you do manage see in addiction, you will not remember.
If you choose not to disembark, accept that your vehicle only seats one. It’s a lonely mode of transportation. You will crush many under your wheels while you self-destruct, but you will sit by yourself in active disease.
If you choose not to disembark, you will continue to delude yourself that you – and your addiction – know The Way. “Wheee! I’m headed for destruction and nobody can stop me!”
Essentially, isn’t that what we do?
Nobody could stop me from drinking.
Except me.Backed by the power of God Himself.
Nobody can stop you from using, except you. Backed by the most Powerful Force in the Universe and His mighty angels, the gates of Hell itself cannot prevail against your recovery.
You have the power to get out of that vehicle. There is a handle on the door. You might have to feel around for it. You might mash a few buttons or pull a couple of levers accidentally. That’s okay. AH, there is, the handle! I know it feels as if you aren’t powerful enough to pull it, but I promise you that you are. Don’t worry about what will happen when you open the door to step out. The future is nothing to fear.
Is life not slowing down enough for you to step out? Open the door and jump out. It will be the first of many incredible, supernatural feats of faith you will employ. The Father will catch you!
By choosing Holy Spirit to take me where I need to go and surrounding myself with others who want to arrive at Happy, I am loving the journey.
The drinking and using life will never get you to your Destiny, only to Destruction. You can only squint so hard to confuse the two destinations. God is okay with the rattles and squeaks in our spirits. He isn’t bothered by them in the least. He is not impressed with sleekness, nor with getting there the fastest.
My first mistake was in choosing that particular vehicle in the first place.
My next mistake was choosing to get into it every day, expecting it to take me to a different place. (And that, folks, is the very definition of insanity.)
I had to kick around a few tires before I chose my new transportation. That’s okay, too. There is a huge learning curve to this Recovering Life. It isn’t about arriving at your destination all in one piece, but experiencing the journey in One Peace.
In recovery, you are a new human being again, with places to go, people to see, things to do. Don’t even entertain thoughts of your old ways and means. They literally took you nowhere but down. They have no part of getting you to Happy.
Daily ask God to direct you in all that you do.
Daily take the time to stretch your traveler’s legs.
Gather with others, who – like you – are on the way to Happy. And don’t forget to enjoy the views.
You are only as sick as your secrets.
We’ve all heard the platitude.
Yet buried deep inside each of us are two compartments…the one we hesitantly dust off and open up when we get into recovery – full of skeletons – but none so shameful as to mark us for life; and those that we bury just beneath the surface of the last dig. It’s this cache that is the most dangerous – it’s a trap door. We will keep falling into it until we rip the lid from it and explore what is underneath. Like an archeologist frightened by a supposed curse of the tomb, we just don’t go “there.”
What if we unleash the curse?
But what if the curse is in the “not going there?”
What if we are marking ourselves for life by keeping sick secrets? What if opening up our crypts brings fresh air to heal the curse?
What if healing the curse helps others to heal?
I very rarely re-blog here at The Beggar’s Bakery. But my friend and fellow writer Karen Perry just inspires the crypt-keeper in me, and this particular piece spoke to my spirit.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse myself, I applaud her candid transparency. I wrote about the subject on my own blog a while back (“Daddy’s Girls – the Healing”) but I am still actually doing a lot of healing. And a lot of trying to bury the site of excavation. I’m not proud of that, but it’s a process.
In my travels giving my testimony, I am astounded at the sheer number of women who have experienced this horror. Night terrors, anxiety, depression, substance abuse … can all be rooted in this abuse. It is a VERY BIG DEAL, it shapes who you are.