Author: Brittany

When Our Past is Used as a Weapon.

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Our past.
This is a huge part of  our story.

For some of us, our past is not pretty.
Maybe we have caused a lot of pain.
Maybe we have experienced trauma, and hurt.
Many of us have made a lot of mistakes and we have hurt people in the process.

Although our past might be a dark place, it is a place that we have learned to appreciate.
I really don’t like the saying that our past is ‘just a story’. It is a very, very, real place.

Not only does it play a role in who we are now, our experiences allow us to develop wisdom; our past tells a story, and it can teach us important lessons.

But sometimes it will be used as a weapon.
Here are a two examples:

We can use it to beat ourselves up.
Sometimes we use our past as an excuse.
Maybe we will start to remind ourselves why we should quit by using our past choices as an example of why we don’t deserve to live a healthy life.
So often we vow to never allow ourselves to forget the mistakes that we have made.
We punish ourselves. We beat ourselves up.

Other people might try to use it to beat us up.
Oh’ this. It angers me just typing about it. Definitively one of the biggest frustrations of my own Recovery. I know that all people who have struggled with addiction who are living a sober life have experienced this to some extent. It can feel like people keep a list handy of every single thing that we have ever done to them or anyone else. Our mistakes have been inventoried and are readily available to use at the disposal of people who don’t mind using this as a weapon.

 

 

 

Here are a few things that I try to remind myself of if my past is being used to torture me: 

1.) Hurt people hurt people. Hurt people need time to heal, and just like we are healing, the people in our lives are healing too.

2.)  The only thing that really matters is what you believe about yourself. Keep reminding yourself of this truth.

3.) Don’t let this anger you into slipping up. It was a huge trigger for me and had the power to send my mind spiraling out of control. It is not the end of the world if someone still thinks you are a piece of sh*t.

4.)  If you are having a disagreement with someone try to leave the room if things get too emotional. Nothing good happens when it turns into a fight and anger is involved. People say things that they don’t necessarily mean, and recovery is not the place for drama.

If you are a loved one of someone in recovery, who is tempted to use the past as a weapon: 

1.)  Remind yourself that life is complicated and people mess up. They are trying their best to make changes in their life. Throwing these things in their face really only makes them feel terrible, and in turn, makes them want to use or not feel because it hurts so badly to hear how badly they hurt you.

2.) If you are on board, be on board. If you are not willing to learn how to communicate in a healthy way, you should respectfully excuse yourself from their life. Recovery is hard. Don’t make it harder on purpose.

3.) Learn things.
There are meetings for family members. You can talk and vent and learn with other people who know exactly how you feel and you can share your frustrations freely there with them. You are not alone in feeling hurt, or manipulated, or taken advantage of. Your feelings matter too and you deserve to heal and grow just as much as they do.

4.) Don’t fight dirty. If you are in a disagreement or a heated argument with your loved one, leave the room. Take some time to simmer down and regroup. Progress won’t if you talk when you are angry anyway. This way you can try to avoid saying all of the things that you are thinking. 🙂

Remember, healing takes time for everyone involved.
Each person will have their own timeline when it comes to mending emotionally.
Take your time, and play nice.

 

 

 

I Made A Fear(Filled) Moral Inventory

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Most of the time, a life that includes an addiction, also includes a lot of hurt.
Hurting and destroying ourselves, and hurting other people, and buried, ancient hurt we carry.

The guilt and shame that I covered up for so long got to be overwhelming. I cannot express with words the depth of my sorrow that I felt for all of the people who I had hurt. And when I got sober, thinking about all was all I did. My early sober days were spent feeling worthless, ashamed, & embarrassed. It became another cycle that I felt like I couldn’t run fast enough away from.

Eventually I did make it to the part of my program where I was supposed to create an inventory. Taking stock of what or who I had become, and how, and essentially ripping the rest of my heart out and smacking it down onto a piece of paper.

My experience with this step was a game changer, although I didn’t expect it to be a big deal. I was reluctant to participate, and I stalled and procrastinated, but eventually I did it. I searched. I dug around myself inside of my head, my heart, and my deteriorated, spotty, memory bank.

And then I wrote it ALL down.
All of the defects.
Who I felt like I had really become.
Everything I had done to hurt other people.
All of my secrets.
Why I felt like I needed to love people who couldn’t love me back.

Totally exposed.
Vulnerable.
Emotionally naked.

All of my ‘me’, put down on a piece of paper and I could hardly look at all of it.

When I read it was just a whisper.
I said it all out-loud, quietly to the Lord, with tears streaming down to the end of my nose, falling onto my paper.

I was afraid. Terrified. But I knew that I had to get it out.

It was me saying “Look, Lord this is me. Brittany. I know you don’t know me, but I am about to open up this part of me to you. This is all of the TRUTH. My truth. I am ashamed of every piece in here. Please. I need you to look at me. Please accept me. Please take this. All of it, and please, forgive me.”

I cannot live with it any more.

And my world didn’t explode. I didn’t die of embarrassment like I had imagined. However, everything also felt like it was the same; nothing was immediately different or noticeably changed for the better.

But…the one immediate thing that changed that day is that I learned that I could be brave, that I could do hard things that I feared.

I could make good choices, choices like being bold and honest with myself. I felt the power of what being honest meant to my life and I felt closer to God. A God I still didn’t really know, but who I could sense was near to me and for some reason didn’t run toward the nearest exit when I began divulging my ugly truths.

My soul had been exposed and I was not discarded. The dark parts of me now were pushed out into the light and somehow I knew it was okay to move forward. I knew that it was okay to allow healing to begin. I was accepted.

There was a time that my secrets made me feel supremely guilty and shameful from the time I woke up in the morning until the time I crashed the next time. There was a reason that I couldn’t stay sober for very long. My slate had been wiped clean, I felt instantaneous relief.

After accepting God’s forgiveness, I knew that if I didn’t get anyone else’s, I would be okay. I knew that I was valued and deserved another chance. I was not by any stretch healed, but step four helped me to see how important it is to my recovery to accept forgiveness in order to move forward making new and healthier choices.

There is a God who loves you – you are loved beyond any measure that I could explain to you, and He already knows all of the dark secrets that you are hiding.

 

 

I Am Free.

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When I entered recovery I had never experienced true freedom.
I yearned for it. I think I always had.

I had always envisioned a life of just being.
A life of feeling true contentment and having the ability to laugh and connect with other people and to enjoy my life.

This piece of scripture from the book of Psalms explains what my life felt like to me before I found my freedom.

It is how I felt at my very worst.

These words paint the most accurate picture of how my heart, soul, mind, and body felt when I wanted to die just so I didn’t have to keep experiencing failure over and over again; so I wouldn’t have to look in the mirror one more time knowing that I couldn’t hack this life thing like other people could:

 

For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. (Psalm 40:12)


This is how heavy my life felt to me.
I truly felt alone and saw no way of redeeming myself as a human, as a mother, and as a woman.

I had become a slave to my choices.

My past barricaded me.

And I believed that I was not worth more than the lifestyle I chose and the trap that I had accidentally walked into.

I felt more shame than I can even try to describe and yet I felt nothing.

I was drowning and I was exhausted and hopeless.

When I finally felt convinced that:
A) I had a serious life-threatening problem that I couldn’t fake having control over anymore
B) That I wanted to try be free; to be the mommy that my son deserved

I felt ready to take the first step.

I admitted that I was powerless.
That I had become powerless over my current life situation. I had dug myself too deep.

And I would soon learn that I wouldn’t have to stay that way.

Through admitting the loss of control over my life, and admitting that
I was drowning in an intricate and complex mess that took years to piece together to make the perfect storm….. that.

That is where I actually found my freedom.

I was told by a room full of strangers- that my life did actually have meaning.

No matter what I had done, or who I had become, or how many warrants that I had, or how much I had stolen, or how many creditors were after me, or who had my name on their bounty list or how many people I had hurt…

I still had value and could STILL turn my life around.

 

God had a plan for me.
and new things were waiting for me.

There is so much freedom in knowing that I am no longer bound by the chains of shame and regret.

Freedom is a lasting and genuine feeling of knowing that we have power over our choices.
It is discovering that we have choices!

We can choose to believe that our past or our poor choices can have amazing and positive effects on our present lives!

We can choose to help others to believe in themselves.

We can share what we know, that there really is hope.

Our past does not have to be a burden that we carry around, but a blessing to be used for the good of other people who are still struggling with things that we know about and have felt.

Our past does not define our present negatively, unless we choose to let it.

To me, there lies my freedom.
My past no longer dictates my present.

My chains have been broken, and I have been set free.
AND THAT It is the best feeling in the world.

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

 

Prevention Education is Useless?

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The other day during a conversation, a friend of mine made a comment that got my wheels spinning. The comment was in regard to her personal theory, relating to why our public education systems were not effective enough, or as they originally sought out to be–specifically when it came to Sex Education and Drug Prevention.

The statement was something like this:
“Education is virtually useless; kids are
‘going to do what they were going to do’…”

I have to say, I respectfully disagreed. (at first)
“Education is the key!” I thought…

However, when this assumption is made,  that ‘education is key’, it seems it is always made based on key elements that are not present in the types of students that they are attempting to educate.

If you are educating high school students who already have a foundation laid, this information could prove to be very effective and helpful.
It would only compliment the factual information that they already feel pretty confident of.
These kinds of students have somewhat of an idea of who they are (or are well on their way in navigating that road),
how important and valuable they are and why this education is so imperative and applicable.
They might have a better understanding of how this information can help them to achieve their personal goals, and to have the best chances of living a healthy, balanced, and fruitful lifestyle in the duration of their young adolescent life and well beyond.

If you are attempting to force a group of teens who aren’t as confident with who they are, don’t care if they are valuable or not, and don’t take any adult authority seriously- it is highly likely that you could be wasting your time and taxpayer money. So I guess I don’t think that this type of education would be effective in prevention efforts in this kind of setting.

So, what then?
I don’t have magical answers.
This is a blog. I have opinions, not answers to life’s hardest questions.

No matter where you fall in the category…
whether you completely oppose public education systems,
you love public schools, or you think home-schooling is for the birds-

the only thing that I know with 100% certainty and the only fact that will undoubtedly withstand all arguments-
is that it is first the parents (or main caregiver’s) responsibility to ‘educate’ their young own people.

Parents!
It is OUR job to fill our children’s head and their hearts with truth.
They need to know the truth about who they are, why they are SO valuable, how loved they are, and WHY the prevention education is so important.
For their protection.

So, I agree to an extent.
Education is not the key, well- not the only one anyway.
It’s like a key on a key ring that should be a key set.

Prevention education is not meant to be the only education, it is suppose to compliment the ‘ideal’ foundation that is already laid.
It is an extra, an added bonus.

This, in my opinion, is why ‘Education doesn’t work’
and ‘kids are just going to do what they are going to do’…

But who knows?  Maybe the things that they hear in the classroom for that block of time will have some sort of an effect on the choices that they make later on in that day or somewhere down the line.
Maybe that is what the department of education is hoping for.

Maybe there needs to be a general, seculararly agreed upon prerequisite class that is required before the completion of the Sex Ed and Drug Prevention education?
Like a “Why YOU Matter”
a young male/female “Empowerment” class…
An “Understanding Your Unique Role” class…
I could think of hundreds of different types of ways to implement this type of curriculum.

No matter what type of prevention education you support or think is the ‘best’ or the ‘correct’ way to present our young people with information—-

Only people who value themselves give a damn about protecting themselves from any kind of harm.

What do you stand for?

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Think of something…anything that you are a firm believer in-
that at some point or another you have had to take a stand for.
This something is so important to you, and you want to be a voice for the cause.

It is no secret that when It comes to underage drinking, binge drinking, recreational drug use or drug abuse–
I have a zero tolerance standard. Each of these hold the very real, possible and probable cards to ruin lives and create trouble for present and succeeding generations.
I have made a personal promise to myself to take a stand, and not to back down as a parent.
Even if that means I am not the cool parent. In the 2016 world of parenting, I can assure you parents who take a stand for things can feel like they are in the minority. I have officially fallen under the category of that parent; the one who is strict.
I am not a police officer (although I have thought about it!)
and I don’t think God assigned me to conviction duty……..

I am not under the false impression that just because I come from a l-o-n-g line of addicts and should not even take a chance- that no one else should either.

But I am all for taking a stand for something that you believe in.

I chose to commit to taking a stand to help educate parents about the dangers and effects of underage drinking and drug use.

(It tears up their body, changes their brain and makes it even more likely that they might be fighting a ferocious battle with addiction someday).

I chose to commit to taking a stand to help those who struggle with addiction, by showing them that there is hope, there is help, and there are people who want to love on them.

Take a stand for something that you believe in.
Don’t be afraid to stand up and be an advocate for a cause near and dear to you.


 

“Omg. Just Quit Already.”

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Today, I read an article on “Myths vs. Realities ” relating to Addiction problems.
Most of the Myths were the simple cookie-cutter misconceptions or skewed viewpoints.

Society likes to hold on to the one’s that perpetuate stigma.
Today I am going to talk about a common misconception that goes something like this:

“If you really want to quit you could just quit.”

We’ve all heard this one. In a literal sense, I suppose these people are right.
That assumption is logical.
I mean it just makes sense.
If you don’t want to do something, then—don’t.
However, this is not realistic.
Addiction doesn’t really align with logic..

Assumptions aside, in real life, making the decision to try to change can be done very simply.
The hard part is making that happen as simply and seamlessly like it sounds.

*The reality is—–

*Many people don’t have the desire to stop.
But there are so many people who do desperately want to change, but don’t know where to start.
*There are so many people who dream of the day their loved one reaches that point, where they reach out for help.
Yet so many who do reach out are met with no hands reaching out to help them up.
*We can desire to change, make progress, and make mistakes or have setbacks.
Most will just assume we just don’t want it bad enough.
*We have bodies that have changed chemically, that now are dependent on our drug of choice.
Yet the vast majority of people believe that we are forever trash, unable to do any better.
*There are many underlying emotional and psychological things going on under the surface.
It really does become something a little bit bigger than willpower alone.

It’s not as simple as having a desire to quit.
It’s not impossible, but it just isn’t as easy as it sounds.
There are many different factors and a lot of time put into developing a character that supports a physical and psychological Addiction.
Even if we have the courage to try to make some real changes, we will need a list of necessary tools in order to make progress in the right direction.
The truth is, most people struggling with addiction don’t have the proper support systems, or access to programs or treatment centers who can offer a solid support system in order for them to  have a good chance at maintaining a lifestyle change.

It is going to take some time to “just quit.

Of course, there are people who I know who have have chosen not to take advantage of opportunities to enter treatment or to complete a program. But I am talking about the people who do want help; people who do want to change.

Let’s not make it even harder for them by shaming them or refusing to be kind.
Sometimes people need a little bit of help, and a ton of Grace.

If you are a myth believer, or a stigma perpetrator….
Please attempt to view sick and hurting people in a different way.
Learn.
Gather info.
“It isn’t that hard.”

 

 

Fighting Within.

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A person who is struggling with addiction is fighting an epic battle.
The fighting is fierce and continuous.
It is tiring.
And it becomes more and more intense with each passing day.

It is a fight between
the person struggling with addiction,
the substance,
and a third.
The quietest one of all.
The whisper of truth.

All 3 are striving to be heard.

The Person is saying:
How could I let this happen?
I hate myself.
I am not this person, or am I?
I can’t even want to look at myself in the mirror.
Maybe I won’t wake up.
No one will notice.
There is no going back now anyway.
I am too far gone.
No one will ever see me the same.

The Substance is saying:
F*ck the world.
You are fine.
One more time is not going to kill you.
(Who cares if it does?)
You have tried to stop.
You won’t ever be able to.
You are nobody.
Look at all that you have done.
Pick up the phone. Find more. You might not
Everyone has abandoned you.
This is who you are now.
No one cares.
It is us against the world.

The third voice is saying:
This is not who you are.
Do you remember who you are?
Look around, what are you doing?
These people don’t love you.
You are going to die.
You need to stop.
You do have things to live for.
Today can be the last day that you use.
Pick up the phone and call _________(insert name of a person who reached out to you here)
You can do this.
You are worth it.

There was a time where I would have told you that I truly believed that I had strayed too far from who I once was.
I believed that I would never know who I could have been.
I really thought that I been fooled by the voice of the substance.

Today, I would tell you that I was manipulated, deceived, and wholeheartedly believed the voice of the substance..….
but my real fear was that that third voice.
What if it had been telling me the truth?

Any amount of sober time, forced me to see myself for who I had become.
I did not like that.
I hated that feeling.
I hated seeing myself in the mirror.
I truly felt disgust and embarrassment at the thought of who I was and what my life had become.

If I could have told myself one thing- what would I have said?

I would have told myself that I am invaluable and worthy of forgiveness.

That is the one thing that I think I needed to hear all along.

I mattered.

Someone told me that despite all of my choices,
there was a God who loved me and created me to do something bigger than myself.
Someone told me that I was loved and invaluable.
Someone told me that it did not matter what I had done, or who I had become. My secrets could be revealed, and I would still be worthy of love.  I wanted to know more.

That is what I want to tell other people.
You matter.

Recovery is more than possible- it is promised, and you are worth it.

Spiritual Death.

.Becoming dependent on a substance takes time.
No matter what your substance of choice is, I bet we can all agree that the ultimate result of addiction is death-
but before that, there is this place where we live.
It is the last stop before physical death:

Spiritual death.

This is a place where nothing good happens.
No positive thoughts enter.
No smiles form.
Tears dry up.
Everything cuts deep -but isn’t felt at all.
On the surface, we show apathy for everything.
Neutrality is where we live, as long as our one need is met.

This is where we go before we die.

Some of us stay for a long period of time, and for others the stay is shorter.

Aside from drug dealers, liquor store clerks, other addicts, bail bondsman who know us by name, or people who we consider ‘friends’ there is usually no one else around.

No meaningful, intimate human relationships are left.
Not one.
We have shut them all out, or they have had all they can handle.

How do we make it back from a place where we spend most of our time harming ourselves wondering why we haven’t died yet?

Well, it takes a village to tear the walls down. 

The intense discipleship that has taken place in my life from the time of my overdose, right up until this very moment is absolutely breathtaking to think about.

God has placed so many people in my path who have all played a vital role in helping me to tear those walls down that I had built around myself, and in learning how to rebuild my life wall-free.

We really are stronger together.

If you are someone who is going through the difficult process of rebuilding after tearing walls down,
Here are reasons why we have to learn to let people in to help:

1. They help the walls to come down.
I get it. They’re our walls. We can get a tiny bit territorial of them and angry if we feel like someone is crossing a boundary or tearing them down too quickly. The truth is, they need to come down, and the faster the better. It is not going to feel good to see beyond them at first, but it is what is best for the long run. Let them crumble.

2. To Combat Negativity.
We are totally fine with being alone and walking alone, crying alone, worrying alone, and doing life alone.
But this is just not a healthy way to try to attempt lasting recovery.

Lies, shame, guilt, and other creepy things really prefer us to be alone and will thrive off our self-doubt.

We need have to have some people around us to help us get through some of the tough spots that we will all face in early recovery.
We have to have people to help us separate the lies, and what the truth is, the facts, and the crap that we have been believing about ourselves for so long.

3. We can learn valuable things from others in Recovery.
No two walks or journey’s are the same but being around people who have been where we been makes us feel hopeful.
We see that they have made progress and have really turned their life around.
We really start to believe that maybe, just maybe we can too.
This requires us to be around people, to meet new people, and to be willing to put ourselves out there by attending groups, counseling, or meetings of some kind.

God works in many ways and one of them is through people.
He will use them in different capacities to love you back to life.

It took that first person in the long line of people who have been a part of my healing and recovery, simply looking into my eyes, and not seeing what I saw- they saw a person.
They saw broken.
They also just happen to know someone who knows what to do with broken.

 

 

Addiction Recovery- Things that have helped me -2

 

Addiction Recovery- Things that have helped me -1

Out of the countless tools and newly acquired skills that I have learned in the past seven years, one of the most important concepts that I had to accept is what I am going to talk about today.
It sounds very simple, here it is:
It is not my job to fix your problems.

A glimpse of —her.

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This is a picture of my mother and I.

This short visit happened on April 13, 2013.

It has taken a lot of learning to trust in God’s word and personal growth on my part to be able to say that I am truly grateful for her, and genuinely happy that she has thought about trying sobriety.

I respect her for that, and have chosen not to love her only when she is doing ‘good’.
She has a dual diagnosis, and struggles with sobriety and balancing her mental health issues.

Having waited such a long time to try to begin to manage her life – has really had a negative impact on her treatment success.

I do know that I was grateful to have a sober visit with her, that seemed almost ‘normal’.
Whatever that is..

But it was the most normal interaction that she and I have ever had, my entire life.

I hope that we can do this again someday.

*Bear with each-other, and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

*Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

I will be grateful for this visit if this one visit -even if it is the only one that we ever have.
We are all important.
We all deserve respect from other people.

My mom would be no exception to my beliefs.
My excitement for her is not for her as my mother, but for her as a person.
This is her journey, and this is one of her personal victories.

We have since had run ins, and not good one’s.
She struggles so much.
I pray for her, but am still grateful that I got to see a glimpse of ‘her’.

 

 

Drug-Alcohol Prevention is Important.

Here are a few links:

http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/talk_about_drugs.html

http://www.drugfree.org/prevent

http://www.dare.com/parents/Parents_Tips/Story2d13.asp

http://www.childrennow.org/index.php/learn/twk_drugs

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting_challenges/talking-with-your-kids-about-drugs-and-alcohol.aspx

Knowledge is Power.

http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-future/trends-in-prevalence-various-drug

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The more that I study different substances, signs, symptoms, side effects, withdrawal discomforts and brain altering effects-I become more and more interested in prevention.

The bigger picture.

Not only do I empathize with people who suffer from and struggle with the powerful stronghold of addiction,
I am very concerned with the growing numbers and statistics of our young and curious teens who casually use street drugs and household products to get high.

I want to work to educate parents about the importance of talking with their young people living in their homes.
No longer should it be acceptable to sweep uncomfortable issues under the rug, or avoid them because of personal feelings of inappropriateness.

The bottom line is: You love your young people and your young people need to be aware.
They need to be talked to on their level, in a way that they can understand.

It is dangerous to assume that because you:

*Live in a nice home
*Your child goes to a great school in a wonderful district
*You are raising your children in a Christian or religious home
*You have no family history of drug use
*You kids know right from wrong
*Are involved with your children’s lives

You believe that drug use is an irrelevant  or is a ‘non-issue’
and it does not need to be discussed in your home.
Drug use has never had a favorite demographic.

Try to ask yourself these basic questions: 

-What are some ways to approach the subject with my children/teen? 
-What age is appropriate for my children?
-My children know right from wrong. Why do I need to talk about this specifically? 
-What household products should I know about that can get my teen high?
-I trust my teen. They will tell me if something is offered or suggested.

Maybe just start there.
Start somewhere.

It is as easy as googling some information and asking your kids some questions.

We should all just make sure that we are keeping the dialogue open.
We can play a part in decreasing the number of children who fall prey to this nasty epidemic.
Let’s arm them the best that we can with knowledge and good, solid, information.
And love.
Don’t forget love.

Passionate Work.

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Not everyone gets to this place, or has the opportunity.
Often, the people who I meet who have, have stumbled upon this gift as a result of going through some really tough things through some self-revelation.
But they come out the other side, and they just know.

It is an incredible thing and it is a rare thing.
You experience that ‘ah-ha’ moment.
You just know.
Maybe it came in a progressive or subtle way,
or maybe it  hit you like a ton of bricks in the face,
but you know.
You can feel it tugging your heart and tingling in your bones!
It gets your blood pumping.
You feel driven and focused.
And you are grateful.

You have identified what you are truly passionate about.
Now what?

Simply put:
You figure out a way to get yourself out there.
You take risks. Lots of risky vulnerable risks.
You figure out a way to make sure that your passion overflows in all of the right places.
You saturate yourself with as much knowledge as you can squish into your brain.
You acquire as many tools as possible.
You share what you know with other people.

Discovering your passion and using it for something is not synonymous with ease.
Even when you are in route on a road that you know you are suppose to be on,
one that you are desperately passionate about, it doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing.
There will be road blocks, detours, and disappointments along the way.
Working passionately is not all whimsical and dreamy.
Some days are really, really, difficult.

What can help us to stay dedicated to our passion, or our cause?
How do you keep your eye on the truth?
What is it that will keep you going; ignoring all of the doubt, whose main job is to hold you back?
What can help keep us enthusiastic about all of the possibilities and the future?

1. Remind yourself why you started. (How do you keep your eye on the truth?)
When I feel that nasty feeling that tries to pull me down, or slow me down, I just remind myself of why I started.
I ask God to help me stay focused and confident. I remind myself of my ‘why’.
My original goal is to reach out to people who might need some encouraging words; I care about the hearts of those who are broken. I remind myself of this when I start feeling like I am beginning to doubt what I am doing.
The truth is, I started to help people who really want to give up. I want them to keep going.

2. Pay attention to the signs. (What is it that will keep you going?)
A few things keep me going. God never fails to provide me with much needed confirmation at the right times.
These tiny confirmations have come in many different forms.
Some days it is a nice or encouraging compliment from a friend.
It could be an email from a stranger or a comment from an acquaintance, and some days it is as simple as a feeling.
I also make sure to take care of myself. If I am not healthy or focused, it is so easy to begin to feel defeated.

3. When you don’t see signs, keep going anyway. (How can we stay enthusiastic?)
I really have to keep probing and creating goals for the future. There are so many ways to help others and so many people who need encouragement. I cannot hinge my ambition on consistent, well-timed confirmations. Yes, they’re nice but that shouldn’t be why I keep moving and working. I don’t work for recognition.
As long as I know that I am moving in alignment with where I feel God leading me, I might not always get pats on the back. I don’t get a count of how many people that I might have offered hope to. I don’t get to check the stats on how many hearts may have absorbed something that I have done,
and that has to be okay. 
I think that is the reality of life.
It is the truth about having a passion or a calling.
Isn’t that what passion is?

You continue to work hard, and to remain passionate, and faithful,
even when you don’t get the opportunity to see results or effects that you might have had on someone.

In my case, it is all about giving back.
It is about using and exhausting my abilities to help others
and continuing to praise the Lord for the opportunity.

What are you passionate about?

Churches & People.

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I did not grow up in church. I was more of an occasional visitor with friends on the weekends.

Although, there was a period spanning over about a year that my mom obsessed, revolving her entire (and I mean entire) existence around Catholicism, forcing my brother and I to go to what I think are called ‘CCD’ classes.
This was not because a major lifestyle change had occurred, it was more like a well-meaning obsession fueled by mania after my youngest brother passed away unexpectedly. Regardless, we still did not ever get ‘involved’ with the church by any stretch of the imagination.

As an adult, after I got baptized, I began attending a church. As a brand new baby believer, I was still learning about myself. I basically knew a few things. I knew that Jesus died for me. I knew a few stories about him, but I didn’t know much else.
I didn’t know  many stories from the bible, I didn’t know the books of the bible or how to pronounce most of them…

(After all,  I was also still detoxing. My brain was still just trying to process and come to grips with all of the gratitude that I was experiencing. I was still just surprised to be alive at that point and was still very uncomfortable at sitting at church on Sundays, I had just got comfortable with the idea of being in a church on a Thursday evening.)

I was still silently asking God if he was compleeeeetley sure that I was good enough to be there.
(Like maybe he had me confused with someone else)..

We ended up buying a house in another city and that meant I had to look for a new church to go to. After a few years of searching around, Googling, praying, visiting, and taking breaks from visiting random churches- we finally settled on one.

It was the first place that we had really tried to be a part of and get to know the people sitting in the pews.
I am not sure why I was so surprised when I realized that the place was filled with people a lot like me.
No, they weren’t all people who have struggled with addiction, but everyone seemed to have experienced some kind of struggle. No one in there was perfect.

Churches aren’t perfect. (Whaaaat?)
Ya. I know, right? It sounds obvious, like um- yes. Churches are indeed, filled with people. I am just not sure that being so new to the church culture, that I understood what it really meant. For years I had imagined buildings full of perfect people; people who came from good healthy homes, who I had no business interacting with.

But they are filled with imperfect people.
Imperfect people who love Jesus.

Churches are filled with people from different cultures, different cities, diverse personalities, temperaments, experience, sensitivity, emotional capacity, baggage, problems, regrets, age, color, style, tolerance levels concerning modernism, different preferences, and the list could go on and on and on…….

I thought that was the greatest thing.
That is what it is all about!

Bringing all kinds of people together in HIS name!
That is a great way to know that God is definitely a part of it.

I find it fascinating that I had always assumed that church ran itself?
Or that you had to be a certain type of person to belong to a church.
I was wrong.

No! We are all just a bunch of sinners who love Jesus, who are trying to do better.
We prayerfully take each day one day at a time, seeking consistent growth.

What I have learned so far is this. 
1. Most stereotypes are way off base.
It is not right to judge based off of assumption.
2. People aren’t perfect, and people make up what is the Church.
It is not the building, and God seems to like diversity.

Our only real duty is to encourage one another, pray for each other, worship and fellowship with each other, disciple and strengthen each other, and learn from each other, so that we can all grow into healthy and strong believers in Christ.

Our doors should remain open for the lost, the sick and the broken.

We have different abilities + gifts
and we are all on different parts of a path- different places in our walk

 

The church is the place where we come together- meshing our personalities because——-
we love us some Jesus.

We have the merciful and unique gift of salvation,.
God brings us together in HIS name for HIS glory and HIS purposes.
If we remember that, everything else should be able to be worked out.

I am truly grateful for the people that I have crossed paths with on this journey of mine, and cannot believe that God is this merciful to a sinner like me.
I am humbled and pray that I continue to stay that way.

So keep that in mind. It doesn’t matter where you came from, or if you have never been a part of a church. It is okay to shop around and find one that is right for you, and feel that you belong there- because you do.
And when you find the one that feels like home, don’t hold people to unattainable standards of perfection that don’t exist for anyone, including people who believe in Jesus.

The Beauty of Letting Go.

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Don’t we all have those feelings…
The ones that we just want to hold onto- even when it hurts us or is holding us back from something new?
The ones that have the ability to completely conquer us if we allow them to?
All of those things that we really can’t change or control. Wouldn’t it be nice to just let them go?
That was a very important part of my early recovery.

*It all started with my sobriety.
Being sober for any big chunk of time feels really foreign. It is almost like finally waking up from anesthesia after a really long surgery and not being coherent for a few hours, feeling groggy, and finally coming to. Then, the world starts to feel more real and less like Super Mario Land 3, and your vision begins to clear up.
As you look around you try to feel amazed or surprised at all of the things that have been waiting for you, but if you are going to be real- you knew they were there all along.

*Uncovering the Junk.
-Anger

I was an angry person. I was mean and negative.
Early sobriety challenged me to really begin the process of taking a look to see how much stuff I was carrying around.
The truth is, until that time, I really didn’t want to let go of what I carried.
I really battled with myself; because I just had to keep all of the hatred.
In order to stay exactly where I was, I needed to keep that resentment and anger right by my side.
This made my addiction seem necessary to me.
I relied on having the convenience of falling back on all of this.
I had packed these feelings away for a very clear & obvious reason: to continue destroying myself.
So, I had already started the process of learning to forgive, and let go of the anger.
By allowing myself to forgive people in my life who had hurt me, that meant that the healing process had permission to begin. Over time, the resentment and bitterness began to dissipate too.
and it felt so refreshing.
-Shame
This is the kind of shame that takes years to develop but only a short time to completely base your identity on.
I am guessing that it resulted from years of struggling to be seen by parents who had problems of their own that they were focusing on, and not having my needs met as a small human.
Pair that with years of chosen self-destruction & knowing all of the people that I trampled on and treated poorly, and wala. You have a nice recipe for some self-shame. It was a sad cycle of self-hate. I would not let my mistakes escape my mind. I reminded myself all of the time of the things that I had done and who I had become, and then I would hide.
Facing this shame meant that I had to analyze some things that I preferred to keep quiet, and in order for me not to think about any of it, my plan had been to stay incoherent. It was always so much easier than thinking about any of it.
I had to admit that I had actually stolen, lied, cheated, and manipulated.
I burned bridges.
I hurt a lot of people.
I had made a long list of really terrible choices that were physically and emotionally unhealthy. Facing all of that meant…
that I would have to fess up to mistakes, take responsibility for my actions and in some cases, inaction.
I had this crazy huge fear of being exposed for what and who I had become.
Even though I was finally facing a version of myself who everyone else could plainly see already.
The reality of it was, I didn’t have to face every bad choice all at once. I had envisioned what facing these things would be like, and the reality was different. People were pretty accepting and understanding for the most part. The ones who weren’t I quickly learned were out of my control and I could only do my part to make amends. Either way, I fought my own self-shaming, by facing one thing at a time.

Facing the anger helped me to get rid of bitterness and resentment.
Facing the shame I hid from, helped me to feel less sad and really helped with my negative outlook on life.
Facing the fact that I simply won’t be accepted by some people, really helped me to embrace self-acceptance.
Over time I got strong enough to branch out, and start work on the other things.
The idea of letting these things go was really was scary.
Like everyone else I started this process feeling blind. I wasn’t sure how to ‘be’ without that familiar stuff that I identified with. Who was I if I wasn’t that old me?

After about a year, I began reading my Bible and really digging into it. I wanted to know about Jesus and who He was.

Turns out, as I learned about who He is, I began to form a more clear picture of who I was; who I really am.

God knew who I was all along, and was still waiting for me anyway. 
I learned that His word tells us a lot about self-destruction.
*Hebrews 12:15 says: See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
*Micah 7:19 says:  You will again have compassion on us. You will overcome our wrongdoing. You will throw all our sins into the deep sea.
*Romans 6:6 says: We know that the person we used to be was crucified with him to put an end to sin in our bodies. Because of this we are no longer slaves to sin.

To make the decision to try to learn how to let go of the things that we cannot control means that we are finally ready to accept things for exactly what they are. We are learning to be strong enough to live with reality, even if it isn’t how we expected it all to turn out.

 

 

 

Calm Drama Free Life

I am grateful for the experiences that I had during my 20’s, and all that I was able to take away, learn from and grow because of. However, I am ready to embrace what 30 has to offer! Who knows where God is going to take me, but I am ready to find out! No regrets, no   tailoring my decisions based off of other people’s opinions- just ready to get out and do some awesome things!

Emotional and Disconnected.

Admitting that I needed help.

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor. (Matthew 5:3)
We have the choice to change our lives and we don’t have to do it alone.

 

Celebrate Recovery, changed my life!

Find a CR meeting! –>  http://www.celebraterecovery.com/find-a-group/

 

 

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