Tag: God

Recovering Out Loud.

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I have received a ton of positive and uplifting feedback in reference to the “guest posts/shares” section of this blog. 
I really wanted to take a second say thank you, and share my thoughts on why its important to share our stories as people who are living in recovery from drugs and alcohol. 

Among all of the unanswered questions and despite all of the conflicting scientific research that we have regarding the origin of addiction,

there are some simple, general things that we do know and can agree on when it comes to helping others who struggle with addiction or early recovery.

Without getting too detailed…

Here are a few things that we know:

We CANNOT:  
*We know that we cannot ‘save’ other people.
*We have come to accept & understand that we cannot ‘change’ other people.
*We are aware of the fact that people have to do the work themselves for lasting change to occur.
*We are not responsible for the progress (or lack of) in anyone else’s journey.

We CAN: 
*We can pray for them.
*We can befriend people who struggle; treat them ethically (ya know like other humans)- with fairness, respect, and dignity.
*We can support them by listening or being there for them in other simple ways (that are in within the limits of our personal boundaries.)
*We can encourage them to keep going.
*We can choose to recover out loud.

That is what this post is about.
What exactly does it mean to recover “out loud”?
It actually sounds pretty scary to a lot of people.
But it’s really just another tool that we the option to utilize
as people who are living healthy lives in recovery.

It basically means that you are sharing your story- in some capacity,
in hopes of helping another human -in some capacity.

It can look different with each person who participates, and can mean a broad range of things.
There are countless ways to participate and it is all up to you when it comes to the details.

It isn’t necessarily shouting out your story to every single person that you bump elbows with. (People in the grocery store, in your apartment elevator, the stairs, on your lunch break etc.)

It doesn’t have to be you standing in front of a large group of people from your local community giving an honest account of all of the mistakes that you have made and what steps you have taken to redeem yourself.

Could it mean those things? Yes.
But it could be that you choose other ways.

-You might not want to share within your local community.
-Maybe you prefer online only.
-Maybe you want to talk with individuals only.
-It could be that you feel most compelled, connected, or comfortable speaking with people of the same sex.
-It may be that you only want to share online as an anonymous person, or under an alias.
-A lot of people’s hands are tied, due to their occupation/job security/career which is completely understandable.
-Others are fear stricken; unable to even imagine what it would be like to be ostracized from within their family, their community, or social circles.
-Many people are completely okay with sharing in a meeting as an anonymous person only,
and have have every intention of keeping it that way.

and that’s all okay.

For whatever reasons that you choose not to share,  or however you choose to recover out loud…
I just want you to know that I completely respect your choice and your right to do things your way. 

In my opinion, what it looks like to recover out loud
should be just as personal of a road as your road to recovery has been.

It should be a tailored, well-thought out, perfect -for- you kind of thing.
Your version of recovering “out loud” definitely needs to be cohesive and fit with your particular needs, wants, wishes, desires, and overall comfort level.

If you are curious or interested in taking a step toward living a loud recovery- but don’t know where to start or what to do, I would encourage you to take some time and really look at what, if anything, you feel comfortable with.
Start there. Just entertain all of your options. Give it some thought.
Almost everyone I have met in recovery is just bursting at the seams with stories of hope, and everyone has a special story that might be THE story that helps someone.

Remember that you can start super small, you can go at your own pace for as long as you want-
and you can make adjustments at any time, if or when you feel its necessary.

Although we all have different ways of coping,
different ways of relaxing, meditating, recovering,  embracing serenity- 

and we also completely different ways of recovering “out loud”……..

The IMPACT that we can have on another person is similar:

*We will help another person to hold on and to keep going a little while longer, until they can figure out how to do the next right thing.

*We will all be surprised on how powerful our voices or actions can be in the life of another.

*Our hearts will be forever changed when we step out into a land of vulnerability-
and are met with support, love, and with gratitude from strangers who have been in hiding, who just really needed to hear that they aren’t in fact “the only one’s” ………..

and we truly never know what another person is need of and what they will hear, feel, read, or see that just might encourage them to push through.


Merry Christmas from Discovering Beautiful!

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Discovering Beautiful isn’t about outer beauty. It is a bunch of writing shared from my heart to yours.
My blog emphasizes the beauty that is nonexistent &  unnoticed when living an empty life addicted and hopeless.
Sobriety and Recovery both allow us to embrace life.

Because of God’s Grace, we are alive, and are given a second chance; a chance to start over.
We are transformed from the inside out. We understand that beauty, true beauty, comes from the inside.

When we are free from addiction, we can finally SEE, FEEL, EXPERIENCE, & REMEMBER all of the small things.
We see the beauty in people.
We feel the beauty that life has to offer.
We create new memories to cherish.
We can laugh again.
We are able to enjoy simplicity and finally embrace calm.

But life with God, or with sobriety and recovery certainly don’t offer perfection to you..
I am definitely not a perfect mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, writer, advocate or encourager…

What these things DO offer is permission to live authentically, and in freedom.
I am free to be imperfect. I am totally okay with learning and doing better tomorrow.
We are free to love ourselves and to embrace this new  chance at life.
We can accept our past and are completely free to move forward.

So this holiday season, I am thankful to have another year sober.
I have another year full of memories with my family.
I am another year further away from the old me, and my old life.

I have memories that I  can & will remember, and these things are engraved in my boys hearts too.

We are marking the very first Christmas of our 3rd baby boy,
and are continuing our traditions with the older boys.

Sometimes I can’t even believe that this is my life now.
I am still in awe of how much things can change in a short amount of time, and just how much life there is left to live- even after you feel like there is no way out.

I wish you a Merry Christmas to you and yours,
from our crazy awesome, loud, messy, fun, hilarious, imperfect little clan;  The Shelton’s. 

My Cancelled Plans.

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This photo should say –
“Hey Brittany, your plans never work out-
because God has better ones.”

Guys.

I have been going to school for awhile now. Completely cramming and studying addiction and psychology.

For the last year of classes, I have been mentally preparing myself for a new beginning.

I have been excitedly & nervously planning to go back to work this Fall
when both of my children will be in school.

I was sort of thinking something like this:

Plan A:
Begin my search.
Hunt for a job in my city or close surrounding cities. Search keywords and titles with the words substance abuse counselor, mental health technicians, case manager, intake coordinator.
Narrow the search to any types of employment that allow me to be here in the morning before school, after school, evenings, weekends, and preferably, summers too.

Abandon this plan because this job doesn’t exist.

But keep searching anyway in your ‘spare’ time just in case someone wants to hire someone who has never worked for them, but who is treated like they have seniority to dictate their own schedule to fit their personal family needs.

Plan B: 
Apply to be a para (assistant teacher) even though it is not your cup of tea, and not in the field that you paid money to learn about, but the schedule works. Pay more money to take the para certification test in Missouri, and start applying with local school districts close to where we live.
Perfect. Redo your resume to make it sound like you have always dreamed of working with school aged children that aren’t yours.

Plan C:
Start to feel sick. Take Dayquil and lots of daytime meds to make it through the day.
No matter how many times you throw up, keep going.
Stick to plans A & B anyway.

Don’t forget that you and the hubs have been trying for a long time for a baby, that you didn’t think would ever have the chance to have, because conception is a really hard thing for you two.
Keep job searching. Ignore the urge to rush out and buy more sticks to pee on.

Remind self that I should not be wasting job hunting time doing that!
Rush out and buy one from the Dollar Tree anyway.

Take it at home right before the buses come that afternoon.

Leave it in the closet in the bathroom and completely forget about it for a few hours, and then, abruptly run to the closet doors, pick the stick up and nonchalantly toss it in the trash.

Take it back out because the TWO PINK LINES were clearly visible without holding it up to a florescent light or taking a photo of it and editing it using a negative filter.

The lines were there.
Plan C wins? 

Wait.
I didn’t have a plan C.
Which means, I never really had any plan to begin with.

God has blessed our family with a new life and I didn’t see plan C coming.

At this point, I am focused on getting through first trimester sickness and exhaustion.
We are at eight weeks two days now!

I am overjoyed, grateful, and excited- and anxiously awaiting my first doctor appointment.
Working from home in some capacity is likely going to be what my plan C looks like, maybe.
And maybe not.

I might be done planning for now.

Here’s where the ability to roll with waves, punches and change comes in quite handy.

Yay for skills that I learned in Recovery. This life is beautiful and I really mean that.

That is what life is really full of.
Winding changes and unexpected things.
Sometimes good, sometimes not so great.

We weren’t meant to always be happy, and certainly not to always be sad or disappointed.
It is all a mixture of feelings, events and occasions.

And like one of my favorite quotes reminds me:

“The only thing we can really control is how you react to things out of your control.” 

We just have to learn how to cope and access what is and is not in our control.

Change can be scary, but it is certainly not always bad.

Christianity and Science.

There haven’t been any supernatural phenomenons curing me of this sleeping monster.

Jesus saved my life.
Gave me life. Forgave me.
Having faith in Jesus has allotted me power and strength to
break free from my strongholds and keep away from substances..
to build a new life..
to find a new identity…
to have a new hope…
to hunger to learn more and more…
and to feel joy & true contentment

But I am not cured.

I want Christians (and I say that lovingly, I am a Jesus follower too)
and other people who lack knowledge or who simply refuse to attempt to understand what happens when a dependency develops to understand something:

There is such a thing as science and you cannot argue with that.
(if you do, you get to be the delusional one)

It does exist and like it or not, our brains are scientific things, made by a God who is smarter than us but who created sciency people who are much smarter than me….

There are chemicals, and tiny scientific complex operations that happen inside of our heads.

It is totally possible to screw things up in there, and it is possible to be freed in Jesus, liberated and saved by the hope that we find in Him, through our faith and His grace….

and he still may not choose to push the reset button on our brains.

We may just learn to coexist with a condition. Or we might just use brain and behavioral based therapies to embrace the new life that Jesus gave us.

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Good Grief.

 

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The stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Mourning occurs in response to an individual’s own terminal illness, the loss of a close relationship, or to the death of a valued being, human or animal. (Psychcentral.com)

I used to run and hide from any kind of pain or uncertainty.
I knew that if I hid long enough, it would all just go away.
And every single time I resurfaced and saw that it hadn’t, it was my cue to reinsert myself into my induced, but functional, coma.

Before substances were my necessity, my best friend, and my only priority, they were my refuge.
Before they transitioned into chemicals that were killing me and taking over my entire life,
they protected me…….they were my safe place.

So today I am trying to sort through my emotions in dealing with a loss that is making my chest feel heavy, like I got hit by a semi-truck.
The kind of loss where I think that I can actually feel my heart breaking.

While I am still really beyond thankful that I am able to feel in the first place,
it can still be overwhelming to feel so much at one time.

But I am happy that I understand that it is normal to feel this way when experiencing personal loss.
Not only is it normal, it is OKAY.

My sobriety has taught me many lessons, but one of the most important lessons has been about happiness.

Being happy all of the time is unrealistic and unnatural.
You can’t always feel good. These expectations are ones that cannot be met.
Just as it is unnatural to always feel down, miserable, and unhappy.
It’s a balance thing.

Obviously, loss is a part of life, and grief is a part of our very real, very human experience.
It is okay to allow ourselves to feel sadness and to allow ourselves to recognize that we are in pain.
It is not wrong or bad to hurt and it is not a shameful thing to grieve for someone.

Today as I sit here I am okay with life not always being okay.
Is there a ‘right’ way to grieve? I don’t think so.
I think there are only healthy, and unhealthy ways to grieve.

I am able to feel and handle grief in a way that doesn’t negatively affect my wellness.
All for me, here is what that means: 
-I will not push the feelings away.
-I will not allow them to run my life and take over all of my thoughts.
-I don’t constrict myself to a time limit, I will grieve as long as my heart needs to.
-I will accept the feelings that come.
– And I understand that I am not ‘abnormal’ for having waves of sadness and a lot of tears as I mourn a loss that just might hurt for a long time.

We cannot change the fact that people will eventually pass on.

It’s just a tough fact of life.
It is a beautiful & painful process.

I know some of you who are reading right now might be grieving someone too.

Try to remember that we are left here with the gaping holes and pain.
But I believe that they are somewhere- and their spirit is alive and healthy, and near to us.
They are not hurting or sick anymore, sad, alone, or debilitated in any way.
They want us to remember them and to live a life that honors their memory by embracing the legacy that they left behind. That is how we can honor their lives lived here.

So I am going to try to do just that.

I am going to laugh, and allow myself to enjoy my life.
I am going to take my memories and what she instilled into my life,
and I am going to give it away to others.

She would have been okay with that.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
(Psalm 34:18)

So THIS is Love.

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When I began to believe that God did exist and I actually began to feel and see the evidence of Him in my life, the way that I experienced love immediately changed.

Unlike most other aspects of change in recovery from addiction (and underlying issues) this change was almost instant and didn’t require work.

No longer was it a word that I tossed around, or a word lacking meaning behind it.
I could feel it.
Although it is an over-used word these days, there really aren’t words powerful enough to describe what it feels like to experience love for the first time.

Self-Love was brand new to me.
For the first time in my life, I saw my own reflection in a new way, and felt differently about all of the circumstances that I had inherited and created for myself. 
I saw who I really was, and I embraced her.
For the first time, I could say that I loved me.
Not who I would become, not who other people told me I needed to be.
I loved myself, and it was enough to let myself embrace the things that were to come.

Feeling the Love for my children.
I had always loved them but something was different when I looked into their little faces, and seeing the brightness behind their eyes, celebrating their victories, soaking in the belly laughs, hearing their stories, cherishing the color pages, and even wiping their tears.
I could remember the moments.
All of it became something more than what it had been before.
I could finally see them.

Being madly in Love
for the first time.
I wasn’t in love with a persona, or who a person might possibly become.
I wasn’t staying for lack of better alternative or the sense of being needed.
I knew I was valued and appreciated, imperfectly accepted.
I was in love with someone who was already whole.
I could see this person for who they were and I didn’t want to change anything about them.
I wanted to be more because he inspired me.
I wanted to keep going because he pushed me.
I wanted to unpack my own baggage, so that I could be a whole person too.
I wanted to receive his love and to give it right back.

It all finally made sense. 

I had finally accepted love. I had finally let myself be loved.
I was finally able to give love away.

God’s love for me shined a beacon of light on what this life is really all about, about what love really means, how it really feels, and why it is all so important.

1 John 4:19
We love each other because he loved us first.

 

 

Guts.

Justice means much more than the sort of thing that goes on in the court of law.

It is the old name for everything that we now call fairness; it includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises and all that side of life.

and Fortitude includes both kinds of courage-
the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that sticks it out under pain.
The term ‘guts’ is perhaps the nearest modern English term.

You will notice, of course, that you cannot practice any of the other virtues very long without bringing this one into play.

(C.S Lewis, 1977, The Joyful Christian)

Triggers.

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-As the saying goes:
‘you get out what you put in.’

*We walk through a painful past so that we can focus on our present.
*By taking risks & forgiving people we shed the weight of some of the heavy baggage that we have been carrying.
*We hold ourselves accountable to gain a sense of personal responsibility to build back our integrity.
*Self-confidence is built by reaching short term goals and celebrating small victories.
*Trust is earned back and relationships are restored every time we follow through.

Recovery delivers.
The rumors were true.
Recovery works.


-But there is another saying, that also holds true:
‘you reap what you sow.’

I can’t even count how many surprises popped up year after year into my recovery. Anything that we plant eventually grows into something, and it is our job to harvest. Our bad choices and unhealthy decisions can follow us around for years and it can start to feel like the hits won’t ever stop coming.

Every single one of our choices have consequences, and they don’t have a statute of limitation. 
My personal experiences are loaded with examples:

*My bad credit following me around year after year, with paid collectors who call to remind me of purchases that I don’t even remember making.
*Getting looked over for a few positions because of my inconsistent work history.
*Not getting into the college of my choice because of my GPA.
*Being totally mortified when I wasn’t allowed to be added to my husband’s auto insurance. I am a liability. (Who knew)
*I still can’t fall asleep on my own and it seems as though my short-term memory is forever damaged.

Bad choices deliver. 
The rumors were true.
We are free to choose but we are not free from the consequence of our choice.


For me, recovery was a double edged sword for a long time.
It seemed that with each phase there were equal parts of positives and negatives.

While I was feeling good and gaining confidence as each day passed, and learning to really accept and love myself for the first time in my life, negatives kept popping up.
I think the ratio of good to bad felt like 1: 5. (Ex: For every healthy choice I made I had five warrants.)
How many pats on the back can you get in the same day that you are also tirelessly righting wrongs?
I had times where frustration got the best of me and I found myself asking God when I would be done being put through the ringer. I had nothing left to squeeze out, and just when I thought I had faced all of the stuff, asked for enough forgiveness, reached out to make amends, every time I made another right choice-
something else would come back around to remind me of exactly who I used to be and it always came in the form of a fine, a long-lost bill , a denial of some kind, or some other burned bridge I had long forgotten about.

Time does not cancel out natural consequences (everything surfaces eventually)
but time does offer opportunity to develop character qualities that will prepare us to win each fight.
We don’t have to become a slave to fear of an inevitable future full of wonderful, happy, exciting recovery…and a few surprise forgotten consequences along the way.

Triggers are everywhere and sometimes they are as simple as reminders of our bad choices.
As long as we are moving forward a little tiny bit each day, we will be ready to combat those reminders with our new truth, because we know better and we are doing better.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God.
You will always harvest what you plant.

Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.
At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6: 7-9

 

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.

 

 

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.

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’.

 

 

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.

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