This is How I Endure Suffering

No one wants to suffer. No one chooses to suffer. But, it surely seems, none of us can escape suffering. And, suffer… we all do.

Some might say, I have had more than a fair share of suffering and perhaps you have too…?

My son, who died of an overdose also suffered daily, in many ways.

This is his art work – his hands drew this from his heart. He could draw the pain because he knew pain well. Suffering is always painful.

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I do not know how you deal with it, but this is how I endure suffering:

I look in the garden; I don’t mean at the flowers.

I look toward the hill; I don’t mean the rolling green ones.

I look at the thorns and the torn flesh and the nails and the blood.

In Gesthemene; Toward Golgatha.

I look directly at Jesus praying, then on the cross dying. He is my example for how to endure suffering.

Weeping, crying, nauseous with grief, whispering and wailing, praying. He suffered, and  I suffer. Most times, the pain is more than I can bear.

I endure suffering by calling out to the One who suffered more than any one of us has; because, He knows.

There, at the foot of the cross, I look beyond the cross, at what held Him there, and I see the Hope that is promised.

  • Hope of a future that is good (“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Hope that this suffering will pass (“You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away” Job 11:16)
  • Hope that there will be joy in the morning (“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” Psalm 30:5b). .

It’s simple actually.

I just look at Jesus, face to face, and I am held too.

My pain may not dissipate, but it becomes bearable.

The suffering may continue, but I am not consumed by it.

Here I stand. At the foot of the cross. And I have hope.

Will you come stand with me?

 

 

What the Church has over the AA/NA Meetings

PART TWO:

Following up from What AA/NA has over the Church ….
To be fair,
there is something the Church at large has over the AA/NA Meetings; there is something the AA/NA meetings can learn from the Church…
But,
they need to come up from the basement fellowship halls and enter the Sanctuary, to see and hear it for themselves.

AA/NA books containing the 12-Steps allude to it, but don’t quite come out and stand boldly with it, because it might keep some people in recovery away from entering thru the doors of a Meeting.
And yet…
As I was privy to listen to so many heart stirring stories at the meetings, I could not help but think about the one thing that the Church and it’s Book has over these meetings and their 12-step support book, even though similar themes run throughout – both books encourage:
• Surrender
• Personal inventory
• Humble repentance
• Call to making amends
• Call to living peaceably
• Engagement with prayer
• Sharing the way that works , with others
• Believing in God
Admittedly, I am surprised at how many similar themes there are between the two books. One might be as good as the other…

Except, Jesus.
The Jesus factor is the one thing that the Church has over the AA/NA Meetings.

I have witnessed the speaking about God in the meetings and in the Serenity prayer that is often a closing ritual for these gatherings. I understand that the majority of people in recovery are referring to God as an entity who is a power greater than themselves, an acknowledgement that they are not in control. And this is so very great!
God is in control. HE is all powerful, all present, all knowing and is the Creator of our very beings.

BUT,
it is not the whole story and I am afraid that this is where some people in Recovery are missing out.

Except Jesus; God’s Son, Jesus.
The Jesus factor makes it all personal and where victorious living begins.

I can tell you so, because I know, because I am personal with Jesus.
Did you know that when you believe in the name and person of Jesus and all He did for you, you are:
• made a new creation
• given a new identity
• given power over death

How is this possible? What did Jesus do for you and for me?

Like a regular hero – He jumped in front of the bus and pushed us out of the way!
Jesus was born, in order to die; He took the punishment of each of our sins upon himself and willingly sacrificed His own life for ours by dying a criminals death on a cross.

But that is only half the story!
He then was buried in a tomb, typical for those days…… but not typical,

God, the One who has all power, caused an earthquake to open the tomb and Jesus rose from the dead and spoke to his women friends, telling them to tell his other friends that he is alive, just as he foretold them days ago.

Best of all, and the key point here: Jesus then rose to heaven and now sits at His father’s side… well, that would be God… the one we all mention in the Serenity prayer

These events are known as the Good News, and we, church-going Christians, who love Jesus, are here to proclaim and share it with everyone who will listen.

Just like Step # 12 in the 12-step book mandates, share with others the way that works.

This is my moment to invite anyone in Recovery to consider the Jesus factor
He is the Way that works the best.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life… John 14:6a

I believe true and full recovery is possible and sustainable through the power that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus’ power is stronger than addiction of any kind.

I heard someone in a meeting say, anything can be your higher power,

…“like that rock over there”…
I am here to tell you,
the only Rock that has higher power over you to aide in the full and final defeating of your beastly addiction is
Jesus Himself – the Rock of your Salvation.

SO, I invite you, who are in Recovery, if you have not already, please come up from the basement fellowship halls and enter the Sanctuary; local? Visit my church.

What AA/NA has over the Church

PART ONE:

I am not an expert, nor a person in recovery, but I am a long time, church-going Christian, and I had the privilege to attend an AA/NA meeting and was involved in a similar type meeting – S.O.A.R.R., each took place in the basement fellowship halls of a church; my son was a recovering addict and that’s how I became connected to the meetings.

At first glance, the AA/NA & S.O.A.R.R and the Church at large, have many similarities:
• The meetings are weekly
• People are regular about meeting
• There is a book that guides them
• There is a leader who leads them
• There is a common goal
• There is mutual sharing and love.

I was kind of surprised at the many similarities actually.

However:

AA/NA meetings and the local S.O.A.R.R meeting, have something over the Church at large. There is this one thing that stood out and spoke volumes to me.

 

At the AA/NA & S.O.A.R.R Meetings, everyone is greeted with a genuine bear hug, and  people in recovery share testimonies at every gathering, not just on special occasions; I was awed at the level of surrender, humility and depth of airing real-life-messy; it took me by surprise, and without a doubt, convicted me and humbled me. Sharing and speaking up is the point:  Step OneWe admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Total SURRENDER. Total HUMILITY.
My eyes were opened to the brokenness that is unfortunately so prevalent. Heart & gut wrenching details, baring of deep soul hurts and challenges wove through every story like a rough thread in a fine piece of linen.
Total exposing the MESSY of life.

THEN…there was that one thing that melted me.
That one thing stood out like the one tall stalk of corn left in the plowed field.

ACCEPTANCE by way of NO JUDGEMENT.

This is it: the one thing AA/NA has over the church is a lack of judgmental attitude.

It did not matter who was speaking, it did not matter what they had done, experienced, or been through, or how they said what they said. Nods, tears, and mutual-empathetic-attitudes are what exuded from each one sitting in the meeting. Not one member at the meeting judged that person in the vulnerable seat. This witness melted a place deep in my heart.

It is my opinion, that the Church at large can learn something from the meetings that take place in their basement fellowship halls.

The Church at large is generally too clean; at least it can often seem that way because of the façade that is portrayed when people walk through the doors on a Sunday morning wearing their best and smiling their best as they greet each other, exchanging, “How are you’s?” with smiling replies,  “I’m fine” (when underneath it all, many, if not all, really are not).  I know from my own experiences, I feared the judgment of others, especially as I endured very messy things in my life and guiltily I admit, I seduced others to passivity as well with the “I’m fine” replies, too many times.

To the Church at large, I challenge you to break down the facades if they exist, stop fearing and instead, accept people who have messes and be willing to share your own messes; stop judging those who are struggling with really hard stuff; you aren’t as clean as you want everyone to think you are…
…surrender and be real, so that we all can be seen and heard and accepted and helped, without fear of judgement – no matter what the mess or struggle is…

To the AA/NA meetings and all people in recovery who are fighting for your lives, I say BRAVO! Keep doing what you are doing…
…surrender and be real, keep seeing and hearing and accepting and helping without judgement!

We are all here together in this life trying to survive and thrive – let’s not make it harder for each other. There should be genuine bear hugs enough for all.

 

Stay tuned for PART TWO: What the Church has over the AA/NA Meetings – Next Tuesday

 

 

 

The Battle Against Giving Up

I begin by walking on two legs
Up and down, here and there, strong and steady strutting,
Even … just to stand, I am strong.
that’s how it is as the dawn breaks and the glimmers of the grays turn into blues and the mist lifts to reveal clarity caught in the sunlight’s path.
There is purpose. I declare.
He nods in agreement.

Interruptions come when I don’t expect them like a sucker punch to the gut
And a hole blows through my center
Buckling and bending I trip and stumble as my head spins and whips around.
What now? And why, and winds up my thoughts…
Purpose, is there? I question.
He nods in agreement.

One after another, the unexpected warbling of words that wound, shatter my standing and I fall to my knees …
So hard is the floor,
the sound thuds and reverberates up my spine and my hands break my fall;
I am on all fours now and it’s primal as I groan and grovel from my gut.
No way is there a purpose! I cry out.
He nods in agreement.

I can’t take it anymore and I collapse on the floor – prone, with my cheek pressed into the floor…
Cold it is and the tears trickle.

The stillness is loud.

He stands.
He bends his knee, first one, then the other.
He slowly falls forward onto his own hands and gently relaxes next to me.
It’s cold for him too as his cheek is pressed as well…
He looks at me and grasps my gaze that overflows the sorrows and pains and hurts and reaches into my deepest of places with a cradling caress.
He sees me whole and it’s ok… and He invites me up.
Hard and heavy and hungry,
Together we lift the weight and brush off the dust.

With a firm and sound voice,
He compassionately says, “purpose.
I know he’s right.
I nod in agreement.
And I stand again,
ready to go on.

***

This.

The battle against giving up.

This, in the grief!

This is a very deepest and truest of loves.
For me, I would lose the battle against giving up, if it were not for my earthly husband, “He” is my steady and faithful, always at my side, meeting me no matter where I am and encouraging me, as an authentic reflection of the ONE who is the ultimate “HE” in my life; My Lord Jesus, who stands with me in every battle, leading the Way.  

Who, is your “He?

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You Can’t Fight Flesh with Flesh

The truth is: we are all the same; human is human and each of us fights a battle of some kind. That’s why we are the same.

Mainstream culture and society tries to tell, or sell, us differently.

Like a caged animal in a zoo,  I pace the house back and forth, from room to room; looking for a way out…

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My mind races with swirling thoughts and I cannot lasso them. I grab for the open bag of chocolate chips in the cabinet and hope the sweet, smoothness in my mouth will focus and settle me.

Nope.

After some energy is expended on the chores at hand, I find myself back in the kitchen making a grilled cheese, surely this will do the trick! Warm cheesy, goodness is surely the comfort that will hug me into a calm for the day.

Nope.

Disappointment fills me instead.

Obligatory errands take me out of the house and two hours later I find myself exactly in the mind space that lured me to the chocolate chips.  Salt is one of my go-to’s when I want to pacify my weary, wounds and so I plop on the couch with a bag of chips and crunch, crunch, crunch.

Am I filled?

Am I calmed and focused now?

Am I settled?

Nope.

As if someone turned on the lights, I realize, all day, I have been mimicking the behavior of one who is addicted; I was seeking something, anything, hoping to find the specific- particular thing, to satisfy an emotional and physical need in order to center and calm the things that unsettled me.  My flesh was out of control and very needy and I used flesh desire and pacification as the remedy and it did not work.

Nope.

It did not; I just feel depressed.

My son was addicted. And I know that he, like many others who are addicted to substances, are caught in the same patterns of trying to satisfy the daily need, whatever that  may be for each person. For my son, he sought to settle his anxiety and soothe his depression.

He tried to fight against his flesh with flesh, with drugs.

I tried to fight against my flesh with flesh, with food.

Herein lies the trouble.

You can’t fight flesh with flesh!

You need something stronger than flesh to fight your flesh.

The Son, of the God who made you, is the One thing, the One someone, that can fight against your flesh and win for you, the victory that is desired. Jesus is the answer.

How?

Seek a personal relationship with Him by talking to Him and seeking Him.  No formality or special language needed.  Cry out to Jesus and He will hear you – read His Word in the Bible and He will speak to you. Walk in Faith and He will make your paths straight and focus you for every day.

I know this firsthand.

And I also know, on the days when I take my eyes off of Him … I am seeking the chocolate chips, grilled cheeses, and chips of the day and I get nowhere but fleshly depression.

This is an invitation to close your eyes and listen to the words of this song and consider the best way to fight the flesh that holds you captive like an enslaved prisoner:

Don’t have His Word? Contact me – I will get it to you.

Don’t know what to say? Contact me – I will talk to you.

The truth is: we are all the same; human is human and each of us fights a battle of some kind.

Let Jesus be your way to victory in the battles.

 

 

 

 

 

Plainly Speaking to my Son, who Relapsed & Died

There are moments in life when you gotta cut to the chase,
speak your mind,
and get rid of the filter.
No side stepping allowed,
or in through the backdoor,
and no pussy-footing around.

So, I am going to say it plain,
Get ready,
I am going in through the front door:

You have broken my heart.
You have destroyed your life and mine, never ever, ever, to be the same again.

There it is … like a dump truck offing it’s load.

How come I don’t feel better?

Here is something else I will say just as plain…
I would do it all over again to have just one more chance to give you a hug,
make you an omelet,
and tell you I love you, so I could hear you chuckle.

I wonder if I would feel better?

Sadly, I don’t think I would,

because I fear you would still break my heart and destroy your life and mine, never ever, ever to be the same again.

That’s that … round and round like a cement mixer mixing its stuff.

Plainly speaking,
it was what it was,
I did my best,
and so did you…

It was all so incredibly hard for both of us to endure.

As plain as plain can be,
it is,
… just as it is:

This grief is heavy on my heart then, and now… 

and I will not ever feel better.

Done … Tandem trailer jackknifed, flipped, and in flames.

 

I will love you forever, Caleb.

mom phone pics 2019 winter 189

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;…” Jeremiah 31:3b

I posted a paraphrase of this verse above my son’s bed when he came home after detox & living at a sober house; I wanted to remind him…
God loves, and loved, my son into the everlasting realm that even a mother’s deepest of loves cannot fathom.

It is ONLY there, that I find peace, as a grieving mother.

If you are grieving a loved one lost via this drug epidemic, please know that you are not alone; and you too, are loved with an everlasting love.

Not Talking about Plums, Just Drugs

Have you ever heard of William Carlos Williams?
I mean what kind of a name is that anyway?
A fun one I suppose…

red plum fruits on round brown wooden plate

I had not heard about him until his poem became a prompt for the writing group I attend. The assignment was to mimic his style and write a This is Just to Say poem; Here is what I wrote, but I warn you, it is not very fun.

This is just to say…
I went in your room while you were gone and I cleared up all the dirty dishes and moldy food scraps, I gathered your smelly clothes, and made your bed ‘just so’ because I was searching for whatever it is you were hiding and I found it and I threw it out.
You know what it was I am sure,
…Forgive me, but I love you too much and hate what you are doing.

Yup.
Here I am to talk about something not very fun: being the parent of a child who became addicted to drugs, right under my nose. TODAY, marks 9 months since my son died of an overdose.

Practically speaking, this is my creative hook to share with you fellow-parents some items you might be seeing, or items to look for, if you suspect at all that your son or daughter may be into stuff he/she should not be into. I list them in a rough order of how I found these things in my son’s bedroom and in my home, honestly, the timeline is now blurred.

  • Lighters and matches
  • Little plastic Baggies, in pockets, in the laundry, crumpled on the floor
  • Razor blades
  • Pens, with the innards taken out of them
  • Straws cut short
  • Cigar innards
  • Weed seeds, weed leaf flakes – it’s not oregano
  • small butt ends of joints
  • Glass or metal pipes, bowls, and contraptions in parts
  • My kitchen box of Baking soda
  • Ziplocs with white residue
  • Foil scraps, and even my foil tube
  • A large propane lighter
  • Sticky-gummy stuff on the night stand
  • Burn marks on the quilt
  • Funny looking tiny papers w/ little cartoon prints
  • Spoons gone missing, found in the bedroom with soot and burn marks on the backside
  • Random colored pills with random letters and numbers, in a Ziploc baggie
  • Tiny vile bottles, unlabeled, with some kind of oil in them
  • Stuff on wax or parchment paper that looks like someone melted a lollipop on it – only it’s a golden brown color and smells bad

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I did not find them all at once…
It was one item here and there, at weeks or month intervals between times at first…
I dismissed the oddity and believed the excuses from my son, when I asked him about the items:

we use the lighters at work”… “it’s my buddy’s, not mine”….

Repetitive finds began building and then multiple items were found at a time as I went in to clean his room A.K.A. –  compulsively and obsessively search his room, daily after he left the house for work.
Suspicions became confrontations….but by then, it was too late, because I had been too naïve and too afraid to bring it out into the open much sooner; Ignorance never pays.
So…
Once again -the purpose of this post is to alert you and other fellow parents what to look out for – and if you spot one or two of these items – do not think:

Oh, not my child…”
“Every kid experiments, it’s not that bad, I know his friends…”

Remember Parents: Knowledge is Power.

And that doesn’t just apply to our kids.

 

“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,….” Ephesians 5:13

When it becomes visible and known, then a parent can deal with it and perhaps save their kid before it’s too late. Don’t be afraid to look…