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.

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.

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“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.

First Moments with my Dead Son

In my battle with daily grief, I share my first moments with my dead son.

The Time to Let it Go

Walking by the stares that tried not to look, they kept looking…
but I was certain not to lift my eyes.
One step in front of the other,
I followed until the curtain was parted
and I stepped into the space that became enclosed as the curtain was let go.
A soft sway of the fabric gently moved, until the stillness was bigger.

Machines stood around me,
Entangled wires left to hang.
No beeps or whirrs or steady drones to hear.
Just silence echoed, bouncing in the space like a torpedo bomb looking for its target.
My sons body lay there, his long legs and muscled shoulders filled the table and stretched the sheet right up to his chin.

Was this really him?
I stared at his sleeping body as I had done so many times before, through all the years of nurture and care…
What do I do
but put my hand on his chest – no rise, no fall – and I feel the stillness and the silence as it stopped right here.

A tear trickles down my cheek, then another, and another,
and my voice, like a misty vapor, can only say:
God, have mercy on my son’s soul.
For the very last time I kiss his forehead and catch the scent of my son’s body
to savor as a memory forever…
The time to let it go,
Will be
when I meet him again
on the other side.

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This memory is ingrained in my mind and will never leave; the images, the smells, and the visceral pain rushes like raging waters breaking the dam, at any unexpected moment, without warning.

I cannot erase it.

I cannot ignore it.

It doesn’t go away.

I have been writing about the ongoing battles that my son, who died of an overdose, dealt with; I have shared some of the battles & victories that other friends in Recovery face; but today I share a little of the battle I face every single day, in grief.

It is common practice to encourage people to talk about their trauma’s in order to process and work through them. Experiencing the unexpected death of a child is a gigantic trauma; the battle with daily grief is real and not easily understood by onlookers and supporters, even though some try so hard.

How can you help?

Here are 5 ways:

  • Listen; we need to talk about the raw, unedited stuff sometimes
  • Be still with us and maybe hug us; we are lonely in the crowded rooms, and in pain.
  • Do not try to reason our suffering away with staid, trite phrases; we don’t want to hear it, and even if we did, our minds are so overwhelmed we don’t hear what you are saying anyway; I love you, is more than sufficient.
  • Be patient with us; it is scary to re-involve ourselves with life and activities that once were routine for us.
  • Pray for us; grief is a process and it weighs us down, sometimes just getting out of bed is the biggest accomplishment for the day; we need God’s healing.

 

Please share with those who may need to hear my story of grief, to know they are not alone,  or share with someone who can hear and then learn how they might help someone else in similar grief as me.

 

 

Trust God, Clean House, Help Others

My friend, Croix, got his One Year Coin and I was there to witness it!

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This young man was my son’s roommate at the local sober house, Honest Beginnings, and the one my son wept fearful tears with just days before my son overdosed and died.

Proud.

Yes, I was so proud of him as he beamed at the podium. We have emotionally adopted Croix and think of him as a son, as we do others we have met while we were on the difficult journey of trying to help our own addicted son in Recovery.

At the podium, my freind clearly declared and shared his testimony as to how he accomplished this milestone:

“Trust God, Clean House, Help Others” is what he said.

Basically, that was his whole speech..

This plan is so simple; it is profoundly awesome!

Trust God: At some point in our lives, we must admit that there is One over us, One we must submit to and trust with our lives.

  • For me, that is Jesus; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Clean House: No Windex necessary! It’s not that kind of cleaning. This is cleaning out the messes in life that we have created – making amends with people we have offended and hurt – seeking forgiveness and making things right with them.

  • As a Christian, I align this with the concept of repentance, making all things right in relationship to God, first, then with others; “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

Help Others: This is the profoundly awesome part because it is the key that keeps him continuing on the path of Recovery.  Croix said, when he stops helping others, that’s when he sees himself begin to slip in thought/mind and heart and that’s a dangerous thing… a very dangerous thing.

Helping others is the way to stay focused — talk the talk, and walk the talk alongside!

  • Coincidentally, this is the way to follow Jesus as well, He said: be fishers of mendo as I did love your neighbor. Jesus sought out the broken and made them whole by seeking, serving, and loving. This is key to the mission, no wonder it is so effective in Recovery for one to help the other; it’s essential to passing on the wholeness & healing.

So, in case you are wondering…

or know someone else who needs to know what a good battle plan is…. this is it!

BATTLE PLAN IN RECOVERY:   TRUST GOD,  CLEAN HOUSE,  HELP OTHERS!

BUT DO NOTE:

It’s not a one time declaration, it’s a day by day, moment by moment work.

It’s doable.

Recovery is attainable.

 

PS. This is a good battle plan for every life in fact.

Trust God, Clean House, Help Others: Repeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a Recovering Addict wants for Christmas

So, what do you want for Christmas?

That’s the question of the season right?

Both clandestinely and up-front-boldly, parents ask it of their children, children ask it of their parents, friends ask one to another, and all are expecting tangible ideas in order to compile their secret lists and sneaky plans…

It is a conversation starter when you are in groups; a good way to get people talking about what their hearts are set on…

the latest gadget,

a new pair of boots,

coveted jewels,

or… money – to get what they really want…

Those are the kind of answers I expected when I asked a small group of men in Recovery what they wanted for Christmas. But it is not the answer I got. Not even close.

Without hesitation, his voice was steady and strong:

“All I want is one more day, just like today, clean and sober.”

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Immediately, my heart melted right into the shape of a large piece of humble pie.  In my asking, I was boldly sneaky in hopes that I would be able to gain insight and surprise these guys with a tangible gift near Christmas Day. Instead, I was stopped in my tracks.

How many of us think, all we want for Christmas is: one more day?

It is a total perspective game changer to think like this! This young man’s answer caused me to realize how very ungrateful I was to not see the preciousness of one more day. Not to see the gift of one more day.

One more day to breathe in the cold winter air and feel the crunch of snow underfoot…

One more day to enjoy a taco on Tuesday…

One more day to laugh with a friend, hug a mom, and sing in the shower!

For those in Recovery, it is a different story. One more day, clean and sober, is one more day to live and enjoy life and the people in their paths.  Too many of these young men know the instability of recovery; too many of these young men have been revived by Narcan and fully know that unexpected deaths occur. Too many of these young men fear that tomorrow may not come.

One more day is a gift for sure.

And so, I ask myself …

If I all I wanted for Christmas was one more day…how would that change my Holiday season?

One more day to cook a meal for those I love…

One more day to give a hug, loan a dollar, listen to a hurting heart…

One more day to laugh and cry and  pray…

One more day to serve my Lord…

The best gifts of this season are those intangibles – the stuff you cannot buy, but that are given by the Father of the Baby Jesus that is so prevalently depicted during this season.  Today, I am thanking my young man friend for the gift he gave me:

… perspective.

I will align myself with him and say, yes – I want the same for Christmas – the best gift:

One more day to wake up and enjoy what God has given me.

What do you want for Christmas?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Addiction Sin?

This was the one question asked of me while I spoke to the high school students at the Granville Village School; my topic: Addiction Juxtaposed with a Christian World View.

Is addiction sin?

I believe the short answer to that is, “NO.” Addiction, in and of itself, is not sin because addiction is a chronic illness.

The longer answer involves a bad choice tried and then repeated, that can be triggered by emotional states & mental illness, which messes with natural dopamine levels, and can be exacerbated by genetic predisposition… all leading to chemical and /or emotional dependency. That’s my take on it all.

The truth is, we all make bad choices from time to time and they usually follow a similar pattern of pre-meditation.

I am young and I stayed up too late, I am wicked tired, and I have an early class…so I decide to start drinking coffee like my dad…or a Monster energy drink like my older sister.  This week it is one caffeinated drink, next week it is three, and now I  need one everyday to function. This is an addiction to caffeine. Lack of self-control, to get the sleep that is needed, is the sin.

I am overweight and I need to stick to my diet, but I had a really stressful day…so I reach for the bucket of ice cream and I eat the whole container. Today it is ice cream, tomorrow it is second helpings, and next week it will be a bag of chips. This is an addiction to foods as a comforter. Lack of self control, leading to moments of gluttony, is the sin.

I am super anxious and I need to calm down so I can focus…so I decide to drink a couple of beers and try smoking a joint that my friend offers me. Tonight that worked well, so I try it again the next night, and the next night, and most every night; in fact, I think chillin’ like this is the way to go for a good night sleep! This is an addiction to substances.  Lack of trust in God*, to absorb the anxiety, is the sin.

Caffeine, sugar, alcohol … or whatever the substance used (especially those that fuel the current drug epidemic), once we take part and repeat the partaking, our brains are  altered chemically and/or emotionally, and we set ourselves up for potential addiction.  When people attempt to abstain consistently from these addictive substances – headaches pound and cravings of a beastly size will come at the minimum.

This is why America runs on Dunkin’ and people cannot stick to the number one New Year resolution… so, you can imagine how much harder it is to abstain, for the one who is addicted to stronger substances that skyrocket dopamine levels and cripple the body’s own production of it’s natural dopamine?

Most choices that feed our fleshly desires, rather than the Spirit desires, are sinful acts.

Everyone falls short. We all make bad choices sometimes.  Temptations ensnare us like a trap that bites the rabbits leg.

One piece of advice from God: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18.  This warning against drunkenness implies abstaining from anything that will impair your physical being to cause you to act in ways that would harm your body, or cause more behavior that is displeasing to God.  Surrender your life to Christ, die to self, and you will be enabled with the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptations and live a fully free life.

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Short answer take-away:

No, I do not believe Addiction is a sin.

Addiction is a chronic illness and people who suffer from addiction need loving care and help.  The sin is the piggy-toe dipping, leading to a big step walking, in the ways that satisfy the flesh-desires we have instead of trusting that our God can take care of our every need.

 

*(My one disclaimer is that I believe that there are some levels of anxiety and depression, and other mental struggles, that do need medical & psychological intervention alongside a relationship with God, in order for there to be full healing).