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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detox Counselor Weeps

Last Christmas my son was at The Castle.

Don’t think Downton Abbey, or Cinderella & Prince-Charming kinds of Castles.   I am referring to The Castle in Brockton, MA – the short term addiction treatment program for kids 13 – 19 years old.

My son was 19 when we sectioned him to detox; he was not happy with us. Yet, he had excellent care at The Castle and his detox counselor was able to meet my son square-on; good progress was made and my son knew why we did what we did.

However, after 5 clean months, a relapse and overdose took my son from this earth.  His detox counselor called me when she heard about his death and was devastated. As we talked, she wept with me and confessed:

“I lied to him; I told him he would have many Christmases to enjoy with his family – that this was just one Christmas to work through to have many more in the future.”

I said,

“You did not lie, you were encouraging him to be motivated to pursue clean and sober living – you were extending hope to him.”

And that is the truth.

I look back and remember packing eight of us up with gifts, in two cars, twice, to try and make it through a blizzard to get to The Castle to see him on Christmas day, last year; it consumed our entire day.

Hours of tedious driving later, we arrived. Big hugs were given, animated conversation and laughs filled the glass atrium as snow continued to fall outside.  My son’s face literally lit up with joy and relief at seeing his family. What a glorious moment! My heart tucked that entire scene away and logged it as: precious-memory-to-keep-forever.

Some look back with sadness and think he had the worst Christmas last year and he will never have another one to enjoy… just like his detox counselor thought. And, that it was our worst Christmas too.

I beg to differ, actually.

Last Christmas was very intentional – one that was not taken for granted because it was full of purposeful action to show our son how much he was loved. I know my son knew that – it was written all over his face for that full hour we got to spend with him. Deep down, he knew he was totally loved, and in some ways, it was a best Christmas for him I think; the usual traditions were up-ended, they weren’t there to distract everyone from the total focus of love.

After all – that’s the whole point of Christmas isn’t it? It’s not about the trimmings and the traditions/expectations and the lazy MO of the day. It’s entirely about love.

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This is a painting that my son painted before addiction took over his brain and claimed his life. He loved to paint and draw; it brought a sense of peace to his being.

Notice the star –  it was followed by some wise men long ago.

Notice the angel, front and center – it is a symbol of the Good News that God has for us all.

Notice the small yet perfect depiction of Jesus and his parents surrounded by those carefully crafted stones – humbly positioned in just the right place.

Jesus’ birth was intentional; let us not take his birth for granted… it is the beginning of God’s best show of love for us. We are each deeply loved by the Father and Jesus was willing to do what he did; be born, live to die, and rise… so we can go to heaven one day. This is the ultimate gift of love.

Simple.

The message is simple.

Dear Detox counselor,

My son is now in the presence of Jesus this Christmas… and he will enjoy all Christmases eternally.  Do not weep, dear detox counselor, for the earthly Christmases lost, for my son’s gain is far better!

Yes, my heart hurts and I miss him so very much!

Yet, … until I join him – I will keep following and keep sharing the good news!

Merry Christmas to all who read these words!