My Sons’ Death was a Springboard: Part Two

PART TWO:  As, I said…my sons’ death was a springboard into the deeper understanding of three important things:

  1. The human condition,
  2. The power of relationship,
  3. The gift of a day

Today I share with you #2… Open my eyes, to see people as you see them….

Because of my son, Caleb, I am privy to see a lot of people in the realm of recovery, people affected by the pain of a loved one struggling with addiction, and those who mourn the loss of loved ones to overdose, and the more people I listen to and talk with, the more backstories I hear. When it all boils down … when I look past the backstories full of weeping pain and wounds and hurts… I see vulnerable children of God, whom He created in His image. I see people who need love and care and who have need to be wanted and feel like they have a reason to keep going… just like me… just like all of us; these are basic human needs.

This involves commitment to relationship. Relationships take time and effort and sacrifice, but we all need them and even more so because of our human condition. Relationship can be as simple as a good word spoken to encourage another, or as generous as an invitation to supper, or as deep as being there for someone when you are needed no matter the time of day or night. Croix, Evan, Mike, and others are family to us because we see them and they see us; each of us has needs that we mutually fulfill. I see these friends in recovery doing this for other friends too. Because of my sons’ past involvement in the recovery community, I feel drawn to be in relationship whenever I can, with whoever is put in my path, because in this way, I am the hands and feet of God. The power of relationship begins to heal brokenness; seeing the human condition, it seems clear to me, that I need to do something about it.

I choose to deepen my relationship with Jesus, the One with the nail holes in his hands… and I do what I do because of Him.

What will you do?

 

 

 

 

3 Things Needed for Best Success in Recovery

National Recovery Awareness Month; right here, right now.

What is there to be aware of?

Three things…

Be aware…

Three things are needed for best success in Recovery according to three of my friends who are in active Recovery and succeeding well.

One might think it’s money…

a place to live…

keeping busy with work…

or maybe a really good counselor.

BUT, it’s none of those things necessarily, though each of those things are good to have.

My sober friends Croix and Evan both say it’s LOVE & FELLOWSHIP and they both found this in local AA style groups; being with people who understand and accept you with all your struggles and flaws. Evan says, “…the relationships that I’ve acquired in this program have been amazing…”

There is strength in numbers, as the old saying goes; Coals stay hot when piled together…. a lone coal fizzles out. SO if you want to succeed in Recovery, the advice is: don’t go it alone. Come into the fold of those who know your struggles, of those who support you and accept you, and find the love that makes it all work.

Beyond that, My sober friends say WILLINGNESS is key in turning a life around and keeps you on the path of continuous sobriety.  It’s the willingness to be reminded and to be helpful to others who are in the early recovery stage. Another friend, Travis, tells me, “I need reminders… reminders that only newcomers can give… reminders I get of someone working the steps and just getting honest for the first time.”

Evan adds to that : “I am able to be sober and available to show others that there’s another way to live. When I was out there in active addiction I couldn’t do anything without looking for something in return. These days I live my life doing selfless acts of love to help people find the road to recovery.”

To be honest, I am humbled by my sober friends. The commitment I see and observe is amazing. I know that each of my friends would do anything to help someone struggling with addiction, find sobriety; I have witnessed them taking phone calls at inopportune times and making it a priority to be a listening ear and give words of encouragement; I know they have driven old cars into the ground to gather people from wherever locations to get to nightly meetings, or to include another recovering friend in a fun sober excursion.  These men walk the talk with passion!

Croix ties it all together, “What I needed and need most for recovery is love, community, and the willingness to continuously share those things that were given to me, with others.”

I am not in recovery,

… but I met these dedicated and passionate men during my son’s struggle to stay sober; unfortunately, my son did not fully latch on totally to the fellowship of the sober community and he made one mistake, one night, and died of an unintended, overdose after 5 months of sober living.

I choose to love on Croix, Evan, Travis, and others in recovery and support them in any way I can. I urge you to do the same if you know anyone who struggles with addiction, or struggles in early recovery; encourage them toward love, fellowship, and willingness.

It could save their life!

Loving, accepting, and helping others is exactly what God calls us to do in all areas of living – it is what He did for us. God, in the form of Jesus Christ, loved us so much, he sacrificed his own life, in order to bring us into the family – the community – of God, the Father.  And He commands each of us to love others, as we love ourselves, and help others toward the understanding of  the Lord’s love for all people.

Today, right here, right now, is the day to be passionate about people and Recovery!

Be aware and do what you can to support those in Recovery in respect & honor of National Recovery Month.

 

I have connections with all of these groups that support those struggling in addiction and seeking sober living; Please, consider making a donation to any, or all, of these life saving helps and ministries:

Hampshire Hope (DART program)

Honest Beginnings (SOAAR / The Nest Recovery Center)

Northampton Recovery Center

Teen Challenge 

 

 

 

 

When the Person in Recovery is the Frog in the Pot

One year ago today, my son, Caleb realized he was the frog in the pot.

Apparently, if you put a frog in a pot of cool water, and set it on the stove and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will not try to jump out, it does not realize he is in danger, until the water is nearly boiling, then it’s too late, the frog is boiled to death and can’t jump to freedom.

One year ago today, after a time of contemplation at his accident site, my son, Caleb, realized he was in trouble; he felt the heat of the flame under the pot increasing; He had relapsed after five months of clean time. What began as medicinal use of weed during his last month of recovery, under the guise of keeping him from using his previous drugs of choice, in reality, led him directly back to old friends and old ways — and he knew it.

He knew he was in trouble; he wanted to change.

  • Earlier that day, Caleb met up with his brother and they made plans together to get back on track at the gym; previous to addiction, Caleb was an exceptional athlete.
  • Later that day, He met up with his friend from the Sober house and admitted his relapse, shared his feelings, and wept at his predicament – the water was getting hot and he was scared!
  • And yet, at 8:21 pm, he was frantically looking for his jar of weed.

A person in recovery, who is scared, is in a very precarious and potentially dangerous position. Emotions can be triggers for people in recovery – hard emotions can be the impetus for whole hearted change, or they can be the thing that drives them back to using cuz it hurts too much to make the change – fear, false confidence, and pain are a lethal mix; addictions’ claws grip deep and the power overwhelms. Helplessness and hopelessness are double whammy accomplices alongside addiction.

Deep inside, I knew my son had the heart desire to change his course and the ability to jump out of the pot… and I believe he thought he could too. Every person in recovery has a deep desire to be free of addiction and stay clean… no addict wants to be an addict.

Do you know someone in recovery who is relapsing and not listening, not acknowledging, or too afraid and is paralyzed in the moment and feeling the heat of the water increasing?

Stay close, if they will let you…

Do what you can to encourage them and take the time to meet them where they are at and do what you can to keep them out of the pot.

Are you in recovery?

Do whatever it takes to jump out of the pot – please!  Seek out a supportive family member or friend, go to a meeting… run, hike, bike, … take a long hot shower… eat spicy taco’s(!)… do anything to get out of the pot… just,

Don’t be the Frog in the Pot!

 

 

 

 

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.