But God…

A cloud of pot smoke engulfed me as I stepped out of my bedroom. I rose late that morning, and missed the first “high” of the day.

Several people were on the couches, legs sprawled before them, heads leaned against the back of couches and recliners. Some of their heads lolled in my direction and they looked at me through puffy, barely focused eyes.

Slurred voices said, “Wow, man, that was awesome.” “This is so cool.” “Oh, baby, you missed some good weed.”

For the first time in a few months, I saw them…really saw them. The scene before me was pathetic.

What am I doing here? I asked myself. I’m more intelligent than this.

I returned to my room, gathered my few belongings, and left the house – for good.

How I came to live with that couple, I cannot say. I was eighteen years old; my marriage blown apart after just a few months. I didn’t want to go back to my parents’ home, and had nowhere to go.

I don’t know that I was invited. I just showed up with a friend to get high, and decided to stay.

I had no job, no car, no money, and (obviously) no sense.

The couple I dumped myself upon were drug dealers, so getting high was a several times per day event. The wife worked, and they had a two-year-old daughter. I assigned myself the job of “nanny,” and justified my presence in their home by saying that I was taking care of their kid, even though I didn’t do anything with or for her.

During my high school years, I had been a “good” kid. I was the vice president of our youth group, taught Bible studies in the library at my school during lunchtime, sang in the choir, read my Bible on a regular basis, and behaved myself.

I met my husband at a Bible college, and eagerly anticipated that we would live happily ever after…even though it had been less than three months between when we met and when we got married. Why my parents thought this was a good idea, I’ll never know.

Disillusionment set in when I discovered that he was not my savior – he wasn’t Prince Charming, either. The few months we were together were painful for us both. This was not the first time we separated, and wouldn’t be the last.

Suitcase in hand, I returned to our apartment. Having realized how stupid I looked when I was high or stoned, I gave up drugs and pot. (I didn’t know that I needed a recovery program to do so.)

When I turned twenty-one, I was excited. I could finally buy alcohol for myself. I was on my second marriage. That one turned out to be a real doozie, and I coped with it by drinking. Rum was cheap at that time – two dollars per bottle, making it an affordable habit. I would begin to drink at eight a.m. every day, and would polish off at least one “fifth” of rum – sometimes two. It was the only way I knew to cope with the pain in my life.

I had periods of being “dry,” and then go back to drinking every day again. This went on until I was in my late 20s. There were several times when the pain would become so overwhelming that I would drink to the point of blacking out. I didn’t know about alcohol poisoning then. Apparently those around me didn’t either. They’d just go behind me and clean up the messes I made, pour me into bed and leave me to sleep it off.

Sadly, I am a mean-mouthed drunk, and can verbally dismantle a human being in less than three minutes. I later found out that I did this whenever I was in the “black out” phase of a drinking bout. How I wish I could take back every word.

But God…

(How I love those words. They show up many times in my story. He relentlessly pursued me into some of the darkest and ugliest places you could imagine.)

…God was not content to leave me there. For whatever reason, I began to take my kids to Sunday School. I felt guilty when I dropped them off, so I began to attend as well.

One Sunday, I heard an announcement about a Christian recovery program they offered. There was a group for the addict, and for their co-dependents. The latter group seemed a little less threatening, so I began to attend their weekly meetings.

On a Thursday night, it was my turn to tell my story. I began to talk about my marriage and the abuse I endured. I excused it all, stating, “If I’d stayed in my first marriage, I wouldn’t have this bed to lie in.” I believed what I was enduring was my “punishment” for walking away from God, and that I just had to learn to endure with patience.

The women of the group were horrified by the things I told them, and pointed out that if we didn’t get away, someone was going to end up seriously hurt or dead.

I didn’t believe them for a long time,

but was certain that this marriage was “my cross to bear.”

Thankfully, those sweet women weren’t willing to let me stay in denial, nor to believe such mean lies about God. They helped me plan a way of escape.

It was during our exodus that God showed up in a powerful way. You can read about it in Fearful Flight. I had no idea that God ministers to us personally. I am still humbled by His gracious closeness during the next couple of years.

Not knowing that I needed a recovery program for my alcoholism, I trusted the Lord to lead me out of that trap. He did indeed set me free from my addictions.

That’s twice I’ve said that I didn’t go through recovery – either for my drug addiction or for alcoholism. That doesn’t mean that they don’t work, or aren’t necessary. Recovery programs offer something that I had to pick up on my own…and took twenty years to learn. I needed to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and to learn healthy ways to cope with life’s stressors.

Although I was too proud to sign up for an 18 month recovery program, God has patiently and lovingly led me to counselors and reading material that helped me stay clean and sober. In fact, just this morning I giggled as I realized that He has me recording audio books for the mission’s recovery program. Some of the folks in recovery can’t read. Now they can listen and focus on the content instead of struggling to sound out the words – then try to remember what each sentence was about.

In the process, I’m getting the education I needed twenty plus years ago through books like, Staying Sober, The Genesis Process, and Boundaries. I can see that by avoiding classes I short-changed myself, and a transformed life took much longer. Jesus healed me from the need to default to drugs and alcohol; however, my thought processes still needed to be corrected. Too bad I was “too smart” to need anyone’s help to figure things out. 😦

But God…

…who loved me and gave His Son for me…

…loved me too much to let me continue in ignorance –

– He arranged for me to record the books as a “charitable act” so I could be transformed by the renewing of my mind.

Ya just gotta’ love a God who loves like that!

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