Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Milestones and anniversaries . . .

I started trying to write this post months ago when I had a little epiphany.  But I just couldn't get the words to convey the meaning I was feeling. I didn't understand at the time, but now I realize it was all part of God's timing. Funny how that works sometimes.

This is a long post. If you don't read to the end, at least scroll down and check the link at the bottom. Even if you don't need the info, I can guarantee you know someone who does.

Last year, 2014, marked some pretty important milestones in my life. Like quarter century milestones! In September, my piano man and I celebrated 25 years of marital bliss! Well, it hasn't all been bliss. But we are still madly, deeply, in love, and that says a lot after 25 years in our culture, especially with the baggage we came into marriage with. In February, 2014, we celebrated the month we met, also 25 years ago. I know. You are doing the math now. Yes, we met in February of 1989. We married in September of 1989, seven months after we met. Even more amazed that we are still married now, aren't you? LOL! (We did have an extensive set of mutual friends, but still, I really don't recommend this.)

It dawned on me around January 15th last year that there was another 25 year anniversary that I had completely forgotten about. This is really strange. Mostly because I thought it would always prevalent in my mind. I never would have dreamed it would be merely an afterthought as I was driving down the road, like, oh, yeah, it's been 25 years!

What milestone is this?

Sobriety . . .

25 YEARS . . .

SOBER AND DRUG FREE! 

Yes, there's another math thing. I met the man of my dreams almost one month to the day after my commitment to, well, more on that in a minute.

In Jan of 1989, I fell flat on my face before God, broken, empty, and alone. In complete desperation I begged Him to take my ruined life and help me be the person He wanted me to be. No games. No bargains.
No pretense of my own ability to help myself.

And for 25 years, I have been sober. Not one slip in 25 years. Well, except for the time I ordered a cappuccino in an Italian restaurant and didn't realize until I tasted it that it had alcohol in it. Kahlua. Who drinks that stuff anyway? Chocolate flavored alcohol. In coffee. Who knew? Lesson learned.

I don't say any of this to brag. Far from it!

There are a few things I'm always acutely aware of. One is the incredible grace I have been shown, by more people, and by God, than I could ever begin to repay or deserve. I have been blessed with amazing parents and a brother who lovingly tolerated me even at my worst. And the second is that I truly am a living, breathing example of the phrase, 'only by the grace of God.'

I would love to say that my 25 sobriety anniversary is due to my deep abiding faith and my close personal relationship with God. And, although true, it wouldn't really be the whole truth. Yes, I do have a deep abiding faith in God. And I do have a close personal relationship with my heavenly Father. And, yes, that has been the rock that I have leaned on in times of struggle and joy. But there were other factors that had a strong influence on my sobriety as well, especially at first.

Probably the strongest influence at first was abject fear.
Fear of doing damage to my children.
Fear of losing the wonderful man that God had brought into my life.
Fear of disappointing my parents and my brother, again.
Fear of where I might end up if I took just one more drink.
Fear of failing God.

At some point, over time, as I learned new behaviors and made new friends, as my faith grew, my fear turned into trust. But it didn't come easily! I had to work at it constantly, with people and with God. And especially with myself. I had to learn to do what I needed to do, instead of what I wanted to do. It was a slow painful process that my sweet husband, family, and my heavenly Father held my hand and loved me through.

So, I write this from a heart full of humility. And with a note of encouragement to anyone who is struggling with addiction.

Wherever you are, you are not too far from your heavenly Father's reach!
No matter what you've done, you still have value and worth!
And no matter how desperate your situation, your life can be redeemed!

Consequences from poor choices will still be there, but that doesn't mean that you are beyond hope for tomorrow. If I've learned anything on this journey, it is that my gracious God has gone before me time after time, and always will.
. . . to lead me.
. . . to guide me.
. . . to continue making me over into what He created me to be.

Change is hard. Walking away from lifestyles and habits that are ingrained in us is very difficult. But it can be done! It isn't easy. But if any of this describes you, do whatever you have to do to give your life over into His hands. Get involved with a church family that will support you and love you through the difficult days. Walk away from friends who are a bad influence. Change jobs if you need to. Even avoid family members who draw you into behaviors that you need to avoid.

Do whatever you have to do!

Rarely in life do we get fairy tale endings. If you ask anyone who has known me very long, they will tell you my life has been no fairy tale. But I have been blessed beyond measure. And I did get my prince charming. And we are living happily ever after. With a lot of storms and challenges. But I wouldn't trade the journey we have been on for anything else in the world.

And NONE of it would have happened if I hadn't taken that huge step in Jan of 1989.
A step that scared me practically to death.
A step that cost me nearly every friend I had.
A step that removed every social avenue I had known for most of my adult life.

A step that saved my life.

God loves you. 
Don't ever doubt it. 
Don't ever forget it.

Blessings,
Renea

We have just started a program in our church called Celebrate Recovery. I highly recommend it, whether you are dealing with addiction or other hurts, habits, and hang-ups from the past. Celebrate Recovery is a way to get the support you need to deal with any of those. And if you ever need someone to talk to, feel free to shoot me an email or message!

If you are in the Jackson metro area, our meetings are on Friday nights. Here is the link to our website with more info: http://www.dayspringonline.org/

Our facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/pages/DaySpring-Community-Church/222284828727

If you are somewhere else in the world, check out the Celebrate Recovery website to find other groups:
http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

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