Lessons From Eleven Years of Recovery

I was made in God’s image (Gen 1:27)

I am His offspring (Acts 17:28)

He knew me before I was conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

He chose me when He planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12)

I am not a mistake (Psalm 139:15)

I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

He has a plan for my future (Jeremiah 29:11)

My sins are not counted (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

I am not condemned (Romans 8:1)

Nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39)

I am His treasured possession (Exodus 19:5)

October 26, 2011 was the last time I acted out in my addiction.  It had been a 25-year journey to get to this point.  The following Tuesday, I sat in my first Celebrate Recovery meeting.

The honesty and deep soul searching through the program continues to grow my self-discovery and God-dependence.  I recognize the importance of community, that I cannot heal by myself.  I understand the power of forgiveness.  This came through the realization that people who had hurt me a lifetime ago still figured in the way I made decisions.  I identified individuals whom I had wronged in very significant ways and made amends.  This now frees me to share my story openly wherever I am, knowing that my hurt is not wasted and that my road to healing is a very precious story to share.  There are many people who are struggling as I did. 

I have learned many things over the years, and I will share just three with you:

  1. My areas of brokenness opened me to the influence of objectification – which is the act of defining a person by a single characteristic. For me, I objectified women by appearance and men by charisma.  Affirmation was gained when people on the higher end of my scales acknowledged me or wanted to know me.  To battle this,  I have to continue to nurture various disciplines that focus on (1) avoidance of triggers, (2) self-affirming statements based on who God says I am (so that I am not dependent on affirmation from others) (3) acknowledging that EVERYONE IS B.L.A.C.K. (Broken, Lonely, Afraid in need of Christ the King), particularly the person who may be triggering me, (4) silent prayer for this same person, asking God’s favor and blessing in their lives, (5) acceptance that my addict and I are not synonymous.  It is the addict (my flesh) who is triggered.  He attempts to influence me.  If I choose to follow him, then I always have the equal choice to admit to it, confess it to others and God and be refreshed by grace.
  2. I have areas of shame that when not acknowledged or minimized can cause me to eventually return to my cycles of brokenness. For me my areas of shame are my skin color and African heritage; the poverty of my upbringing; the non- pedigreed nature of my undergraduate education; my parents’ divorce and growing up in a single parent household; my own divorce and the blended nature of my current family; the contribution of my actions to the evils of human exploitation.  These are all places that can point to my inadequacy as a recipient of God’s grace.  How amazing it is, that Christ paid the complete price for all my shame.
  3. Satan colludes with my flesh (the addict) to plot my downfall and destruction. 1 Peter 5:8-9 outlines the proportions of this collusion.  It states “Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  Left to his own devices the addict’s ways are sinful and rebellious, hence the encouragement to be alert.  My addict is selfish and self-seeking.  He defaults to self-protection.  He rationalizes and justifies various actions or inaction.  He does not consider the impact of actions on others and considers vulnerability to be weakness.  My addict is indefatigable, persistent, relentless and always present.  He will only die when I do.  Satan knows all of this and so I have to know my addict well.  Because my addict is the way that he is, Satan has created various lies that are extremely appealing to him (my addict).  I call these “seductions” and without getting into detail I have discovered them to be (for me) – self-promotion, infidelity (being unfaithful), control, performance, legalism (good at following rules), perfectionism (doing and being right all the time), procrastination (putting things off), dishonesty/grandiosity (creating an appealing image for others), anger/blame, comparison (being better or as good as others), slander/gossip, relevance (always feeling needed) and comfort.

If you are struggling with an addiction, know that there is hope through the healing grace of Jesus Christ.  Reach out to us at contact@jesuslifts.com.

Here is a link to some other things that I have learned on my 11-year journey.

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