Day 8339: Continuing to Face the Challenges of Living Life in Recovery

Recently, I’ve been reminded of how challenging sobriety is. I’ve lived in recovery for over 8,300 days. 8,339 to be exact. Even after all that time, I’m not guaranteed sobriety tomorrow. It’s a decision I make first thing in the morning when I get up out of bed. Every day.

“I’m going to live sober today,” I say to myself.

“Yes,” my Self replies.

Keep in mind that I do this even though I don’t always feel like it. Yes. There are days where the fight to stay clean and sober is difficult. Even 20+ years later. And I still run into people every day who don’t really understand addiction or know what to do with former addicts like me (that’s ok–I don’t always know what to do with myself either).

Recovery isn’t’ something I got right the first time. It took a few tries. I wavered between stringing a few days back to back and over a year of sobriety. That’s right. One year. It ended like this:

“Want a beer?”

“Sure,” I shrugged. And off to the races we went.

For me, alcohol is the key that unlocks the door to a wild ride. Prior to recovery finally sticking, I went out on a 33-day binge that nearly killed me. My binge was fueled by a ton of things I won’t mention here. I don’t want to glorify them. I don’t want to tell you that you can do them and live. You can. Most people don’t. Those that do, usually wind up in jail. A fortunate few of us get rescued, finding refugee in the Halls and solace in the Rooms that offer us a free space to be ourselves. There’s no judgment in the Rooms. At least not usually (we are human after all). I guess a better way to say it is that there isn’t supposed to be any judgment. We each have our own story to tell; our own truth to share.

I’ve seen addiction steal lives. I’ve witnessed addiction destroy dreams. I’m grateful that I found a way up from the Bottoms. Although it’s something I had to do first and foremost for myself, it’s not something I did alone. A lot of people have helped me overcome my innermost personal demons. It’s because of the love and kindness of others that I can claim to live in victory today.

Semi-colons mark a point where a sentence could have stopped; a spot where the story could have ended. But by the grace of God…my life didn’t end with my addictions.

semicolonAre you struggling with addiction? Has alcohol or have drugs taken control of your life? You aren’t alone. You don’t have to keep suffering. You don’t have to keep living a lie. You don’t have to keep leaving a wake of devastation wherever you go. You can change. Life can be different. But you got to want it…

Start here or here.

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3 Ingredients for Creating a Healthy Recipe of Second Chances

Having had my own battles with addiction I get that sometimes we all just need someone to believe in us and give us a chance. Not that anyone has any reason to help us or find us trustworthy. We’ve spent the better part of our lifetime destroying any ounce of trust people had in us. People who love us don’t want to give up hope, but we can’t blame them for walking away. Lord knows we’ve let a ton of people down, especially ourselves.

Through my recovery, God has blessed me with people willing to give me second chances as well as the opportunity to give others a second chance.

Lamentations 3:21-23

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

What does a second chance involve?

forgiveness

A Heart of Forgiveness

To give someone a second chance requires willingness on our part to forgive them for whatever it is that they have done in the past. This is true even if their past did not involve us because what they did may go against our own principles and sense of right and wrong. We must look past who they were and be willing to see them for who they are and who they could be.

This is true for me. To get a second chance, I need others to forgive me and look past who I was and see me for who I am and who I can be. This is what God does. Once we confess we’ve messed up and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, He doesn’t see us for who we were but looks at us for who we are and envisions who we can be. Who we are in God’s eyes far exceeds whatever expectations we might imagine for ourselves.

Matthew 18:21-22

“Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’”

A Momentary Suspension of Judgement

It’s hard to forgive if we sit in judgement of someone. We’ve got plenty of our own issues to be concerned about and if you’re like me you’ve made your own share of mistakes. This may sound easy, but it’s not. Recently, during a prayer session with some homeless guys, one individual asked me for prayer for forgiveness and restoration. As I typically do, I asked him for his story–what got him here? When he told me what he’d done, I had to suspend judgement in that moment. My job wasn’t to pass judgement. He’d done his time. He wasn’t asking me for approval. He was asking me to pray for him. So, I did, thanks be to God.

Matthew 7:3

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

TheDG praying hands

A Kind and Gentle Spirit

You can not have a hard-hearted, mean spirit if you are going to a) give others a second chance or b) have others give you a fresh start. Forgiveness and second chances call for both parties to be kind and gentle in spirit. On the one hand, I must want to see others succeed and do well. On the other, I have to be humble and contrite, knowing that I don’t deserve another opportunity to dazzle people with my shortcomings and failures.

Ephesians 4:2

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Restoration is a two-way street that brings together two people, one willing to help the other and the other willing to receive help. It means showing someone how to fish, not just feeding them. It means doing your part, not just taking. If you don’t cook, you don’t eat.

We all need help sometimes. We all mess up. I know I do. Other times, we find ourselves in the position of being the helper. We may be the only Bible someone reads. What will you do?

 

#secondchances #whatwillyoudo #forgiveness

 

What to Do When the Crazy in Your Life is You

Admitting your life has become unmanageable and asking for help takes courage. You’re not quite sure when it happened, but sometime during the 24-7-365 party, you became powerless over your addictions and compulsions. You may just have one; or if you’re like me you suffer from a combination collectively destroying your life. And make no mistake about it: your addiction and compulsion will kill you, unless you get help.

Getting over yourself, your hurts, habits, and hang-ups isn’t a solo show. You can’t do it alone. You need strength from above and support from a community of people who know what you’re going through because they themselves have gone through it.

It won’t happen overnight. You won’t wake up Monday morning cured. What ails you runs deep and has its roots firmly implanted inside you. Addiction won’t let go easily. You won’t just suddenly give up your compulsion.

overcomer

The longer I was out and about actively chasing my highs the floor of my lows gradually dropped lower and lower. What were once solid boundaries crumbled like the walls of Jericho. The friends I once partied with got busy, so I got busy getting new friends. The crowd I hung out with got rougher and rougher. The line between right and wrong faded in the distance. All I cared about was copping a buzz or getting high. No matter what the cost or consequence. The more the merrier. Until one day, everything came crashing down and I found myself  hugging the porcelain god, sick and tired of being sick and tired. Getting clean and sober became a matter of living or dying. The choices before me were clear. One road led to recovery and a new life. The second road led to a lifetime behind bars (the kind they have in jail cells not by the hotel lobby) or an early grave. It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen easily. I stumbled a lot early on. And I got up, only to stumble again. But I kept trying. “Hang in there,” they said. “Keep coming back.” So I did.

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe you can’t quite yet.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:18 (NIV)

Change

Wherever you are in your journey, know that you don’t have to go it alone. You weren’t meant to. There’s plenty of help out there. You can find meeting rooms for you compulsion or addiction of choice in your community. You can find support and help online (this blog is an example).

Life CAN be different. Life IS worth living. Remember to keep it simple and take it one day at a time. I’m praying for you. You CAN recover. Take the first step…

You’re not alone.

recovery is possible

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NASB

#recovery #itworksifyouworkit #overcomers #together

One Day at a Time