10 Years Sober!! A decade of blessings and restoration!

I was raised in the church, from the womb to the crib at the church nursery, and from then on out. The church was all that I had ever known and understood as the way of life for everyone, and because of this, I came to know Jesus from a very young age. I believe I was seven years old the first time I asked Jesus into my heart and then about eight the first time I was Baptized. I was a young girl that was ignorant in so many ways, truly naïve to the world and all that it had to offer, and blind to deceit or the reality and the weight that I would soon learn that it held.

In a nutshell, I was a very happy-go-lucky kind of girl! Trusting to everyone and knew no stranger. I had a huge heart that wanted to help anyone in any way that I could, you know, a save the world kind of girl! That was me, the best friend, the teacher’s pet, the girl who wanted to do anything and everything as long as it put a smile on her face and everyone else’s around her.  I continued to attend church regularly with my family and then with my friends as I got into middle school. Then before I knew it I was thirteen, and that’s when everything started to change for me.

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This was my freshman year, Queen’s ball, RIGHT before my life started to change…

I guess you could say I became your “typical teenager” with a few quirks here and there. I was involved in sports and was on our high school drill team. I had a ton of friends and was in most of the advanced classes, as well as the top 10% of our class. I was super active in the youth group at the local church in our town and until then, I was just living life and enjoying being a kid. You could say it all changed when I fell in love with a boy, although, the changes had already started happening to me before then and I just hadn’t noticed it yet. A year before this time, my sister got married and had a baby. This, in most people’s worlds, is a huge blessing and a happy time in life. But for me, it felt like I was being left behind, that my sister was being taken away from me, and that no one really cared about what I had going on anymore. Silly to think about now, but it was a harsh reality for me then.

So here I am, thirteen and deeply in love with this boy, like head over hills crazy in love, do stupid stuff with a boy in love. That’s right, at the very young age of fifteen I lost my virginity. Instead of living my life for Christ-like I was born and raised to, I started living my life for a boy and pretty much worshiped the ground that he walked on. I would have done anything for him, seriously, anything. Anything at all that I felt would make him happy or have him love me the way that I loved him. I went as far as to give my body to him, something I said I would never do until I was married. I completely blew off anyone and anything that had ever mattered to me so I could devote myself to him, and before I knew it, I wasn’t just in love with a boy anymore, I was on drugs and had fallen in love with them too.

The drugs were my choice. I want to make that abundantly clear for anyone who may every think or feel otherwise. He hated the fact that I did drugs or that I changed an ounce of who I was as time went on and our relationship grew. But it didn’t matter, I was going to do what I wanted to do because I wanted to do it no matter what it cost me. I lost all of my friends, I dropped out of school. Not once, but three times, before never going back at all. Then, once it was too late and I had dug the hole so deep that I could no longer see the light anymore, I turned back and he was gone too. All that I had then was the drugs and the friends that I found through doing the drugs and all of the people and places that came with it. When he was no longer there to devote myself to, I just found something new or someone new to devote myself to and every single time, it turned out to be a huge lie and a waste of my time.

I had this way of finding “new projects” if you will, something that I could devote all of my time and pour all of my energy and focus into.  These projects usually consisted of the new boyfriend who I loved so much and that was so amazing and had every problem under the sun. But I never let that get me down because I was there to save him! I was going to make it all better. I was going to fix him. I was going to make all of his problems going away. Or a friend, that was “worse off” than I was and that too needed to be saved. This was a constant in my life. No matter what I did or all of the crazy that I put myself through I did not see how badly I was hurting myself in an effort to save someone else, or how bad I was hurting those who truly loved me and cared for me instead. Regardless, I continued down this path and no matter what had happened with the other people before them I kept pushing thinking it would be different this time. I could never understand why it always ended in defeat and why no matter how hard I tried, I could never save them, it never worked. It would be a long time before I learned the powerful lesson as to why.

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One of the many pictures of myself back then..high..but smiling.

This went on for years. I found myself constantly complaining and whining about how all I ever did was give of myself and I would never expect anything in return, yet I was continuously getting stomped on and let down by everyone and all I could scream was why?! Sure, my family was always there to tell me exactly why, but I never wanted to hear it. They were the last people I wanted to listen to because I didn’t think they would understand and there was no way I was about to admit to them that what they were saying was true and that I was wrong. At this point, I was in a continuous cycle of deceit. All of which I had brought upon myself and as far as I was concerned there was no way of coming back from it, plus, I didn’t believe I was doing anything wrong. Even though I was lying to my family, my friends, to myself, and most importantly to God. Even though I was having sex, and doing drugs like there was no tomorrow, had dropped out of school, and everything stupid I could think of in between. I was only doing it for a good cause! I was trying to help people here. What was wrong with that? I never went out of my way to hurt anybody and in the times that I did, I never meant to do it. The only person I truly ever thought I was hurting was myself, and that didn’t bother me because I was strong and kind and I had God on my side! I could handle everything, right? Give me a cape and call me superwoman! That was what I thought. But I was wrong, so so very wrong.

Fast forward six years down the road, I had now been to jail and was put on probation for a year, a year that would soon become one of the worst years of my life. What once had started out with me being young and in love and on a mission to save the world, ended up with me being promiscuous and having sex out of wedlock, smoking pot every day all day and living life as one of the biggest potheads in Gladewater, Texas (I’m sure there were bigger, but you get my drift). On top of that, I had spent the last six years in what seemed like a continuous party, sleeping on whoever’s couch would have me and coming home after being gone for days at a time. I had eventually tried every drug in the book at least once, if not a couple of times, and had lied to every single person that I had known in some way or another. In my drunken stooper, I was raped, twice. I put myself in the most dangerous situations that one could imagine. I was stealing, cheating, lying, abusing others, and being abused, I was prideful, stubborn, conceited, unemployed, and I had eventually lost my car. I was slowly losing my family, on top everyone else in my life that I had already pushed away. I didn’t care if I was alive or dead. I attempted suicide once, or twice, gosh I lost count, but at that point, I just didn’t care anymore. Before I knew it I was eighteen years old, and before the clock had struck twelve on my eighteenth birthday, I was on meth (it was literally a birthday gift to me). This started the downhill spiral that led me to my bottom, which I would discover over the next two years.

I sounded like a trooper if you ask me. All the crap I put myself through and I was still here. Never once forgetting who Jesus was or where I was headed if I kept up that life.

Honestly, I cannot say that the life I was living didn’t bother me because that would be a lie. All of it did. No matter how far I took it or how much time had passed or how much I said or showed differently, I cared. But I was lost. I was so far beyond being buried in deceit, I had dug a hole so deep and ran from God for so long that I truly believed there was no turning back, that I could not be saved.

Looking back, I cannot tell you the first thing that sparked my mind or heart to want to change and just take that first step. I give credit to a lot of different things and some very important people in my life that were a part of this time, and a part of what got me to that point. The reality is, I was tired. I was past the point of giving up, and in my experience, I had discovered giving up had gotten me nowhere, because after I had given up I was still here. I was still alive, and I knew there had to be a good reason why. So, I finally decided the bad was bad. No, it was horrible beyond words or human belief. It was the bottom of all existence and everything I ever was or thought I could be. I was done.

Growing up in the church I had always heard that God would never allow me to go through more than I could handle, even if I dragged myself through it, He was still in control. I have later learned that it is just a twist on His truth, but it has definitely got me through some hard times over the years.

The following summer I decided to visit my sister in St. Louis. At the time, her living so far away was a sweet escape for me when life was kicking me down. I could always count on her to take me in and love me exactly the way that I was, plus it didn’t hurt that I had a key. On this trip, I got the chance to take myself out of “my world” and be in a completely different environment. This, of course, was not the first time I had done that. But this time I had a completely different motive in mind. I attended church with her each Sunday while I was visiting and her church was doing this mini-series on super sizing your life. I cannot remember the significance of the lesson now, what was said in which moment or why, but I do remember everything just starting to click for me.

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This was the same week I sat in my sister’s church. Just a couple of days before this picture my hair was down to my butt (a normal for me), I decided to cut it all off to symbolize that the old me was dead and gone. This was a new girl 🙂

Through all the insanely horrible things that I had put myself through, God kept showing me mercy, time and time again. He was always there, watching over me and keeping me safe. No matter what new dark place I could find to try and run and hide too, He was there. I was running from Him and He was chasing me, wanting so badly for me to come back to Him, just waiting for me, patiently. It didn’t matter how badly I had stomped on Him or how many times I had rejected Him or how long that it took for me to come home. He was still there. Ready and waiting, with arms wide open, just waiting for me to accept.

All of the years that I had spent hurting myself, I blamed the devil. I blamed everybody and everything for what was going on around me, for where I was at in life. Then that day, in my sister’s church, it all made sense to me. Are you ready for it? In order to be changed and to leave it all behind and to be happy and peaceful and full of life, with Jesus Christ himself, to love Him and to have a beautiful relationship with Him, I had to let go; of me.

and I did y’all. That same day and I have never been the same again.

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A year ago today I celebrated 9 years sober at a women’s retreat watching God perform miracles on other women while being blessed and in awe of who He is and all that He has done in my life.

In the last ten years, He hasn’t disappointed. Each day as I have continued to grow closer to Him and form a more intimate relationship with Him, He has revealed Himself to me in was that I would have never thought possible. He has set me up for blessings and opened up doors for me that I would have never even asked for, or thought to ask for, in my own understanding. He has truly taken a broken woman who less than a decade ago was one high away from leaving this earth, and instead molded me into this beautiful creation that is only able to have the life that I have now, because of Him.

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A life that includes waking up every day and living for Him, sharing my testimony with others’s and helping them find hope through the story of what Jesus did for me. A life that He set up for me which allows me to stay at home with my two children, and homeschool them, while my husband is able to provide for us more than what we could ever need and enough where we are able to do for others who are in need. A life where a little over a year and a half ago, He called me to be the Preschool Pastor in our church home, doing life with families from all over our community and walking alongside them as they go through all the ups and downs in their life.

 

In ten years, I’ve managed to receive three college degrees and believe it or not I am working on my fourth! My husband and I were able to buy our first home and God willing in the next 5 years will be able to build our forever home! We own two cars and a super amazing dog named Hannah, a very feisty cat named Lincoln, and He has blessed us with friendships abounding in love galore! I get to co-lead a women’s bible study group at church with my fellow children’s pastor and when time allows go on mission trips and women retreats where God just showers me with all the amazing parts of who He is and the plans He has for this world!

I really struggled this year with wanting to rewrite my testimony and really go deeper into my life and what God has done through me, but I am still on a journey of figuring that out for myself and sharing it with you the right way. I wouldn’t do it justice if I didn’t do it the right way and authentically express all that He has done for me. So for this year, I will add on to it with this;

In the last year of my life, I have done some amazing soul searching that I didn’t even realize I needed or that was possible. I’ve gone to some deep dark corners of myself and found healing in places I didn’t even realize needed healing. The truth is we go through our entire lives picking up baggage that we carry around and that weighs on us in ways we sometimes never even realize or uncover as truth for ourselves. For me, I’ve tried really hard to run from a lot of that baggage and especially the years during my addiction where I am fully aware of the things that happened to me and the things that I went through and the things that I put myself through. It is hard to come face to face with at times, but it’s a beautiful thing when you do and you give it to God and He frees you from it. I have a lot of work to do and I am not running anymore. I am a definite work in progress and I have so much more ahead of me. Today I celebrate 10 years from a life that tried to kill me but only actually made me stronger and the beast of a woman I am today! I am looking forward to the day that I get to lay my whole story down and I don’t struggle to find words through the pain. Today I am sober, today I am the healthiest I have ever been in my whole life, today, even in quarantine which is a rough place for an addict to be in, I find joy in all that God has done for me and is doing through me.

I seriously could go on and on and on with what God has done to an ADDICT and how I have been redeemed!

But for now, I will leave you with this:

God is so good, and He loves YOU so. There is truly nothing in this world or in your life that you will ever be able to do or have done to you, to take that truth away. Romans 8:31-39

From the darkest deepest corners and depths of the earth, He is there. In the most dangerous and crazy and just wordless moments of your life that you think you could never possibly come back from or be forgiven for, you can.

God can take all your ugly, all your hurt, all your broken and make a beautiful masterpiece, that is priceless to this earth and most precious in His eyes. Ephesians 2:10

You are valuable, you are worthy, you are loved, you are chosen, you are wanted, you are everything and more. God loves you, I love you, and my greatest prayer for you is that you will one day know that as truth and accept it. Ephesians 1:4-6

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child and I reasoned like a child; now that I am a woman, I am done with my childish ways and I have put them behind me! 1 Corinthians 13:11

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Empowering Questions- Journey to Greater Intimacy: Week 1

What kind of feelings am I feeling right now?

What kinds of metaphors can I find to describe my feelings?

I’ve been thinking about these questions on and off all week long and what my answers to them should be. Wondering if I should just answer it simply or the only way I know how, with length and details. I am just not one for short and sweet and I feel like I am doing myself a disservice to my truths whenever I try to be. When I think about these questions a lot of different answers come to my mind, like what I am feeling right this very second, what I have been feeling over the last couple of weeks, and then the lingering thoughts of do I even really know what it is that I am feeling at all?

Over the last year I started on a journey of self-awareness, self-healing, self-discovery, and just a general desire to have answers to a lot of questions that honestly, I haven’t even asked yet, but others that have been popping up over the last few years and some over the course of my life. A big journey that I have come to the realization will be a life-long one that will change and evolve over time. On this journey so far, I have learned quite a bit about myself, something of great significance to me is having a better insight into my personality type and how it plays a huge role in all areas of my life, including my feelings (that is a loaded statement).

A big journey that I have come to the realization will be a life-long one that will change and evolve over time.

I learned that I am a type two on the enneagram system and we twos are jam-packed with all sorts of feelings, so much so that we closely resemble the likeness of an empath. An empath being someone who is highly aware of the emotions of those around them, to the point of feeling those emotions themselves. For a two, that looks like being keenly aware of the emotions of everyone else around you and so in tune with others emotions that we ultimately fall out of practice with being able to recognize our own or run from the reality of our own emotions by focusing on everyone else’s around us and busying ourselves with their needs and neglecting to take care of our own. Tomato tomato, I digress.

Simply put (ha), I have become, over the course of a year, aware of the fact that I really do not know what it is that I am feeling. Like really really feeling. Sure, in the flight of a moment I can tell you I am happy or sad or mad, like in that exact moment. But the reality of it is, if I am anything less than happy, you probably are not going to know about it and I am going to keep it to myself until I can get to the point where I can look you in the eye and say, I am happy. That’s another interesting thing about twos, we just don’t like to do icky feelings. We can do them with other people all day long and even sympathize or empathize alongside them with genuine affections. But when it comes to our own feelings of really, anything less than positive, we ignore them. We hide them, we sweep them under the rug, we put it in a box on a shelf and do well to never open it again, we put it on the back burner with intentions of coming back to it and dealing with it, but then we find ourselves distracted and we do not.

That I something that I have become good at, distracting myself. Diverting feelings that really need to be dealt with, in an attempt to be happy as soon as possible. Deflecting. Oh, I am really good at deflecting. I am so good at it that I have gotten really bad at recognizing my own feelings. Or just straight-up ignoring them, like giving myself the silent treatment and knowing that if I wait long enough, I’ll eventually forget about it, for a while anyway.

Here’s the crazy thing. Until this year, seriously, like 12 short months ago. I didn’t even know I was doing this, I was completely unaware of it. I was so far rowing down denial, the river of fake happiness, that if it wasn’t for God using my own self against me, then I might still be there, rowing away. You are probably wondering what I mean by that. I just snickered. But, seriously, I signed up to attend a Women’s Retreat through an organization called Women Revealed (if the name doesn’t say enough about it I don’t know what will) to attend a weekend called Release Your Burdens. I signed up under the thought process that I wanted to go see what the hype was about, I wanted to go see what everyone else was going to go do (I had some real FOMO going on) and I didn’t even think I had any burdens that I needed to release. I honestly had no other intentions of going other than to see what it is that I didn’t know (another really funny “two” thing) and like I do with all things in life, see what God had for me. So, you can imagine my surprise whenever He slapped me upside the head with some truth and then led me down the road that brought me here. It was on that weekend that I discovered, I’ve been doing it wrong, I don’t have faint clue about what is going on inside me and now that I am aware of this sad truth, I have a long way to go to figure out what it is that I don’t know, about myself. If you are scratching your head right now with it cocked to the side and wondering what in the world is this girl talking about, that’s how I felt when I received this truth.

I was so far rowing down denial, the river of fake happiness, that if it wasn’t for God using my own self against me, then I might still be there, rowing away.

I have spent the last twelve months trying to unravel that truth and only be left with a slew of new questions that I didn’t even know I had before then. The biggest one that I have been working on, like diligently trying to uncover, is the golden question. What kind of feelings am I feeling right now? See the irony in that? During my search for that answer, I have found some other answers that are like tiny little clues leading up to the big reveal. One of which is my general apprehension towards intimacy and simple vulnerability. I touched on that in my post where I first posted this question and when God gave me this fun little assignment to work on throughout the year. I believe that through my journey of answering questions over the next 52 weeks I am going to uncover a whole lot more answers to the questions I have been asking over the last year and the new ones that I get as each day passes, as God helps me to be seen in my vulnerability.

I want so badly to have real intimacy in my relationships, to be authentic in all that I do, and to not be afraid of vulnerability but instead see it as a strength that can be used for my good and the good of others. I feel like when I shy away from vulnerability, I am actually doing more harm to myself than good, setting myself up for deception, strongholds, and windows of opportunity of attacks from the enemy, as well as robbing myself all of the beauty that comes from the intimacy that is found through being vulnerable. I’ve lived a life-time of being closed off from others in an effort to protect myself that I have missed out on the healing that comes from others when we let them in. So again, I digress.

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I’ve put off answering these questions long enough and it is time to empower myself by revealing what lies within, my feelings. I learned a cool tool to naming my feelings over the last year in a process called a check-in, where you use a chart of feelings (or wheel) to help you pinpoint what they are and then “check-in” with yourself, which all stem from the root feelings of; Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, Tender (SASHET).

Today, in this moment, I am checking-in Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, and Tender. I am full SASHET. I am sad because I found out this morning after reading my bible and journaling that I have been grieving the Holy Spirit, both intentionally, and unintentionally and I was lying to myself about it. I am also sad because I have a very close friend of mine that I have not spoken to for a little while that I am unsure of what is going on within our friendship and what to expect for our future. I am sad because I haven’t seen my husband in a week, and I miss him. I am sad because I have some unspoken feelings about some other important relationships in my life that I am earnestly praying for God to mend and bring healing to. I am sad because there were some things that I was looking forward to in the next few weeks and months ahead and I feel like God is leading me in a different direction and I wasn’t prepared for it and I guess you could say I am mourning the truth in all that.

I am angry because there are some things in my life that I have no control over and that I cannot fix, but that is like a thorn in my side that I cannot get rid of. Another thing that I am trusting in God to fix in His good timing, but while my boundaries are being crossed and I am pushed against a wall, it leaves me angry. I am mad because there are some things in my past that I really thought I had found healing in and could move past from, but God has shown me that is not the case and that in fact will be “dealing” with it very soon, but in the meantime, I am dealing with PTSD from it and unwarranted and unexpected bouts of anxiety as a result of it. PTSD and anxiety that pours over into my closest relationships and steals very precious moments from my day and it is infuriating.

I am scared because my husband is on his way home from traveling all week long and there are some very bad storms happening today and I just want him to be home, safe and sound, and not spending the next few hours waiting and wondering when he will get here and if he will be okay. I am scared because in a little over two months I will be going on another women’s retreat, this time through the Women’s Crucible, and I will be coming face to face with some strong demons that I personally do not think I am ready for (don’t’ ask me how I know, it’s just a feeling). I am scared because I told God a couple of months back that I was going to quick trying to control everything in my life and since I have been keeping up my end of the deal (for the most part anyway) I am walking every day in the unknown and even though I know He has nothing but great plans for me and works His will in my life for my good, it still scares me. I am also scared because I live a very fortunate, blessed, and highly favored life that I feel like with my good graces I will mess up at any moment by standing in my own way and just making the dumbest decisions that leave me sitting in the floor with a bucket over my head (I don’t honestly think that will happen, but I don’t trust me).

I am happy because my husband is on his way home and I haven’t seen him in a week and he is my best friend and his presence makes me so very happy. I am happy because homeschooling your kids is really hard, but even on the rough days, I get to see some amazing things that I never would get to experience otherwise and I am constantly reminded that this is the right choice for our lives and I am so expectant at what God has for us in the future. I am happy because lately I have been trying really hard to put God first and allow Him to direct my life and I am doing a really great job of it, for the first time ever. I am happy because God is so incredibly patient with me and has allowed me to be stubborn and hard-headed, while He has led me to where I am today. I am happy because I have been working really hard on trying to heal myself mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in every way possible known to man, and it’s working.

I am excited because when I think about the upcoming year and I see what God is already put into place I just want to scream and shout for joy and do a little happy dance in anticipation for all that is to come. I am excited because I am turning 30 this year and I welcome it and look forward to what this decade will hold for my life. I am excited because I have been losing the equivalent of 2lbs a week and I am stronger and more flexible and more determined than ever to see where this will all go. I am excited about the upcoming Women’s Crucible weekend that I will be participating in. I am also very excited about my husband moving on into more Crucible work and all the insanely amazing things that God is doing in his life. So excited.

I am tender because God asked me to reach out my friend today and be vulnerable and I am attempting to leave all other feelings at His feet and bask in the trust I have for Him in this situation, that no matter what happens, He is in control and through my obedience will come great things, whatever that may be. I am tender because I am now being vulnerable with all of you and I am not quite sure how else I feel about that, but tender is definitely part of it. I am tender because so many of my friends and loved ones have been going through some major trials and tribulations and loss of loved ones and my heart just breaks for them and their sorrows.

I feel like I have so many more feelings boiling inside of me, but these are the ones that I was able to pinpoint, right now in this moment.

The second part of the question was what kind of metaphors can I find to describe my feelings? I snickered again, I almost feel like this question is as hard or harder than the first. But I’ll try to answer it.

Right now, since I am full SASHET but with various forms of the words, metaphors of my feels;

Sadness is a bittersweet friend.

Anger is like an alarm for the fences around my heart.

Fear is a friend of mine.

Happiness is a common familiarity that I am often in search of.

Excitement is my favorite distraction.

Tenderness engulfs me most of the time.

Wooooooo. I never thought I would make it through the first week and this first question, but here I am.

I hope that by me answering this question in length and my desire to embark on this journey, that God will inspire you to either join me and answer the questions along with me, or in your own way, or at the very least you follow me over the next 52 weeks as I pull a new question from the box and I become closer in discovering what true intimacy is and as I learn to be vulnerable with myself and others on a whole new level.

Week 2’s Question: 82975432_565251114321763_5809495033698582528_n

What larger entity am I a part of?

I look forward to praying and journaling about this one and seeing how I answer it.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

 

Keep up with these questions and my journey on Facebook and join in on the conversation. My first post on the topic on Facebook.

For more information over the enneagram and finding out your own personality type, I recommend checking out the Enneagram Institute and taking a test to get you started. The Enneagram Institute

For more information over Women Revealed and attending a Release Your Burdens Weekend, check out their website or feel free to message me on Facebook. Women Revealed

For more information about The Women’s (or Men’s Crucible) Project and attending one of their weekends, check out their website or feel free to message me on Facebook. The Crucible Project

Learning to Let Go

If there is one thing that I have struggled with more than others on a day to day basis, it is the need to be in control. For many years I let this have great power over me, so much so, that I was simply not happy if I was not in control and bad things happened when I did not get my way. Not an easy thing to admit, especially when this is still something I struggle with today. But through the grace of God, I am getting better and learning how to relinquish that control one day at a time.

The problem with wanting to be in control is that you inevitably do not let anyone else have any control or help you with whatever it is that you may be doing or going through. I have always had this unhealthy fear that if I did not do something myself, then it would not get done right and something really important would go unnoticed or not get done and everything would be terrible in the end. It is hard to put your trust in others to “do the right thing” in any given situation, but more so in a situation where something is so important to you and you just cannot stand the idea of letting anything bad happen or go wrong.

COPENHAGEN

It sucks for a lot of reasons, living life this way. One is that you hurt others around you in the process. With my need to be in control, I do not allow others to flourish in areas where they might shine had I not held them back. There have been times when I have not given someone the admiration, credit or thanks for their efforts and instead criticized them for what they could have or should have done differently. I have found myself totally dismissing the abilities of others and just bypassing the whole situation altogether and ultimately isolating myself in the process and becoming burnt out because I had to do it all on my own. The worst part about this character trait is when I have refused to let go of control over my life and let God have the wheel, thus bringing myself back to step one and having to cope with the fact that my life has once again has become unmanageable.

I would love to tell you that I no longer do any of those things and that I, in fact, have found the root of what drives me in this way, therefore, freeing me from this flaw altogether. But that would not be true and I would not be able to share with you where I am today in spite of it because I am still working on it and I still have my good days and my bad days and thankfully God is not done with me yet!

Surrender

The good news is through my recovery I have learned that I do have a problem. I have learned what the problem is and what I can do to change it. For me, that is making a conscious decision every day to cast my worries and anxieties on the Lord, to trust that He knows what is best for me and His plan for my life far outweighs anything of my own. That if I wake up each morning and allow God to direct my path then I will have an amazing day and it will be full of surprises and blessings beyond my wildest dreams that I would never get to experience if I continue to hold onto the reigns.

2. Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13 NIV

I will give you no hopes in telling you that in doing these things it will be easy because it won’t. Learning to let go of control over things in my life has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, which is why I still struggle with it so much.  Even when I am not thinking about it, I do it. Even when I do not try to take the reigns, it naturally just happens. But like anything else that is a bad habit, it must be broken through diligently trying to overcome it and I now know that the only way I can do that is through Jesus! I kid you not, if I am having a hard time trying to do something or find myself getting stressed of flustered during the day, I am totally the one to blame and I have to throw my hands up and say “it is yours God, I am stepping away”. Once I do, I usually kick myself for trying to do it on my own, laugh, and then smile because I know that God’s got this! True Story. You should try it 🙂

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This is part 2 in my ongoing recovery series, for the introduction and Part 1 you can find them here.

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.

Admitting you are powerless

In April of 2010, I quit using meth and other illegal narcotics cold turkey. I did not go to a rehab or slowly cut back, I decided that I did not want to live my life like that anymore and I was so very tired of going through what I was going through and that I had enough. I got to the point where I wasn’t using recreationally anymore, but I was waking up wondering how I was going to get high and spending the day making sure that I did.

I was no longer working, my car had gotten repossessed, I was less than 100lbs and I was burning bridges left and right to the point where my friends were getting tired of me too. I had been arrested and just spent the last year on probation, where my drug use got heavier as I became depressed and felt like my future had been ruined. I had spurts of positivity where I would do something really amazing to try and make others around me proud of me, which was always just a cover up for what I was really doing. One of which was me starting college (during the heaviest time of my using) and never attending any of my classes because I was too high or asleep from being up for days.

The whole year of 2009 was jam packed full of insanity for me. My life had completely become unmanageable and it was time for a change. The options before me were going to jail, die or start over and change.

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My road to sobriety was unconventional, to say the least. I have always been stubborn and strong willed, so if I was going to get my life back on track I was going to do it my way and on my own terms. I knew that I needed to get out of the environment that I was in and ultimately cut off everyone that I knew or had been around for the last couple of years. I did not want to escape reality and instead wanted to face it head on with my family by my side and clinging to Jesus. I chose to go spend the next month in St. Louis with my sister and her family. Over 9 hours away, with no vehicle to escape in if I could not handle the pressure and disconnected from all the people and things that would normally suck me back into the lifestyle I had become a pro at living.

While I was at my sister’s I tried to engage myself in activities that would not only distract me from the desire to go home and use again. But that would better me as an individual and put me on the right path to staying clean long term. I did this through starting to exercise, something I had not done in years and my body needed desperately, attending church regularly with my sister and her family, as well as attending a small group with her a couple times a week. I read my Bible daily, started a devotional that would help me to grow in the Lord and just poured my heart and soul into becoming the person who I knew God created me to be. I started to gain weight, I cut all of my hair off and I was finally becoming happy with the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror. I now had hope, goals, wants, desires and was content with doing whatever it was that God wanted me to do. I was on fire in every sense of the word and a force to be reckoned with!

The FirstStepIs AlwaysThe Hardest (1)I know I make getting clean sound easy, but it is actually one of the hardest things that I have ever done. Not even from the physical aspects of it, but everything tied into using mentally and emotionally. In order for me to truly change and move forward I had to come to terms with where my life was at and who I was in that moment; an addict. Labeling yourself an addict is not an easy thing to do and it is not something that makes you feel good on the inside. However, doing so gives you a sense of empowerment of your life and the will to move forward. I say this because, if you do not know what the problem is then you do not know what to fix, but once you found what the problem is you can start working on getting it done.

No matter what type of recovery group you attend whether it be AA, NA, CA, SA, HA, SAA, WA, CR or the alike the first step is always going to be the same;

  1. Admitting that your life has become unmanageable and that you do not have power of your addiction, hurt, habit or hang-up. i.e. Coming out of denial.

For me, however, I found myself (which I would not know until much later) following the 8 Recovery Principles that are based on the Beatitudes and my step one was more like this;

  1. Realizing that I am not God; admitting that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life had become unmanageable.

I knew that in order to truly change that I was going to have to let God do the changing in me. I needed to let go of myself and relinquish the control of my life over to Him. This was something that I would need to do every day, for the rest of my life if I wanted to make sure that I never used again. It would be years before I discovered a Christ-centered recovery group that would help me to dig deeper into my issues and continue to better myself for the long-run, but I will talk about that another time…

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This is part 1 in my ongoing recovery series, for the introduction and the rest of the series you can find them here.

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.

Easier said than done

It’s been awhile since I sat down to write something for my blog. I could give you a laundry list of excuses as to why, but I simply just haven’t had the time to and haven’t had anything inspire me to do so. With that being said, I have missed it. I have missed getting on each week and sharing my thoughts on life and things going on around me. I have missed the interaction with others and seeing how they have benefited or related to something that I wrote. I have missed the lessons that I inevitably taught myself along the way through writing something that was more for me than it was for you.

I have decided that I do not want to go weeks again without writing and am going to do a short series to keep myself motivated and make sure that I am writing something new each week. The series will be over my experience in recovery and the twelve steps that you can walk through to get there too. Without further ado…I want to discuss something that has been weighing on my mind lately and I have found brought up in discussion with my friends and family many times. The introduction to the series…


You have seen me talk before about my strong desire to help people, see people change for the greater good, for their greater good. In my life testimony, I talk about how it was one of my greatest struggles and quite honestly one of the hardest lessons that I have ever had to learn; that you cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves. As much as I would like to tell you that I have reached the full understanding of this notion, it is still something that I struggle with today. Thankfully on a much smaller scale, but even still I find myself wanting to help someone be a better version of themselves and come out of the darkness that they are hiding in.

I struggle more today with allowing myself to help someone because I know that they are the ones that have to help themselves and unless they want to, there’s a good chance I am going to feel like I have failed in the end. The struggle comes from feeling as if it is easier to just give up and walk away rather than extend a lending hand in their time of need. Learning to find the balance between supporting them and enabling them or ultimately harming myself in the process, is a battle that I feel I will rage for years to come.

It is funny to me because I know that the best way I could help someone who is determined to destroy themselves or unwilling to come out of denial that they are in; is through prayer. I know that I do not have an ounce of control over whether or not they put one foot in front of the other and move forward in their life, but I still cannot help but feel even more powerless when I do nothing at all. I do pray for whoever it is and whatever their situation may be, but then I give up too easily and find myself eager to walk away and just let it be. Saying, they’ll come around when they are ready, I’ll be here when they do.

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But I do not like that way of thinking. It makes my heart feel heavy and sad. It makes me feel like a bad person for allowing someone to wallow in whatever detrimental life that they are choosing and sit back and act as if I do not notice. It makes me remember how I wish someone would have pushed through my stubbornness when I was an active user and been there by my side, instead of waiting on the other. Do not get me wrong here. I am not trying to contradict myself because I know that I know, you cannot make someone want help and you cannot make someone follow the right steps that it takes to get better, do better, be better or have better. But at what point do you stop trying? At what point do you give up? At what point do you keep going? At what point do you choose another angle? At what point do you stay instead of walk away, without getting hurt in the process.

  • I have found that equipping others with the right tools that they need to succeed is a start.
  • Loving them unconditionally through their ugly without judgment is not only necessary but one of the most important things that you can do for them.
  • Not only praying for them but praying with them will impact them more than you could ever imagine and will give you the strength that you need to walk through this journey with them.
  • Being consistent and setting a good example that they can follow is not only important to them but important for you so you can remain firm in your foundation.
  • Setting boundaries and abiding by them, at all cost.
  • Holding them accountable and allowing them to do the same to you.
  • Never make promises that you cannot keep or do not intend to because they merely sound good in the moment and you think it will make it better. It won’t.
  • Do not be afraid to give tough love. It can be extremely painful and really scary. But in the end, even if you feel like you are pushing them away. One day, they will thank you for it.
  • Remember that respect is a two-way street. They deserve it just as much as you do, and you cannot allow it to be waivered from you or them.
  • Listen with the intent to hear what they are actually saying and then respond in love.
  • Be honest. Even if it hurts. The truth will set you free, and they need to see that so that it can one day do the same for them.

daniell-koepke-feel-guilty-toxic-people-7y3s.jpg_thumb_600w-squareKnow this. It is okay to walk away, it is okay to allow yourself to not be a pushover, a door step, an enabler, have a revolving door in your home, be used and abused or manipulated and deceived. Not only is it okay, but it is necessary for their healing. Rock bottom is a real thing and I wholeheartedly believe that sometimes it is the only thing that will save a person and give them the desire that they need in their heart to turn their life around or whatever situation they are in that is harming them. They have to become fed up with what is going on in their life to not want to experience it anymore. They have to get tired and long for rest. They have to decide that enough is enough and that they are done. You cannot do that for them, no matter how hard you try.

Here’s the crazy thing. I’m not only referring to alcoholics and drug users. I am referring to any person that has a hurt, habit or hangup. I’m referring to your friend who is in an awful relationship that is destroying them and you are waiting for them to walk away from it. I am referring to your neighbor who has abandonment issues from their childhood and it has manifested itself as anger or resentment and now that they are an adult and you get the blunt end of the stick. I’m referring to the bully who is screaming for attention and looking for it in all the wrong places.

CR-Hurts-Habits-and-Hangups-300x190We are all human. We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. We all need help. But most importantly we just want to be loved, and be happy. When someone you know and love goes looking for that happiness or wholeness in all the wrong places, don’t give up on them. Be there for them. Set a good example for them. Pray for them, every day. Be the love that they need, and let your light shine.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This article is an introduction to an 8 pt series on Recovery.

Part 1 Admitting you are Powerless

Part 2 Learning to Let Go

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.