Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

The Air of Familiarity

“Hello darkness my old friend,” are lyrics to the song “The Sound of Silence.” If you don’t know, the song was originally written by Paul Simon of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. It was composed after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Maybe like me, you didn’t know that bit of historical trivia. You’re welcome! The song has a bit more meaning now.

I’m sharing this with you because those first words I wrote seemed to envelope my being as I walked into a local Legion this past weekend to support a fundraiser. They were serving up a chicken bbq and I love me a good chicken bbq.

My son was helping out at the event. He actually pulled aside one of the meals for me. So sweet, right?

When I got to the event, I didn’t see my son outside where all the fun was happening. I thought, I should’ve texted him to let him know I arrived. You know what they say about hindsight, right?

Since I’d left my phone in the car and he wasn’t outside and I was in unfamiliar territory, I decided to pull my big girl panties up and venture inside.

This entails me putting on my “you can’t touch this” armor. I know all too well how to throw this armor on. It starts in my mind. “You got this girl.” My shoulders square up and my head tilts up a little higher. I walk with intention as I make a bee-line to my destination. Eyes front, but keenly aware of what’s going on around me.

Sounds like a lot just to head into a bar, right? But, I didn’t know what I was heading into and I knew I didn’t want to stay any longer than necessary.

As I got to the entrance of the bar, a man stood there between me and the door. I stopped. I waited. He didn’t move. He kept talking to whomever he was speaking with, so I waited.

It was almost as if I was given the opportunity to change direction. But he moved, and I went in. The air of familiarity wrapped its arms around me as if to say, “welcome home.”

I knew this place. Not because I’d been to this bar before, but I had been to what seemed like hundreds just like it.

The stark difference from walking out of the sunshine into the dark didn’t escape me. The neon lights dimly lit the room. My eyes adjusted to the dark. The stench of stale alcohol wafted up my nose and infiltrated my senses.

I quickly scanned the room for my son. He was at the bar. It hit me, hard. My son, was at the bar. It was the first time I ever saw him at the bar. As I got closer to him, one of his friends turned to me with a drink in his hands and said “you want some”? He knew better.

I’d be lying if I said the drink didn’t look “good”. In that moment several things went through my mind.

So many heart wrenching moments caused from the over consumption of alcohol. So many “fun” times. So many memories forgotten. Are they memories if they’re forgotten? Hmmm.

A lot of those forgotten memories had to be filled in by friends who were witness to my drink enabled ways.

Words that typically flowed from my lips after being filled in by the previous evenings antics were “yeah, that sounds like me.” Insert hollow laughter or total disbelief that I’d do something “like that.”

I had no clue if those things being repeated were true or not because I used to drink so much, I’d “blackout”. I’m so thankful smart phones didn’t exist back in those days. Pictures did. But not the technology to record drunken shenanigans in a small hand-held device. Can I get a hallelujah?

Alcohol is not my friend. It isn’t my family’s friend and truth be told, it’s not your friend.

It deceives you. It lulls you into a false sense of security. It makes you think you need it to get through the day. We glamorize it. We use it as a coping mechanism to “relax.” We say things like, “I just want to take the edge off” or it helps me “unwind.”

Let’s call it what it really is. It’s a justification to do what we want. Be careful the justification doesn’t turn into an addiction.

I remember going out a date several years ago. I was appalled on this first date he downed the entire bottle of wine during dinner.

So appalled I went home after the date and downed my own bottle of wine. Oy vey!

He at least let me know what I was in for had I continued to date him. I, on the other hand, hid it. Do you maybe see a problem there?

The Bible warns us about the destructiveness of our behaviors. God is a gracious God. He gives us the free will to make our own decisions. I’ve made some doozies! How about you?

Those “doozies” don’t define me. They taught me valuable lessons. It’s what I do with those lessons that either propel me forward, or drag me down.

We’re told by the Apostle Paul:

“Everything is permissible,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,”but not everything builds up.”

1Corinthians 10:23 (HCSB)

I can’t explain why some people can stop at just one drink and others can’t or won’t. I can’t explain why someone would deliberately want to hurt themselves by doing something we’re warned is bad for us.

I can explain the damage it’s done to my life. I can explain how it affected my childhood being surrounded and raised by alcoholics. I can tell you how it affected my life when my brother left this world after being caught up in the demonic clutches of alcohol’s call. Those things I know all too well.

I can say without a doubt, if darkness is a friend, alcohol is its name. It’s not something that builds me up. It tears me down.

I may not always make the right choice, but that day of chicken bbq, I did. I stared my foe in the face, well, ok, a plastic cup, and I said no.

I choose me. Why? Because Jesus thought I was worth dying for. This life is not my own. He paid the ultimate price for my freedom. I spent years wasting it in the dark. No more!

I’m a child of light. I’m gonna shine.

The best part, those wasted years will be used for His glory! He brings beauty from ashes my friends. Whatever your darkness is, it’s no match for Jesus! He’s overcome it all. Sweet Hallelujah!

Have a fabulous day, friends!

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The Choice You Choose

The hard fact of the matter is, you may not like it, you may not agree with it, but it is their body and it is their choice. Please, hear me out. Your right to believe in something does not give you the right to stomp all over someone else’s choice and make them feel less than because you believe your choice is better.

Screaming louder does not make your choice superior. Nasty quotes and making fun of things you wouldn’t choose, or name-calling is a form of bullying, allowing for division and pompous “knowledge” to rule over compassion.

From choosing whether or not to go to college, choosing a career path, getting tattooed or pierced, who to vote for, pro-life or pro-choice, having sex before marriage or not, to eat the donut or not, and so many more, are all choices an individual makes. You and I both know that choice conviction comes from God, not man.

Need an example? Read John, chapter 4 or 8. Let’s look at John, chapter 8. Here we learn the penalty for adultery is death by stoning. Could you imagine being hit full force, over and over with stones laced with hatred and “righteous” indignation, until you died? Umm, no, thank you. I’ll take a hard pass on that one!

But, that was not the case in this story. Two people decided to commit adultery anyways. They both made the choice and agreed that the act of committing adultery was worth dying for.

No matter the law, or what anyone else may have said, in the end, despite knowing the severe penalty it was their choice. They wanted what they wanted and they went for it.

Maybe like them, and dare I say me, you’ve made dangerous choices that weren’t in your best interest. Choices, no doubt others didn’t agree with or wouldn’t do. Choices others warned you about. Choices deep down you knew were wrong. So.Very.Wrong.

But if someone made the “wrong” decision in your eyes, what was your choice? Did you fight fire with fire or did your words/actions help put out the flames? Ugh, let me just say, I’ve fought fire with fire. But, I’ve learned that tactic only causes division, heartache, and regret.

Friends, God didn’t call us to shame and condemn one another. When did any of that ever make a relationship better? You could actually push the person to do exactly what you’d rather have them not do by being so crazy zealous over what you think they should do.

All you have to do is look back over your life and I bet you find a decision you made was because someone “forbade” you to do it. And you got all puffed up and under your breath, you muttered: “I’ll show them.”

Just so you know, that’s probably proof you shouldn’t make that decision. Nothing good ever really comes from, “I’ll show them.” Oy to the vey!

When did we get so wrapped up in trying to live other people’s lives, we forgot how to live our own because we knew in our knower, we “knew” what was best for them?

Why would I think I’m so good at telling others how to live their lives when my life can be such a mess? Maybe because it’s easier to put our focus on others instead of cleaning our own house?

In all honesty, I think we truly have the best of intentions when we want our loved ones and others to learn from our mistakes. I mean, experience must count for something, right? Seeing others fail must make a positive impact on our choices, right? That would be awesome, but it’s just not always the case.

A lot of my family members were alcoholics. I witnessed the devastation from it. I knew my chances of becoming an alcoholic were higher than others. I was educated on the effects alcohol has on the body and brain. However, despite being armed with all that knowledge, I still drank copious amounts of alcohol for years. That’s right, years. So.Many.Years.

No one made me do it. I chose it and many suffered from those choices. I can’t change it. It’s part of my story. But, it doesn’t define me. And no one can make me feel worse about my choices than myself.

The result of condemnation from myself is bad enough, but pile on condemnation from others and my little “woe is me” pit, will quickly escalate into a cavernous pit of self worthlessness and defeat. It’s the perfect place for the enemy to come in and keep talking me down.

Is that what we want? To help the enemy kick a person when they’re already so down on life they might not find their way back? What proverbial stone are you picking up and launching via your mouth, just because someone made a choice you wouldn’t? And don’t think that disapproving scowl goes unnoticed. That’s just adding insult to injury.

If we truly trust God, then can we have faith that while we “know best”, He actually knows better? That in fact, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:16) and not you. That what we should choose instead of slapping people with our churlish tongues is to pray for them while we love them through it? Not berate them through it?

And since we trust that God knows better than our best, maybe we should ask Him how we can help, not further hurt another.  Actually, pray for God to show you, your part in this process. Psalm 51:10 is an awesome prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” (bold emphasis added) Notice, you put the focus back on you in this instance and off of them. Lord, how can I help and not hurt?

Y’all, hate, bitterness, and rage are harsh taskmasters. All kinds of unhealthy emotions and physical and mental unwellness are tied to it.

In a world of “what have they done for me lately” (Totally just sang that Janet Jackson style) maybe start asking “what can I do for them?” Because in the end, all the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s and what-ifs, will never change the choice of what is. And when someone leaves this earth, you won’t worry or regret that you coulda, shoulda, woulda done something more.

We’re really only a choice away from what someone else chose. Every choice has a ripple effect. They’ll touch more than just our own life and we may never know how what we chose to do, say or act will impact another. But whatever they choose to do from what they’ve seen, learned or heard will be their choice.

So, share your stories. Share your failures and your wins. Share love, hope, and give great encouragement. Share your faith and your fears, and do unto others as you would have done to you. Share your gifts and give abundantly and don’t worry about the outcome. God’s got that part. Just do what you know to do with love and I guarantee you won’t regret it!

But that’s my choice, what’s yours?

Peace and much love to you my friends.

 

 

 

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“Jonesing” for Jesus

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There are several definitions of the word “jonesing” per the urban dictionary. In this case I chose the following definitions; “the act of needing something badly, usually related to chemical dependency and exhibiting a strong craving or desire for something eaten, imbibed, or taken as a drug; comes from the opiate culture.” Now, I have to go look up imbibed because I’m not entirely sure what it means.  Ah, it means, “to drink, to take in.”  

A few months back God and I made an agreement.  He told me to destroy all wine related “idols” in my house and I did.  Lots of money went in the trash that day. But it really wasn’t about the money.  I was doing really well for almost 3.5 months.  Then I back slid.  Not once, not twice, but a few times. I back slid so much I went and bought a case of my favorite wine because it was….say it with me…”on sale.”  But, every time I poured a glass of wine, I felt uneasy.  But….I wanted the wine, so I drank the uneasiness away.  Woke up the next day and I felt horrible.  Again, I vowed no more jonesing for wine.  But I didn’t destroy the wine like I did the first time, I wanted to prove that I could control this beast.

Trouble with that is, I felt the same way I did when I first destroyed the wine “idols.”  That still small voice was telling me to do something, and I wanted to prove otherwise. I am after all, equipped with will power, am I not?  Besides, other people are allowed to drink wine. Why a glass filled with “wine” is a common hand prop in most television shows.  But…in tv land, they are more than likely drinking grape juice or sparkling cider or something similar. But, those “other people” didn’t make an agreement with God to give something up.  I did.  Again, it’s not about the drinking, it’s about the drunkenness.  

So color me not shocked when a couple Sundays ago my pastor said these words as part of his sermon:

“Romans 13:13—We must also avoid the sin of “drunkenness.” The Bible never uses the word “alcoholic.” Alcoholism is supposed to be a disease, but it’s really the sin of drunkenness.  In April, 1988, the United States Supreme Court ruled that alcoholism is not a disease.  If alcoholism were a disease, it would be the only disease we bottle and sell for profit.  We drink for joy and become miserable.  We drink for sociability and become argumentative. We drink for sophistication and become obnoxious.  We drink to help us sleep and awake exhausted. We drink for exhilaration and end up depressed.  We drink to gain confidence and become afraid.  We drink to make conversation flow and become incoherent.  We drink to diminish our problems and see them multiply.”  He went on with statistics but I heard enough to know that my sin was not drinking; my sin was getting drunk.  And there wasn’t a single statement he read that didn’t pertain to me.

But I didn’t make an agreement with God to not get drunk, I made an agreement not to drink alcohol.  I asked God to take away the want for alcohol, but He said no, I want you to want me more.  So if every day I get to choose God, then so be it. I don’t “have” to choose Him….I “get” to choose Him. He shed His blood for me. Gave His life so that I could live the life He planned for me when He knit me in my mother’s womb.  Pretty sure I’m not living a holy life when I pick something up God asked me to put down and I agreed to the putting down.   

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve of what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)  The chains of alcoholism run deep in my family and took away more than they ever gave.  He knows this. He knows what it cost not just my family but far too many others. In part, it almost cost me my own life.

Now here’s those statistics my pastor read off in his sermon:

“Ninety-five percent of college crime is alcohol-related. Half of all traffic accidents involve alcohol.  Alcohol is a major contributor to one-third of all suicides. Forty percent of all hospital admissions are alcohol-related.  Over half of all child-abuse involves alcohol. Alcoholics outnumber drug addicts ten to one.  There are three times as many alcohol-related deaths as deaths due to drug overdose.”  Whew, those are some pretty staggering statistics.

I am convicted.  So once again I chose the still small voice over what I wanted. I poured the liquid of my sin down the drain, repented and asked forgiveness.  And you know what….He forgave me. Yup, He loves me just that much and He forgives me way faster than I forgive myself.  His “do nots” are for my protection, to keep me from harm’s way. Who am I to question the good He wants for me.  And why would I want anything other than the life He planned for me?  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10- (NIV)

I’m a handiwork, not a drunk.  I can take pride in choosing and living life for Jesus, I cannot take pride in being an alcoholic.  So this is me jonesing for Jesus!!  Halleluiah and Amen!! All the glory to God our Father!! 

By the way…what are you “jonesing” for?  Would love to hear your comments on what feeds your soul.  Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? He will meet you wherever you are!

Note: I do not have the references for the words my pastor spoke, only the notes which he gave me.

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The Bold Blondie

with love, Jilly

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