Blessed to be Broken

God's not finished with me yet!

What a Waste

Every time I see a Whitney Houston movie or hear one of her songs, I always think, “What a waste.” Hear me out before you attack. I’m not calling her a waste. On the contrary, that woman was phenomenal. If you really listen to her voice, the passion, the depth, the incandescent beauty of her range, it will bring you to tears. On the outside looking in, she was beautifully flawless. It’s no wonder she was nicknamed “The Voice”. She had one problem. She was human. There’s not a single one of us that doesn’t suffer from the same thing. We all have our stuff. Being human comes with a price.

Whitney had an extraordinary gift and the world ravishes those who take center stage like she did. Everybody wanted a piece of her. She did the work, and those closet to her, rode the wave of her success, not caring one iota of how it affected her. Greed knows no bounds.

I don’t know how true the latest movie made of her life is, but if you haven’t watched, ”I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, I highly recommend it. I cried. I sighed, “What a waste”. What I mean by that is, what a tragic loss. Yet, it’s so much more encompassing than that.

All the money, fame, awards, accolades, fandom, and things this world has to offer, wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was too much. Her way of escaping the reality of it all…drugs. I wonder if her dealer ever felt any kind of remorse over his choice to provide something he knew at any time could kill her? I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, choices matter.

Portrayed in the movie on the night of her death, Whitney was working on her comeback. She had gone through an intense rehab program, and was doing seemingly ok. But, no one really knows what’s going on deep in the places no one can see. For whatever reason, Whitney chose to get high that fateful night. There’s no way she could’ve known that decision, would be one of her last. If she had, would she choose death?

Addiction has no boundaries. It knows your weakness and its satisfaction is your destruction. It’s appetite is insatiable. No one sets out to be an addict. It happens. Everyone who becomes an addict has a story. Like you and me, they are a living, breathing, person. Someone’s child, sister, brother, family member, and friend. Have you ever heard a child say, “I wanna be an addict when I grow up”? Probably not.

If you’ve never been addicted to anything, I daresay callousness will keep you from ever understanding or having compassion for those who suffer from it. Be careful looking at others through disdained colored eyes though, addiction comes in many forms besides drugs and alcohol.

Your addiction may not look like those who suffer from the ill effects of drugs and alcohol, but it’s still just as detrimental to your soul. Don’t get me started on porn and sexual immorality, and the far reaching, gut wrenching, dastardly, heinous, and vile paths of destruction they leave in their wake. Like I said, be careful throwing stones from inside glass houses. Haughty eyes looking down on others doesn’t lessen your own sin.

Escaping addiction is not a simple choice. Contrary to what so many think, you can’t wish it away. It takes intentionality. It means looking hard at yourself and realizing you’re worth so much more than what you’re doing. Sometimes, it’s seeing your loved one dead on the floor and that image burned in your brain to keep you from returning to its evil clutches.

More than that, it’s a surrender. I’ve heard stories where God removes the want of a particular addiction from a person immediately. I’ve heard other stories where family members pray for years for their loved one. But, we can’t change people. That job belongs to God. Understanding His ways, also not our job. I guess my point in all this is compassion reaches so much farther than contempt and arrogance.

The night I planned to take my own life, I hit my knees in full surrender to God. My life didn’t change overnight and I for sure didn’t know what I was doing. The mess I’d made of my life through my bad choices had to change. Surrender was my only option. Bit by bit, step by step, from glory to glory God restores what the enemy stole.

There are days I still wonder what the point is, what does it matter, and who cares, but because God gives me another day, I press on. Lord, use me. Help me, help others. Who needs to hear from you? I don’t do this perfectly, but God doesn’t expect perfect. That alone gives me space to breathe and be the clay He wants to mold.

I don’t necessarily know who you are, but if you’re reading this, you’re not your addiction. You’re so much more interesting than that lie. You have a story. You have purpose. You have things to do that were planned for you long ago by the Creator of the universe. It’s never too late to begin again as long as there’s breath in you.

At the beginning of this story, I said I always think, “What a waste,” when it comes to hearing or seeing something about Whitney. Again, not because she’s that, but because of the tragedy of it all. But even after death, God is still able to use her life as a testimony, beyond the grave. Friends, God is a God of abundance, not waste.

Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is always working. He uses it all.

And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV ~ caps emphasis added)

Whitney’s life was not a waste. It was a beautiful and tragic reminder of the good and evil in this world. If we’re honest, isn’t that what being human is all about? Isn’t that why the Apostle Paul tells us to:

…be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” ~ Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV)

Stand your ground my friend! You’re part of a grander plan in place to defeat the darkness in this world. No, you are not a waste, you are more than a conqueror. And no matter where you are in this moment, God is still working, and He still loves you. Emphasis on still. It means He never stopped. Now it’s up to you. Choose wisely.

Much love and grace to you!


Identity Thieves

I started watching a new series on Netflix. It’s a hot mess. I could tell you what the name is, but I figure if it’s meant for you, you’ll find it. The typical 45 minute show gives you glimpses of how the characters got to be where and how they are in the present.

I find shows like this fascinating. I mean, haven’t we all heard something to the effect of how we’re modern day versions of the collective experiences of our past? Reflecting on how the past factors into who we are is a good thing. Staying stuck in the past…that can cripple us.

In this new to me show are two main female characters. I’m gonna focus on the one who seems to be a present day hot mess. But before I get into that, I want to share a short personal story. I feel it relates to our hot mess gal heroine.

Back in my drinking days when my glass would get empty, I would raise my glass and sing a little ditty with my own high pitched flair at the end. It was for anyone in the house who happened to be up and about while I sat in my queen’s chaise lounge. The song went. “Running low, running on empty, running low, running drrrrrr-hiiii.” And voila, my glass would be refilled.

Running low.
Running on empty.
Running dry.

I never even knew singing that song was about so much more than an empty glass.

Ok, back to our heroine.

This gal grew up in a couple of homes. When she was a young girl she grew up in here grandmother’s loving, safe home. As an adolescent and teenager she grew up in her mothers drug addled, chaotic home.

All years in my opinion are formative years. I believe every second since we were formed and knitted in our mother’s womb, matters. What you believe is on you. No need to get defensive or divisive on the matter.

It mattered the way this gal was shown love and affection. We don’t really get to see the love she was shown in her grandmother’s home. But, we see a lot of the love and affection she desperately craved, but didn’t get in her mother’s home.

As our heroine steps into her grown-up life, she appears, happy. She drinks, does drugs, sleeps with whoever she wants and becomes a high-profile, successful talk-show host. That’s what you plainly see on the outside.

On the inside, she’s the scared, insecure girl who only wants her mother’s approval. Flash to a scene where our heroine thinks it’s safe to go see her mother and share that she’s successful. She’s hopeful her mother will be proud of her accomplishments to date.

Imagine her heartbreak and disappointment once again when she doesn’t get it, but instead hands her mother, money for “rent”. She hides her hurt well. She stuffs it way down inside and covers the punch in the gut with a false sense of bravado.

She then struts her stuff with her head tilted high, shoulders squared, and chest puffed out, seeking approval from all the wrong places. She keeps everyone at arm’s length so they can’t get close enough to ignite the deep raw anguish ravishing her soul. To her, that would be a crime against the core of everything she’s built.

That’s the problem with building your house on materialistic things. Eventually, it all tumbles down. The control you think you have over your trauma is misconceived and misplaced and it needs a place to go. Trust me when I say, it will find a place, and it won’t be pretty.

Our heroine only wanted her mother’s approval. She even said something to the effect of “I keep going back for more, hoping this time it will be different and it never is.” She’s shattered from not getting love from a mother who in this stage of her life is an empty well. Yet, our heroine wants what the empty well can’t provide. Why?

Why do we constantly seek approval for who we are and what we’ve accomplished from others who are just as flawed as we are? I can’t answer that question. It’s truly just a hypothetical question.

I do know that when we desperately seek approval from others and don’t get it in the way we want, we turn to our identity thieves.

Social Media
Working out (make our outward appearance an idol)
Unwarranted plastic surgery

I could go on and on. Almost everything on the list above, I could raise my hand and say without out a doubt I did that. To be honest, I still do some of that. Just not the ones I deem detrimental to my being. Or are they?

The truth is, when we’re running on empty, low, or dry, unless we look to God’s Truth to fill us, we’re looking in the wrong places.

I can relate to our heroine. I grew up in the drug/alcohol addicted, devoid of love home. I saw what being desperate for love looked like. I lived what looking for love looks like. It made real love in action look like somebody wanted something from me. I lived my life suspicious of almost everything. The trauma I experienced took away what “safe” felt like and put my nervous system in a constant state of high alert and panic.

I can’t even begin to describe what my body does in response to certain stimuli. The funny thing is, it’s just when I think I’ve conquered something that yet another “alarm” goes off. This is not living. It’s surviving. My body was never built for this kind of trauma. Neither was yours. There’s a difference between learning to live with your pain, and healing from your pain.

It takes great courage to move past your hurt into healing. Facing the giants of your past will no doubt cause lots of tears and lots more snot. Always make sure you have plenty of tissues close by. Seriously, where does all the snot come from?

I’m still working through a lot of my “issues” but each day, I’m one step closer to becoming all God created me to be. I used to dread meeting “her” but now I can’t wait. I bet she’s going to be phenomenal.

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He’ll take all he can get from you. He laughs at your pain and constantly tries to get you to sit and wallow in what hurt you. Just what you’d seek in a friend, right? NOT!

Friends, God sent His one and only Son so you could live an abundant life. He cares greatly for you. But, like I always say, don’t take my word for it, take His!

“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” ~ John 10:9-11 (ESV)

Now that’s some good news.

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