I wish I could vouch that from the time of my spiritual conversion on I never gave into the selfish corrupt nature I had fostered nor ever abused prescription pain pills again. But obviously from where I sit today, you’ve most likely figured out that’s not the case.
No one ends up in jail on a winning streak.
I’ve heard testimonies of people who upon being regenerated by the Spirit of God never again picked up another drug or took another drink. My journey is not that. Do not misunderstand me…I fully believe the power of God can miraculously and instantaneously change a person to that degree. In fact, I believe in the power of God so much that I believe, if God wanted to, He could wake me up tomorrow a one-legged Chinese man. Further than that, I believe if God wanted to, He could wake me up tomorrow a one-legged Chinese man and make me believe I’d always been a one-legged Chinese man. I guess what I’m trying to convey is that it’s been my observation, as well as my experience, that more often than not, when it comes to God molding and shaping His children, “the journey” most commonly contains a series of trials and errors – peaks and troughs. The height, depth and extent of such are different for each person. The miraculous aspect being that through these trials and errors, peaks and troughs, we children begin to personally know and understand the fullness of His grace, mercy, forgiveness, faithfulness, kindness, trustworthiness, truthfulness, and most of all – His BIG LOVE for us. It will serve us well to realize –
There is no “cookie cutter” journey –
yours is yours,
mine is mine.
As I wrote, in part nine of this blog series, when I truly came to BELIEVE in Christ, my life resembled a train wreck – train wrecks take time to clean up. The rebellion of my youth had aided and produced a lot of hidden hedonistic behaviors that needed to be identified and dealt with. All the various doors of pleasure and excitement that I had kicked open along the way needed to be addressed as well. Not to mention the corrupt moral nature – used to appeasing itself whenever and however it wanted – needed to be corralled. The years of a self-serving lifestyle had accumulated a myriad of hurts, habits and hang-ups (none of which God ever wastes) that only God could heal and straighten out.
Try as I may, the first few years of my journey out of addiction were riddled with relapses. Although I sincerely did not want to live a life dependent on pain pills any longer, I continued to go back to what I knew would provide me with a sense of relief from everyday life as well as instant gratification – pain pills. The problem was I’d lived in pill popping mode for so long that I didn’t know how NOT to live without them. For nearly ten years, pain pills had been my comforter and counselor – my coping mechanism when I experienced unsettling feelings of insecurity or inadequacy. Above and beyond that, they had been my recreation and everyday life enhancer. My life was accustomed to revolving around the synthetic and pseudo pleasure that pain pills produced – nothing was fun without them. And then one day…that mode of living was to be no more.
I was left holding the shattered remnant of a life
frayed and mangled by addiction and very poor choices.
I didn’t know what to do.
I had lived in a chemically aided state for so long that I had literally forgotten how to live sober. I had no coping mechanisms – pain pills were the extent of my coping skills. I had no grasp on how to deal with life on life’s terms…and the pile of twisted wreckage that best described my life…are you kidding me? I had not a clue of how to sort through it and begin to put it back together.
I needed HELP!
Through a series of events I learned of a one year residential Christian discipleship program that assisted people with life controlling issues such as mine. Though initially a year sounded like a long time to me, my inability to successfully stay off the pills and my immense desire to change nudged me to enroll in the program – so I did. It was there that God met my effort and began to heal and repair the years of damage I had inflicted on myself. How you ask? By showing me Who He was through the Truth of His Word. As He did this, I began to understand more and more of
Who God is –
who I am –
but most importantly, who I am in Him.
As God began to renew my mind and heal my wounds, true life and the world we live in began to make more sense to me.
After graduating from the Christian discipleship program, I stayed on a few more years as a staff member. I eventually left to take a position at a Christian university. I sheepishly smile and chuckle to myself when I recall the prideful confidence I had in myself at various stages of my spiritual growth – thinking at times that I had matured fully and “arrived” as a Christian – completely unaware of the fact that there was much more refining that needed to take place.
The reality of this need became grossly apparent to me shortly upon arrival at the university. Although in my mind I thought I’d reached the Super Bowl of Christianity, I quickly began to experience feelings of inferiority and inadequacy because of my past and background. I felt as if I didn’t belong. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had not “arrived” and that this step along my journey was not the Super Bowl. The truth of the matter was I really had only been transferred by God to another location of His school of life. I had no idea how deep and revealing the curriculum would be. God would use this new location as a giant x-ray machine – revealing to me faulty character issues that stealthily loomed below the surface.
In the end I would have my opportunity to get brutally honest.
…from the inside…ray-ray