Three times I pleaded with the Lord that He would take this thing from me. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. –2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT
Happy Friday y’all!
So this month’s focus is recovery. Unfortunately, it’s something I know a lot about….or fortunately. It depends on how you look at it.
To know a lot about recovery you have to know a lot about addiction. Monday I mentioned that quite a bit of my life has been plagued by addiction struggles, be it my parents’ struggles, other family members’, past husbands’, or my own. But it wasn’t until I walked into Temple of Selma, NC ten years ago that I began to understand recovery.
I mentioned Monday that my recovery process all started with love. When I learned about a Savior that loved me and wanted to help me, something inside me began to change.
I had only known a God of judgement and condemnation up until January of 2008. Around August of 2008, I made a commitment to Jesus that if He would have me, I would be His.I wanted to give everything I had to Him, even my addictions.
It would be years later before I learned a healthy process (Celebrate Recovery’s 12 Step Program), but that doesn’t mean that God didn’t start giving me victory right away.
He gave me victory through a word similar to love. The word is GRACE!
The word grace means undeserved favor. It means to have forgiveness or pardon that I didn’t earn. And once you have it, you learn to give it to others. Recovery is a healing process that begins with grace.
I wish that I could tell you that I fully understand grace and that the rest of this post is going to explain it to you thoroughly and completely….but I can’t.
I keep learning more about grace every day. Even after ten years of living my life for Christ, I am far from perfect. But, He has given me victory over one struggle at a time.
First, he gave me victory over cocaine, then speed, and then alcohol. That came the summer of 2008.
Next, He gave me victory over smoking, promiscuity, and loneliness. That came between 2010 and 2012.
The next struggle would be a big one to conquer. He slowly began a work in me to give me victory over codependency. This is just a big word that means control issues, manipulation, a horrible need to be needed, and an even worse need for the approval of man. Some just call it people-pleasing, but I think that’s way too narrow of a description.
That was the hardest habit to break. It took a lot of chiseling on God’s part to cut out that nasty habit. I still occasionally and temporarily relapse into some of my old struggles with codependency, but praise the Lord it is nothing like it used to be.
You see, God used Celebrate Recovery to help me put a name to my struggle. And by working the step study and answering some very hard questions in the process, I learned to recognize this problem more honestly. What’s more important is I learned that the struggle has a root.
You’ve heard the old saying that you have to pull a weed up by the root; otherwise, it just grows back up overnight? Bad habits (such as addictions and codependency) are caused by hang-ups that start as hurts.
To get to the root, you have to find the hurt. Then you have to deal with the hurt.
So how do you deal with it?
When you get to the root, you typically find that either someone hurt you or you hurt someone else.
Either way, healing requires grace. Remember, grace is undeserved forgiveness. Maybe you need to forgive someone for hurting you……or……maybe you need to forgive yourself.
Sometimes I begin to run from God for no apparent reason. After ten years of serving Him and journaling and documenting His goodness to me, it makes no sense why I would run.
But I do.
I can sense when He is about to do something special, and to be honest, it always scares me to death. And the scary thing is that as I write this, I feel like I am in one of those seasons.
I feel like I’m running because He’s got something planned. Something big! And I don’t know what it is.
It’s the most exciting and scariest thing at the same time. It’s not like I have a mission trip planned to Africa or I’m about to preach to a crowd of 5,000. I just teach kids. It’s my life.
I show up on Wednesday nights, Friday nights, and Sunday mornings, and I try my best to teach them about the love of Jesus the same way that somebody taught me. I try to love on them and show them the same grace that God shows me daily.
This past Sunday wasn’t much different than any other Sunday except it felt like I had been running exceptionally well the previous week. Running from what, I don’t know. Accomplishing what, I’m not sure. But I had kept myself so busy with meetings and events that I had very little time to listen to God. I knew there was no way I could get up on that stage and share the gospel or talk honestly with those kids without inviting Him in.
I went to the church super early. No one was there yet. It was still dark. I plugged my laptop in at the sound booth and pulled up YouTube so I could test the sound system. As I walked towards the stage to get a better idea of the sound and positioned myself at the peak of where the main speakers are angled, I began to worship.
I fell on my face at the altar. I thanked God for meeting with me there even though I had been running. I begged Him to speak to me. I begged for His forgiveness.
Just as I felt like God was about to tell me something, the song was coming to an end. Well, you know how YouTube will just auto-suggest the next song, and I just knew it was going to be something inappropriate for the moment because that’s just how Satan works. And if it was, it meant I would have to get up and make my way back to the sound booth, which would mean interrupting the special moment I was having with my heavenly Father. But I asked God to please let it be a good song. I even went so far as to ask Him to speak to me through the song. I told him that I didn’t deserve for Him to answer, but I didn’t want to get up from that altar. I wanted to keep worshiping.
As the first few notes of the new song began to play, I began to weep. I hadn’t heard the song in weeks. I knew right away what it was. It was a band that had played at our church last year, Unspoken, and the song was “Call it Grace.” At this point, I sobbed because of how much God loves me, because of how hard He fights to show me His true nature. I can’t earn it. I can’t run from it. I can’t hide from it.
I am taking a philosophy class at my local community college. Every class is basically an open discussion and the professor is awesome at engaging us. So I talk a lot. But I’m not sure how well a lot of it is received. Sometimes I feel like my classmates and professor think I am so simple-minded and naive. I don’t hide the fact that I trust in Jesus and that He is the sole reason for my ability to love and have joy and peace.
And every time I begin to feel like it’s not getting through, or the message needs to be more sophisticated and scientific, I think of “Call it Grace.” It has a line in it that says, “Some may call it foolish or impossible; but for every heart it rescues it’s a miracle. It’s nothing less than scandalous, this love that took my place. Just call it what it is, call it grace.”
It doesn’t need to be complicated at all. It just needs to look like love. And we just need to look like love to a hurting world.
It’s Thursday night at 11:29pm. I have been working on this post since 7pm. I was about three-quarters of the way finished and my computer crashed and I hadn’t saved the piece. The message on my screen was literally a sad face, and it said my computer had encountered a problem and needed to restart and it flashed some crazy error code. I was exhausted and about in tears at the thought of having to start over.
I even began to question if writing this blog is even something God wants me to do. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe someone else should be doing it. As I prayed that God would somehow let auto-recover pull my almost finished post back up, I stared at a twirling circle on the screen and I decided to take a break and check my phone.
If you don’t believe in grace and you don’t believe that God uses people to show it, hopefully this screenshot will change your mind. Because y’all, I’m telling you….it. did. something. to. me!! It wasn’t even what she said, it was just the timing. Just as I was about to burst into tears, this is what I saw on my phone:
A sweet friend of mine named Jenn Buck just happened to send me this random text and immediately after I read it, my computer came up and my post was auto-recovered. And I knew immediately that God did all of that to show off and to give me a perfect ending to this Faithful Friday’s post.
This is what grace looks like. It’s when God speaks to a friend and tells that person to tell you exactly what you need to hear. Just like a random song popping up on YouTube. Only you know it isn’t random. It’s love and it’s GRACE!
And those are the only two ingredients necessary for recovery: love and grace! If you know someone who is struggling with something, the best way you can help them is love them. If you don’t know how to love them, maybe you are the one that needs to get help first.
I love my church and my friends and my Bible and most of all MY GOD and one of the things that they do is equip me to pour into others. In the last ten years, I have found that my life has purpose and meaning. It has far too much purpose and meaning to waste it on drugs or alcohol or people-pleasing or fear of abandonment or…the list could go on and on. I want to spend every minute reciprocating the love and grace that my heavenly father has shown me.
Guys, I’m far from perfect. He’s still working on me, but I find comfort in this verse:
“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you [and me] will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day Christ Jesus returns.” -Philippians 1:6 AMP
Recovery: the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.
I believe to recover means to be rescued, to find something that was lost. Maybe you may be reading this post today and you feel lost. Maybe you need to be rescued. I know that the only way to be rescued is to be loved. Today I want you to know that you are loved. And not just a little but insanely loved. Jesus Christ loved you so much that he became a perfect sacrifice and died for your struggles, your hang-ups, and your hurts. He died so that you could have victory in this life and in the next.
Please, let me pray for you:
Father, thank you for every single person seeking peace who made their way to this post. I pray that they feel your insane love today. I am asking you to shower them with your grace, speak truth into their ears, minds, hearts, and souls. Send them a song or a friend or a scripture that will pierce their pains and eradicate any doubt that they are wanted, pursued, cherished and chased after. Father, please give them a glimmer of hope that your love is bigger than anything that they may be going through in this crazy world. I am asking you to give them victory today. Give them a small victory that will lead to another victory that will lead to great big victories. Thank you Father for all that you have done and all that you are going to do. I love you!
In Jesus’ name I pray,