Greetings, friends. I’m so glad to “see” you again. Are you still basking in Resurrection bliss?
Ahhh…I wish I could say, “Me, too, friends,” but I can’t. And actually, I have a confession to make.
In my “Monday Mayhem Southern-Style Celebration” post I wrote that “today doesn’t feel like a typical Monday Mayhem…”
Friends, that could not be further from the truth. You see, I wrote that Monday Mayhem post before I underwent sinus surgery the Thursday before Good Friday, and I wanted to make sure I had my post written because I didn’t know if I would feel like writing the weekend after surgery (I definitely didn’t).
So on the Monday after Easter, I was not having the Southern Style celebration I had planned. In fact, I spent most of the day snoozin’ between binge watchin’ a barely mediocre television show and nibblin’ saltines and sippin’ gingerale-RECOVERIN’, friends, that’s what I was doin’.
When I arrived back home after surgery, this lovely peace lily sat on my nightstand, a “welcome home, Mommy” gift from my boys.
Did you know that NASA discovered that the peace lily surpasses any houseplant in cleaning the air? Meaning that it not only looks pretty (and is super easy to care for, a real “bonus” for non-green-thumbers like me), but it also produces better quality air for my fam and me to breath.
So, really, the peace lily improves the quality of our lives for the long-term. Friends, that’s exactly what recovery does, too, for “[Jesus] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NIV).
The primary focus in my recovery thus far has been control and worth, though I also struggle with areas of codependency, trust, and unforgiveness, so I know I will be focusing on these additional struggles at various points throughout my recovery because one of the most important things I’ve ever learned about recovery is that it is ongoing. That’s right, friends. We will never be completely recovered until we get to Heaven. So when you decide to begin recovery, know that you’re making a life-long decision (that is totally worth it, by the way).
My recovery began at the end of October, 2014, a mere two weeks after I’d had my second son. It was while I rocked him and made over him as he slept in my arms that I recommitted my life to Christ. I determined that I would no longer be a “consumer Christian,” no longer a “What can you do for me?” Christian, no longer an “I’ll take my free gift and then live life as I please” Christian.
And friends, I would try to do better and live better and be better. And although I know that I made great, great strides in my faith, by March, 2017, I also knew that I was failing miserably. I drowned in sorrow, guilt, and shame, bitterness, resentment, and a host of other repressive and suppressive emotions because I just couldn’t get “it” right.
As I became more and more overwhelmed and stressed by life and my apparent inability to cope with it, David finally talked me into our accepting an invitation to attend Celebrate Recovery. Before then I held tight to the smile-as-you-walk-by-but-don’t-make-eye-contact acknowledgement and rehearsed “good” response to the “How are you?” question sure to come my way multiple times a day. I feigned the goofy-girl-who-is-always-good-for-a-laugh at any work meeting, church gathering, or social event. In a nutshell, I used a variety of Band-aids to carry me through each day.
So David and I began to attend “the best place to be on a Friday night until Jesus comes back” regularly, as in every Friday night. Our lives forever changed though not instantaneously.
I loved the large group time and small group sharing offered on Friday nights. In large group I began to experience the Holy Spirit in a way I’d never experienced before. No matter what had happened that day, or that week even, no matter how emotionally or spiritually drained I may have been when I walked through the doors, the large group with praise and worship, a message or testimony, and an opportunity to be at the altar and have others pray for me revived me. And the small group sharing served as an additional dose of renewal. I met other broken women and shared some of my hurt and pain, a feat in itself when the “I’m fine” response had always been my go-to, my Band-aid. More than anything, Friday nights helped me go beyond my just admitting my need for Jesus, to my finally admitting that I needed to surrender my life to Jesus. So I “…cried to the Lord in [my] trouble…” (Psalm 107:19, NIV). No more Band-aids.
Still, finally admitting that I didn’t have “it” all together took time, friends. Just like finally deciding to have sinus surgery took time. There was a whole process to the process.
In fact, I had been having problems with my sinuses since February, 2017. In October, 2017, I went to my general practitioner who diagnosed me with a sinus infection. At my third visit in just three months for sinus infections, he referred me to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist.
I visited the ENT who provided me a whole daily regime of meds and rinses. I followed the regime, almost perfectly, but upon a follow-up visit where my symptoms had considerably worsened, the ENT ordered a cat-scan.
The cat-scan revealed that I was a perfect candidate for surgery. Obviously, my sinuses had stopped functioning properly, and the chances of my kicking the sinus infection with a new round of medications were slim at best. So I scheduled surgery for Thursday, March 29, 2018, because I wanted to GET WELL! No more Band-aids!!
I chose surgery to GET WELL, but two and a half hours after my surgery initially began….
When I came to, I heard, “No! No, honey. You don’t want to touch that.”
I smacked at something (the nurse?) and my body uncontrollably shivered from the extreme cold (See the warming hose in the photo?). My teeth and nose throbbed. The nurse explained to David that I had apparently had a reaction to the tape used to hold the breathing tube in place, hence the red carpet-burn-like-mark coming down from my mouth. Ugh….I look rough, don’t I? I can tell you that in between being awake one minute and asleep the next, I alarmingly thought, “What have I done???”
BUT…did I want to get well? Or did I want to keep using the Band-aids (medications, rinses, etc.) that produced little to no results?
Do you want to act like everything is hunky dory, friends, or do you want to get well?
Friends, if I may be so bold, parts of recovery, when done “right”, really suck. Yes, suck. Like that picture of me in the recovery room after my sinus surgery suck.
When we met with a couple of regular CR goers who had “worked” the program, they spoke of undeserving grace and mercy and restoration and forgiveness and freedom and victory and WELLNESS IN SPITE of their life problems and struggles and personal imperfections.
Do you know how revolutionary that is, friends? That you can actually have freedom and victory and wellness IN SPITE OF being an imperfect mess? For the first time ever I think I realized that I had an illness that most everyone has, but I also knew more than anything that I wanted to get WELL. I hungered and thirsted for more of Jesus who “…[makes] everything beautiful in its time… and has also set eternity in the human heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV), for Jesus, who could heal my spiritual and emotional hurts, habits, and hang-ups, after having spent most of my life believing that I just needed to “get over myself,” “move on,” “leave the past in the past,” “focus on the future,” “try harder.”
I wanted even more. I wanted to take that next step. I wanted to dive right into my recovery, so in May, 2017, I eagerly signed up for my first step-study, a small study group of women who would use twelve steps based on biblical principles to journey through recovery from our hurts, habits, and hangups. I could not wait to get started….
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).
I went into my step-study “ready” for the next step. Sure, I was ready to get well, but was I ready to be honest with myself…and with God…and with others? Because that is what it would take, and that was something totally different.
A week after surgery, that’s yesterday, I went for a follow-up visit with my ENT.
(Warning: Somewhat graphic photo).
And he sucked out all the yuck from my nose. All the crusted blood and thickened mucus and packing. Because all the yuck had to come out so that my nose could continue to heal.
I chose recovery because life is not hunky dory all the time, friends. Because Band-aids don’t bring healing. And I will continue to choose recovery because more yuck needs to come out and the old yuck needs to stay out because, yes! I want to get well!
In that step study group with six courageous women who I will never forget, I admitted instead of denied. I confessed instead of blamed. I journeyed back to parts of my past I had bandaged with denial and sarcasm. I cried, probably enough to have the river of my tears placed on a map. I shared instead of concealed. I listened instead of prattled. I prayed. I admitted some more and confessed even more. I raged through more tears from past hurts. I surrendered instead of controlled, over and over again. I named my struggles (or at least many of them). And I learned the “why” of my struggles (or at least many of them). And I surrendered, again…and again…and again. Because the only one who could truly remove those Band-aids is Jesus: “’He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’” (2 Peter 2:24, NIV).
Friends, I can’t tell you that beginning recovery is easy or that continuing recovery gets easier, but I can tell you that you start getting well….
Pray with me, friends:
Thank you for loving us so much that You sent Your son to die on a cross so that we could spend eternity with You. And thank You for Your grace and mercy that is not a Band-aid but a means of recovery. If they haven’t already, I pray that my friends reading this will choose recovery for the first time or will choose to continue on their recovery journey. I pray they will fix their eyes on You, and allow You to take them places in their own lives that will bring overall healing. I pray they will surrender their lives, and allow You to get their yuck out to make them more Holy for life on Earth.
In Jesus’s Name,
(Side Note: It can take some recovery participants many, many months or even a year or more before taking a next step in the recovery process. This decision is between God and the participant only. Progress and process are subjective, friends. Remember this, and always follow God’s lead).
I know this is a pretty long devotional this week, friends, but we’ve talked about so much, I couldn’t decide on just one song. Feel free to listen to one now and the other later. (Natalie Grant’s “Clean” is my life song by the way).
AND OF COURSE, don’t forget to come back for Jamie’s Monday Mayhem on recovery.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.