Welcome back friends! Monday, with all its mayhem, is pretty marvelous! Want to know why? Because Monday is a fresh start to a brand new week, and that is MARVELOUS, especially when we are talking about RECOVERY!
Recovery is all about starting over again, making things new or fresh again.
This morning, as you start off your week, I want to share a bit of my recovery story. I know you’ve heard some great things already from Stephanie, Jamie, and Yvette. My prayer is for you to be inspired to make TODAY a new day no matter what yesterday looked or felt like.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said, “But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” I’ll give you the rest of the verse, but first, let’s narrow in on this part: I press on.
I’ve always been good at pressing on. I grew up in a chaotic and tumultuous home. I learned very early how to put my head down and press on in whatever I needed to accomplish. Pressing on became synonymous with being quiet for me.
Don’t ask questions.
Don’t make eye contact.
Pressing on as a child meant fading into the background so I wouldn’t get in trouble.
By my preteen years I was starving for someone to see me. The abuse of my home blinded me from the red flags that should have told me not to be involved with my first abuser. He was a sweet talker, and he told me everything I had ever dreamed someone would say to me. He also held me personally responsible for every emotion he had, good or bad. It was a roller coaster relationship that left me blinded even more.
I pressed on to my new relationship, though different, not quite healthy. He told me face to face that he didn’t love me. Our relationship was about other things. I stayed anyway because I believed I was unlovable.
In every abusive relationship I’ve ever been in, I’ve given way too much of myself away. I’ve carried the burden of other’s feelings and actions. My identity became my abuse and my name became SHAME. For years I was unable to look at myself in the mirror. I didn’t live; instead, I died a slow painful death one abuser at a time. But, I pressed on…
Friends, in all those years of abuse and pressing on, I knew the Lord. I read my Bible. I served at church. I told others how good God is. Abuse is like a cloud of darkness that continually hovers over your life. However, the light has a way of shining so brightly in the midst of great darkness. I’ve always known how great God is because God has ALWAYS been faithful to shine His light through the dark clouds in my life!
Although I knew how good God is, I didn’t always understand His word. It’s so easy to misinterpret scripture. Abuse and shame, when not dealt with, will blind us and prevent us from hearing the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to understand the scriptures.
Before I began my recovery, my view of the world, the scripture included, was colored by the lens of shame, addiction, fear, anxiety, and co-dependency. Pressing on meant looking deeper into myself for strength. Pressing on meant pretending not to be upset, smiling when I was sad, and making the world think I had it all together even when I didn’t.
Let’s look at the entire verse this time:
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of [becoming like Christ]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14 NIV
When I see the verse in context, I realize God hasn’t called me to press on by fading into the background. He hasn’t called me to cover up my true feelings.
God has called me to press on towards having a more intimate relationship with him. He has called me to know how lovely and beautiful I am to Him.
Pressing on is a term of perseverance, but not because of my own strength. I can press on because of Jesus Christ and His power in my life.
There’s more to the story. I want to tell you how God is using my son’s battle with childhood cancer to tear down the walls of shame in my life. There’s so much to say, but it’s Monday, and the mayhem is beginning; I know. So here’s my invitation to you, and maybe a friend or two: Join me on Faithful-Friday as I talk about cancer, community, and recovery!
Oh and one more invitation: Give yourself permission to LIVE today. I mean really live and breathe in the middle of the chaos. Seek out what is right and let today be a fresh start to a fresh week! Would you read the serenity prayer with me?