I remember like it was yesterday dropping my loved one off at a rehab facility and saying goodbye for the next six months, what seemed like forever to be without my best friend. The flood of emotions were overwhelming alongside the all-consuming feelings of what our journey through the bondage of addiction had already entailed. Tears flowed freely throughout my next four-hour ride home with what I would call a sense relief along with a ray of hope, which is something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
Life had been entangled and all-consuming with my loved one. Throughout my first week without him, I felt so lost. As much of a relief that it was that he was safe and getting help, I found myself at a loss with him gone. A loss of worry, a loss of what to do with myself, and sadly, a loss of purpose. I had taken care of this person for so long and spent my life trying to save him, what do I do now? The question was: HOW DO I HEAL? One of the hardest realizations was that I was worthy of recovery too. Just as much as they need healing and recovery, so do we. And in order to heal together, we must heal apart and take care of our very own wounds.
Unfortunately, seasons of addiction are not a one-man sport, the whole family gets to play- lovingly, I like to call it. What starts out as something so innocent and unknown turns into something you never expected it to be. My journey was killing me. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. I stopped eating, stopped sleeping, and stopped dreaming with this big cheery heart of mine. I started losing every piece of myself. Every second was wrapped up with worry. Every situation was ridden with bitterness and resentment. I’m sure you know these feelings all too well. You may be at the beginning of this journey, or you may be in the ray of light middle, but most importantly, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. On the darkest nights, you still aren’t alone.
Shortly into my journey to healing, a mentor told me something so simple that made it all so clear:
“Just as someone cannot love us enough into making us love ourselves is the same in that we cannot love someone enough to make them love themselves enough to want to heal from addiction.”
Healing comes from within and learning to love ourselves through God’s eyes and not the world’s. With this epiphany, as hard as it was to admit, I was crippling a man who was capable of walking because I chose to carry him. I was lovingly enabling him and it was time to lovingly detach from him. And in that moment, I realized he was not mine to save and that the healing started with and within me. It was between God and I, not John and I.
I had to ask for John’s forgiveness and for God’s. I realized that I had tried to love him so much and to make life so perfect that surely, he would never pick it up again. That if I could make life easy enough, that clearly, he wouldn’t want that life anymore. But that wasn’t a power that I was capable of having. The only person that could love him enough to heal him is God. I was carrying a burden that wasn’t meant for me to carry. And God said,
“For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13).
In the quiet of my bedroom, broken and hopeless, with tears streaming down my face, I closed my eyes, and I released my grip and handed him over to God. “He is yours now God. Your will be done, not mine.” And in that very moment, I felt the peace that I had searched for in so many different places, that truly only God could give to me. And just like that, my journey to healing and recovery began.
This is a choice that you have to make every morning, if not 100 times a day. I had a mentor tell me one day in a fit of fear, “Lay him back down at God’s feet, you’ve picked him back up.” In some weak and fleshly moments, I still think that I can save him and protect him. God will allow me to pick him back up because it was My selfish will. Silly me! I lay him back down with a sign, every.single.time of ‘I told you child, I have him and I’m taking care of him.’ It’s in those moments, when trust has been ripped and broken that I smile because I am learning where my trust truly comes from and he has yet to fail me. Restoration with our loved ones and with God comes in so many forms during this process. I became grateful for the wounds that pushed me towards God. I think that’s the most beautiful part!
You think you love the one suffering more than life itself? Well if you can imagine this, God loves them even more than that! More than we could ever begin to fathom of what his kind of love feels like. How deep it goes and how wide it stretches and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that will tear him away from his children. Lay them down at God’s feet. Drop that rope of tug-a-war. Let go and let God. Watch them fall into his bountiful grace and watch God pick them up and heal like you’ve never seen healing before.
Life is an interwoven and intricate plan. I know that this may not be the path you would have chosen for your child, dad or mom, sibling, friend, or loved one, but what I can tell you is that you are about to see God work and heal if you will allow him. Don’t miss the miracle. Lay this weight down, take off this burden that you are carrying, and give it to a man who died to carry it for us. There is healing in his promises. Let him wash you clean. And if you have never been a believer, I promise, you will not regret it. It’s like chasing everything that never made you happy and coming home to a place of the most magnificent feeling you’ve ever felt. Just as freedom and healing are in store for them, it’s waiting for you too. To wake up knowing God is on your side, is enough.
So now it’s time to take care of you. You are deserving and you are worthy, don’t forget that! It’s time to go to bed knowing that God is working for your good (Romans 8:28). Rest peacefully. To wake up in the mornings with a joy that you haven’t felt in a long time. To remember what it feels like to laugh so hard you can’t stop. To be able to go through a day knowing that it’s been taken care of before you ever put your feet on the ground. To forgive yourself for the things that you did and didn’t do that you’ve held yourself to for far too long. To let go of that blame that you’ve let the enemy hold you to. It’s time to learn to enjoy things that you once did again. Find new passions. Grow in his strength. And know that you absolutely, whole heartedly, did not cause it, can’t control it, and can’t change it. God’s got it. It’s time to take care of you. And most importantly, learn to love yourself again. Be gentle to yourself, you are meetings parts of yourself that you have been at war with for far too long. Let the healing hands of God wash over you. Let the miracle begin!