Inspiration

H.O.P.E. – Hold On, Pain Ends

Holding onto Hope through Recovery

I remember like it was yesterday dropping my loved one off at a rehab facility and saying goodbye for the next six months, which seemed like forever to be without my best friend. The flood of emotions saying goodbye in conjunction with the all-consuming feelings of what our bondage of addiction had already entailed was overwhelming. Tears flowed freely throughout my 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 engrossed by my loved one. I felt so lost throughout my first week without him. As much of a relief, 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 I kept coming back to was, how do I heal? One of the hardest realizations was that I was in need of recovery too. Just as much as addicts need healing and recovery, so do the ones that care for them. I accepted that in order to heal together, we must heal apart and take care of our own wounds.

The Seasons of Healing

Unfortunately, seasons of addiction are not a one-man sport, the whole family gets to play. What starts out as something so innocent and unknown turns into something you never expected. 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 others 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 which made it all so clear. Their words were, “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, 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 at that moment, I realized he was not mine to save and that the healing started within me. It was between God and me, 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 up using again. That if I could make life easy enough, that clearly, he wouldn’t want that life of addiction anymore. But I wasn’t capable of holding that power. The only person that could love him enough to heal him was and still is God. I was carrying a burden that wasn’t meant for me to carry.

Some words of the Lord that helped heal me through this journey are:

“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

Accepting the Lord’s Power of Healing & Recovery

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. A truth that only God could give to me. And just like that, my journey to healing and recovery began.

This choice of acceptance is one 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 that is my selfish will. However daily I release the stubborn resistance and I continue to 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 healing 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! The feeling of His kind of love is unfathomable and beyond our deepest imagination. How deep it goes and how wide it stretches, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that will tear God away from His children. Lay the ones struggling down at God’s feet. Drop that tug-a-war rope, let go and let God do his work. Watch them fall into his bountiful grace and watch God pick them up and heal as you’ve never seen healing before.

Journey Down the Path of Recovery with the Addict You Love

Life is an interwoven and intricate plan. I know that this may not be the path you would have chosen for your child, dad, mom, partner, sibling, friend or other loved one, but what I can tell you is that you are about to see God work and He will heal if you will allow Him. Don’t miss the miracle of recovery. Lay this weight down, take off this burden that you are carrying, and give it to a man who died in order to carry it for us. There is healing in His promises. Let him wash you clean. If you have never been a believer, I promise you will not regret it. Finding your faith is like coming home to a place of the most magnificent feeling you’ve ever felt after chasing everything that never made you happy. To wake up knowing God is on your side is enough.

Remember, it is now time to take care of you. You are deserving and you are worthy, don’t ever forget that! It’s time to go to bed knowing that God is working for your good (Romans 8:28). Rest peacefully. Wake up in the morning with a joy that you haven’t felt in a long time. Remember what it feels like to laugh so hard you can’t stop. This is what the Lord’s light will serve you, and beyond.

Releasing the burden of fixing your addicted loved one to God grants you well-deserved freedom. It allows you to be able to go through a day knowing that everything has been taken care of before you put your feet on the ground. To forgive yourself for the things that you did and didn’t do. Guilt that you’ve held onto 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 all the things that you once did again.

Find new passions. Grow in his strength. And know that you absolutely, wholeheartedly, did not cause your loved one’s addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t change it. Don’t worry though because God can. It’s time to take care of you. Most importantly, learn to love yourself again. Be gentle to yourself, you are meeting 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!

S2L Recovery Healing Addicts Through the Lord’s Light in Middle TN

Our community at S2L Recovery focuses on getting the help addicts need through God’s guidance and the Christian faith. We not only heal those addicted to drugs and alcohol, but we also help heal their loved ones, the ones who also need a path to recovery. By working in unity, we can all heal the wounds from a harmful addiction and we can all work towards growing with the Lord. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction reach out to S2L Recovery today to begin the journey to recovery.

Relapse–Don’t Loose Heart

The Thoughts After Recovery

It is safe to say that anyone who has struggled with addiction is never immune to tempting and dangerous thoughts. It is a strange thing to have made it through the hard part of the recovery process and still struggle with the idea of using. To think about going back to a lifestyle that is so destructive and detrimental to the lives of the user and the user’s friends and family. I call it strange because after becoming sober, truly confronting your past, and going through the painful process of reconciling with that past, the devastation caused is so clear. However, we feel that inevitable pull from the darkness. So, why does such a horrible lifestyle continue to haunt us after we have been sober for some time? How can we effectively and successfully battle these urges?

What is a Relapse?

First, let’s address the stigma of a “relapse”. The world and it’s “performance model of success” wants us to believe that we have failed the process and therefore, we must go back to the start. But if we believe with our hearts that we have already been forgiven and we are indeed living in a “purifying process” (sanctification) of life in Christ, then we don’t have to be haunted by these thoughts.

Words of the Lord the helped me through my addiction and recovery include:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12

I believe another answer for anyone dealing with this type of struggle after recovering from an addiction is the simple fact that we are indeed creatures of routine. There is a great book by Charles Duhigg called, The Power of Habit, in which he describes the physiological processes of our brains after a habit is formed. In short, our brain activity drastically decreases upon the formation of a habit. For example, when we back out of the driveway it is so ingrained in our unconscious, so routine that our brain doesn’t have to work very hard to complete the task. This very same thing happens in drug use and relapse- it is ingrained in our mind. Therefore, we have to form new habits in order to replace the harmful old ones.

Battling the Thoughts and Urges

How can we effectively and successfully battle these urges? It is almost a cliché to say, “fill the void”, but that is indeed what must be done. One of the most important things I have learned in my journey to be free from my addiction is that my using was a form of idol worship. I believe every single person fills their respective void with something. I believe this is a unique trait to every individual’s own human make up. In my own life, the only way that I can be free from the haunting pull of returning to my demons in drug use is to fill my thoughts and actions with the words of God and a desire to know Him more intimately.

“God has put eternity (or curiosity/ignorance) into our hearts and no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastics 3:11

We are contemplative and inquisitive people who throughout our history have searched for meaning in spirituality. It is our formed opinions and beliefs about the spiritual world that shape our thoughts, actions, and desires. This quest or desire for something bigger than ourselves is at the very center of our existence. Once you start to consider that God is real, then the pursuit of anything other than a life led by Him seems so insignificant.

Recovery and Christianity

In my own life, I eventually had to succumb to the idea that there is a God. Then I had to decide what that looked like, or rather, which God was real to me. I love the Christian faith for so many reasons. One reason is that the stories are verifiable. Our New Testament (along with the Old Testament) tells the story of a transformation of religious customs and traditions by the death and resurrection of Jesus, bringing salvation to any who would believe and pursue Him. The story fulfills years of prophecy which can be traced throughout writings from hundreds and thousands of years previous.

After his death and resurrection, the New Testament tells the story of how this truth of the word of the Lord spread across the known world. With that, there was also the persecution that came to those who chose to spread the beliefs of the Christian faith. What is so amazing to me about this story is how many different people gave account to the same thing. I use to think, how is Christianity any different from a modern-day cult? One simple, yet powerful argument is that the men and women who were the first ones through the door of modern Christianity were continuously imprisoned, beaten, and murdered in horrendous ways. Why would so many people so passionately pursue something that wasn’t real when they knew that it meant a life lived in poverty and quite probably, torture and painful death?

All of this is important, but the main reason I choose to believe in Jesus Christ is because of what he stood for. Some words from the Bible that further my belief in a life led by my beliefs are:

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, ‘this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’’ – Luke 15:1-2

Tax collectors in the time of Jesus have no comparison by today’s standards. In that time, the land was under Roman rule by way of the Roman army. Roman soldiers were beyond cruel. Imagine a foreign army invades, rapes and murders your family, and then they hire your neighbor to collect taxes from you to be given back to the very army that raped and murdered your family. This was the role of the tax collector in the time of Jesus, and yet he spoke with them, ate with them, loved them, and offered them salvation.

This is the what I choose to fill my void with – the pursuit of righteousness by way of Jesus Christ. Once set upon that path, temptations do not disappear, but they do diminish drastically.

S2L Recovery Healing Addicts in Middle Tennessee

Our S2L Recovery community constantly reminds us of the importance of a life through Jesus Christ. Through his words and teachings, we can help addicts journey down the path of recovery and the blossoming and nourishment of the Christian faith. If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, please reach out to us and let us help you towards recovery!

I want to be Sober for the Holidays

Sober During the Holiday Season

I have been struggling to write this piece for a while now. As someone who is newly sober, I wanted to discuss how to deal with the holiday season, however, while beginning to write my words, I realized how new to being sober I really am. Although I’ve already endured my first sober holiday season, this one would be my first, “out of the bubble,” (i.e out of a rehabilitation program). I think it’s important to simply take these days just as you have been throughout your sobriety – one day at a time.

The Holiday Season as An Addict

The holidays have always been a struggle for me as I fell deeper into my addiction. A time that was supposed to be full of love, cheer, and thanks had turned more into a time of depression, shame, and the sense of being a burden to anyone and everyone around me. When you are addicted, you lose grasp of what is truly important. Not even my family or friends could get in between me and my pursuit of getting my fix. As an addict, my focus was more towards knowing if there was going to be alcohol at the party I was going to, how long church was going to be so that I can make sure I drink enough to get me through the service, or finding out what time the liquor stores were closing/opening. Everything was about my chase for the drink. My family, friends and loved ones were always an afterthought. It was all about my needs and wants. During the season of giving, I was nothing but selfish.

As an addict, one thing that shames me (if you currently are an addict, or have been struggling with addiction, I’m sure you can relate) is that I was never able to get anyone gifts for the holidays. The fact that I would spend the money on a bottle of vodka instead of getting my niece or nephew a toy for the holidays is still something that haunts me to this day. The sad thing is, the shame of showing up drunk, not getting gifts for anyone, or being a burden to hosts, never seemed to outweigh my need for alcohol. Alcohol never judged me. It was my safe place for a long time. It was somewhere I could go to hide and numb my fears and anxieties.

One of the worst fears for an addict is being judged, especially at large gatherings, weddings, holidays, etc. I was always scoffed at. At these gatherings, I was the one person who people would secretly pray would not be able to make it. I had become that person who I always had looked down on my whole life and I knew it, I just didn’t care. Denial is an addict’s favorite weapon, and as with most weapons, it eventually runs out of ammo. That’s when the denial turns into realization and shame.

The Holiday Season in Rehab

When I went to treatment last year, it was right at the start of the holiday season. I finally hit rock bottom and actually wanted to try to get help. A lot of people think, “Wow that is so terrible that a family would drop off their loved one at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility during the holidays.” As if they were taking the easy way out and handing off their problem to someone else. To be honest, that is exactly what I was thinking when I came to S2L Recovery. The thought that “Wow, my family doesn’t want me home for the holidays, that’s so selfish of them,” was embedded in my mind. This couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Being in rehab for the holidays was actually the best thing that could have happened to me at that time during my addiction. At S2L, I was in a safe place, surrounded with people who understood me for the first time in a long time (if not ever), and at the same time, my family was able to celebrate the holidays without having to worry about me. They did not have to worry about getting a call at 2 AM Christmas Eve saying their son is in jail, dead, or has been in an accident. It was a weight lifted off of everyone’s shoulders.

Home for the Holidays

Now being home for the holidays, and no longer in treatment, I can honestly say that I am very excited about the celebratory, loved-filled days coming up. I have a new appreciation for the holiday season and what it is about. This is the first year that I am actually anticipating the holidays instead of dreading them. Being able to face this season with my newly found Christian faith, I have a much deeper understanding and gratitude for what the holidays are all about. I am not only celebrating sobriety this season, but I’m also celebrating Life, God, Forgiveness and second chances.

S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction please seek help. Even though it may feel like it at times, remember that you are NOT alone. We’re all Gods creation; we all have a purpose and are all here to love each other. Our S2L Recovery community is here to help lead anyone’s hand through a recovery journey, giving our love to God and moving towards a fulfilled, peaceful life.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

It’s time for intervention–now what? Part 1

An Intervention

Intervention. One simple word, but yet it evokes such a vast range of emotions. Fear, anxiety, hurt, pain, and bitterness can all keep us from taking this step in addiction recovery. Thoughts that swirl through the mind when contemplating an intervention could include:

  • What will they do?
  • What will they say?
  • What should I say?
  • What if I screw it up?
  • What if they hate me?

This mental narrative can prevent us from taking necessary action. Each recovery story is unique, but for many, an intervention is exactly what got them to the place they needed to be. A place where they were ready for a change.

You may be thinking, “Great! An intervention! That’s what we need to do!” But you also may be wondering on where to even begin. We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Kevin Parker, a recovered addict and former ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery at Rock Point Church in Crawfordsville, IN. His own journey of recovery started when his wife, children, and a few good friends staged an intervention that ended up saving his life and all he held dear. Since being in recovery, Kevin has been able to walk through the healing process with many others, and he has been kind enough to pass on some wisdom to us. When asked we could share this information with our S2L Recovery community, he quickly agreed and said that “all the credit belongs to God!”

The Steps of an Intervention

You may be asking yourself, “what is an intervention exactly?” A formal intervention is when a small group of people who prepare a time to sit down with the addicted loved one in order to: express concern and care, share the love and hurt, and to set up expectations, boundaries, and also consequences if the loved one chooses not to get help. Let’s look into the critical steps of successfully staging an intervention to help your loved one recover from their addiction.

Who to Join and How to Prepare

When setting up an intervention for a drug or alcohol addict you need to ensure you’re surrounding your loved one with the right people. Choosing the right group of people is key in an intervention. A group of 3-8 people is the most ideal, and each person should genuinely love and care about the addict. Be sure to avoid inviting anyone who may be angry or bitter. People with those feelings may use this as a time of retribution, whereas an intervention should be a time of deep love and care.

Once you have formed a group of carefully chosen individuals, set up a time or multiple meetings, to gather prior to the intervention. Take this time to get to know each other on a deeper level of understanding. Share with each other the experiences you’ve had when dealing with your loved one’s addiction. Be sure to reach a place of full comfortability, openness and unified making it so everyone is on the same page. By opening up this discussion everyone will know what stories your addicted loved one is telling and who has truly been helping out. This will be the best safeguard against manipulation and will help everyone to have the full story, understand the full picture and stay accountable. Don’t forget to pray together! This journey will not be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it.

Research and Learn

Encourage each person to learn as much as they can about their loved one’s addiction, about enabling behaviors, and about codependency. The more you each learn and comprehend, the better the group can help support your loved one in a real and healthy way. For example, if you have set up strong, effective boundaries, but Grandma keeps giving the addicted loved one money, nobody wins. Plus, many of us can discover own hurts and hang-ups as we have searched for answers. Loving an addict can seem completely counterintuitive to our feelings. However, we need to take responsibility for our part in the process of this faith-based recovery, as well.

Make sure to conduct thorough research prior to the addiction intervention. Find a rehabilitation center that has a good reputation, map out group meetings close by, and find the name of a Christian counselor or phycologist who specializes in addiction and recovery. Have a plan in place to make it easy for your loved one to take action and get help. Brainstorm all the excuses your loved one could possibly use such as:

  • Time off work
  • The need to rearrange their schedule
  • Help with their kids
  • A ride to meetings or appointments

Make a plan of action and choose who can help with each area of excuse. Be as prepared as possible for whatever excuse your loved one may use to say try and deny help with their addiction.

Choose a Support Team

It’s important for an addict to have a support team, those who will encourage, rally and help them through their journey of recovery. Before the intervention is implemented, choose people to be the addict’s support team! Some of the roles within the support team may be:

  • Who can help clean out the loved one’s house or space – help them get rid of unhealthy items (drugs, alcohol, paraphernalia, etc)
  • Who can visit with them – take time to pray with them and just be with them, enjoy one another’s company.
  • Who can perform consistent check-ins – someone who reaches out on a daily basis to just remind the addict that they are loved, they are supported and through God’s movement they can make it through this recovery.

Make a schedule and be ready to share your plans thoroughly with your loved one.

Choose an Intervention Leader or Facilitator

For many addicts, chaos rules their life. They thrive on manipulation, high emotions, and trying to be in control. Having this main point person run the time will keep things orderly and calm. Agree ahead of time to only have the facilitator speak to the loved one outside of the letter reading time. There will be many moments during the intervention in which this will not be easy. Following this guideline may mean ignoring pleas, insults, and tears. Just remember, the goal is to keep everything progressive in an empathetic, strategic and somber way. You don’t want to let your feelings be in control of the intervention.

Writing a Letter to The Addict You Love

The last preparation step prior to an addiction intervention is writing a 1-2 page letter to your loved one. Each member of this intervention needs to partake in addressing the addict through these written words. This letter should include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Ways that your loved one has been a blessing in your life
  • Ways they have hurt you because of their addiction
  • The consequences if they choose not to get help

For instance, the addict’s son could decide that Dad can’t come to his games anymore, or Mom decides that because of her son’s drug addiction, he can’t have any more help with his bills. Maybe the addict’s wife tells him that he will have to move out, or his friends tell him that he can’t come over any longer.

Consider holding another pre-intervention get-together where you can share your letters with each other. Practice reading them out loud and get comfortable with what you will be saying. Writing and sharing the letter is hard, and it can be very emotional. Take your time, pray for the right words, and remember that the goal is love and restoration!

S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee

Now that you and your group are ready, the next step will be to invite your addicted loved one and hold the intervention itself. We dive into the ins and outs of intervention day in It’s Time For An Intervention: Part 2 – Be Prepared. While dealing with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, redemption and peace can seem hard to come by. But continue to pray, seek the Lord and He will direct you in this process.

Please reach out to S2L Recovery and let us know how we can help you or someone you love through an addiction. We would love to pray with you and help you along this faith-based journey to healing.

4 Lies we believe when loving an addict

Loving an Addict

None of us ever plan on a loved one becoming an addict. We don’t go into friendships, relationships, marriages, or have children thinking “I better be prepared in case this person ends up with some bad habits.” So, when we find ourselves in just that position, it’s normal to not know what to do. In addition, the spiritual element causes us to see an enemy who wants to destroy our loved ones and allow chaos and confusion to take hold in our lives. So many of us have tried to help, wanted to be helped, and even in the deepest desperation to help, we see our best efforts fall flat (at best) or enable (at worst).

To understand deeper what it’s like to not only love an addict but what burdens may be brewing in your own soul due to this addiction, S2L Recovery spouse broke down four of the biggest lies that she believed while her husband was in his addiction and recovery.

1. I’m Not the One Who Needs Help

“What should I do at the meeting?” I asked awkwardly, “I mean since I’ve never struggled with being addicted drugs or alcohol?” With kindness and a little pity, the woman sitting across from me simply said, “Ask God to show you where your own hang-ups are.” Still feeling frustrated and nervous I completed my first group meeting. Not yet understanding co-dependency, and knowing that God was calling us to work with people who struggle with addictions, I sat down in a circle of women who were wanting to recover from chemical dependency.

Terrified that I would be found out as a “fake” I tried to avoid pointed questions and was cautious of over-sharing. However, what I learned from being in that group has forever changed me. I got to see the human side of addiction. I saw moms desperate to be reunited with their kids, women, who were willing to put in the hard work to become who God said they were – ladies who loved and laughed and cried and cared about each other. I did ask God to reveal to me where I needed to recover, and he used this group meeting to teach me about trusting Him with the people I care about.

Some of the Lord’s words that helped me discover what I needed to recover and heal include:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

He taught me that He is the one who works in their lives, it’s not my job to fix them or change them.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

He taught me that I wasn’t in control, and what a sweet blessing that really is.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

It’s easy to think we don’t need help, but that’s a lie that will keep us from healing and learning what we do need to do.

2. What I Say Doesn’t Matter

Anger, tears, apathy, manipulation, begging, and belittling are a few of the ways that we try to talk our loved ones out of their struggle. Words are a big deal to me. I say a lot of them, write a lot of them, and I take the words of others to heart (any other “Words of Affirmation” love-language people out there?). I love using thorough words to communicate my exact thoughts and feelings. When my boyfriend (now husband) started admitting little things about his new harmful habits, I was often at a loss for words. What should I say to encourage him to stop? What if my words push him away? How can I convey my concern and change his heart, but not lose him?

Fast-forward several years, we are newly wedded and I’m coming home to find him high-as-a-kite more often than not. My concern had turned to deep desperation. Sometimes anger spurred mean words and accusations. Sometimes hurt poured out tears and I would beg him to stop. I tried threats, I tried to shame him, I tried anything I could think of to pierce his heart. It wasn’t until I decided to turn it over to God and to really trust Him, that I began to see any change.

I know the power of words well, so I turned my efforts into a firm, but kind approach. I took the words I poured onto my husband and started to pour them out to God in prayer. Instead of begging my husband to stop, I started begging God to move. Instead of crying to get my way, I was crying to my Heavenly Father, who loves me and holds me.

Some words that helped me heal and move:

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

Instead of anger and belittling, I started treating my husband with respect. Not because he was worthy of it on his own merits, but because God calls me to do it out of my love for Him.

“Respect each other out of your reverence for Christ. For wives, this means to respect your husbands as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:21-22 (NLT)

Prayer made all the difference. How I spoke to my husband and to the Lord changed everything.

3. I Can’t Tell Anyone Else

One of the most common lies I’ve seen loved ones of an addict believe is that we can’t share with anyone because “they won’t understand.” Ecclesiastes states, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Understand that nothing we are going through is new, many others have gone through these struggles, too. The enemy wants us to feel alone, isolated, and secretive. The enemy wants us to believe that our loved one will never forgive us. However, if we reach out, if we tell someone what’s going on, then we might hear the two best words – “Me too.”

God created us in His image to be relational. We were never supposed to walk through life without support and accountability. When we find a person we can trust and we share what we are going through, we create an ally in the fight. We have someone to pray for us, someone to check in on us, who asks about things and someone who will keep us accountable for how we handle situations, struggles, and life.

Another healing verse from Ecclesiastes that helped me through my loved one’s addiction is:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

4. It’s Hopeless

The biggest lie, and perhaps worst lie, that Satan can lead us to believe is that our loved one’s situation, that our situation is hopeless. When we believe that things are hopeless, we give up. We stop praying, stop caring, and we stop seeking help. We may write our struggles off, we may block them out, we may detach from the world, all in an effort to stop our pain. We may feel depressed or anxious, always anticipating the next big disaster.

When we started visiting St Kitts to prepare for our move there, we would share with people we met why God was sending us to their country. We would talk about starting recovery programs to help people with addictions. Multiple times residents responded with the typical, “Oh, don’t bother to help the adults here. The adults here are hopeless.” You could clearly see how hopelessness had affected the culture. There were no drug and alcohol recovery programs, no help for anyone beyond detoxing in the hospital. If you truly believe something is hopeless, then you give up in believing that things will ever change. Having hope means everything in this journey. The best way to find enlightening hope for our loved ones is by having faith that God can do anything. He can give back true light and hope to those feeling such loss and darkness.

Words of hope:

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

”I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Living Beyond the Lies

Please note that the lies we endure on this journey is infinite and goes beyond this list. Many of our perspectives are skewed from lies that we have believed most of our lives. How we have learned to cope with our pain or what the world around us tries to sell as truth may be masking the path to fulfillment and healing. The best way to defeat the lies is by knowing what God says, what the real truth is.

If you are in the midst of loving someone who is struggling with an addiction, then get into the Word of God. Open your bible every day and ask God to speak His truth to you. Just like light drives out the darkness, the truth of God will drive out the lies. The way S2L Recovery leads addicts to sobriety is through a Christian faith-based program, allowing everyone walking on the road to recovery can be embraced the words and love of God.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)

If you or a loved one needs help, please contact us for support and guidance.

Trying to love an addict–”I couldn’t be his savior”

Our Story

Our story started early. It was sweet, passionate, and romantic. At just 16 and 17 years old, we were simply two teenagers experiencing love for the first time. Experiencing life and the freedoms that come from growing up a little bit at a time. It started slowly, then all at once it was everything we had ever wanted. We were certain that it was all we would ever want; all we would ever need. Today, the man whom still makes me catch my breath daily has been the one taking my breath away for the last 14 years. Most of those breath-stealing moments have been from joy and admiration, however, we walked through a season where the wind was knocked out of my lungs for a very different reason.

The Addiction

Just months after Aaron declared his love for me and his plans to marry me when we “grew up,” he was introduced to the enticing draw of drugs and alcohol. He had friends who partied on the weekends, got high to relax through the week, and yet still appeared to have it all together the rest of the time. These friends didn’t appear as the ones your parents and loved ones warn you about. They were friends from sports, friends from good families, and friends who made the honor roll. They were just normal people and it made their habits seem normal too. Aaron has told me that once he experienced his first high he knew that he wanted to feel that way as often as possible. It went from “just trying something out,” into a desperate need quickly. It rolled into a desire that wouldn’t be ignored. It led to doing whatever it took to feel that high, and for Aaron that was dealing drugs to the other kids at school. Before we had our 1 year anniversary of dating, Aaron was a drug-dealing, drug-addict and I had no idea what had changed him.

We didn’t attend the same school. All of Aaron’s friends, the parties and drugs were one part of his life, and he kept me, church, and his family in another world. I remember recognizing little things such as:

  • he wasn’t where he said he would be
  • he didn’t always keep his story straight
  • he was defensive and quick to deflect
  • quick to get angry

But I had given my heart to this boy and I decided to ignore the things I saw or quickly gave up after a question or two. If questioning his actions meant risking to lose him, I wasn’t willing to take that risk. If digging deeper into my suspicions meant exposing something that my parents would be upset about or that my friends would disapprove of, I wasn’t going to go there. What he thought of me, what everyone thought about me – that’s what I cared about most.

“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” – Luke 8:17

Well, sin has a way of always coming to the surface. There are points of my teenage years burned into my brain because sins were exposed. This was when everyone I knew found out I was having sex, Aaron finally confessed to using and selling drugs, friends gossiped about us, and life at home was unstable. These may be little marks in a line of wonderful memories, but they make an impression just the same. Aaron’s confession came at a point where the lying had become too much for him to keep up. Every carefully crafted story came crashing down all around Aaron as his secrets unraveled. He finally told his parents and me what really had been going on in his life. In my naivety, I thought “well, he loves me so I know he’ll quit.”

Loving me was not enough. And I learned it’s not to supposed to be! I couldn’t be his savior, nor was that ever my responsibility. I wish I could say I figured all of this out quickly, but that’s not the case. It took years and the Lord’s teachings and moving for me to understand my real roll in Aaron’s life.

The next several years were filled with ups and downs. As we grew up we would shift between Aaron hiding his habits to me joining in on them. The only constant thing was that I felt like I would die without him. I thought if I just tried hard enough, loved him well enough, begged him desperately enough that he would stop and put an end to this part of his life.

When the desperate begging and loving didn’t work, I decided to try to accept it and be okay with his decisions. After all, at this point, I had started partaking in the partying habits, too. Who was I to judge? Even though I hated the feeling of being high, but I’d take a hit and drink all night anyway, too. All my new “grown-up” work friends were doing the same thing as well. What would they think of me if I acted cool about it in front of them, but then didn’t join in or got upset if Aaron did? To not be liked, to be looked down on, to be pushed away, or to have someone change their mind about me was the absolute worse thing that I could imagine.

In the midst of all of this, at just 20 and 21 years old, Aaron and I got married. We were still babies, but we knew that we were committed to each other forever. To be honest, I thought that marriage would be the key to change. I thought that somehow coming home from the honeymoon would make us magically transform into responsible people. It did not.

Our marriage pushed us to try and look like the couple we wanted to be. We started attending church more regularly and we even joined a newlywed’s small group. What started out as trying to just look good became, for me, a call back to my first love – Jesus. I didn’t change overnight, but my attitudes and desires slowly transformed. Aaron didn’t get there quite that fast.

In my own desire to assimilate into my new world at my job, I had inadvertently re-introduced Aaron to the drugs he had once tried to get away from, and now he was in as deep as ever. For the first time, I began to realize that I was helpless in helping to change the man I loved. All I could do was meet with the Lord, and pray and beg Him to move heaven and earth to save my husband from his addiction. I would come home and find Aaron high, I would find stashes hidden in cupboards, I would smell it on his clothes or in his hair. No amount of crying or nagging ever made a difference. But prayer? Prayer does incredible things! As I began to let go of control and hand it over to God, He began to change my husband.

The Rediscovery and Recovery

When we found out we were pregnant with our first child, a precious little girl, God helped my man see what kind of life we were on track to have; versus what kind of life we could have if we were living for God together. We both decided to seek the Lord, we surrounded ourselves with Christian friends. We quit going to our normal bars and stopped hanging out with friends who got high and drunk. We still loved them we just knew we couldn’t go out with them anymore. We started to admit and confess to other believers how we had been living. As God transformed our lives, we gained the confidence to share what he had done and continues to do for us daily.

Fast forward several years filled with a lot more learning and growing, we now have the immense privilege to serve in recovery ministry in the country of St. Kitts. God is redeeming our past mistakes and making something beautiful grow out of what used to be an ugly mess. In the verse John 10, John reminds us that while Satan wants to destroy us, God wants to give us full and abundant lives! I did a lot of things wrong while trying to love an addict. It’s my prayer that this story is a chance to help talk through those mistakes, and to point us back to how God calls us to love Him first. Let these words spark a path to allow Him to bring change for us and those we love.

S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee

This was another incredible story of God’s redemption and it belongs to my brother-in-law Adam Comer and his wife Katie Comer. Adam is now the pastor and CEO of S2L Recovery, a recovery lodge for men in Murfreesboro, TN. If you know a man who is ready to start his journey of recovery, please check out S2L Recovery. God has been moving at S2L and just this last month they were privileged to baptize 8 men who have committed themselves to Christ! We thank God all the time for what S2L did for Adam, and for what God is doing through Adam’s obedience now