To the One Who Loves an Alcoholic

There is someone in my life who I adore. I love her so much that my insides ache when she’s hurting. Unfortunately she is in love with an alcoholic. And as some of you reading this have experienced…we are capable of causing the worst kind of pain. 

Looking back over more than a decade in recovery, free from alcohol and all it brings with it, there are things that I know to be true. Things I can see now that I couldn’t see before. Things that just, are, no matter how much I wish they weren’t.

So, I wrote her this letter and now I’m sharing it with you.
Not to provide all the answers for what you’re going through, but to hopefully shed some light on the person whom you have continually given the ability to hurt your heart.

I will be removing any personal information with generic wording and adding quotes so that you can insert the name of your person.

Friend,” this is truth…

He” is married to alcohol. Drugs are his mistress. Anything else…anyone else, is just a side thing. He always returns to what he knows. Alcohol.

It’s one of the most difficult relationships to sever. It can be done, but it takes more work than most people are willing to put in.

It’s not you.

Truly. It isn’t.

It’s that cunning, baffling bitch known as alcoholism. And without a Higher Power, complete Surrender, and the Willingness to change by dying to self, there is no hope.

You’ve laid awake countless nights, bartering with God.
Your bartering has turned to begging.
Your begging has turned to weeping.
Your weeping has turned to exhaustion.
And just when you’re about to give up…there he comes…back in the picture…full of empty promises that you want so badly to be true.
And the vicious cycle starts all over again.

This has gone on for years.
You say things like, “…but I love him! When you really love someone, you don’t just give up on them.
That may be true, but…
as a human being, a beautiful child of God, born with great purpose, you must see the wasted moments on this person who is blissfully unaware of your worth.

You don’t, do you?
You can’t.
Something in you, like in all of us, grasps on to the smallest ounce of hope and we refer back to that speck even when we are surrounded by the mountains of proof that say otherwise.

This is where I have done my share of begging God.
For reasons unknown to me, He hasn’t lifted the blinder that covers your eyes.
I know He can.
I know He wants you to be whole and live in the light of His glory and grace.
And yet knowing this, doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

There is a reason why so many alcoholics lose their battle with alcohol, at times taking entire families down with them.
Like the blinder you wear, he too wears a self-inflicted blinder.
The difference in yours and his is that he can remove his at any time.
All if takes to begin is a choice to change.
One choice can change everything.
After that one choice is when the real work begins.
I can’t even call it rebuilding. That can’t start until all of the wreckage is sorted through and hauled away.
This is a grueling process.
It’s the part where most people give up.
After all, it’s much easier to have a drink than to feel the weight of our current reality.

Here’s that most difficult part for you and for most people…
Are you ready for this?

There is nothing you can do to change him.

You can’t wish him sober.
You can’t force him to get sober.
You can’t make him see the disaster he leaves in his wake every time he comes around.

Here’s what you can do.

You can accept that nothing is going to change until he actively participates in recovery. (By this, I mean, pursues it like he would his next “fix.” It’s the only way to freedom.)
You can acknowledge and release the time you have given him and that he has squandered.
You can look at yourself in the mirror and say 2 words, “Not Anymore.” followed by 4 words, “From this moment forward.”
You can sincerely speak into your child’s heart and mind that you are her protector, provider, greatest advocate, teacher, mother, and that you will do whatever it takes to provide a life that’s healthy physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. One where she can grow and thrive, because you know the time that you have with her is short and you will lay a solid foundation that she can always stand on without worry of losing her footing.
(The way you can be 100% confident of this is because it’s what Christ does for you…and for her…everyday.)
You can recognize that even though you didn’t plan for your life to play out this way, there are so many people who love you and want to come alongside you, if you will let them.
You can cry when you need to cry, scream even, when staring at the difficult truth that your child’s father isn’t present. (This is no place to linger. You feel the feelings and move on.)
You can look in the mirror, straight into your own soul and breathe in the grace that you will need on a daily basis to do life.
You can repeat in your head and out loud as much as needed, I am not alone. I am capable. I am strong and I am worthy of love.”
You can say these same affirmations to your daughter. She will need to know them. There may come a time in her life when they seem the only thing to cling to in the midst of the storm.
You can put one foot in front of the other and know that there will be days when you are in a groove and moving like a champion as well as the ones where every step towards tomorrow seems to sucker punch you back into yesterday. That’s okay. We appreciate beauty all the more when we see the purpose of the rain. (Didn’t you tell me that?)

“Friend,” You are so very loved.
We see you.
We hear you.
You matter.

And…it’s time to walk away.
We’ll be right beside you every step of the way.

Love and Grace,

I Believe…Now to Receive

IMG_5468I finally realized that even though I “believed” something, didn’t mean I “received” it. It took me releasing clenched fists and raising open palms to Heaven in admittance of my utter dependence on the one who created me and calls me by name. Savior of the world…MessiahJesus. Only then was I able to exchange my rags of ruin for his cloak of grace.

Looking back over a decade

“What you think about God is the most important thing about you.” A.W. Tozer

Over the last week I have been thinking about October 19, 2012.
I have pondered different scriptures, meditations and writings.
I dug deep into my being in attempts to come up with the greatest post you’ve ever read…I got nothin’.

It’s what I do. I turn things into being all about me. And though a large part of recovery is about me, there is a part equally as large that isn’t. Many within the rooms of A.A. would disagree with my next statement, but for me, it’s a vital part of my story.

For a year, I stayed sober so that I wouldn’t lose Chris.

I know what you’re thinking. “When you stay sober for someone else, it never works.” Well, for me, I didn’t care enough about myself to stay sober. I thought I was damaged goods, but I knew that he didn’t think so and the only way he would be with me is if I admitted that I was completely out of control and powerless over everything. So I did. And after about 18 months, I too realized that I was worth fighting for.

The day before my big anniversary I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of one of the wisest men I know. His name is John Hambrick. He is an expert in many things. We share an equal admiration for C.S. Lewis. I will never be as versed as John is about Lewis so I love to hear him speak of his work.

He led a workshop called Three Game-Changing Ideas from C.S. Lewis.
Idea #1: Our Choices Change Us
There were five points but the ones that stuck with me were these;
Our choices change us.
What motivates our choices?
John explained that often our choices are motivated by guilt and/or fear. Neither is from God.

Idea #2: Our Imagination Can Be Holy
The thoughts that followed were thought-provoking. These are the two that I am most pondering.
We cannot be compelled to love God.
We love him when we see him clearly. (Do I see God clearly?)

Idea #3: God is Dangerous
Here John referenced several of Lewis’ books. One being from The Chronicles of NarniaThe lion in the story, Aslan, represents God. In this scene, two of the characters are talking about him. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

“God is the enemy of our self-centeredness. The remover of all addictions that cause us to be enslaved. He will weed out and kill that which works to destroy us. That makes God dangerous. It is when he wants to mess with the one thing that we will not expose to him that we meet this God.” God is relentless. He will not allow us to succumb to misery because of his untamed love for each one of us.

When it comes to spiritual, there is no such thing as a “status quo.” We are either working towards being a heavenly or hellish creature. There is no middle ground. Our choices change us. Just as I made poor decisions in the midst of addiction, I must make conscious healthy choices in my day-to-day living. Though quite simple, it’s far from easy.

C.S. Lewis said in The Great Divorce, “There is no other day. All days are present now. This moment contains all moments.” If only we could remember that. How different our lives would be.

John Hambrick is the Director of Starting Point / Staff Development at Buckhead Church. You may follow him on Twitter by clicking here

This Man

Okay, okay, I get it. You want the story. The Chris and Joy “Happily Ever After” story.

An entire book could be written on this subject alone… How we met when I was just 16 and he was 18 and though it would be years before we would consummate what had only grown stronger since that first meeting… our lives… from that day… would never be the same.

And those of you who know me well are right, I cannot get much further into this blog world without talking about the man who stormed the gates of hell, picked me up and carried me home.

More times than not, when I don’t do something, it’s rooted in the fear of failure.

In this case, it’s the fear that I can not do our story justice through my menial writing ability. That I do not have the words to paint an accurate picture of the way that God used this man to change the course of my life. That because of him, I have been redeemed. And because of his faithfulness and pursuit of my heart, I have a better grasp of Christ’s love.

The man that I see when I look at him is one who has sacrificed much and fought tirelessly. This strong and beautiful man has saved me from myself more times than I probably even know. He saw promise in the brokenness. He was able to see what I could not see and he has spent the last decade helping me uncover and bring into the light who I really am.

Christopher is the first man, the first human being that has ever had a front row seat to my heart and soul. It’s a scary thing. He, however, sifted through the lies of darkness, broke down the walls of self loathing and established residence. It was no easy task. His persistence paid off and after, not months, but years of diligently championing my heart, I began to see what he saw. Possibilities from within.

There is a song called Bless the Broken Road.
The first time I heard it while driving, I had to pull over as the tears kept flowing, stinging my eyes and blurring my vision.

Here is the part that most resonates with me…

I think about the years I spent just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Now I’m just rolling home
Into my lover’s arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

Though there is so much more to the story…so many details and tangible evidence of forgiveness, struggle, passion, pain and beauty… the truth that I know, that I will always know, is this…

God created me. And while forming and shaping my being, He already had Christopher in mind. He then made him to fit me exactly. Or maybe vice versa…either way, we are like puzzle pieces… Each completes the whole. We were created with the other in mind and God’s hand is on us still. Of this, I am sure.