Healing a Marriage Through Recovery
I thought my husband had the drinking problem. But it was I who needed help.
When I got home I sat on the edge of the bed, looked deep into Jim’s yellowed, bloodshot eyes and announced, “I’m turning you over to God and I’m going to work on making myself better.”
The next evening I was stunned to hear Jim say, “I went to a twelve-step meeting today.”
In a quiet voice he said, “What you said about turning me over to God scared me to death. It really sunk in. I thought about it all night. And today I just went. Are you going to keep going to your meeting?”
An emergency room doctor recalls over 25 years of inspiring true stories of everyday “angels.”
I nodded. We weren’t sure what to say after that. This was new territory.
I didn’t trust Jim to stay sober, so I stuck with my 12-step program for family and friends of alcoholics. But Jim stuck with his meetings. In fact, he seemed to be having a better experience than I was. He found a sponsor and began moving through the steps and recommitting himself to God.
I had trouble finding a sponsor. Worse, I was unsure how to live with the new, sober Jim. It even felt awkward drinking my “dirty Coke” in front of him, so I drank only when I went out of town.
I came to Step Four in my program, making “a searching and fearless moral inventory” of myself. I sketched out my history with Jim and the years before. The folks in my program said I had to recall everything I possibly could and be totally honest. Honest with myself and God.
Turns out being honest was the hardest thing I’d ever done.
What struck me was, Boy, I did a lot of drinking in those days! I noticed practically every dumb thing I’d ever done, every humiliating situation I’d found myself in, every regret I had was connected to alcohol. What if I was an alcoholic?
But...that couldn’t be! All these years I’d functioned well. I’d taken care of the kids. I’d run interference for Jim’s drinking. It wasn’t the life I’d envisioned when I’d prayed for the right husband. But I’d done my best to make it work.
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Or had I? Oh, I prayed all the time. But did I pray for the right thing? Can we really pray if we aren’t being honest?
I’d put off confronting Jim’s drinking because I didn’t want to confront my own. What if Jim was the right husband after all because through him I was finally seeing my own problems? Not just with alcohol but with honesty.
The moment I let that thought in I saw with stark clarity just how I’d been deceiving everyone, especially myself. I’d say I was deceiving God too, except God is never deceived. He sees everything. He saw me. He heard my prayers. And he answered them in his own special way.
I found a 12-step meeting for alcoholics, separate from Jim’s. We’ve both been sober well over 25 years now.
For a long time I thought that because of all my bad choices God couldn’t possibly use someone like me to glorify him. Today I have the joy of seeing how God is using the story of my past to comfort and encourage those who are still on their journey from brokenness to hope.
Ask God for help and he will meet you in your greatest weakness. He will transform that weakness into strength, self-deception into rigorous honesty. He will make you the person he always meant you to be.
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