A difficult childhood, several stints in jail and the death of her husband left her weary. Could she regain her faith in God again?
Posted in , Mar 4, 2020
I grew up in a very rigid, dogmatic space. Mistakes and imperfections were unacceptable. I was programmed to believe I could never measure up and that God would punish me severely if I stepped out of line—and I stepped out of line a lot.
My dad was a preacher, who spewed fire and brimstone messages from the pulpit each week, and then at home, made life for me very chaotic. I was abused—slapped, hit with any object within his reach—and shamed for the slightest indiscretions.
My father found forgiveness with me, his family and with God before he died. I have no resentment or bitterness towards him at all.
But before reaching that pivotal point, the abuse left me wary and with a spirit of rebellion. For a very long time, I would say, “If that is what being a Christian is, I don’t want any part of it.”
My concept and understanding of God, and what I learned about religion from a very early age, was distorted. This confusion followed me well into adulthood.
It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties, when a friend of my family invited me to a church that my perspective began to change. I was married then, to a wonderful man. For the first time in my life, I began to experience God’s love in a way I never had before; his kindness, compassion and mercy became very real to me. In this church, I started unlearning everything I thought I knew about God.
Although from the outside, my life seemed happy, the trauma from my childhood was unhealed and unresolved. It wasn’t until my husband died—weeks before our 20th wedding anniversary—that it all started to unravel. I started questioning my relationship with God again.
Instead of relying on Him, to help me deal with the gut-wrenching grief and overwhelming sorrow, I relied on pills. I was prescribed pain pills in my early twenties and taking them became a part of my daily routine for years to come. Because I didn’t understand addiction, I didn’t realize I was living as a functioning addict.
Within the next few years, things got really out of control. I was charged with my first driving under the influence (DUI) at 50-years old. But a mere slap on the wrist allowed me to continue using pills, piling on the DUIs until eventually I ended up in jail.
My first response was to ask God one question: Why? Why did He let this happen to me? I was in denial of anything I had done wrong and refused to take responsibility for my life or my actions. But God did not and would not give up on me, nor would He let me go.
In His sovereignty, and His passionate pursuit of me, I entered a program where the focus was on recovery through the power of Jesus Christ.
That is where He finally got my attention and something in me started changing. Slowly, the layers of hurt, bitterness, betrayal, grief and denial started to peel away like an onion. I realized that it wasn’t God who did this to me, it was me! God had protected me; not only me, but He protected others from me, too. I could have easily hurt or killed someone driving under the influence.
I learned all I could about addiction while in the program. I also healed my broken spirit, ultimately surrendering the power of pills in my life to the power of God. Upon my release from the recovery program, I was determined to live my life differently. I started living out the word of God, reciting verses like Isaiah 58:9-11: "Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness. And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail."
I used to tell myself I couldn’t live without pills. Today, I can’t imagine going back to that life. I am the Recovery Director at my church. I’m a life coach and mentor at a transitional living facility for women who have struggled with addiction and are getting ready for life outside of prison. I go back to the jail where I served time to share my story and give others hope that change is possible. God has blessed me with the gift of a new life and freedom from the grip of addiction. I use that gift to tell my story and to glorify Him. I am proof that with God, nothing is impossible.