image by Frederic Revollier via flickr
This is a guest post from Kelly of The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking. Kelly is a real-life friend of mine who also happens to be a total rockstar blogger. She has six kids and embraces a life of motherhood with passion, knows how to cook up a storm, crafts like Martha Stewart, and does things like fold her fitted sheets into neat little packages on the shelf. I kinda want to be like her when I grow up (Except for the sheet thing: My current Ball It Up and Throw It In The Linen Closet thing is really working for me).
I don’t find it easy to write about these sorts of things. I blog about organizing closets and painting things teal, not pain and brokenness and struggle. But I truly believe that creating dialogue in the church about our own brokenness is powerful and beautiful and freeing. I believe that when we tell our stories, we set other people free to experience their own stories with more peace and self acceptance. I believe that when we are real with one another we see God move more clearly among us.
1. My clean time and my conversion date are not the same thing. I’ve been clean for 8 years, and a Christian for 13. I was a saved-by-grace, Bible believing Christian who was using drugs. If I relapse tomorrow I will still be a Christian, redeemed and forgiven.
2. I am alive because Christians showed me grace. Sure, I can pull off the soccer mom act now, if I want to. But there was a time when I was literally stumbling into church on Sunday mornings,looking to find God again after a particularly rough week or month or year. There were Christians who told me to smarten up and Christians who asked me to leave. But there were also Christians who welcomed me, bought me a cup of coffee after church, listened to me, mentored me, prayed for me, and bared their own souls and struggles when I felt alone.
3. When people tell me that they would love to hear my story, sometimes I feel more like a two-headed alien than a friend. Please don’t pry for the gory details of some of my most tragic moments. Someday I might tell you about the dark places I’ve been, but only when I know I can trust you — and that I can trust myself to tell the story for God’s glory and not my own wistful, dangerous reminiscence.
4. Please don’t tell me that you know what I’ve been through. I am thrilled to hear that you have found freedom over your own life controlling issues, but please don’t tell me that you know exactly what I’ve gone through. Let’s show one another more respect for our unique situations than to presume we know what each other has been through.
5. Addiction doesn’t always look like it does in tragic made-for-tv movies. Yes, I had a time in my life when I was the homeless punk kid passed out on the sidewalk. I also achieved a 4-point-0 at bible college while smoking crack. People rarely fit into their stereotypes.
6. Addiction is both a sin issue and a disease. Please Please Please hear what I’m saying on this one. Any treatment plan or advice that only tackles one side of the equation is more hurtful than helpful. Encourage addicts to get treatment for their disease; even if it is not faith based treatment. You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer not to visit a secular oncologist, or someone with diabetes to just try harder and read their bible more. In my experience, Christians who are struggling with addiction are well aware of their sin. They need hope, help and support, not condemnation.
7. Please stop using the word addiction to mean “affinity for”. You aren’t “addicted” to reality tv or strawberry frappucinos. Please don’t trivialize the pain that people struggle with every single day by referring to your hobbies and preferences as addictions.
8. I’m still an addict. 8 years clean and I still have to be damn careful where I go, what I watch, and where I let my mind wander to. If I breathe in too slow sometimes I can almost for a moment taste and feel the drugs. Sometimes when that happens I pray that sin would not have dominion over me; other times I take another slow breath to try sadly and desperately to feel it again. The temptation doesn’t disappear just because I’ve been clean for years, which brings me to the next point…
9. Sometimes I just really want to get high. And for the most part I can’t tell people this because they think it means I’m about to relapse. If I do tell you I’m struggling, please don’t freak out.
10. And I am so much more than an addict. I am passionate and creative and opinionated. God is daily showing me bigger, better glimpses of who I am in Him.
11. Sometimes, deliverance is white knuckled work. I used to ask why God wasn’t setting me free from this in the powerful, miraculous ways he sometimes does. What I’ve come to see is that freedom is not the lack of temptation, it is the ability to stand against it. Everyday my weakness is made strong in Him.
12. My old life was full of lies. It was how I protected my addiction. So sometimes now I say things that are uncomfortably and painfully true. I have to. The whole “I’m okay, your okay” game we like so much to play in the church can mean certain death for an addict. Ultimately, it isn’t really good for anyone. I’m not okay, you’re not okay, we all have issues we are working through.
Let’s be real about that.