A good friend gave me some really good advice when I was trying to quit drinking. In those horrible moments of temptation, I was really struggling. And to be honest, the whole praying thing just wasn’t cutting it. I felt so far removed from God even though he was so close. I was having a hard time drawing strength from something I could not see. At least that’s what I told myself - in all reality I was just pissed off at everything and everyone, including God.
She said, "I have a visual for you to try.” I rolled my eyes and said, "What." Thinking I'd have to get through yet another exhausting conversation with a friend who claimed to have the answers even though she had no idea what I was going through. Absolutely no one had the answer for me. I wanted a quick fix, a miracle answer to help me escape from the inner hell I was experiencing. Screw the one day at a time crap. I was doing one minute at a time in those early days of sobriety.
I had heard them all:
Get on your knees.
Go to a meeting.
Do the steps.
Find a sponsor.
Try a new habit. (I did - which is now a milk dud addiction.)
Phone a friend. (No way. They could all drink and I couldn’t, so I was mad at them.)
Go for a walk. (I chose a bike - look where that got me.)
I know there's lots of sarcasm in that list, but that’s where I was then. Frustrated, pissed and with a shitty attitude. Those were all good suggestions had I been willing to have an open mind, but that was not the case. I was so deep in the pot of pity there was no way I could see benefit in any of them.
A few days later, in a moment of total desperation, I tried her suggestion. I have used it in many hard times ever since. It was simple.
“Reach out and take his hand.”
She said to me, “When you are having those moments of temptation, loneliness, desperation, what ever it is you are feeling in the moment, physically reach out for your Father's hand. Literally hold out your hand and feel his big, warm, caring hand envelop yours.” To be honest, I blew it off like every other suggestion I had been given. Then out of desperation in a very low, and I mean very low moment, her words came back to me.
I was in a liquor store parking lot with three weeks of sobriety under my belt. With my head on the wheel and tears running down my face, I lifted my hand and felt him take it. I felt a warmth run through me, filling with me relief and hope that I was being taken care of. With my hand held in his, I felt loved and cared for. Like a child about to be picked up and carried away from a bad place. It filled me with the power I needed to put the car in reverse and get out of there.
I know I have written about taking his hand before, but it recently came back to me that I had not done this for awhile. In the hard times we’ve had around here lately, I'd let go a few times and let fear take over. It came back to me in a very sweet way last weekend.
Last Saturday night, I had the pleasure of having the brothers L overnight. That would be Landon (2 1/2 ) and Levi (4 weeks). Did I mention I was by myself?! I say pleasure because it was. I was anxious to spend time with them both as the last few weeks I had been at the hospital a lot and missing my other little boys. Was it busy? Was it a little crazy? Was I sleep deprived on Sunday? Was it totally worth every minute? YES TO ALL!!
The hand holding moment came to mind Saturday night because of this moment:
Pictured here in this tangle of hands is a sweet moment that had tears running down my face with no way to wipe them because my hands were full. Our Landon is a busy, crazy kid who doesn’t sit still much. However, when he is tired, he will crawl in your lap and wants to hold your hand (or hands if he can have both of them.) Well, when he decided he was tired Saturday night he crawled up in my lap even though I was feeding his little brother a bottle. When he climbed up, one of my hands was holding the bottle and the other cradling Levi. I felt bad I didn’t have a free hand for him. I knew the routine and he wanted my hand! He looked around at where my hands were and saw they weren’t accessible and so he took his little brother's hands instead. Oh my heart!!! I hope you're tearing up right now because I am (again.) He settled right in, relaxed and we stayed that way for quite a while.
As I sat there with both of them snuggled in, holding hands, I thought back to the God moment that saved me in sobriety. And I thought of how many times I should have done that these last few weeks. How quickly I'd abandoned what had worked so well in the past. I believe God has been hearing my prayers and all of yours (thank you so much!) but I had forgotten to draw on the inner strength holding his hand provides.
Landon knew quickly and easily how to feel secure, loved, and peaceful. Hold the hand of those who love him.
The next time I went to the hospital, I held Otto’s hand and pictured God holding my other. A true definition of peace. It felt amazing.
I encourage you in whatever you are facing today, take his hand. He never lets go. It is us that shakes it free in the, “I got this. I’m all set,” moments here in life.
I was trying to remember the words of an old hymn that kept running through my mind these last few days. Gotta love Google, I found it. I wish I still had my piano to play the tune (with one finger, don’t get too excited.) Even without the tune, I love the words and the verse it is based on.
Isaiah 41:13 “For I, the Lord your God, have taken your right hand in mine, saying to you, Have no fear; I will be your helper."
Thank you again for all the love and prayers you have shown for our family these last few weeks. We rejoice that Otto has come home to grow big and strong before his next surgery.
“Jesus holds my hand, in his strength I stand; I am safe for Jesus holds my hand as I journey on.”