Who doesn't love a good renovation, complete with a dramatic before and after photo?
There were moments when my recovery felt like building from scratch. I had to level the ground that had become overgrown with the weeds of addiction. Then build a new foundation of faith and a new identity of self-acceptance.
I used to say that my recovery was a ‘restoration’, but I know now that is an inaccurate description of my journey through addiction. To be restored would mean that I was brought back to who I used to be, which is simply not true. I’m not her.
And I've come too far to give up now.
I hated to be in photos back then. I had the vague feeling that I was never at my best. [Understatement of the year. ]
Look at her (I don't even feel like that is me). She is sad, bloated, pretending that she's got it all together. She's depressed, overwhelmed, and out of control. She doesn't like herself. She thinks she needs to drink to have fun at a party. Doesn't she know that she is enough? That she is witty, silly, good-hearted, beautiful, and above all, very loved?
But she has no idea. She thinks that she is alone in her grief and trauma. She doesn't realize that God is right there beside her, loving her through it all. He is protecting her from unsavory people, from car accidents, and bringing her back from the brink of death. She can't figure out why He would bother.
That was me, in all my mess. If you saw my blog about 'falling' - it made me think of how God must see us. Any of you mothers out there would know that when your child falls in the mud, even if they jump in the mud on purpose, their value has not diminished. There is no amount of mud, muck, or grime that would make you think that this child is not worth cleaning up and restoring. You wouldn't lock them out of the house and disown them forevermore because they got dirty!
"It was a circus of bodily fluids."
You know those comedians that take scenarios from real life and find the humor in them? One person shared about a strange moment where their baby had a level 7 'poo-explosion and selected the diaper-change moment to pee (target: dad's face). Somehow his nose had started bleeding at the same time, and the cat upchucked on his shoe. He described it as a circus of bodily fluids.
Do you throw the baby away at that moment? Do you give up and say "this mess cannot possibly ever be cleaned?" That's absolutely UNTHINKABLE.
In the same way, God the Father runs to hug his filthy son in Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son. The son had come home encrusted with stinky pig crud (we have pigs and they smell worse than any animal on this earth), nearly starved to death, and penniless. And he had no one to blame but himself.
But Father God does not reject that son, and He doesn't reject us. He knows exactly how to clean us up. He even uses the past to shape us into better people; think how arrogant, wasteful, lazy, and selfish the son was when he left to squander his inheritance. Think how humble, grateful, and willing he was when he came back (you can read the whole story in Luke 15).
Wow, what a difference!
Now I’m at the stage where I’m maintaining. I’m addressing heart issues as they come up before they become a problem. I’ve become somewhat of a gardener for my own heart; pulling up roots of bitterness and planting good seeds. In our garden, God and I want to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (more on that to come).
Here I am at my last week dancing in Cabo. Eight years sober and loving life. I'm healthier, happier, and more at peace. I'm comfortable in my own skin. And I owe it all to the Father. He had a plan from the start.
But I did have to put in some serious work. Although those first years of sobriety were a struggle at times, looking back I can say that it was so worth it. I'm worth it. My Father reassures me of it all the time.
And if you listen carefully, He's saying the same thing to you.
Oh, and if you want to share your before/after photos with us, it might just encourage someone else!