It’s been 4 hard and beautiful years. I celebrate my sobriety milestones not because I am searching for approval or congratulations but because it is a way for me to point everything back to God and shout, “Look at what He did!!!!” I came from a place of darkness and despair. Lies saturated my mind and death was beginning to seem like a sweet escape. Alcohol and sex were what I looked to for a source of fulfillment and comfort, but it always left me feeling more and more empty. I knew the Lord, but He hadn’t been a priority in my life for quite a while.
I’ve shared my on-going story with you ever since it started, and if you’ve missed it and are curious, just scroll down to the first post on this blog and work from there. I’ve been open about my journey for two reasons: 1) In hopes that my story would touch other struggling hearts and show people they aren’t alone and 2) so that I could look back over the years and marvel at God’s redemptive work in my life. I knew even on day one that God was going to move in mighty ways. I didn’t always feel it, and sometimes I forgot it, but something burned inside me, sparking in me the belief that my transformation journey was going to be all about God and not so much about me.
By His grace alone I am here, four years sober, singing words from the song “Defender” by Rita Springer:
Hallelujah, You have saved me
So much better Your way
Hallelujah, great Defender
So much better Your way
When I thought I lost me
You knew where I left me
You reintroduced me to Your love
You picked up all my pieces
Put me back together
You are the defender of my heart
Defender of my heart, lover of my soul, author of my story- let me tell you about my Jesus!
He has brought me from darkness to light. From depression to hope. From broken to whole. My three and a half months in rehab didn’t do that. My 10 months in sober living didn’t do that. The best therapists didn’t do that. My own efforts certainly didn’t do that. There’s just no way. Only by His grace, only by His transformational power in my heart, mind, and spirit, have I become the woman I am today.
It seems like a lifetime ago. I remember getting on that place headed to Mississippi with no idea of what to expect but knowing full well that I was not going to leave Mississippi until a transformation took place within me. Oh, and it did. But it didn’t happen immediately. It was a long process. At times I fought it and pushed back- hesitant to let go of the sins that had brought me superficial fulfillment for so long. I had my highs and my lows, and I have had plenty of moments over the past four years where I’ve tried to compromise with the idea of sobriety.
It’s interesting. I was told when I was first getting sober that after the first year it would get easier. And it has in different aspects, but there are times now where it’s even harder than it was at first. Time can do that.
I begin to think that one night of drinking alone with my husband would be completely harmless. I’ll talk about it with him, sometimes suggesting that we make an exception “just this once” – though deep down I know that I can never go back. One night with my husband wouldn’t stop with just one night- and that’s the reality I must remind myself of. Those were the type of lies I would tell myself repeatedly before I ever got sober. One was always too many yet never enough for me. I can’t numb out like I used to, and for me that has been hard, especially when my husband and I received our infertility diagnosis. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was some kind of punishment for the life I used to live. When we have hard doctor’s appointments or another failed cycle, sometimes I think about how easy it would be to just forget about everything.
But then I stop and remember what God has brought me out of, how far He has brought me, and the absolutely beautiful life He has given me. I never imagined I would end up with such an amazing husband. (We will have been married 2 years this August), a close-knit family, the most precious puppy I could ask for, and all the other gifts I have been showered with over the years. More than anything though, I reflect on the joy and peace that I have in Christ that was so absent before and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. There is no worthwhile exchange I could ever make because it is only through Christ that there is hope and meaning. That’s what I have come to understand so deeply these past 4 years.
When I first got sober (for good) I knew I had to do things differently than other times I had attempted sobriety. I knew I had to start taking people’s suggestions. I didn’t know what was best for me then, but I knew others could see what I couldn’t. I think back on the trust I learned to place on individuals during this journey and I think, on a greater scale, how that looks with my relationship with the Lord today. I have learned to trust Him and follow His suggestions (well, His commandments- the Holy Scriptures) even when sometimes I think “I know better.” I’ll never know better because He is omniscient. I may not understand His commands, I may not always like them, but they are necessary and good. If it required this fight for sobriety and all the pain that is tacked onto my story just to come to understand these truths, then it was worth it.
4 years ago everything began to change, and no matter how much time passes, I’ll continue to look back on April 3rd, 2018 with a profound gratitude- a gratitude for the desperation I experienced that led me into the arms of Christ.