Thursday, November 8, 2012


Acceptance can be one of the hardest, yet most fulfilling aspects of recovery. Addiction brings with it a host of unsavory consequences. We most likely have financial consequences, resulting from spending our earnings on drugs or alcohol or mismanagement due to unclear thinking. We can have a lot of relationship consequences, perhaps separation or estrangement from a spouse or significant other, or a lot of messes to clean up with our friends. We can have mental or emotional consequences that have left us mentally ill or emotionally stunted. So how can acceptance help us with all of these consequences?

Acceptance begins to help us when we first acknowledge that these consequences were of our own making. I cannot blame my spouse or anyone else for my own bad behavior. Only when I take responsibility for my consequences can I start to repair that damage. Something that will surely sidestep my recovery is avoidance, instead of acceptance. Avoidance, or a better word might be procrastination, will never solve any problems. It only delays dealing with the pain caused by using and may, in fact, lead to our picking up a drink again. It is crucial to have acceptance so that we can begin to solve our problems.

If you have relationship troubles, I strongly suggest counseling from a professional therapist or a spiritual couple who can help you find the right steps to take in order to heal. If you have money troubles, it would be helpful to sit down with a financial advisor or a credit counseling service who can help get you on the right track. If you have mental or emotional problems, it would be helpful to see a psychiatrist who can perhaps direct you to the best treatment for your condition.

It may seem overwhelming to try and deal with all these consequences, but you will find that when you start to put in motion the small steps toward healing, your confidence will begin to increase. You will feel a great sense of satisfaction from dealing with these consequences. What is most important is that you must realize that not accepting your consequences will be the worst thing you can do for your recovery. Acceptance is a necessary first step toward tackling real life problems. You can do it! God bless, SuzyQ

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Where was God?

A very common experience for women with addictions is some kind of sexual assault or abuse. It may have occurred in conjunction with drinking or using or it may have happened early in childhood and instigated addiction. Regardless of how these horrible events occurred, a common question for women is, "Where was God when these things happened?" It was a huge question for myself as well. I was sexually assaulted at age sixteen and gang raped at nineteen. For years, I used these events as an excuse to drink and use drugs. In reality, that only made things worse. It wasn't until years afterward that I actually dealt with the pain in a healthy way.

After I became a Christian, I participated in a sexual abuse/assault workshop through a church sponsored program. We studied a lot of psalms and the book of 1st John and the first thing that I concluded was that I resisted being honest about the situation. 1st John 1:7 says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." This helped me to be honest about the pain of the attacks.

Second, I didn't like the idea of being a victim. You see, I thought being a victim meant I was weak. I wanted to be called a "survivor" because that meant I was strong. Victims are weak whiners and outcasts. A close friend asked me, "But why does God love victims?" I answered, "God loves victims because he knows that we are all helpless, "like sheep without a shepherd." None of us is strong on our own. He knows that we all need rescuing. He wants to help us all so much that he was willing to send Jesus to die on the cross for us. He loves when people are honest about their weaknesses because that takes away Satan's power to make us afraid."

Even after getting honest, I still struggled with the question of where God was during the abuse. He saw it all, so why didn't he stop it? A friend shared with me this perspective: "When we were lost, our Lord was Satan. We followed his will and other lost people also followed his will. His will is to destroy us. God was where he always is: in the light and begging people to join him in the light. Once we are baptized, we live in the light and God can bring healing to us and use our past to help others.

If you have this abuse in your background, the first thing I would recommend is to get honest with a close Christian friend or counselor. It is difficult, but living in the light will bring us closer to God and to each other which will meet our emotional needs and help us to heal. God bless - SuzyQ    

Monday, September 24, 2012

Gratitude Works

When you think of someone in shape physically, what comes to your mind? I think of someone who's muscles are toned and a person who has a lot of energy. Being grateful does similar things for our spirit. When someone is grateful, they have energy to go about God's work joyfully. They are eager to give of their time and attention to others and have a positive attitude about the future. Before I was in recovery, I often thought being grateful went right along with having great circumstances. Now I know that is not necessarily true. We can be in physical pain, financial stress, and other of life's many challenges, and still keep a grateful outlook!

How is this possible? It is attainable through exercising our "gratitude muscles" and we can get into great shape, just like a bodybuilder can through consistent exercise. Start  out small. Write down ten things you are thankful for and start off your daily prayer time thanking God for those ten things. If you are having trouble coming up with ten things, then start off each day thanking God for this promise: "For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death." Even if we have nothing pleasant in our present circumstances, if we are baptized Christians, we all have heaven to look forward to.

I used to try and drum up gratitude, saying to myself: "You should be grateful. C'mon, get grateful." I don't think anyone is particularly motivated by someone yelling at them, even if that person is themself! I didn't see that I needed to strengthen my gratitude muscles like any other muscles. It rarely happens naturally. Now I think differently about gratitude. When I am down about life's problems, I need to spend extra time thanking God for the good in my life. At the very least, I can be thankful for God's many promises. The more you strengthen your gratitude muscles, the easier it will be for you to become a grateful person. The Bible says in Phillipians 4:12-13, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." If the apostle Paul can say this while in a rat-infested prison, then I can say it too, in even less dismal circumstances! God bless - SusyQ

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Is Self-Care Selfish?

Is self-care selfish? A lot of people think so and I think this hinders their recovery. The Bible itself says in Leviticus 19:18 to "love your neighbor as yourself." This presupposes that we would naturally be taking care of ourselves. Sometimes, though, recovering addicts have a hard time doing this. Before recovery, we "took care of ourselves" by using. However, being abstinent does not in itself lend to healthy self-care. It is something that needs our hard work and attention. So what are some areas that demand good self-care? First of all, our relationship with God must come before anything else. Having a deep connection with the Lord is paramount to our recovery and helps us to have a joy and gratitude that translates into a life of service for others. Without it, we will burn out quickly. The AA HALT acronym can also guide us towards good self-care. This means to watch ourselves and not get too HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY or TIRED. Each of those situations require action to deal with them. When we are hungry, we eat, lonely, pray or call a friend, tired, take a rest. When we are angry, we need to examine the reasons. Too often, when we have resentments or hurt feelings, we shut down. As a rule, recovering addicts typically have a difficult time resolving conflicts. We either stuff our emotions and get quietly resentful, OR we can blow up and then feel horribly guilty afterwards. It is important to our self-care that we resolve conflict in a healthy way. This means that we approach the person with humility and openness about the hurt. We work at resolving things. When you do work through a conflict, pat yourself on the back for the accomplishment! It is never easy to deal with conflict, but it is a must for a healthy recovery. Remember, resentment is the number one reason people relapse. Also, it is important to have healthy boundaries and set limitations for what we can or cannot do. This leads to self-respect and others treating us the way we would like to be treated. If you are unsure what healthy boundaries are, I highly recommend the book Boundaries, by Townsend and Cloud.  Lastly, good self-care involves learning how to enjoy life again. Make a list of things you enjoy and engage in at least one of the actitives each day. When you are enjoying life, it makes it so much easier to be giving to others. I know that it can be hard to push through the guilty feelings, but remember that in 1 Timothy 6:17 the Bible says that God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment." God wants us to enjoy life and not just drudge through it day by day. It is a much better witness to our friends and family to be truly joyful, rather than just grtting our teeth and trudging through our day. Take care of yourself and have a blessed day! Wendy

Friday, January 27, 2012

Grandiose Thinking

From AA daily reflections: "Experience has taught me that my alcoholic personality tends to be grandiose. While having seemingly good intentions, I can go off on tangents in pursuit of my "causes." My ego takes over and I lose sight of my primary purpose. I may even take credit for God's handiwork in my life. Such an overstated feeling of my own importance is dangerous to my sobriety..." Grandiose thinking is common among addicts and even more so for those of us who are dual-diagnosis, where grandiosity may be a symptom of our mental illness. How can the Bible help us to have a more accurate view of ourselves and our responsibilties?

 I believe one answer can be found in Luke 8:26-39 (The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man.) I think many of us recovering from addiction can relate to the plight of the demon-possessed man. He was chained hand and foot and lived in a type of solitary confinement. I know before Christ I felt isolated and chained to drugs and alcohol, but just like the demon-possessed man, I was healed by Jesus. There are two things in this passage that can help us with grandiose thinking. First of all, is seeing how valuable we are to God. Jesus sent the man's demons into 2,000 pigs, which then were drowned. That would cost over a million dollars in our day! Do you know that you are even more valuable than that? The very blood of God's only Son paved the way for your salvation and recovery! If we don't accept that we are valuable, then we will constantly think we need to be more "important" than we are.

Secondly, it is important to see the town's reaction to the healing of the demon-possessed man. They were in awe because this man was "dressed and in his right mind." That's all! Do we think that we need to be "great" in order to have an impact on other people? Honestly, I would rather change the world than change the sheets, but it is not always the "glamorous" things that make an impact on others. When we tackle things like being responsible with our finances, keeping our homes clean, our bodies healthy, and loving our family, friends, and neighbors, those things make an impact on others. We might think they are boring, but God promises that if we are faithful with a few things, then he will give us more. Besides, even if all we do seems to go unnoticed, we must remember that God DOES notice and we are looking for a "Well done, good and faithful servant" when we reach heaven, not necessarily praise from people while we are here on earth. Remember, you are incredibly valuable to God. He made you and "God don't make no junk." Wendy

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What is humility?

I have been asking God a lot about humility lately. What is it? How can I know if I'm even going after it? The Bible has some great promises concerning humility. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." James 4:10. I know that humility is essential to staying sober. One of my favorite sayings in CR (Chemical Recovery) is: "When the pride goes up, the sobriety goes down." But how do I know if I am headed towards pride or humility? What are the signs? I think one element that is important to humility is complete and total honesty with God and others. The "How it works" section in the AA Big Book says the following is necessary in order to recover: "rigorous honesty", being "fearless and thorough" and being "willing to go to any lengths." There has to be a depth to our honesty that goes as deep as we possibly can go, as honest as we can be with God, with others, and with ourselves.

Pride wants to look good before others. It cares more about what others might think than about being right before God. The thing is, when we give in to pride and are not honest about the sins in our hearts and minds, it keeps us ashamed and fearful. There is such a freedom in being more concerned what God thinks than how other people might judge us. I am not saying we have to broadcast our sins on a billboard, but we need to be transparent people and we need to have people in our lives; mentors, sponsors, best friends, who will be willing to listen to the nitty-gritty and call us to the table on sin.

Another element of humility that seems essential is obedience to the scriptures. Proverbs 3:7-8 says, "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." For Christians, it is easier to know, than it is to be. That was Jesus biggest problem with the religious leaders of his day. In James 1:22 it says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." We can be fooled by our pride and think that because we know a scripture and are trying to love God, that it makes disobedience somehow okay.

In the past few days, I have been totally convicted of this. I reread 1 Peter 3:1-6 and there are so many things in this passage that I don't like and don't "make sense" to me. Ugh. But to be honest, I don't want to be gentle, quiet, submissive, and ultimately (trusting) both God and my husband. I want to be in control. I don't want to be vulnerable. I want things done my way. Gross and ugly! But that is how I have felt. I have felt afraid that if I truly let God (and my husband) be in control that they will hurt me.

But my pride and excuse-making about these scriptures have kept me from the promises God has about humility (and obedience). Why would I want to miss out on that? To jumpstart repentance, the first thing I have to do is get honest with loving and spiritual women. The second thing is to realize that God will bless my life, if I just obey! I need to trust God (humility) and not my own ways (pride). When I do those things, it will help me to grow in my recovery. "When the humility goes up, the sobriety goes up!" Good news for people like me. -Wendy

Saturday, January 14, 2012

You're not alone

What does recovery mean exactly? There are a lot of different definitions, but I like to think of recovery as a form of attack. It is going after all those elements which keep us from being comfortable with sobriety. This is obviously a never-ending process, but encouraging because if we are truly attacking those issues, we will see growth. My very favorite passage from the AA Big Book is: "Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection."

The great thing about a blog is that we can go on this journey together. You are not alone!I know this sounds strange, but I love being a recovering addict. For one thing, I get to experience a genuine sense of connectedness with other addicts. We have a lot of "aha" moments together because our thinking is so similar to one another.

The other aspect I love about being in recovery is that I have so much to be grateful to God for in my life. I was just reading the Bible this morning about Jesus encounter with "the sinful woman." Jesus says to the judgmental Pharisee, "Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47 When I begin to comprehend all that I have been forgiven of it absolutely boggles my mind. I do not deserve to have the marriage I have or the wonderful children I do or even a valid drivers license! Jesus has saved me from hell on earth--that's what I had before Christ and even greater, he has saved me from eternal hell too. But he doesn't stop there. He wants to heal us and make us whole people again - awesome! And then, on top of that, give us heaven! For those of us who have experienced the depths of hell on earth through all the negative consequences we experienced in addiction, in recovery we can experience an even greater appreciation for genuine love, joy, and peace. God Bless-Wendy