The alcoholism of someone I know has caused stress in a number of lives this past week, including that person’s sibling to whom I’ve offered support and encouragement. Because of my Celebrate Recovery work in the biblical twelve steps, I was able to pretty much successfully walk that tricky line between compassion and codependency (rescuing, protecting, enabling, controlling).
Between Mel Gibson and Robin Williams, there has been a lot of talk in blogs and in the news lately about alcoholism. People have taken strong positions, sometimes self-righteous positions, and many words have been written or spoken out of complete ignorance of the addiction and recovery process. Behind those press statements saying that so-and-so has checked himself into a clinic for 30 days lies a complicated, conniving, insidious monster known as alcoholism that doesn’t just do damage to the addict but to everyone close to him. The press statements make it sound easy. They check in and 30 days later everything is hunky-dory. It isn’t that simple. I hope both Gibson and Williams are able to grasp hold of lasting recovery, but it’s their wives, children, parents, siblings, and extended families who have been in my thoughts. The loved ones of alcoholics are why I wrote my novel, Beyond the Shadows. Because I have empathy and compassion for them. Because I know what it means to be not only at the end of your rope but at the end of your hope.
Recently, I wrote this devotional piece:
When I first became a believer, I thought life would get easier, that there would be fewer disappointments and heartaches once I was a child of God. Not so. Fortunately, one of the first things God gave me was a love for His written word, and as I read the Bible, He spoke several verses into my life about praising Him no matter what. Daniel 3:17-18 was the first, followed by Habakkuk 3:17-19 and Job 13:15.
I have walked through many trials over the years, including watching someone I loved destroying himself through alcoholism. I’ve prayed many prayers with specific ideas in mind of how those prayers should be answered. Often the answers I received were not what I wanted. But God is still God and He is still good. Because of who He is and not what He does for me, I continue to praise and trust Him.
After more than thirty years as a follower of Christ, I have arrived at one important truth, and it is this: Nothing, absolutely nothing, enters my life that isn’t either caused or allowed by my loving heavenly Father so that I might become more like Jesus. I am tested and refined in the fires. And so I praise Him, no matter what.
I believe the above with my whole heart. Sure, when trials come, I sometimes ask, “Why, God?” Sometimes I ask, “Why me, God?” But ultimately I return to that place of faith and trust, knowing that God is in control and that there are reasons, often beyond my understanding. Why must one person’s free will impact another person, an innocent bystander? I don’t know. Why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t know. But I know nothing surprises God. He will turn what seems tragic or senseless to good for those who love Him and are walking with Him.
In the grip of His grace,