This post was originally written two years ago. It still remains true, I remember . . .
But what this post doesn’t share is the work the Lord has done in the last eleven months of my life. The releasing of more pain and bondage, a step of obedience into an area of service I fought for years, and God opening incredible doors that I never saw myself good enough of and honestly didn’t think would ever happen.
But God – He takes the impossible and makes it possible.
I attended a speaker’s training conference several weeks ago. I wasn’t quite sure what exactly I was doing there, but God –
In the weeks since the conference I have been in touch with a group called Stonecroft Ministries. They train women who believe they have a call to speak and share the gospel, they equip women to go and tell our own personal stories. I am praying my way through it and other decisions to make regarding this ministry, as well as praying for some opportunities to get in to the jail systems to share Jesus. In the meantime, the Lord allows me to continue with the ladies in the Charis House, and He opened the schedule for me to meet with phase two for three weeks out of the month, and then there’s painting – I’ve been on hold with painting since December and it seems He is releasing me to paint with a couple of women in a transition house through the VA.
What God has continued to show me through twenty years of sobriety is His faithfulness. His unending grace. His love. His compassion. His want for me. His mercy.
And what I have learned more in the recent months is that He is bringing in to fruition the very thing He spoke to my soul early in sobriety when He gave me Genesis 50:20, that He would use my hurts to help others. And He is doing that now through the Charis House.
I received this precious card Thursday morning after my family spent the 4th of July with these incredible ladies –
As I read each one’s heart, I sensed the Lord whispering, “I told you I would use you to help others hurting.” It took my breath away, tears filled my heart, and I responded, “It was worth it, Lord. It was worth it. Thank you.”
Your story is never to ugly for God to use.
If you’ve never read my story, here’s a remembrance of the old, the moment of transformation, and how God has made all things new. He is so good to me. I love Him. And I give Him all the praise and thankfulness my heart can muster –
I remember the bars.
I remember the stupid choices.
I remember the affairs.
I remember the hurt.
I remember sleeping in my car with a baby.
I remember driving drunk.
I remember the hate.
I remember stealing.
I remember lying.
I remember bridges.
I remember no hope.
I remember standing in a bar saying, “I think ‘god’ is a male chauvinistic pig who expects people to bow down to him.”
I remember feelings of being a failure.
I remember I was pathetic.
I remember I was a horrible parent.
I remember I didn’t know the truth over the lies.
I remember dry drunks.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night in a panic from nightmares.
I remember trying to clean up on my own.
I remember the fear of the unknown.
I remember feelings of defeat.
I remember the melt down that brought extreme fear within.
I remember a lifeline and her name was Kathy.
I remember another lifeline and her name was Paige who was working the front desk at Olive Baptist Church.
I remember walking in the room for the first time.
I remember the nervousness that churned my stomach not knowing what to expect.
I remember lots of tears.
I remember the continuation of trying to do this thing called sobriety on my own.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night scared because of the presence of evil and signing out loud, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so . . . ” It was the ONLY Christian song I knew and I hadn’t quite learned how to pray or what to say . . .
I remember the acceptance in that small room they called the Blue Room.
I remember looking forward to every Tuesday night.
I remember getting stronger.
I remember a woman named Gail.
I remember the devotion she gave to me and my daughter.
I remember being invited over to her house for lunch.
I remember she introduced me to potato nails (BEST invention ever!).
I remember telling the truth for the first time even when a lie would have been easier.
I remember taking responsibility for my action.
I remember learning scriptures and studying the Word of God to see what this “God” thing was all about.
I remember stating, “I would rather die and go to hell than forgive that woman.”
I remember Ms. Cora searching me out telling me, “You have to forgive her.”
I remember the rage of hate in my heart when she told me that.
I remember the next Tuesday night she brought me page after page of scriptures and prayers she had prayed for me during that week.
I remember one day after months of hate for that woman I didn’t hate any more.
During this timeline of remembering, it was approximately three months of attending The Most Excellent Way drug and alcohol recovery program before I finally surrendered my life to Christ.
I remember October 19, 1998.
I remember I sat in a gold 1970’s chair in my 640 square foot apartment which my daughter and I lived in.
I remember that lifeline Kathy had given a piece of paper with a prayer on it telling me that everyone was a sinner and that Christ had died for all of us.
I remember the verse Romans 10:9 – 10 she wrote down for me telling me that anyone can read words but that doesn’t bring salvation.
I remember reading Romans 10:9-10 for a second time for understanding of what it was I was about to REALLY get myself in to.
I remember telling God, “God, IF you are for real, I can’t do this on my own. My family is going to think I’ve gone crazy. It’s either all or nothing for me. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to be real.”
I remember healing.
I remember BURNT TORN DOWN BRIDGES WITH FAMILY BEING REBUILT/RESTORED AND STRONGER THAN EVER! I still weep over this one. God is in the restoration business!!!
I remember struggling with forgiving myself, “But you don’t know what I’ve done! I have no right to forgive myself.” I remember believing if I actually forgave myself then I was trying to justify what I had done. I had never taken responsibility for anything in my life so I believed I just had no right to accept that freedom.
I remember learning that “THAT” ^^^^^ was a lie from the pit of hell.
I remember crying asking God to forgive me for calling him a chauvinistic pig.
I remember walking in complete forgiveness for the first time in my life.
I remember how freeing that experience was.
I remember how humbling that experience was because I was receiving the fullness of grace for the first time. It is still wow.
I remember Kathy (a different Kathy) walking in a meeting I was leading. Cheering and bubbly . . . full of life. As she introduced herself she said, I have EIGHTEEN YEARS OF SOBRIETY. By this particular time I was in my third year of sobriety and remember thinking . . . “Lord, will I ever get there?” I remember wanting to hurry up time to have that kind of success (now I wish I could slow that time down.)
I remember the names of many people who have impacted my life through these eighteen years, but especially . . . especially the early years . . .. Eddie, Kathy, Donna and Gene, Debbie, Ms. Cora, Jenny, Shari, Beth, Pastor Ted, Ms. Liz, Ms. Debbe, Robert and Judy, Lanara , Beth and Larry . . . oh the list could go on . . . even as time has continued God brought new people in to fill the rolls of those who were called to new areas. Several of those names are Sunday School teachers. (If you are a teacher/Sunday School teacher . . . NEVER EVER EVER THINK YOU ARE NOT MAKING A DIFFERENCE!)
I remember the scriptures that were used to make a huge impact in my life and got me through those early months of sobriety AND continue to be a pillar in my day to day walk with the Lord.
Genesis 50:20, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” I learned that God can use the pain from others (and self inflicted pain called consequences) could be used for good . . . for God’s glory in order to help someone else.
Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” I began praying that God would take that heart of stone and give me a heart that was caring and sympathetic. He did that. Not me. Amazing.
Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you,” because I learned IF I sought God first everything else would fall in place. He is much better at maintaining my schedule than I ever will be.
I remember learning how to pray –
I remember Matthew 6:22! “”Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.” The reason this verse is so powerful to me is easy. I sexualized EVERYTHING. I saw men and women as sex objects. That is what I sought after to find acceptance. Changing that on my own was impossible. When God gave me this scripture I began praying for pure eyes. I didn’t want to see the world as I once did. I wanted to see the good in people. This did not come easy. I would physically have to close my eyes and pray, “Lord give me pure eyes,” then open my eyes. In the beginning it took doing this so much I don’t think I ever got anything done because my eyes were always closed! lol! I can smile and chuckle at that, but it was so true. I remember the day I didn’t have to close my eyes and pray for pure eyes because God was allow me to see someone through His eyes, not mine. (Whew, lots of tears as I remember this morning.)
I remember claiming boldly 2 Corinthians 5:17 every time satan tried to remind me of my past because God was defining my future.
I remember Luke 7:47, “”I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”God had taught me to love through the forgiveness of my sins. Incredible.
I remember when Titus 3:3-8 came to life for me . . .
“At one time I, Stacey, was foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.
I lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating others.
BUT (because THAT is the turning point) when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved me . . .
NOT because of righteous things I had done, but because of HIS mercy.
He saved me through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on me generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, I might become heir having the hope of eternal life.
This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”
God can do for you what He has done for me. Your story might be worse than mine, or your story might be that you grew up in church and were never “bad,” but what is so encouraging about God is that He does not look at our sins as, “Oh Susie’s sin is much worse that Jack’s sin.” God doesn’t measure the amount of blood Christ shed by the amount of your sin. The scriptures say it best, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son that whoever believe in Him would never perish, but eternal life.” John 3:16. God gave all. For you and for me.
I know this is a much longer post than I normally share, I would apologize but then I would be apologizing for the work God has done through me. If you are hurting, please share. One of the greatest honors God has given me is the desire to pray for the hurting. I want to pray for you. Don’t let satan keep you in bondage over what Christ intends for you to be free of. By vocalizing it (maybe not publicly but one on one with somebody) you release the control satan has over your life. It is God’s intentions for you to be free. The scriptures say in John 8:32, “for you shall know the truth and the truth (Christ) will set you free.”
As I close, I can’t help but share one of my many favorites . . . I love to sing through it but I cry through the entire thing . . . This is how it feels to be free! Whew! If you aren’t free today, I challenge you, encourage you . . . plead with you . . . to take those first steps to freedom. My steps towards freedom began on July 7, 1998 which carried me to the day of salvation, October 19, 1998. You might not have an addiction or alcohol problem, but you can still be imprisoned – and you can also be free . . .