New Day, New Year, New You!

 Tips on staying positive in the new year and holidays while dealing with a loved one's addiction. Have you ever heard that verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?" it's so much easier said than done! If you're in transition this season from feeling negative and full of despair to wanting to change your life, read this post! 
"Oh Lord, I trust you. I am believing you're going to make a way in my situation and provide for my needs. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"

Two days later... 

"Lord, I really don't know how you're going to do this. He is never going to change. I am broke! I mean, broke- broke. I am going to be left with nothing but debt and a husband who is probably cheating on me. Lord, will you tell me if he is cheating? Lord, if he has cheated on me- smite him! I pray he feels overwhelmed with guilt. And gets herpes. Just don't let me get it- thanks, God".

By Sunday...

"Lord, I'm sorry I didn't trust you and said those awful things about him. I don't really want him to get herpes. I mean, not really. You gave people diseases, didn't you? Struck them with leprosy? Okay, nevermind. Sorry I wished ill on him. Even if he deserves it. I know we all fall short of the glory of God". 

After the week was good...

"Oh Lord, thank you for all the ways you bless me! Thank you for my husband, my wonderful children, thank you for providing for our needs, thank you for always being there for me, thank you for everything! You're so good!" 

The next weekend...

"Lord, I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE! I'm done. I can't. That's it. It's over. I hate him. I hate my life. I hate my job. My kids are driving me nuts. I can't, I can't, I can't. I'm stuck! When is my life going to get better?! How much longer are you going to ask me to walk through this?! I don't even want to see his stupid face!". 

The Rollercoaster

Addiction comes and goes in waves. The waves of addiction are not gentle, reliable tides but stormy, hurricane-grade rushes of forceful winds and water that comes crashing down on our proverbial homes.

Most of the time, the advice we're given is to simply leave the addict and their addiction. Leave the addict, leave the storm. That is easier said than done. Not only that but if we have children with this person, we're much less likely to ever rid ourselves of the problem. Would you want to have joint custody with an addict? No. And as I recently found out, in much of the United States women aren't even allowed to leave the state with their children. 

They're stuck. Waves approaching.

I have learned running away solves nothing. It's good to have space to clear the mind; take time to find our focus again and regain perspective, especially in a manipulative situation (most addicts are manipulative so that's very likely!) but running away won't solve the problem long-term.

So, what can we do? 

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 
The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 
But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 
The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed.
It collapsed with a great crash.”
-Matthew 7:24-27 (CSB)

Build your House on the Rock

Nothing in life is certain. Not the money we have in the bank, not our health, the presence of our friends or family- nothing. In an instant, it can all be gone. When those securities are washed away, what are we left with? 

We could be left with nothing. We could collapse. 

Or, we could be vigilant women. Prepared to stand tall while the waves crash against us and our hair whips in the wind. The salt-spray soaking us from the outside in, body heavy, determined not to fall. Eyes closed, arms lifted high to heaven as God holds us steady on the rock.

Feet on the rock, arms lifted high- there is nothing that can knock us down. 

I've read a lot of stories over the past few years and am privileged to hear many of your worries, fears and vulnerabilities. One of the things I'd really like to help you with is this idea of learning to "build your house on a rock" and live in a state of peace amidst the storm. 

Although programs like Al-Anon, professional counselling and all the other resources we can get in the world are helpful to many, they are not God. If we find ourselves relying on these resources more than we rely on God- we risk building our house on sand. 

We can religiously build our house on sand, as well. We can listen to sermon after sermon, read Christian blog posts, be encouraged on Sundays and never truly develop an intimate relationship with God where we hear and trust Him. 

How do we know where our house is built? Trust me, when the storm hits, we find out quickly. But if I had to put it into words, it would be "the place from where you draw your strength". 

I understand how difficult things can be and I'm not saying we should get down on ourselves for acting out with frustration or reacting in fear- it's a natural response! What I'm saying is we can learn to build our foundation on the rock of God's Word so that when the storm comes, we can stand tall and not be shaken. Peace is not only a promise, it's a heart and mind position. 

 "This is Going to be the Best Year Ever"

One year, I made my password for everything "bestyearever". It was a reminder to me that I was believing God was going to give me a great year and I could trust Him, etc. I literally had the WORST year I have ever had!!! It got to the point where I was angry every time I put my password in, "B, E, S, T... stupid, Y, E, A, R... E, V, E, R... ugh!". 

I was so happy when the year was done and I was able to change my password!

However, in that year I did learn a few things:

1. Perseverance matters.

I could have changed my password but I didn't want to give up on God. So I believed right until the very last day of the year that things were going to get better. 

"Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing."
-James 1:2-4 (CSB)

Even though things didn't get better, by the end of the year I had developed a solid habit of trusting God and it made me much more peaceful. 

2. God blesses us in so many ways other than our circumstances.

We can get really fixated on the outside things like jobs, houses, clothing, etc. Although God didn't bless me financially or with a fancy apartment and good job like I might have wanted (ha!) He did give me a purpose greater than myself. I may have ended the year with less worldly comforts than I began with but I was more fulfilled. 

In that year, God kept a roof over my head, taught me foundational life lessons and made a way for those lessons be taught and passed on to thousands of other women. 

"And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ." 
-Ephesians 4:11 (CSB)

That's pretty exciting! 



3. Hope has power.

Believing in something doesn't always make it happen but putting our faith where our mouth is really can do wonders for our situation. If it doesn't change our circumstances, it will change us and sometimes, that's the change we really, truly needed.

For example, previously, I would have never believed that someone with an addiction needed compassion for their addiction. "Tough love!" seemed to be more appropriate and it's true in many ways. There are times that we need to be firm in our boundaries and doing so will make life uncomfortable for our loved ones. However, what I learned that year was that even though my husband was unfairly inflicting pain on me, from his own pain, I wasn't supposed to respond in the same way. Doing so only created more damage. 

God called us to love. He tells us not to hurt people who have hurt us. He tells us that we can endure struggle with Him by our side and that He will make something good come from the situation.

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. As for the one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well." 
-Matthew 5:38-40 (CSB)

I'm not saying to allow people to abuse us (of course, do I have to clarify this each time I say it? Just checking! lol) but I am saying that if someone is hurting you and God tells you to stay- listen. God may have asked you to do this difficult thing because there is a greater purpose on the other side of it. Hope is what will get you through. Build your house on the rock. 

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Click to Tweet: Sometimes God asks us to do difficult things because there is greater purpose on the other side of our current circumstances.

A New You

The new year is upon us and you might be in the place I was where you're determined to have "the best year ever". While I was off-the-mark with my unrealistic expectations [click here to read more about how to handle failed expectations!] I almost got it right. What I should have said was, "the best me ever". 

Now, don't all go and change your passwords to the same thing because that wouldn't be wise but start this year off determined that for the whole year you are going to be the best "you" that you can be. 

This year you will develop perseverance, you will seek and find the blessings beyond your circumstances and you will react in hope, built on the promises found in the Word of God- for the whole year. 

"And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
-Romans 5:3-5 (CSB)

You will not be disappointed. 

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