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Archive for July, 2011

Tonight I witnessed a woman pray to God for being sober 48 hours.

I was waiting for a friend of mine to join me at a restaurant for dinner, and as I was playing Facebook Scrabble on my cell phone, two women sat beside me and bowed their heads.  After a moment, one woman spoke and said, “Dear God, thank you for my sobriety.  I have been sober for 48 hours, and I am so grateful.  Thank you for my sponsor.  Bless me in my next 24 hours, and for the food we will eat together.  Amen.”

I can’t remember when I’ve witnessed such a hauntingly beautiful moment of praise.

At first I felt ashamed for eavesdropping on such a seemingly private moment of a person’s life.  I then remembered a recent blog I had read which spoke of how that when people gather together in public places like restaurants and coffee shops there is a risk in knowing their conversations could be overheard.

It humbles me that this woman, in the midst of a powerful and forceful moment of her recovery, would not only praise God for her sobriety, but to be brave enough to do it in a place where onlookers could witness and feel the power of that recovery.  It was with such bravery,honesty and genuine gratitude that she did not hide her words quiet words or a shameful look around the restaurant.   Instead she joined hands with another as she spoke her prayer out loud.

It has been a long time since I thanked God for my sobriety.   It is hard for me to admit that I have.  It is by God’s grace that I have not battled the disease of drugs and alcoholism personally, but I have lived the impact of these things.  I once had to choose between continuing a relationship with a person who battled substances.  In that discernment, I remember thanking God that my choice was based of sober awareness rather than fighting the urge to consume.  In the end, I knew that while I will always love that person, I cannot have them in my life until they were ready to be sober, and there is a part of me still wonders if my choice was the right one.  I know in my head that it was, and try to remind my heart that the door of our relationship will always be ajar for that moment that person is ready to even think about attending a meeting or reaching our for help.

Watching this woman tonight, I give thanks that my life has never been so rough where the only solace I felt was at the bottom of a bottle or the edge of a needle.  I give thanks that even in the darkest of times, I heard God call to me and guide me towards non-irrevicable decisions.   I give thanks that when my best friend gets married this fall I can toast her union with champagne, and that I will always be able to partake in communion when only wine if offered.

I further give thanks for this brave woman celebrating her success so I and others could witness it, and to be reminded that what may be small moments for one person are huge leaps for another.   I feel disquieted that it was she tonight who gave praise-filled thanks for her food and companionship out loud for the world to hear, while I merely took a moment to silently bow my head and close my eyes behind the shield of a menu.

Tonight I pray for sobriety –  in thanksgiving that I have never lost it, in recognition that through God’s love I will always find it, and for those who reach blindly for the path.

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I have been on a “Hoarders” kick lately.  I am in the midst of packing up my home for the second time within the past eight months to head to Chicago for seminary.  Watching “Hoarders” gives me good incentive to purge, which will (fingers crossed) help me reduce some of my moving expenses.  Before I moved back in with my parents this past October, I got rid of a third of my possessions, and my goal is to get rid of another third within these last 39 days I’m in Cleveland.

Someone recently told me that the hardest part of moving on is that is knowing what of your past life you should keep.  For me, I have found that statement to ring particularly true.  I know that as I continue to grow and move forward, there will be certain things that I will have to put behind me.  I will not be able to go to the annual Halloween party a friend holds because we won’t be living in the same state.    I won’t be able to drive over my parents for five minutes at the end of a taxing day, or know that I can I have guaranteed “auntie time” on Thursday nights while my sister is working.  As much as it is in society’s nature to pretend it isn’t so, moving away will fracture and end some relationships, and patterns that are comfortable in Cleveland may just not cut in the windy city.  We all go through this rite of passage at one point or another in our lives, and as I pack my possessions I am trying to be very intentional about what I will take with me.  I want to know that the things and relationships I keep are parts of my life that God wants me to nurture, and if not, then to pay it the respect of saying goodbye.

Tonight. to give myself a break (or so I thought), I attempted to delete my old MySpace page that I haven’t touched in three years.  I say attempted because, despite my best efforts, the deletion field wouldn’t accept my email address.  Frustrated, I decided I would show MySpace a thing or two and went through and deleted every single comment, picture, blog post and note associated with the page.

Who knew MySpace would be a vehicle of divine intervention?  It was extremely cathartic saying goodbye to a part of myself that I haven’t touched in years.  It was fascinating to see which friends had left notes, what were the urgent matters of the day that required me to blog, and how I felt about my career and love life while I was in the midst of it instead of reminiscing on days past.

I needed to go through and methodically purge that part of myself, because I don’t think I took seriously enough how I chose to represent myself three years ago and what that spoke about my idea of self.  There where many posts and status updates that read, “Starting tomorrow, I will..”  I didn’t realize I was a person who waited so much for my future to begin.  I also didn’t recognize how my former self was so angry, so bitter, so depressed.  Looking at comments from friends, the relationships I have maintained were the people who spoke of inspiration, love and new beginnings, not the friends who validated my woe-is-me rants.

As I continue to prepare for the next chapter, I am so humbled that God has chosen me for this path and to allowed me to feel the true essence of healing.  When I tell my abbreviated call story, I tend to say that I had every intention of becoming a librarian, ended up working for a church to pay my bills, and had my whole world flipped upside down.   I am so glad my world was flipped upside down, because I think my heart is finally turned right side up.

Purging is a beautiful thing – it gives us the space to realize how much we are loved.

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