No Addict wants to Be an Addict!

My son did not wake up one morning and say to himself, ” I think I will be an addict….”

Addiction is like a disease and no one decides to have a disease.

There are three common screams that rise up from the gut of someone caught by addiction:

I am scared.

I just want to be Normal!

Why Me?

Put those lines in any order, no one comes before the other.

I know, because my son, who died this past May from an accidental multi-drug intoxication overdose told me so.

“Why Me”

are words that vocalize the dumbfounded frustration – this wasn’t suppose to happen to me!  I am a good person.  I tried to live a good life.  I have plans and this wasn’t one of them!  My son was a dedicated athlete, co-captain of the football and wrestling teams;

“He was a good kid, a good role model for kids in school,” Edward Wyzik, the Belchertown High School football coach, said. 

His actions demonstrated character qualities that mattered and affected the people around him in a positive way; so I even scream, as the mom, why him!

“I just want to be normal!”

are words that my son cried out in fits of exasperation – Why did God make me this way? he cried.  Plagued with a predisposition genetically, he’d been caught by the beast of addiction in his attempts to self medicate a weary soul that just wanted to feel better and to feel normal.  Anxiety and depression complicated and added to his daily burden. This fight to “be normal & feel normal” propelled him to seek out the drugs that calmed him, gave him rest, escape, and allowed him to feel normal for a few hours.  His use of drugs helped him to cope with life, at first reasonably perhaps, as an occasional marijuana high, but the predisposition enticed him on to harder drugs for better relief of his inner turmoil.

“I am scared”

are some of the last words my son spoke from his heart – weeping, he relayed this emotion to a friend just a few days before he died.  Addicts have broken brains and are a people in need of help.  They are not dumb.  I believe, that this admission of emotion was the first time he was truly acknowledging the severity of his disease and the hold it had over him, and he was scared.

He was scared because NO ADDICT WANTS TO BE AN ADDICT. 

Unfortunately, in my sons state of fear he made poor choices in part due to the chemical brain changes that come with addiction, and I am convinced, he attempted to escape the fear of full relapse and tried to ease his painful predicament by trying a new drug – something he told me “he would never do“… heroin; cheaper and quicker than his usual drugs of choice.  The power of the disease of addiction is often more than the suffering person can handle and they are thrust into doing things they really don’t want to do, but are compelled to do, because of the deceptive power of drugs and the physiological marks of the disease.

These are things people need to know. Addicts are crying out; they want to be normal and they are afraid.

As a culture, we need to erase the stigma that says addicts are low-life’s with nothing good to offer society. We, as a culture need to remember that these people are someone’s son or daughter, 

they are people who had eyes and heart for a future, often times they are some of the gentlest souls in their peer groups because they are able to empathize with others who struggled in life.  They are individuals created by our heavenly Father who are worthy to be helped and loved with a love that does not judge, but seeks to fight the disease of addiction alongside them.

A line taken from the ShatterProof website, based out of New York:

“When a person with substance use disorder has internalized the negative stigma of the disease, it directly damages that person’s chances of recovery.4″

Final message today:

Get  rid of your preconceived misunderstandings about this disease of addiction and see the one addicted, as a person in need of encouragement, care, and love and do something that will speak to them and possibly reach their brokenness and give them the lift they may need to seek out recovery and stay in recovery.

We cannot fix and cure addiction for our loved ones, but we can certainly do better as a culture to give every good opportunity and HOPE for a healed & sober future for those who suffer with this brain disease called addiction.

 

What IS This?… A Poetic Mystery?

 

 

The Pastor said,

“I challenge you to meditate on the Names of God, just one every day….”

Okay, I said, as many of us do, with all good intention…

057

And so…

setting down to take up the challenge this morning I began to read; it began midstream, a thought caught in part: “because…”

Nope.  This was not a simple sit down, read, and pray, and be gone.

I was caught.

Hooked.

Enticed.

It was like a marketing sound bite!

“…because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.” Genesis 49:25

Because whaaaat?  Who can stop at just this verse and be satisfied?

Like a LAY’s chip commercial – who can eat just one!

And so it began. The study.

Please bear with me for 500 more words or so….this will be good.

Looking back, I saw in verse 22 that these were words directed to Joseph – the one who wore the coat of many colors, who was thrown into a well and sold into slavery, who eventually rose to high position in order to save his family from the famine.  Looking back to verse 1 of Chapter 49, I saw these verses were words of blessing from Jacob to his sons, and Joseph was of course one of them.

“Joseph is a fruitful vine….his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber….” V. 22

WHY?

“because…”

– there it is.

B E C A U S E of your father’s God….HIS help and  HIS blessings.  The fertile life of Joseph was only BECAUSE God helped and blessed; the prosperity of Joseph’s life came as a blessing from the Almighty God: El Shaddai.

El Shaddai, the All Sufficient One, the one who abundantly blesses with all that is needed to sustain and nourish and protect and satisfy. God Almighty, the way He revealed Himself to the ancient patriarchs of the Old Testament.

 The focus?

God is the Almighty. 

He is El Shaddai.

Now what?

Substituting my name for Joseph’s:

Sheryl is a fruitful vine…her bow remained steady, her strong arms stayed limber… what IS this?… a poetic mystery?

Just whaaaat does  T H A T mean? 

For me:

I am a saved daughter of the King…

I enjoy a loving marriage of almost thirty years…

I have nine wonderful children and three uber-cute grandchildren…

I have a comfortable home…

My family is employed…

I have food in plenty and clothes that cover…I see the lush creation around me, the birds’chirps of the morning and the sun shining through the tree tops…

I have asparagus that pushes thru the earth despite the weeds…

I have survived the death of a child, the woes of unemployment,  the devastation of cancer…

I endure the long hard days of parenting…

I am fit for the work of cooking and cleaning and playing and blessing others…

I can worship in freedom…

and more….

In other words: I am fruitful, my bow remains steady, and my arms are strong & limber.

WHY?

“…because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb.” Genesis 49:25

El Shaddai !

I must praise Him as God Almighty!

HE is the same God Almighty who helped and blessed Joseph in all the ups and downs of his life

and HE is the same God Almighty who helps and blesses my life in all the ups and downs.

Substitute your own name for Joseph’s….Can you see his help and blessing in your own life?

Won’t you join me in saying “…because…” and praise our Almighty God today?

Where am I? Part 2 of 3: “Counting my Loss”

Traversing over new paths, the Lord has led me into some interesting territory.  He has opened doors I never imagined myself standing before.

#1.   I have had opportunity to share my story and I became a published author (you can read about my book on this site – click on the “Book” tab).

#2.    I walked in my first Relay for Life event this past spring and Magnificent Hope was my supportive partner ( http://www.facebook.com/MagnificentHope ).

#3.    I have been thrown back into the regular duties of life with family and home – schooling and all that goes with running a household of ten.

#4.    I have been nominated in Yahoo’s online contest as “A Woman Who Shines” ( you can vote for me at: bit.ly/SherylHolmes — vote now, I think you have to vote by Oct. 26th).

BUT….

To be honest – I have not been feeling all that “Shiny” lately and I have been struggling with keeping up with  my life because I feel like I am in, what I am going to call, a second phase of recovery.

I have been grieving loss.  I have not healed back to my “dump truck state” (see yesterday’s blog).  I am not the old Sheryl I use to be, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Physically I have lost strength, endurance, and sharpness of mind.  My body has been altered from the toxins and poisons that were given to me for killing cancer cells.

These transfer to emotional burdens.  I cannot do what I use to do…I cannot keep up the pace or remember the multitude of things I use to keep in my head.  I still suffer side effects from chemo drugs – neuropathy keeps my feet numb 24/7; in the morning my feet are so stiff, I shuffle like a 90 year old barely able to move across the floor.  I cannot garden, go for long walks, or teach dance like I use to do.  Radiation to my lower pelvic area has affected my marriage relationship; the honeymoon life of passionate lovers is long gone.

I realize now, that I have been internalizing these losses.  I was downcast.  I was weeping in my deepest of hearts and at times paralyzed by the recounting of my losses.  I have been trying to figure out who I am again….not quite fitting anywhere…cuz I am not quite the Sheryl I use to be.

Spiritually, I began crying out to God and questioning Him again – WHY ME!  What more are you gonna take from me!  I needed to go read my own book, Towdah, for encouragement!

Searching scripture and trying to identify Where am I now…..I related to Paul’s declaration in Philippians 3:7 & 8:
“Whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”

Really, I have been mourning my losses — what were my “profits” — those accomplishments that made me established and comfortable in my life before cancer.In my weakness and in my losses I have had to rely on God and search deeper into the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.”  Like Pilgrim, in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, who slipped into the slough of despond, I needed to call out for Help…..

Help sent me a meditation on the Cross.  Chewing on the truth of the Cross is always a turning point for me.  Jesus, my Help in all manner of trouble, already did everything I ever need on the Cross for me. Daily I find I have to surrender to that truth and count my losses as my gains in knowing Christ intimately.  As I rid me of myself, I accept my losses.

The things I once held up as profits, I held in pride.  Letting go of those profits gains me a gifted position.  This gifted position allows me the privilege of a deeper knowing of Jesus.

#1   The loss of my strength and endurance means I can access the Lord’s strength.

#2   The loss of my body’s agility and balance means I can wait on God and ask Him to show me what I need to see and what I need to do.  I can be open to how He will use me in a new way.

#3   The loss of my old relationship with my husband means I can rely on God’s grace to wash over our marriage bed.

#4   The loss of the old me and what I dreamed for me means I can trust the Lord even more to fill me with the Holy Spirit and show me the new creature He is molding.

#5   The loss of what profited me means I can be found in Christ and I can be in continual relationship with Him.  In my relationship with Christ, I fit!  I have a place and a purpose.

Where am I?  I am found in HIM.

Friends, count your losses…they can be gains for knowing Jesus in a  deeper way.

(Tune in to Part 3 of 3: ” Driven to Know” tomorrow!)