Sobriety Part 5: glancing back to walk forward

Thank you for sitting with me and hearing my story. I am so grateful to have shared the darkness of my journey and put it in the light. None of this is easy, but as we’ve learned, the easy stuff doesn’t help us grow.

We have walked through my fall, the valley and the rescue, and my climb. But, before we finish up our conversation, I think it is important that we glance back to know how to move forward. I say glance, because a glance is a quick look, rather than a deep stare, focusing on the past. I do not think it does anyone any good to live in the past, but we do need to look to the past, learn the lessons that seasons taught us, and move forward. Move forward.

This season..this fall, valley, and climb has taught me some pretty big life lessons. Lessons that shape how I view the world now..and hopefully how I continue to view the world as I grow in years.

Lesson 1: It is sometimes necessary to fall, to break, to crumble.

As I sit here with you, I am filled with gratitude for this journey. I know that sounds counter-cultural. But, genuinely, I am really grateful to have been brought so low because it was in this experience that I was able to rebuild and realign who I am and what I value.

Lysa TerKeurst writes about this breaking in her book It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way She speaks of how when we are shattered from big moments like this, we turn to dust.

What if, this time, God desires to make something completely brand-new? Right now. On this side of eternity. No matter how shattered our circumstances may seem. Dust is the exact ingredient God loves to use.

We can see dust as a result of an unfair breaking. Or we can see dust as a crucial ingredient.

Dust doesn’t have to signify the end. Dust is often what must be present for the new to begin.

And that’s one of the most devastating realities of dust times in our lives. We need the world to stop spinning for a while. We need things to pause. We need the celebrations to cease long enough to work through our grief.

Lysa TerKeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, chapter 2, Dust

I am totally okay with the fact that I was broken down to to dust to be restored into something new. My life, the path I was on, was not healthy. I had gotten off from the path that was designed for me. I needed a massive crumbling to be restored.

Sweet friend..if you feel everything around you crumbling…let it fall. Let it break. Stop trying to glue it back together. Rather, let it shatter so that it can be created into something brand new. Let it break and then rebuild.

Lesson 2: Suffering can show you your strength.

I was feeling so weak, so broken, so lost. When asked to use words to describe myself in therapy, a cycle of self-deprecating words circled around my head. I could not think of one kind word to describe myself. But now, on the other side of the valley, having fought through the climb, I have been shown just how strong I can be. How fierce I can be. I needed to be reminded that I can fight for better. I had to lean heavily on God for strength when I was far too weak to help myself. With each success, each small win, I gained momentum to know that I could do things.

You can do things too. You are strong. And if you aren’t feeling that strength, then yoke on to someone else’s strength until you can start to feel your wins. Search for your wins. Build the momentum. See how incredibly resilient you are.

I have lived and overcome something that was debilitating to me. Now, when faced with challenges, I am reminded of what I have done and how far I have come. Then this new challenge is not as challenging anymore. I was once crushed but I am okay now. When another valley comes, which it will, I will remember this time and remind myself of the strength I had to get through this. I will be better equipped to handle the next climb. My struggle happened before the pandemic hit. So, when the pandemic hit, my heart was ready for it. We could do this. This wasn’t my hardest season…but my hardest season had prepared me for this hard season.

You glance back. Remember the strength. You keep going. You keep moving.

Lesson 3: Boundaries are good.

Lisa Whittle speaks about “Holiness Over Freedom” in her book, Jesus Over Everything. She states,

That just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

We can do a lot of things. Our freedom will allow it. But at the end of the day, it will take our life from under it.

Consider your holiness-versus freedom issue, even now. If you know somewhere deep down inside that something is coming between you and God, in any season, do you pursue getting rid of it, or do you justify keeping it for as long as possible?

Lisa Whittle, Jesus Over Everything, Chapter 4, Holiness Over Freedom

Boundaries and saying no to things you have the ability to do, is hard. Setting firm lines on what is good for you and what is not is hard. However, once the line is drawn, knowing this is not serving me, helps make all the other decisions much easier.

I do not drink. I can drink. But, I know that it clouds my judgement and I do not like who I am when I drink. I know that I most likely will not just have one drink if I have a drink. Therefore, I have chosen that my tight line is no drinks for me. Since I made this clear boundary for me and those close to me know this line, decisions are easy. I can go places and I do not wrestle with “should I?” The decision is already made.

These boundaries help me to be the most peaceful me. I used to think that denying myself something was punishing myself, but now I see them as ways of protecting myself and also loving myself. This is freedom.

Lesson 4: Everyone is struggling with something.

Everyone has a struggle. Life is hard and no one gets through without having to tackle some deep valleys. While some have very visible struggles, many struggles occur behind the scenes or in their hearts. If you know that everyone is struggling than it helps you set your heart to have a posture of love and grace for them.

We do not need to know, or have really a right to know, what that person’s story is.

If they chose to share their story, cherish that privilege, and respect their vulnerability.

Respond with love.

But, most likely, we do not know everyone’s story. Yet still, we need to strive to respond with love. I know I fall short on this often, but I am really trying to respond with love. See people first as people, not their title or their duty or their shortcomings, but as a person. Show love, grace, and kindness because being a person is hard.

Lesson 5: You have to show up for the lesson.

Life is going to take you to some hard places and each one will teach you something, grow you in some way. But, you have to show up for the lesson. You are going to go through the hardship either way, so please do not let it be in vain. Let it teach you what it is meant to teach you. Let it grow you so that you are prepared for whatever season is coming next. Pay attention. Feel the feels. Learn the lessons.

Lesson 6: new mountains…new valleys.. and God is greater than it all

This is where I am today. On this side of the valley. I would not say that I have conquered this mountain because, well, I think it would be naive to think that one can conquer a mountain such as this. However, I am comfortable with where I am in the climb.

Life is a series mountain ranges….peaks and valleys…climbs…rest…growth..sorrow and joy. To think this is the only hard thing I will face is naive. Life just is not like that. But, I will use this story to help me fight through the next one. I will use this story to teach our children about perseverance and struggles, as they will have them too. I will use this experience to be a reminder of how big God is and how He is so much greater than the highs or the lows.

And incase I forget that God is so much bigger than the mountains and the valleys, I have it as a permanent reminder on my body. At age 36, I got my first tattoo, pointing directly to God with my hands open to the path He has me on.

Author’s Note:

If you are struggling with alcohol addiction or abuse, I urge you to find your people to help you.

If you are walking beside someone with alcohol addiction, I urge you to walk with love, truth, and grace. The person you love has already filled themselves with enough judgement and self-deprecation, that they do not need to hear any additional hurts. Be their strength while they find theirs. Be their advocate.

Resources that I love:

  • Jesus Over Everything by Lisa Whittle
  • It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst
  • Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen

To check out the whole series follow Sobriety Part 1: What is sobriety?, Sobriety Part 2: the fall, Sobriety Part 3: the valley & the rescue, Sobriety Part 4: the climb.

4 thoughts on “Sobriety Part 5: glancing back to walk forward

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