When it Rains it Pours! You won’t believe this horror story actually happened to us!

Crazy

 

 

One day last month I came home from work to find my wife standing in the living room wearing one of those looks on her face that indicated something serious had happened.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“I have something to show you,” she began, “And I’m not sure but I think it is kind of a big deal.”

She led me to the bed room where the dresser had been pulled away from the wall to reveal mold down by the floor board. She was right.  It was a big deal.  We wouldn’t know for several weeks how big of deal it was.

My first order of business was to find out where the water was coming from that caused the mold. After cutting into the wall I quickly discovered that the faucet on the bathtub, just on the other side of the bedroom wall, was leaking behind the wall.  This would explain why it smelled a little musty in the bathroom for the past several days.  I hadn’t given this much thought, and my wife thought that the towels were the cause of the odor.

Having discovered the problem I shut off the water and went to the hardware store to purchase a new faucet. They were out of the particular faucet I needed so I had to wait until the following day so I could pick one up at a different hardware store.  After installing the new faucet I went under the house to inspect the floor from underneath and discovered that the bathtub drain trap, sometimes called a P Trap, was also leaking.  After another trip to the hardware store and a few minutes in the crawlspace the leak was fixed.

Now it was time to attack the mold. Having opened up the wall in the bedroom to get to the plumbing behind the tub had revealed much more mold than we had previously anticipated.  The smell was horrible!  The odor in the bedroom was so bad my wife and I slept out in the living room for several days.

I cut out the drywall in the bedroom and bathroom that was obviously moldy and had sprayed mold killer on every surface I could find. To go the extra mile I had even purchased a, “Mold Bomb,” and gone under the house to bomb the area underneath the tub through the hole in the floor.  Surly this was the end of this nightmare story.

Surly, it was not. After several days the musty smell continued.  I then had to take much more drastic measures.  On one side of this bathroom is our bedroom.  On the other side of the bathroom is the kitchen.  In fact the bath tub is directly behind one of our kitchen cabinets.  In order to get to the back wall I had to partially take apart our kitchen cabinet.  I then squeezed my not so fit body into the cabinet to take out the back wall of the cabinet and cut out the drywall in order to inspect for mold under the tub on the kitchen side.  I removed a large portion of drywall that was infected with mold.  At this point it really appeared as though the mold was gone.

It was not. The smell continued.  I broke into the wall on the bedroom side once more.  This time  I cut out a piece of the vinyl flooring and discovered it was covered in mold.  It was at this time I realized the entire tub and shower surround would have to be taken out, the mold completely eradicated, and a new shower put in its place.

At this point we called in the professionals. I don’t mind giving a plug to AdvantaClean, in Michigan City Indiana because they were AMAZING!

The story is not over. As it stands we are in the middle of mold remediation.  After that I will install a new tub and shower surround.  Perhaps then things can go back to normal.  Our allergies have been a mess, our sleep has been disrupted, and our bathroom is unusable.  On top of it all we noticed a gas leak in the kitchen over the weekend and are having a heating and air company come out today to try and find the leak!

What does all of this have to do with addiction and recovery? In the Bible James famously wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (James 1:2-4 ESV).

We are not to count it all joy when we have trials because the trials are great fun. We are to count it all joy because it is a humble reminder that God is faithful.  We count it all joy because the test strengthens our resolve.  We see that we can bend under the pressure of life without breaking.  Here we learn perseverance.  God got us through the trials before and He will see us through this one as well.  This kind of perseverance leads to spiritual maturity.

In the past when trials came our way we would turn to our addictions, compulsive behaviors, and or sin habits in an effort to sooth the pain. Now in the power of Christ in us (Phil. 4:13, Phil. 2:13) we persevere through the trials with joy knowing God is strengthening us so nothing  that comes our way will defeat, overcome, or derail us.  This past month has been physically, emotionally, and financially tough.  But one thing I do as the Apostle Paul wrote, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Press on!

Guilt, Shame, and Addiction

 

 

 

 

 

In his spiritual fervor the Apostle Peter spoke these words and I believe he meant them with all of his heart, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus had just told his disciples, ““You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”  This must have sounded like pure nonsense.  Peter who had faithfully followed Jesus for three years, Peter who boldly confessed, “Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life,” Peter who loved and passionately served Jesus would surly never betray Him.  Yet Jesus told him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Once again Peter restated his pledge to the Lord saying, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” Then the unthinkable happened.  You can blame a lapse in judgment or you can blame the circumstances but for whatever reason, it happened.  Peter denied Christ.

Here was a man who was absolutely dedicated to his values and had professed his love and commitment to them yet when it mattered the most he failed. Sound familiar?  You and I claim we value our families, work, and ourselves yet sometimes when it matters the most we fail.  Then we are often left with that horrible feeling of guilt and shame.

So much could be said here about guilt and shame, how they can lead us to, and keep us in our addiction. What I want to focus on is the truth of God’s amazing mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

You and I have done things worthy of hell itself.

John taught us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn. 1:8). The Apostle Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death.”  Isaiah wrote, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6). These verses are not just for those of us who have struggled with addiction.  It is not just for those of us who have committed major sin.  Isaiah said, “WE HAVE ALL…”  The Hebrew word translated, “All,” in this verse is used in the Bible to describe, “All the earth.”  All means all of us.

On the other hand God’s perfect grace, mercy, and forgiveness is also available to us ALL!

 

Isaiah prophesied about the ministry of the Messiah saying in Isaiah 53:5-6, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  Jesus didn’t just take the sins of those who tell white lies.  He didn’t just bear the sins of those who occasionally get angry.  He didn’t just die of the cross for those who messed up one time and then totally turned their lives around forever.  Christ died for ALL!  He took the punishment for ALL our sin.  Big or small, one time sins and repeat offenders, He paid it all!

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to raise from the dead? The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Jesus rose from the grave to prove victory over sin and death.  He rose from the grave as a symbol to us.  For just as Christ rose from the dead we too can walk in new life.  Jesus rose to a new life.  Now it is our turn.

You are forgiven! The Psalmist wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” The author of Hebrews wrote, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,     and I will remember their sins no more.” You are forgiven.  You!  Forgiveness extends to the darkest sin.  Forgiveness is from the least to the greatest sin.  If you have confessed and turned from your sin, if you have turned to the living God in repentance, your sin is forgiven.

You might remember your sin and continue to beat yourself up for your past mistakes. Others might remember your sin and judge you by you past mistakes.  But God, rich in mercy, and abounding in love, has forgiven your sin today.

You are Holy! The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 starting in verse nine, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  God sees you as holy because He made you holy.  Yes, you have done some terrible, sinful things.  But you were washed, made clean.  You were sanctified, set apart in God’s eyes, made holy.  You were justified, legally declared not guilty.  No matter the sin you were guilty of, God washed you in the blood of Jesus.  You are clean.  You are holy!

You might not see yourself as holy. Satan, his demons, and other people might not see you as holy and may condemn you as a sinner and unholy but, in truth you are holy!

You are NEW! 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  I love this verse!  No matter who you are, no matter where you have been, no matter how far you have run from the Lord or the degree of your sin, in Christ you are NEW!

You might not feel new, others might not see you as new, but you are NEW!

Let’s begin today walking in the truth of who we are Forgiven, Holy, and New!  Guilt and shame can hold you down and keep you in bondage.  When you are negative, critical, and judgmental toward yourself, or when others act that way toward you because of what you have done you will have a tendency to live in guilt and shame.  There is nothing wrong and everything right with learning from your past mistakes.  However, if you have confessed your sin to God, asked His forgiveness, and have turned from the sin and turned to the living God then you are forgiven.  You are holy.  You are new.  Let us make a practice of living in this newness of life in Christ, free from the bondage of guilt and shame.

 

Bondage of Addiction

chains

A friend of mine once related to me how he got started doing drugs. One night he thought he would have some fun so he decided he would try meth.  The party was epic, he had a great time, and the night was a success.  All these years later he can point back to that one night that changed everything.  What started out as something he could control in an effort to have some fun slowly began taking control of certain areas of his life.  He became dominated.

Domination Process

Addiction Process

Experimental: In the experimental stage we are still in control.  We “Chose to use.”  We may just be curious.  We may use to rebel.  We may use in attempt to escape pain.

Occasional: In the occasional use stage we still has a level of control.  We use on occasion when it is convent.  Often tolerance is already beginning to build so it takes more of the drug to get the same effect.

Routine: In this stage the behavior becomes part of our lives.  We don’t see ourselves as addicts only as users.  We still believe we could quit at any time but we chose not to.  Here we begin to see the behavior affecting our lives.  Occasionally we will miss work or school, or get in trouble with our family.

Addiction: In an addiction we never or rarely pass up an opportunity to use.  More and more areas of our lives are affected by our use.  We go to great lengths to get what we need to feed our addiction.  We become inward focused and little else matters to us but the addiction.

Dependency: Our bodies are physically dependent on the effects of our compulsive behavior.  There are physical reactions if I don’t use.  Headache, nausea, tremors, sweats, stomach pain, depression, and fatigue are just some of the physical signs of withdrawal.  Often we will speak of, “Getting sick,” if I don’t use.  At this point using is just as much about not getting sick as it is about feeling some euphoric high.

What started out as something we control in an effort to have some fun, ease the pain, or find peace has become something that controls us. In this role reversal the addiction has become the master and we its slaves.  It dominates our thoughts and emotions.  We become angry, depressed, and anxious.  It dominates us physically, making us sick if we don’t get enough.  It begins to destroy our health.  It dominates us socially and steals away our love and our loved ones.

In Galatians 5:1 the Apostle Paul wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  So, how about your life?  Does freedom or slavery best describe you?  Are you free from the power of addiction or are you dominated by it?  The good news is this, God never intended for us to live in bondage!  In recovery we look beyond what dominated us and focus on a renewed life.  The truth is Domination turns to Renewal as we discover a renewed purpose for our lives.  In my next post we will look at 5 new reasons to live beyond our addiction!

Action Step:

Write a brief summary of your story. Tell how you moved down the path of domination from experimental use to addiction and dependency.  Then write about how your addiction has dominated you emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually.

Do you have a story? We would love to hear it.  Why not share briefly in the comment section below?  You might just be an encouragement to someone in need.

Recovery Doesn’t Work!

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“Recovery Doesn’t Work!”

Ever hear someone say that?  Perhaps you’ve said it yourself.  It’s true; some methods are more helpful for one individual base on his or her exact needs, personality, and background than for another.  But, to say, recovery doesn’t work, is a kin to saying, this hammer doesn’t work, because it has been lying here all day and my picture still isn’t hung up.  The hammer works just fine the question is, are you really going to pick up the hammer and use it the way it was intended?  There is no perfect recovery program out there.  True some are better than others.  One thing they all have in common is they offer tools.  It is up to the individual weather or not he or she will use the tools they have been given to aid in their own recovery.

That is why I like step 4 of the 12 steps.  “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”  It is so easy to talk about recovery.  It is so easy to talk about ones feelings, and childhood.  It is easy to talk about triggers.  It is easy to talk.  Step 4 is where the rubber meets the road.  This is what we call a, “Treatment Method.”  This is something concrete you can do to aid in your recovery.  There are hundreds of tools out there.  Some may be more helpful for you where you are right now than others but, making a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself is a great place to start.

A moral inventory is simply a list of both the positive and negative attributes that make up who you are now.  This list may include resentments you have toward certain people or institutions.  This also may include a list of ways you have been selfish.  Some also include, “Unmanageable defects of character.”  These may include outbursts of uncontrolled anger, or the inability to tell the truth.  Many people will use a chart, or pick list like this one provided by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

step 4

Want to get serious about step four?  Here is what you do.  Make a list of as many negative traits as you can think of.  Here is where the word, Fearless, comes in.  It is often hard to admit to ourselves how negative, critical, and judgmental we have become.  Looking at ourselves critically is not always something we always do.  This may be a difficult step for some.  However, many have reported that using this simple tool has been a great help to them on the road to recovery.  To get started you might use the suggestions from recovery.org.  They give the following examples, “I lie to the people I care about, and it’s hurt them.  I am power hungry, and I boast about my achievements. I have alienated those around me by my selfishness.  I bring others down with my self-loathing and shame.  I am self-righteous and judgmental of others.  I am ill-tempered, and I have taken my anger out on my family and friends.”  Now, take what you see as your top 10 areas of weakness and write about how these negative traits led you to and keep you in your addiction.

Make a list of as many positive traits you can think of.  Ask a family member, close friend, and your sponsor to help you with this.  You might write things like, “I am committed to my children.  I have a fun personality and make friends easy.  I am a very detailed person.  I always try to keep the peace.”  Don’t rush through this.  Come up with as many as you can think of.  Next pick 10 of your best traits and write out how these positive traits will help you in your recovery.

This step will take some time.  I encourage you not to rush through it.  This is not just some chore to check off your to do list.  This is a tool that can help you for years to come.

The Apostle Paul said something very interesting in Philippians chapter three.  Paul wrote, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 3:12-14 ESV).  Paul was humble enough to realize he was not yet the perfect man God wanted him to be.  He said he focused on one thing- pressing on.  He knew one hindrance to living in God’s will for the presence is to live in the past.  A word of encouragement, as you do your moral inventory don’t  get too caught up focusing on the past.  The purpose of step four is not to remind you of all of the terrible things you have said and done.  It is simply to uncover the truth, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Remember, we learn from the past, we don’t live in it.

So, how about you?  What are some other tools, or treatment methods you use in recovery?  How has step 4 impacted your life?  I’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment in the Reply box below.

Holidays and Addiction

remember

Here is a friendly reminder of something you probably know well…

When I do a Treatment Summery for my clients who are getting ready to leave the program I will ask them to list some of the emotional, circumstantial, social, and environmental triggers they will face.  One of the most constant answers I hear from clients is that the holiday’s are particularly challenging.  This makes so much sense.

First of all the holidays are stressful on almost all of us. Sometimes the best and worst part of the holidays is that you get to see your family.  Broken family relationships can be a huge stress lead one to or keeping on in an addiction.

Second, holidays are often celebrated with some sort of party. For many a party is a chance to get drunk or high.  Going to a holiday party for these individuals can be on big trigger.  Seeing others drink or use drugs can be a huge trigger, even if the individual in recovery does not intend to use.

Third, the holidays can actually be a very sad time. For many the holidays are a reminder of the family or loved ones they lost to addiction or because of their own addiction.  The holidays are a painful reminder of what they have lost.  Often addicts and those in recovery are tempted to use in an effort to mask the pain of the holidays.

If you are in recovery I want to encourage you to stay safe over the Memorial Day weekend. Make a preplan of what you will do for a healthy pursuit of love, joy, and peace outside of your addiction.  If you love someone who struggles pleas keep in mind that the holidays can be very tough.  Give your loved one a call.  Invite them over.  Consider not serving alcohol at your family get together as to not be a trigger for those in recovery.  Finally pray.  Pray for those for whom the holidays are a great challenge.

We would love to hear from you!  What are some healthy ways you handle the stress of holidays?  Leave a comment in the, “Reply,” section below.  Have a safe and Happy Memorial day.

Words from an Inmate

A man came into the counselor’s office this morning and asked if he could read a poem he had written about the pain of addiction. He began to read:

Mom, dad, wife, & children too

Everyone I love, seems I hate them too

Running from home, spinning out of control

Coming back around with holes in my soul

A smile played all over my face

Choking back tears within their embrace

Destroying my home, steeling their hope

What right, I ask, did I ever have

By lying & steeling all they ever had

It’s funny now, through all of my schemes

They’re still holding on to all of my dreams

Love, hope, family, & home

All I gave up just to get stoned

Maybe I’ll wake up and get this thing right

Maybe I won’t & be high tonight

Pathetic addiction & choices I’ve made

Take me from home & close to the grave

Running in circles then back again

One last chance not to die in my sin

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10 ESV).

Problem Solving and Addiction

I didn’t know it was going to start an argument.  I stated what I thought was a forgone conclusion.  Apparently my co-worker didn’t see it that way.  We had been talking about one of my clients who had made some choices that not only got him kicked out of the recovery program but also landed him in segregated housing, or what some call, “Solitary confinement.”  This is a very small room where the client will spend 23 hours a day.

I had told my co-worker that at the root of it all is poor problem solving skills.  My friend vehemently disagreed.  “Maybe years down the line he can begin working on problem solving skills but for now he has much bigger issues to work through.”  He went on to list things like the clients mindset that leads to the drug and criminal lifestyle, possible childhood issues, lying, manipulating, and of course his addictions.

I explained that my theory is that at the root of all these things is poor problem solving skills.  Have you ever been so upset with your child that you screamed at them?  Have you ever been so frustrated in traffic that you yelled at another driver?  Have you ever stolen something from work?  Have you ever cheated in big or small ways in order to get ahead?  Have you ever turned to drugs, alcohol, shopping, pornography, or eating to comfort yourself after a bad day?  Most of us have.

My guess is that 90% of the challenges we have with our children is due to their lack of problem solving skills.  Because they have trouble thinking through the challenges of life and come up with positive solutions they attempt to solve the problems in other ways, such as throwing a fit, manipulating, lying, and so on. When we get older our temper tantrums look a little different than they did when we were kids.  Still, at the root of it all is the fact we sometimes don’t know how to solve our problems in healthy ways.

My client has a problem.  The best solution he came to at the time was to get himself removed from the program.  Are we any different?  Instead of doing the hard work of reconciling broken relationships are we not quick to dispose of them?  Instead of fixing the broken car we rush to the new car lot to take out a loan on a new car that we really can’t afford.  Instead of practicing patience and humility we react with rage when things don’t go our way.  At the root of many of our own challenges is a lack of problem solving skills.

This leads to the question, “How does one obtain problem solving skills?”  The answer, I believe, is twofold. First we need the proper tools.  Second, we need to learn when, where, and how to use these tools.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney are credited for writing the song, “All you need is love.”  Although I’m uncertain whether love is ALL we need, but it sure is a good start.  The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth gave a short list of tools needed if we are going to master the challenges that life throws our way without turning to our addictive and compulsive behaviors.   Paul explained that, “Love,” is more than just a warm fuzzy feeling you get but it is something that you do.  As you read through the short passage from Paul’s letter note the tools (In bold print) needed to love.  These are same tools needed to problem solve our way through life.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails,” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8a NIV).

I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.  Do you believe at the root of many of our challenges in life lies poor problem solving skills?  What tools are needed for us to navigate the challenges of this life in healthy, prosocial ways?  Reply below.