Healing Together

A woman sat next to me in a crumbled heap, broken and sobbing.  Her husband’s addiction devastated her and the consequences of his actions bore heavily on her soul.

I felt her pain.  Her breathing heaved, with the weight of life and death crushing on her.  She had been completely devastated and wondered how she could live again.

It was all she could put to words at the time, but her heart went to a much deeper place.  Perhaps she wondered, “will the pain ever stop?”  And “how will I ever survive this?” 

An addict doesn’t realize the hell or havoc they cause their loved ones.  When they are lost in the world of their addiction, they are blind to the consequences and checked out of relationship.  And when it goes too far, they unleash earthquake consequences on the ones they love.  That’s the nature of addiction. It destroys.

As a codependent who learns to live enmeshed, we lose a sense of who we are.  Life becomes more of how to stay connected, how to pray hard enough, how to please or help or serve or care take.  Whatever we can frantically “do” to come out of crisis.

The step back into serenity comes through boundaries.  Realizing the mess of an entangled relationship needs better definition of who I am and who you are.  What is my responsibility that I need to own and act on, and what do I need to release and step away from?

I have fond memories of healing and growth in Lexington, Kentucky. God allowed Wilmore, specifically, to be a place of sacred retreat and refuge for me.  I find incredible beauty in the rolling hills and horse farms. They stir my soul with life and vitality that is hard to explain.  I’m just drawn to them.

I soaked this picture into my heart as I drove through the rolling hills of Lexington.  It filled me with great warmth and serenity.  And then I realized, those fences give me a picture of the buffer I need between my relationships that have become enmeshed.

These are healthy boundaries.  There can be a gate, where we are open and relate and have connections.  But there are times that I need to just be responsible for what is inside my own fence.

I believe that is the essence of what is healing my heart and my marriage.  Where I can step back from the entangled mess of addiction and find myself again.  I can nurture my own soul.  I can heal and find serenity.  

It doesn’t come in isolation or cutting myself off, although that is what a battered soul is tempted to do, to hide and run for cover.  Healing comes in stepping out to trust safe relationships.  Surrounding myself in a variety of support so that I can rebuild.  Reaching out, risking being known, and finding that I can live again.

I have had the privilege to hear the stories of many broken hearts.  I am honored that they would trust me enough to count me as part of their safe support.  The pain runs so raw and so deep, but it also connects us with profound compassion for the hurting.

I can enter in because I have been there and experienced it to the core of me.  And I have great hope for how a heart can heal.  I know the journey and exasperating work of healing.  And I know the joy beyond description of working it through.

It is extremely costly and it can take everything you have.  But if you are in a place of profound desperation, what other choice do you have?

I see the anguish of this woman’s pain and I want to tell her there is great hope.  There is great healing.  When we learn to surround ourselves with healthy people, we can walk it together.


Embracing Reality

I’m wondering if others see it too. Things are pretty backward in this thing called a faith journey.  We miss the whole point of Jesus coming.  We get tripped up in appearances just as much as the Pharisees did.  Lofty ideals are hard to let go because we wish beyond anything that they were true.  But in the process of working so hard that it could ever be so, we drift back into the distance of ever being known for who we really are.  We lose connection, relationship, and embrace.

From what I understand of Jesus and grace, all are welcome to draw near and find relationship.  Your life can be horribly difficult and messy, and Jesus can handle it.  You don’t have to hide; you don’t have to pretend.  In fact, you can let your guard down and be real.  He welcomes the authenticity like a fresh breath of new life.

Jesus welcomes the honesty because it is the start of surrender.  It is letting go of pretense, denial, and avoidance.  It is the acceptance that our reality is that we need help.  It reveals a heart that is humble and teachable, who doesn’t have to have it all together to be presentable.  This heart already knows it is desperate for God to save.

This morning I looked at the nativity by my kitchen sink and thought about the many nativities and symbols of Christmas spread throughout our home.

God spoke to me there.  He wants us to remember He is mighty to save.  He wants us to remember that He came….He comes…..and He is coming.  That is what advent is all about.  The holy waiting.  The anticipation of hope fulfilled.

Who I really am is a woman of great faith and tremendous difficulties.  I am married to an incredible man whom I deeply love, but who also battles sex addiction that has cost both him and our family two jobs.  God has provided immensely this year for ten weeks of rehab, ongoing therapy and marriage counseling, but those vessels of healing are also incredibly painful to walk.  I have plummeted the depths of my own raw unhealth, codependency, and woundedness. It has been a tremendous amount of work, depth, and commitment.  We continue to walk unemployment and uncertainty, but that isn’t even a full picture of what we carry.  And maybe what is hardest is to keep walking in faith and hope, when real life is so difficult and giving up isn’t an option.

I’ve spent too many years swallowing and drowning as I tried to carry the weight of these realities.  I haven’t done it apart from the grace of God, but I’ve also failed to cultivate a community of support until now.  I’ve had to do some hard looking at my faith and processing the platitudes that Christians toss around.  Many don’t know what to say and they hope that their prayers are quickly answered.  Most don’t interact, don’t wrestle, and don’t want to face real life or depth.

I am drawn to those who can tell the raw truth.  I am grateful for those who have endured great difficulty and came through stronger.  I’m finally learning to integrate my faith, that GOD IS MIGHTY TO SAVE……He is HERE….He is coming!!!  He is worth holding onto and believing in and hoping for!!  But I’m also more able to give him my full heart, my full offering, that I’m poor in spirit and painfully desperate.  I won’t make it without Him.  That is a reality worth embracing — heartfelt, humble, and true.  Hallelujah, He can handle it.