Moving Out of the Wilderness
In 1 John 2:9-11 it states, "The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes" In the process of working on my fourth step (of Alcoholics Anonymous – made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves), the source of my blinders are becoming clearer. My darkness has been "But they did me wrong!" My assumption had been that my life was shaped by the situations that I experienced and that "I" had no control over them.
In November of 1985, I woke up in the dark, literally and figuratively. Our electricity had been turned off because the bill had not been paid. Even though I could no longer pretend that my world was perfect, I got up as if nothing had happened, went through the usual motions of getting the children, then ages five months and four years, ready for day care and dropping them off. After a futile attempt to go to work, I returned home in tears and called in for a personal day off. At the time, I thought that the problem was my husband’s excessive drinking and so I set about the business of fixing him through an intervention designed to get him into treatment for alcoholism. This was the beginning of a journey into discovering that I was not so perfect either – nor was my family of origin.
A Frantic Search
This set off a chain of events that included treatment for my husband, marital therapy, and ultimately, individual therapy for me. None of this "fixed" him or me and we ended up divorced, remarried and divorced again. Not being able to turn back or turn off the pain, I started trying to fix me. By the summer of 1992, I had tried Al-Anon, Adult Children Of Alcoholics, Overeaters Anonymous, Experiential Codependency Treatment, individual therapy, New Age, Transcendental Meditation, unhealthy relationships, compulsive spending, compulsive overeating, sensory deprivation tanks, mind-walk machines, hypnosis, Unity Church, psychics, Kirlean Photography, therapeutic massage, spirit guides, Hokami, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and reading every self-help book that I could absorb. All along the way, I thought that I was seeking God and that I was a nice person who just was not getting any good breaks. But I was still in the dark, sometimes contemplating suicide, steadily gaining weight and severely depressed. My "house" spiritually and physically was in a total state of chaos and disarray-so much that I began taking anti-depressants.
In May of 1993, my sister came to visit and returned a few days later with a friend. They helped me clean my house. Somehow that simple act got my attention. This led to a willingness to begin a spiritual housecleaning. My sister had been sharing the message of Christ in you with me since 1979.1 had listened and gone on doing what I wanted because I did not comprehend the message and it seemed too primitive. After all, I was into "technology" and a "higher spiritual plane." However, I was now desperate enough to acknowledge at least to God that I had made a pure mess of things. I had been angry with Him at times, wondering why I had been punished when I had tried to lead a good life. But I began to comprehend the idea of self-effort and became more willing to take instruction. At that point it was all that I could do to ask, "OK God, what is the next right thing to do?"
Finally, I mastered the basics of getting out of bed, going to work, and beginning to care for my children again. As the scripture says, "when I am weak, then I am strong" I could even begin to examine what I believed about various situations that arose. The state of depression had been fueled by feelings of never being able to get "it" right, that I must be a pretty awful per-son or my life would be better, literally living from feelings, being physically affected by every real or perceived loss, and never feeling "enough" There was actually some relief in beginning to understand Satan’s lies. It has been harder to integrate the concept of being a vessel and how that plays out in ordinary life.
Changed Believing Produces a Changed Life
In the last sixteen months, my life has drastically changed. My body is eighty pounds lighter; I am no longer taking the anti-depressants; my house is clean; my children are better disciplined; my financial situation is improving and situations have arisen that would have sent me into a major depression and I am still standing. All of this began due to a simple thing – believing that Christ is living His life in and as me, and I am not an independent me (who really is Satan by me). When I began to take better care of my body, and no longer used food to anesthetize my feelings, I have been able to get a more realistic view of what my life has been like and the part that the Satanfl played. It is an ugly picture of a very selfish and self-protective individual who chose to believe a lie because I wanted to do what I wanted to do! I had no love for others, even though I thought I did. I called myself honest when it was very easy for me to lie. Blaming others or situations for my demise, I took no personal responsibility for the events that occurred in my life. Yet at the core of it all has been some form of fear, lust, selfishness, resentment and hatred of others. That is how Satan masqueraded as me and walked in the darkness, and I was totally blinded by it.
The most recent challenges have brought to light more information of how temptations work. Temptations for me seem to be a form of spiritual longing or desire. They may come as a physical craving or a real strong feeling, often supported by thoughts that argue for the need to succumb to the temptation. Yet this is really an opportunity for faith, a chance to examine the real truth. Christ in my form is whole and complete and needing nothing. There is no real lack. At this time my part is to believe who is living His life as me and affirm this fact. Sometimes this is hard when there is a specific desire for something or someone in my life. Yet it truly is a miracle that God is faithful to us. How much brighter the world seems when the real truth is spoken. The events may still be hard or the environment may seem tough to navigate, but knowing that it is perfect for me and that I do not have to figure it all out means I get to rest in God’s peace, even in the midst of turmoil.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 11 No 6
- Here We Stand
- Out of the Whirlwind
- Editor’s Note
- Minnesota Fellowship Weekend
- The Letter to the Romans
- Moving Out of the Wilderness
- Excerpt from The Intercession of Rees Howells
- British Autumn Conference
- A Look at a Book
- The Mailbox
- God’s Promises
- To Think About
- New Light on the Twelve Steps
- Tape Talk
- Moments with Meryl
- Questions & Answers
- Which Side?
- Words to Live By