Accessing a faith that works
Learning that I would be persecuted for my faith, I laughed. Having suffered the horrors of active addiction, nobody could persecute me more than myself. Yet I fear your persecution or worse, the idea you might not like me because I believe in Jesus.
Since childhood, the fear of not being loved/lovable has been the foundation of my drug use.
I had been to church and believed in God and also believed that if I wasn’t perfect, God wasn’t going to love me either. My perception of love was warped from a young age. I experienced things that children aren’t supposed to experience. I couldn’t understand that the God my family and people in the community loved so much could possibly be the same God that was allowing my soul to be misshapen into, “Not good enough.”
I still believed there was a God, I just wasn’t worthy of His love.
Hearing about the Good News of Jesus from two well-dressed and well-meaning Mormons when I was pregnant with my son still wasn’t enough to get me to believe. How could Jesus love me? I was an unwed single mom. I didn’t “deserve” forgiveness.
What I could do was believe that drugs would make it better. I had proof right? When I used them, I could reduce the volume of my internal persecution soundtrack. Belief turned into faith because drugs were working.
Until they stopped working. The consequences of my bad decisions piled up faster and kept me trying to fix things myself. I continued to fail.
It took a long time before I could no longer ignore God’s voice. Over and over I heard the whisper, “I have more for you to do.” In anger, I kicked the wall with both feet, breaking through the drywall. I cried out at the hole, in the shape of a heart, that my feet had made. I had broken a heart into the wall but it was my heart that was broken.
I realized I was dying and I no longer wanted to die. Through a series of events: the DEA showing up in my kitchen, a life-threatening blood infection, and finally, a look from my son, I had a moment of clarity that sparked the first good decision I had made in a long time.
I reached out for help.
The next few months were touch-and-go with my life but I managed to walk into rehab with a sense of hope and the inner knowledge that God was looking down on me with a sense of approval.
Three weeks into rehab I was invited to church. The church was held in what used to be a bar. God in a bar? I HAD to see this!
Walking down the street toward the church, I could hear music. It was a song about forgiveness and being redeemed. Big Daddy Weave’s lyrics spoke directly to that hole in my heart
“All my life I have been called unworthy. Named by the voice of my shame and regret. But when I hear You WHISPER, “Child lift up your head” I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet.”
I had made an uncountable number of bad decisions in my life, lived with shame and regret, called myself unworthy and the one thing I was being offered was to have faith in Jesus, and it was being made accessible to me through a woman in rehab who had been through what I had been through, at a bar that had been turned into a church, during a street party that was actually a baptism. God had reached into that filthy bedroom during my tantrum and put me on a path where I could meet him at a redeemed bar.
The easiest and best decision of my life happened when I accepted Jesus into my heart. Faith, love and forgiveness were made accessible to me and the only thing I had to do was receive them and to believe that I was worthy of them.
Throughout recovery, my faith has grown but it’s not through the hard work of inner reflection. It’s in the quiet moments of prayer that happens before a next right decision. My faith is accessible because I walk through fears that used to control me. I put my faith in what God believes about me and what I believe about God.
Persecution for my faith may come in many forms, but it’s my faith in a loving God that filled the hole in my heart, that drugs never could, that will carry me forward, head held high and redeemed.