I was sitting in an emergency department in Fort Kent, Maine wearing nothing but a hospital “johnnie” thinking that I was suffering from mono when the doctor came in and notified me that the only one of the several tests they ran that had come back positive was a pregnancy test.
I remember the deep sense of disbelief that came over me even when all of the evidence I had presented during my intake interview pointed to this pregnancy as an actual possible outcome.
Disbelief and denial on many levels had led me to this moment.
I didn’t believe that missing birth control doses because of my excessive partying would make a difference. I didn’t believe that it could happen to me.
When faced with the facts, a positive pregnancy test, my sense of disbelief tried to hang on until I could do nothing but surrender to the idea that I was pregnant.
This same “disbelief” centered thinking was at the root of my addiction. I would not believe that I would ever become an addict. I never believed I was good enough to deserve any better than what was in my life. I never believed that I could get free from the horrors of my addiction. Disbelief stacked upon disbelief.
Years later, when, again faced with facts: an eviction notice, no driver’s license, unemployable, hospital visits, toxic and broken relationships, self-loathing, and disgust, I surrendered again to the truth of my situation and in complete desperation, I cried out to the God of my childhood and begged for help.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t believe that God would help me, even if he really existed.
All that mattered in that moment was that I no longer believed that I could help me. In that moment, a spark of hope transformed into action.
I stepped out of the trap that disbelief and its lies had created, and I started to collect proof of my own. I called an 800 number that directed me to various addiction treatment facilities. I made an appointment at one of them. I asked for a ride to an intake appointment from my Mother. I got a ride to treatment from my son.
Today, I know the transformation from disbelief to belief is much like the metamorphosis of the butterfly.
Slowly, as each step led me to the next step, I started to believe that the God I had cried out to had actually heard me and was helping me. There was a power at work that I had never experienced and had always wanted my own proof of.
Years before this moment, my friend Jerry had a deep belief in that power of God, and I could just never understand how he could believe in something that had not prevented an accident that had left him paraplegic, in a wheelchair.
Yet, without obvious proof, he believed. He trusted the idea that what had happened to him was working for good in someone else and that sustained him. He was at ease with his situation even when it seemed unfair to me.
The second accident Jerry was in took his life and it was not building a case for the existence of God in my mind. My need for proof grew and it came a week after his death in the form of a butterfly. A perfectly dried butterfly, spread out on a welcome mat in a closed in glass porch with no possible way that it could have gotten there, landed on the mat, spread its wings, died, dried and flipped onto its back. Despite that moment of profound proof, for five more years I still held on to that diseased disbelief that only true desperation could break through.
Today, I know the transformation from disbelief to belief is much like the metamorphosis of the butterfly. The transition from the caterpillar to the chrysalis, where a complete transformation happens, to the painful yet necessary process of breaking free, to the resting and drying out before the inaugural flight of freedom, is proof, to me, that God exists.
My own recovery is proof that God not only exists, but that he loves me. I am in full flight.