After last week’s post, I made one more trip to urgent care to get more meds. The first antibiotics had helped, but I still had a ways to go before I could breath easily and clearly, and they decided to try a different drug to finish clearing out my lungs. And the amazing thing is, I haven’t needed my asthma inhalers at all since then.
Now to get back to feeling healthy. The thing is, when you’ve been walking around for months not being able to breathe well normally, much less while being active, you get used to not overdoing things. And now that I’m starting to feel better, it would be nice to instantly be back to having energy and interest in being more active. Right now I’m tired, napping a little every day, but actually sleeping at night and waking up much more refreshed.
When I started into recovery, I had a similiar experience.
I came to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting and was intrigued with what I heard about people finding freedom from their hurts, habits and hang-ups. I couldn’t have named what mine were, but I knew I had plenty of things weighing me down, keeping me from being able to see, much less deal with, all my issues.
A few days later I showed up for my first Step Study session, and as I listened to the raw honesty of the other women in my group, I was struck with how shallow and defensive my own answers were. I immediately felt like a fraud. I was so agitated. I couldn’t even look at their faces for the first few weeks because I was afraid they would see all I was trying to hide from them about myself.
But it was me I was really hiding from.
I had lived in denial of how deeply I had been affected by inappropriate relationships in my childhood and beyond, and it was like being in an emergency room and gawking at other people’s wounds around me while I sat with broken bones and oozing sores that had been festering for fifty years.
I kept coming back. Both to CR meetings, and my Step Study, and very soon I was able to expose my real feelings. There were hurts from my past that have shaped so much of my personality, and habits I developed to deal with those hurts, so that I could never be hurt again. And along the way, plenty of hang-ups about what I would and wouldn’t allow to happen to me, as if I could control everyone and everything in my life. I had created my own little world where I felt safe.
So at the start of my recovery journey, I became aware that I had many things to face and deal with. And I was overwhelmed. Having the control issues I’ve always had, I did not see how I could possibly deal with all the things that I was finally letting myself face about my past, much less function in the present.
I needed time to heal.
But I wanted an instant cure.
Twelve steps and eight principles involve a lot of things to work on, and it was unrealistic of me to think I could lick this in a few weeks or months. As I found out from the beginning, it is an ongoing process, where I had to really search deep inside myself every step of the way.
No matter how many times we repeat the steps and principles at CR meetings, I had to let each of them come to life in my heart before I could embrace what I had to do to comply with them. And that didn’t come easy. It wasn’t something I could force myself to do. And it wasn’t a process I could control.
You may have heard the phrase “let go and let God”, and that’s what I first had to learn to do. With every single hurt, every memory, every feeling, every wrong thing I’ve done.
I’m nowhere near finished, even after four years of working steadily.
But an amazing thing started to happen, as I pried open my fists and tentatively laid down first one thing then another in front of God.
He took them away from me.
Maybe more accurately, he showed me what I needed to lay down first, because those were the things he knew I most needed to get rid of. And then he picked them up and carried them for me.
The memories are still there, but suddenly they have no hold over me.
The secrets had been spoken out loud in the safety of this circle of sisters, and an amazing thing happened.
I was not rejected, abandoned, condemned.
That doesn’t mean my wrongs were smoothed over and declared to be right. Or that the wrongs done to me were any less hurtful. Sin is still sin, and there are always consequences. But being able to face them, name them, and give them over to God, with the support of these women I grew to love so deeply, was like a healing salve to my soul.
This past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about my recovery journey, probably because this month marks four full years of CR. But also because just like the body needs time to heal from sickness or wounds, so does the spirit.
I came to understand why a Step Study takes about nine months to complete. You can’t expect to get a handle on a lifetime of soul sickness instantly. There is a miracle cure, but it isn’t a quick one. Jesus really does work all things for my good when I put them into his hands and let him lead me through all those things I never wanted to face.
As I worked through the steps and principles I found that God had brought forward just the amount of things I was ready to handle at that time, and I found myself able to truly forgive. Also able to admit some of the wrong things I had done to others and ask for forgiveness, make amends.
Once the Step Study ended, my recovery didn’t. I continue to work through the steps as God brings up different issues that it’s time to face.
And this healing just keeps on happening, one day at a time, restoring me to who God meant for me to be all along.