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"Many times they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me" (Ps 129:2).
Last Tuesday, I posted an excerpt from Saddled by Susan Richards. Sitting in an A.A. meeting, she notices that most of the attendees are capable of doing something all human beings are created to do, but evaded her all her life--feel. She comments, "The men and women didn't sound numb anymore. They were angry and scared and depressed. They were also hopeful and funny and grateful . . . The word that came to mind was whole. After years of shutting down all parts of themselves with alcohol, they were finally whole human beings."
Today, I address the other side of the "drinking coin." Drinking to feel. This was big for me. I remember well, the struggle to experience grief as I attended therapy for survivors of sexual abuse. I couldn't cry; couldn't grieve. Even as I abstained from alcohol, I was numb.
And one evening after group therapy, after all the reality I could stand, I drove to the liquor store. I drank, and for the first time in a long time, I felt. I felt overwhelming sadness. Ancient tears streamed down my cheeks and with those tears came relief. It felt good to cry. The only problem was, I couldn't cry without alcohol. I was incapable of letting my guard down without a few drinks.
I did what I always encourage you to do. I told God everything. Over and over, until one day I realized that I didn't need alcohol to cry anymore. It was safe to feel sad in the presence of a God who never once judged me or told me to go away and come back when I didn't smell of vodka.
He loved me then, just as I was. He loves me now, just as I am. I focused on Him and sought after Him with all my fears and all my flaws. He made me whole. He awakened me to how wonderful it is to feel angry or sad or embarrassed and it not be attached to the memories of abuse. He freed me to feel. He transformed me into a whole human being.
The man-made ways to feel or not feelinclude everything from shoes to Chardonnay. So if alcohol abuse/addiction doesn't apply to you, what does? Do you shop to feel? Eat? Starve yourself? Exercise compulsively? Spend hours on Facebook?
How do you attempt to numb or feel? Focus on the One who does not condemn you. Focus on the One who loves you now, just as you are, whose love will bring liberty from the ways you cope. Whose love will make you whole.
Published on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 @ 11:01 AM CDT