Monday, September 27, 2010

Fiery Furnace Lessons

I'm not sure what happened to the weather in California this year, but it has been about as off as my life has been in 2010. Here we are about to enter into October, and today my car read 106 degrees at 9:32am this morning (see picture). That, my friends, is ridiculous. And it only got worse throughout the day. And tonight as I write this blog, it's probably the reason I'm still awake... because it is so, so hot! I have the fans on high and yet I feel like I'm still back in Georgia. Somewhere, California mixed up its seasons, so are we behind? Is this now Summer time, and at Christmas it will be Fall? Sounds about like my life... a little mixed up, too. I could probably compare it to the heat that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego felt on their bodies when faced with the furnace. (Book of Daniel, Chapter 3).

Most recently, I've had a lot of ups and downs emotionally. Most have been self-triggered as I work on my personal inventory of my life, the "characters" that have been key players, and how they have hurt me or how I have hurt them. And it's good, because I feel each one of us should put a mirror to our face and say "Who am I really?" So yes, I am doing this on purpose to make me a better person.

I've experienced anxiety for the first time - an emotion I'm not at all used to. I only know depression. Anxiety is overwhelming and I am completely aware of how I feel as opposed to depression where I could care less about feeling anything. I've been working on control, too. I think I've always had slight control issues, but I think it became exaggerated after the car accident. Since I was not in control of the outcome, I have found myself over the last 10 years allowing the desire of "control" to manifest itself in many, many ways. Some are healthy like setting appropriate boundaries, but most have been harmful. Some of the harm that I've caused others (as I do my personal inventory) are people who it is not safe to make amends with and/or it is not possible to make amends with them at this time. That is where anxiety comes in because my need to be in control wants to say my peace and be done and move on. But I can't. I'm finding this to be very difficult.

This past week, I experienced anger, but remedied that for my own sanity which will rub wrong with people when they find out. However, I had to set a boundary for myself, because it was basically self-sabotage.

God has been teaching me a lot this last month, and even my counselor noticed I have changed for the better in the last 4 weeks. I am by no means perfect nor will ever be, but many things have taken my focus away from the Lord. So, the main thing I'm working on right now with the Lord is allowing Him to be in control of time, people, situations, outcomes, the future, finances, advice, and my lifestyle in general. I'm not by any means retreating from life or people, but I'm surrounding myself with healthy people who are willing to keep me accountable and allow me to share with them my downfalls without judgment or speculation.

On another note, I have been to a few high school football games in the past few weeks. Why wasn't high school football as fun then as it is now?? And why didn't I ever notice how amazingly adorable some of these football players are? Funny story: I'm allowed on the sidelines with the players, and many of them know me as do the coaches. Since I'm in a wheelchair, a few of the players and others on the sideline are cognizant that I'm there and try not to stand in front of me so I can watch the game. I always tell them not to worry about me because it's their game, but they still are so sweet and make sure no one is in front of me. Well, two games ago, all of the sudden all of the guys in the middle of the game get down on one knee. I'm thinking to myself, "Gosh, that is so sweet! They are kneeling down so I can see the game! That is so thoughtful!" I'm telling this to my friend after the game (who is also one of the coaches), and he starts laughing. I was like, "What?" He politely informed me that they weren't getting down on one knee for me to see the game but it was because the head coach told them to while he talked to the referee. Oops! :) And I thought I knew a lot about football! Ha!

Hope you are leaning towards God first and others second for your direction in life. It is the only way. Per my previous blog, I've obviously tried it the other way, and it doesn't work. Prayer keeps me sane, reading the Bible gives me strength, and having accountability partners who are safe to talk to are so important. A wise friend recently told me something very important, so I'll pass it on to those who read this. "You don't have to tell everyone everything. Accountability means telling God and one other person you trust." I have learned very recently that I can't trust some people who I thought for years were safe. Just because someone is a Christian, doesn't mean they are safe. We are all imperfect, sinful people, and it takes a very special person who is willing to look past your downfalls and still love you and keep open communication with you. But again, put God first, and pray for HIS will, let go of control of your life (because it's like try to hold water in your hand with a fist - it doesn't work), and in time, God will reveal to you His plans and blessings.

I'm beginning to see them now, even through the fiery furnace, for it is the One True God, Jesus Christ that I follow!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

4 year Anniversary!!!

Today is definitely a day for me to celebrate and rejoice because it is my 4 year anniversary of sobriety from alcohol!!! The picture above is the last night of me drinking, and this was just at the beginning of the night that night. I broke a shot glass of 100 proof alcohol as you can clearly see, and this was the fourth shot. It went downhill from there... like around 20 more down.

I am so thankful that by God's grace He picked me up from that dark place and set Light under my feet. He unveiled His purpose for my life little by little, but that night, September 16, 2006 was my last night drinking. Period.

I was escaping the reality that I was now disabled. I thought my life was over, and I decided to take life back into my own control. I figured "everyone loves a drunk," and because I was "good" and didn't have my first drink until I was 21, I wasn't really taught how to drink and not get drunk. All I knew is that I didn't want to ever end up an alcoholic like others in my family. My drinking led to unhealthy relationships, unhealthy friendships, and unhealthy behaviors. I was utterly embarrassed when the real me was revealed. I was basically living the "good Christian life" during the day, but was the "bad girl" at night. However, for some reason, I remembered everything when I was drinking. You see, when you have a disability like mine, you have to be somewhat in control to know when you have to go to the bathroom. But after all I had that night 4 years ago, I blacked out, fell out of the car, and fell out of my chair. Turns out I had alcohol poisoning from all that I had drank, and it took me two days for the horrible hangover headache to go away.

I tell you all this because God can change ANY SITUATION into a positive one. He doesn't waste a hurt, habit, or hang up. He uses it for good if you allow yourself to submit to His will for the purpose He has planned for your life. Of course, we have free will, and believe me, I tried my fair portion of "free will." It didn't lead me anywhere good.

So, with a sparkling apple cider, I say "CHEERS" to me and my FOUR YEAR SOBRIETY of alcohol!!! Praise God for a healthier mind, body, and spirit!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lessons of Life

These past few weeks have been quite a growing and learning time for me in so many ways. I've been humbled, uplifted, encouraged, been able to stand my ground, and also be a witness. Most importantly, I've learned that I don't need people to make me happy. Though God created people for community and a way for us to learn with, ultimately, in the very beginning, he just created Adam. And I've learned that I am ok with it just being me and God. Do I want people in my life? Absolutely! There are some dear, close friends, and best friends whom I love with all my heart and can't imagine life without them because of the community they bring into my life. However, Jesus has been the only one who has been there with me from the very beginning and will continue to be with me to the very end. As a codependent, it's easy for me to pull others' problems and issues into my life and help them through their difficulties, however I have played that role long enough, and it's exhausting - and damaging. Mind you, there is a difference between being a friend and codependent. Ignoring my own needs is not ok as is putting all my hopes and dreams into people to make me happy is not ok.

I have learned more than I have time to share with you about, but I am thankful for a God that knows my spirit and my heart, knows my intentions, and knows that I would never intentially harm someone. I have learned to put my discerning glasses on, per say, and evaluate decisions before making them (though as a human, I'll always be a work in progress). I have learned that there are some who I have let go of in my life who I will always love, but for reasons to be undisclosed, it is best that I let them leave. If they decide to come back into my life with a burst of full energy and willingness to move forward, then I'll decide at that time. However, I cannot keep wishing on a star.

I've learned that it's not about "things" or "objects" or "material items" that make people - me specifically - happy. It's about love and relationships with people. But first, it is about being happy with who you are in Christ and who He's designed you to be. We are all individuals and unique. I've learned to get rid of many material items out of my life - to simplify - and it's been so good (primarily because of my recent move!) Working at Free Wheelchair Mission and coming back from conferences like I was this past week in Atlanta makes me fully appreciate all that I have here in America, but at the same time makes me sick that we as a country focus so much on material items. I made it a priority this week to invest into people while also keeping my focus on Jesus.

If I continue to keep my eyes focused on Him, all things will be possible. And all things will work out. They always have, and there is no need for me to control situations.