it’s confusing being an alien
there’s a lot about this world i just don’t understand. i’m counseling a young man who is coming to get on the program at the methadone clinic i work at. he has been using heroin for around 15 years off and on, and believes that 21 days worth of treatment will cure him. i say that none of his other treatments have worked, he says they have. i say how can you say that if you have gone back to using? he says “well isn’t part of recovery relapse?” i say no, part of recovery is recovering, but he insists that relapse is a part of recovery, so i go to one of the counselors who use to use heroin and knows more of the technical stuff than me, who confirms what he says, that “yes, for some addicts a part of recovery is relapse; for some of them.” i look up recovery on the internet and found what he said repeated: that relapse should be seen as a part of the recovery process. i’m sorry, but i find this to be the opposite of what i understand recovery to be.
my confusion is because i am not of this world. see, on my planet, we don’t call it recovery, we call it repentence. where i come from, our King laid down His life so that we can be cleansed of our sin, and bears the scars so that we never forget not only that He paid, but what He paid. this freedom comes with a price, though; see repentence isn’t just taking a bath, it’s avoiding the mud now that you wear a white robe. yes, sometimes you trip and fall in, and thanks be to God that the blood of the Lamb knows no bounds, but rolling around in the muck is not a part of getting clean; at least, not where i come from.
this world wonders why it can’t seem to get things straight. i see and hear people complaining about the trends of life around them, the digression of society and the increasing chaos all around; but every time i try and convince anyone that there is such a thing as order, that reason and logice find their anchor in Truth and Love, it’s like i’m speaking a foreign language. let me see if i can make it simple. wait, i know, one of my countrymen actually said it quite well:
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 5:20-6:23 ESV)
well said paul; you always know just what to say. relapse is not a part of recovery, it’s proof that you’ve yet to finish recovering. don’t excuse it, don’t plan for it, don’t brush it off; run from it into the arms of Christ and He will dust you off and set you back on His path.
“so what did you do this weekend?”… 1/3 the joy journal version
friday: a lot of people don’t consider friday a part of the weekend, but i do; all that excitement and energy starts there. i only worked two jobs friday, canceling the third to go to disneyland with the wife and kids. when i got to my in-laws house to meet them i was spent. i had already worked 8 hours, my knees where both wrapped and felt horrible (despite my age, i am apparently falling apart at the seams!) and i knew that i had at least 5 hours of walking around my least favorite amusement park ahead of me. now, don’t get me wrong, i wanted to go. for too many years i used every excuse i could think of to avoid interactions such as these, but in recent times God has revealed to my understanding just how important these memories are for me, not to mention laura and the kids. i thrive off of being a part of their lives; when i come home and hear about them engaging on adventures without me it fills my heart with the deepest sorrow i have known outside of my failing career. i wanted to go with them to disneyland because i knew that no matter how much it may hurt, how tired i may be, how much i despise everything that disney stands for, there was no place i’d rather be this side of heaven than with them. the trip to disney was to be our celebration of my daughter turning 2, but also a chance for my son to get to ride the rides he loves but now couldn’t with his mom being pregnant; so in addition to having fun with my family, here was a chance to intimately have fun with my son. we left laura’s parents house and set out for disney late in the afternoon. the walk from the car to disney’s california adventure (dca) was excruciating. my wife knows that she can always count on me to endure ungodly amounts of pain without so much as a whimper, so she is troubled by my newfound complaining; i am too. at 29, a man with no history of athletic prowess or trauma has no real reason for his knees to be failing him, but here i am! both knees were wrapped tight as i hobbled and limped along with my wife, at one point almost yelling at her for walking too fast; me, the guy who is always complaining that my stubby-legged wife is walking too slow had to ask her to slow down for my sorry, crippled self. but something happened on that walk. i had given myself the out of taking a pill for the pain before we left, knowing that the pill would not only address my pain, but also temper my mood, making it far easier for me to be happy as the pharmaceutical numbed my pain and lifted my mood. i even meant to grab one from the van before we left, and was complaining that i had forgotten to grab it. but God is good. as i limped through the hotel leading to dca i found myself covering up my pain by making jokes with my wife. as i approached the gate to enter, i joked with the lady checking our bags, and the one who let us in. i had to sit as soon as we got in to fix my wrapping for my knees; the brisk walk had messed them up, and i was hurting, but God was working in me. as we entered the park, my son’s hand in mine, i did not yet know that i would have a good day, but one sure fire way to make me happy is to give me some quality time with my son. i love him dearly, and enjoy his company more than almost anyone else in the world. we don’t see everything eye to eye, and his age limits a lot of our interaction, but in my son, i have someone that i not only can share with, but that i long to share with; only laura can compare to the feeling that his presence brings me.
my son and i went to ride his favorite ride, the goofy roller coaster thingy (i don’t know the stupid ride’s name), but it was closed for the day. here was the only ride he wanted to ride, and it was closed. the old me would have said “well, that sucks for you. let’s sit down until your mom and sister show up because my knees hurt.” but God was working in me. we went to ride the jellyfish ride nearby, and though it may not have been the most amazing ride ever, you wouldn’t have known by looking at us. when we got off, i had to adjust my wrappings again; this time i made them as tight as i could. i was not going to let my body stand in the way of me giving my son what he deserves: a father who can enjoy life with him. well, laura and nariah still weren’t out from their ride, so i took maknazeh to ride on the swings. laura says i took him on them last time we were there, but neither one of us remembered it; he said this was his first time ever, and was now his new favorite ride. by the time we got off the swings laura and nariah were waiting for us in line for the ferris wheel, then the carousel and we were on our way out; but wait, i thought there was a restaurant you wanted us to eat at, laura?
God is good. we get there and a dixieland band is playing, complete with washboard; my kids and i can never turn down a scene that has jazz playing, it’s in our bones. the food was good, prices adequate, but the company was sublime. in fact, i almost wish we hadn’t left dca friday, the time spent in disneyland was still nice (taking the kids to the tiki room was definitiely a plus), but the crowds there just turned me off and by that time we left my back was hurting from compensating for my knees, and i was exhausted, having been up since 3 am for work. the fireworks ended, and we trudged back to the car, and i was tired; but it was worth it. i had fun; that statement alone means a lot coming from me. i have decent times; i can do things and not be miserable; i can appreciate a situation or enjoy being there for my family; but for me to have fun, that is God working in me.
someday, somewhere we’ll be free; be free with doors unlocked and open, nothing holding us back
my wife’s patience is the stuff of legends. at 18 a man-child promised her he’d conquer the world and gift it to her to wear as her crown; and she believed him. now poor, periodically employed and back against the wall, he scrambles to fight back the growing failures, desperately searching for his “way out” that will give him a chance. he doesn’t care about success, nor victory; he’s only one goal in mind: being worthy of her love. now exhausted, eyes cloudy with defeat closing in, he gathers his strength, straightens his back, and redoubles his efforts, driving back the enemy caught off guard by his never-ending determination. he cannot fail, for she loves him; he cannot quit, for she believes in him; he will not give in, he will be victorious. my wife’s patience is the stuff of legends; so too is my resolve.
i suffer from depression. it has taken it’s toll on my mind, body and soul and it takes on a toll on my wife. my children are beautiful creatures and miraculously manage to be filled with love and joy that overflows into my being, soothing my pain. but all of that pales when compared to the blessing i received today. i am in pain. i an in the midst of a low i have not felt in years, and i know this to be a natural part of my disease coalescing with the natural cycle of my life’s course. in the midst of this i find all kinds of negative detractors that only aim to compound my pain. but as i was sitting in Bible study, praying that God would relieve meof some of my burden, some of my distress, some of my affliction, my wife was on the phone with my rock, Clay, looking for a way to help. Clay is a wonderful man who i chose to be our son’s godfather because i know his soul. and as i sat on my couch balling away while composing an email to my parents, Clay’s love for me and ability to be used by God in my life was already in effect; because when Maknazeh was safely in bed, she came down, took me in her arms and said that she wanted and needed to pray for me. wow! she said her and Clay were trying to find a way to help me and he told her to pray with me. i have depression, and it takes it toll on my mind, body and soul; but i also have a family, and they prop up my mind, body and soul every second of every day. i know, God, that i’m supposed to only need You, but i am so glad that You give me them too.