Saturday, September 8, 2012

I am not afraid

I am coming to terms with how often I see myself as a victim in my own life. Feeling like I had to react and respond to other people's choices. Often I felt powerless and weak.We are not called to live like that,For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline(2 Tim 1:7)

I have a relationship in my life that has given me the opportunity to wrestle with this recently. This person is an addict, and I have known him all my life. About 2 years ago, I chose to step away from that relationship. Recently, he has come back and I found myself not knowing how to handle it. I found myself feeling angry and scared. If you have an active addict/alcoholic in your life, you understand the destruction and pain that comes with the disease. If you don't, suffice it to say that the disease of addiction is fierce and mean. I had a lot of thinking and praying to do.

 I took a hard look at my fear. What was I scared of? I was scared of being hurt again. The Lord showed me something important. Even though this person's behavior had not changed, I was not obligated to receive the pain he was offering. Once again I was brought back to Phillipians 4:8. What this person offered was anger, lies, and manipulation. The scripture is clear that is not what I am to focus on. I can just let those things float on by me. I don't need to receive any of it. I don't need to react to any of it. I don't need to be scared, he can't hurt me if I don't give him the power to. I can not control what does, but I can control my half of the relationship. I have understood this truth for a long time. But I have never been able to apply it to this relationship specifically.What freedom. I could now be in the same room with him. I could make small talk and be polite. I no longer had my stomach in knots when I knew I was going to see him. I was free to feel sympathy for him. I was free to pray for him. I was free to forgive him. I have lived over 30 years feeling frustration, resentment and anger towards him. For the first time, I was feeling sorry for him. He simply would not pursue recovery. That has made me angry for the last 20 years. Now it makes me sad. I have been in recovery for 24 years, and I knew what he was missing. Me wanting it for him wasn't enough. If he didn't want it, there was nothing I could do.

I lived most of my life feeling responsible for people and things that were out of my control. If someone else was out of balance, I felt responsible to help realign them. That left me feeling inadequate and frustrated. There was always something or someone I was feeling guilty about. My life tipped out of balance. I was spending too much time worrying about other people and I began to neglect myself. Soon I stopped taking care of myself all together. Before I knew it I was 50 pounds overweight. (and I am only 5 feet tall) People in my life were still out of balance, and now I was too. How did that work for me?

It is good to be compassionate and encouraging. It is something else entirely to take responsibility for someone else's life. It has taken me a very long time to understand that we are all responsible for our own lives. I am not responsible for anyone else's life or happiness.

 The Lord has been so faithful in my life. When I was drinking and using, he stood by patiently. Placing people and situations in my life to help me when I was ready. He didn't "make" me stop. I know he wanted what was best for me, but he never pushed it on me. He gave me the freedom to choose it. My first sponser told me that God is a gentlemen, he will wait to be invited in. God, who loves me more than anyone else, gave me the gift of free will. What a beautiful thing. If I am free to make my own mistakes, and my own choices, who am I to deny others the same freedom? Allowing them to reap the consequences of their choices is part of that equation. Respecting their right to do what they want with their life, releases me from feeling responsible.

  Every day I have so many opportunities to make healthy choices (boundaries, food, exercise, time in the word, prayer, friendships). It brings to mind 1 Corinthians 10:31,"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God".  Are the decisions I make today in my life bringing Him glory? Held to that standard, things that used to tempt me, or intimidate me, no longer do. Because the focus is not on me. I am reminded again that my life is not my own. I am His. I am not a victim. I am not afraid.

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