It has only been six weeks, but I am finally starting to get used to beginning with those words when I speak every Friday night in a small group at Celebrate Recovery. I am thankful for the additional Christian friends that have been cultivated already. The Lord is really blessing me. I am grateful the Lord led me to this program where I can help make a difference and also be blessed by people who understand exactly what I have gone through. We worship the Lord together, hear an incredible testimony of God’s grace or a teaching for the first hour, and then we break into specific small groups and share our hearts with each other for the second hour. There’s an opportunity for another hour afterward for everyone to gather once again and continue to fellowship. It is quite wonderful.
When I first started getting sober in 2010, I stopped going out with friends who enjoy drinking socially. I had nothing against them, it’s just that I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. I didn’t want to put myself in situations that might tempt me to take another drink. As time went on, I was getting stronger. I had gone out a couple of times to meet up with friends and I was feeling strong enough to be around alcohol, but honestly, I was never comfortable being around it again. I simply still prefer not to be around it at all if I can help it. I had to make many changes to do what was right for me to stay on the right path. That meant that I had to stop doing things with people who enjoy social drinking. I decided to be home most weekends. I find joy when I am working on things for ministry, that’s where my heart is so I keep myself busy with it. I love growing closer to God. Staying home weekend evenings has been a good thing for me, but it also started to feel like it could be a bad thing. Good because it helps to ensure my sobriety, but bad because I started to feel like I was in isolation once again. That’s when the enemy likes to strike so I realized that I needed to be more careful with that. I don’t want to take any chances of opening the door to depression again. This is part of the reason why I decided to start attending CR, to get myself out of isolation. CR is definitely a safe place for someone like me to be.
This past Friday night, as I was headed home from a wonderful evening at CR, I was driving on the freeway and started having flashbacks of the times I took incredibly dumb chances with driving home intoxicated. I had tears streaming down as I was driving, it was the gratitude that I had inside. I was thanking the Lord as I was driving, for His miracles in my life. How I managed to escape getting into an accident or arrested each time I drove, I will never know. Only God knows. All I do know is how grateful I am that the Lord has completely transformed my life and is using all the ugly stuff from the past for His good purpose. I regret putting people’s lives in danger. I have learned to stop beating myself up over that. I can’t change the past. It is not easy to publicly admit what I used to do, but I do it because I pray that it will help someone else open their eyes and realize what they’re doing if they’re taking the same chances that I used to. I believe I was running out of time. I was running out of chances, and if I didn’t change soon, I am sure it all would have caught up with me. It always seems to for people headed down the wrong road. I think I just witnessed that in the last couple of weeks.
The freeways sure look different at night through sober eyes. I remember being so paranoid when I used to drive home after a night of drinking. Yet, it wasn’t enough to stop me from doing it. I don’t know why, I guess I was pretty lost then and didn’t care. I was just too numb inside to care. Now when I find myself on the road at night, which isn’t very often, I am at complete peace. It feels so good to be sober. It’s interesting how the tables have turned because I now have to watch out for drunk drivers. It is scary out there! The last two Friday nights, I have seen the aftermath of two automobile accidents. One of them I know for sure was a drunk driver and I can only guess on the other one. That could have been me just a few years ago! I thank God that nothing ever happened. I thank Him for forgiveness and for second chances in life.
I felt I needed to put this out there and encourage anyone who is struggling from substance abuse to do something about it before you run out of time. Join AA, join CR, do whatever it takes. Surround yourself with people who know what you’re dealing with because they’ve walked in your shoes. I love being surrounded with Christians at CR. I feel safe there. There’s so much love because Jesus is there with us. The most important thing of all is that you surrender to the Lord Jesus. Nobody can break their chains without Him. I believe that with all my heart because nothing was going well in my life until I gave Him complete control of it. Don’t keep taking chances like I did, it is not worth it. There is so much to lose. Those two accidents I just saw, I am sure those people who got into trouble are wishing they could go back and do things differently.
The Lord has shown me that my sobriety of almost three years gives hope to others who are desperately seeking sobriety for themselves. I love CR because it is Christ centered and we cannot do anything without His help. We can try and we may have success for a little bit, but it doesn’t last. Nothing good lasts if we don’t keep Jesus in the center. I surrendered it all to Him, and He rescued me. He has turned my life around in ways I never could have imagined. I have had to work hard, but I am not complaining. I am FREE. I am not in jail. I am no longer in the enemy’s chains. I didn’t die like he wanted me to—he sure had me convinced that I would be better off dead. Thankful that Jesus showed me a better way. I won’t stop sharing His wonderful miracles in my life, I really do want the world to know about Him!
We’re celebrating Veterans Day this weekend. I am truly grateful to ALL for their sacrifices so that I can enjoy freedom in this country. But freedom in Christ is even better than that. I am eternally grateful to the Lord for my wakeup call as difficult as it was to go through. That wakeup call literally saved my life. Today, I am free in Christ and I will not take that freedom for granted.
So, I’ll end with this: “My name is Debs. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ…thank you for letting me share.” In Christ’s love… ♥