“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” -1 Peter 1:18-19
When I was a kid, nothing seemed normal. I was very aware of how not normal things felt. In my head it felt as though little scissors were snipping at my brain,scraping my skull. Itchy and uncomfortable. Agitating. Painful.
I did not sleep well. My sleep was interrupted by vivid nightmares. I sometimes woke, unable to move, and saw horrifying things like dead bodies, aliens, or just dark figures. Sometimes I urged myself out of my own body, and watched myself float above myself. That is something I always felt strangely about. It felt so real. All of it felt hyper-real.
As I was unable to sleep soundly, my waking world was disrupted. I sometimes heard a soft whisper, often like many voices following closely behind my head. I would see shadows dart around me. Entire places would shift. Fearing that I was just going crazy, I grew anxious.
In my teenage years, it became incredibly uncomfortable. I became so fearful when I was alone in a quiet place. I realized I only really saw or heard anything when there was nothing else going on. I slept with the tv on to scare away my own hallucinations.
That was why I started drinking so heavily in my 20’s. It all went away. It got quiet. It made me relax. And I slept without disturbance. In my 30’s I hardly recalled why I relied so heavily on alcohol and cigarettes to feel “normal.” I thought of how great it might be to be rid of these costly addictions.
When I became Christian, I asked God’s help. I wanted to deal with everything without the need of alcohol, cigarettes, and medication. At first it was very hard. I had to trust God completely. Trust was always a difficult concept for me. But if I truly believe in such a great God, of course I should be able to completely trust that He will take care of me.
When I quit depending on all these things, I found that I was actually able to sleep. None of those scary things came back.
He has healed my mind. My soul. My body.
Are you worried that you might offend some of your non-Christian friends? Ashamed to say, “I will pray for you” and rather just tell them your thoughts are with them?
Take a moment, Christian friend.
God is first. When you are quiet about Him, when you avoid any reference to Him, you are making the world first. You are making society your God. It is not enough to quietly believe. If your life does not reflect that faith, one might even question if the Holy Spirit is there at all. There ought not to be any shame in your belief.
Our God is so great, surely He deserves more than our spare table scraps. A quick, generic prayer before bed certainly shouldn’t be the extent of your interaction with Him.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” -Romans 1:16
Being Christian doesn’t make anyone perfect. But we are forgiven for our sins.
In accepting Christ as Lord and savior, we are transformed and in turn our faith encourages us to live more Christ-like. If someone truly has given their life to the Lord, they will turn from sin.
But we must be aware. Be careful not to fall into another sin of spiritual pride having a superiority complex. The fact that you have turned from addiction does not make you better than anyone else.
Let me never forget that I did not save myself. Without God I am wandering blindly. I need His grace to keep me in check. Always praying. Break my pride and repair me.
God, help me.
Can’t we just co-operate?
I drink moderately on occasion. And that’s a few times a year. That is nothing like my life before.
Before moving in with Joe, my life is a blur. When trying to recall moments, places, or people from before 2009, memory goes gray and I hear music in my head much like a fast heartbeat. Boom boom boom boom So gray. Flashes of moments.
Drinking down the pain.
In 2001 I remember being in my apartment, locked in my room with a bottle of cheap vodka on my desk. While everyone slept, I chatted online and drank until I blacked out. That was when much of it began. It got to a point where I didn’t want to do anything without a drink first. I couldn’t watch tv without a beer. I couldn’t camp without beer. I couldn’t hang out with friends without getting drunk.
Sometimes people talk to me as though I have known them for a long time. I am sure I probably should know them. But I don’t know their names. And I don’t know if I saw them every night or maybe just once when out getting a tattoo.
It took years to adjust to not living with a drink in hand. I may not be “the life of the party,” but I remember what I’ve done and people I have met. I know where I live. Things aren’t so bad when I can feel…. when I don’t numb everything and blur it out.
Alcohol could have been the death of me. I could have died trying to drive home, or because someone wanted to take advantage of me. Clinging to a bottle of booze was not worth what I was sacrificing for a drink.
Without God, I could not be who I am today. It was through a lot of prayer that I learned to let go of my addiction and learn to truly live life. I believe wholeheartedly that I might be dead if not for his saving grace.
Tonight is the viewing for my husband’s Memaw, a sweet woman who lived to be 90 years of age. This will not be my daughter’s first funeral, but now that she’s 3 years old, it might be the first she remembers. I was not terribly close to Memaw simply because when I met her she was already losing her memory and would often forget things from minutes before. She had a gentle soul.
We visited her the night before she passed. We knew it was coming. We told her we loved her. My daughter sat by her side almost the whole time, chatting with the nurse. It was a quiet night as we passed photographs around and I listened to their stories told in soft tones. Eyes gazed into the distance, recalling fond moments.
My daughter knew Memaw was very sleepy and not feeling well. When Memaw passed we gently told her that she went with Jesus to her home in Heaven. That she isn’t sick anymore and will never have “owies” again. She took it very well. And even when we went back to the same room where Memaw was sleeping the night before, my daughter said to everyone, “Memaw is with Jesus now. She not sick nooo more.”
I was asked if I’d like to say something. Tell a story. So today I put a bit of thought together and wrote a brief note:
“The LORD is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” -Psalm 34:18
I only knew Hellen, “Memaw,” for a short time, but there is no doubt she lived a rich life of Christian conviction. She was gentle and modest and she did a wondrous job teaching Christian values to her children.
I could only hope to be half the woman she was.
The night before Memaw passed away, Joe,our children and I visited her. We spent several hours at her side. I prayed for easy transition. For peace and comfort to the family. For us all to feel God’s presence.
The next day, before I was even told, I felt sudden peace in my heart. I knew she had gone, and I thanked the Lord for tellng me and for being so merciful and full of grace.
The Bible teaches us that when a believer dies, she’s immediately in the presence of Jesus. Isn’t that a great comfort? She will no longer suffer but instead know the joy only God can give.
Let God’s love sustain us. Although you may feel incredible pain, don’t ever doubt that God loves us and has deep compassion and grace for those who faithfully follow Jesus.