Celebrating with a friend!

Ginger and I went to church this morning and as usual it was a wonderful experience. One of our friends came in and she was extremely excited, she had received her 11 month chip earlier that day for recovery from alcohol. That is quite an accomplishment. From 4 1/2 years in the wilderness, to 11 months of sanity. Anyone familiar with addiction knows the kind of accomplishment this is. It's not easy. The odds are stacked against people who struggle with addiction. if you don't live in a dry county (like I do), then go into any gas station and there is your old nemesis enticing you to come back into it's arms.

I'm coming up on 8 years of soberiety. I get asked all kinds of questions. Are you still tempted? Do rabbits eat carrots? is my usual reply. Of course I am. As recently as last week. But temptation is not sin. Which leads to the next questions of how I do it? How do I keep sober?

For me it was and is all about surrender. First I had to give it to God. It was too big. I couldn't do it without God, HE keeps me sober. Then it was about support groups. In the years I struggled with addiction I tried to get sober. Usually I'd have one group I'd go to and when something happened, I'd leave and then I'm alone and then WHAM! I'm back, pour me a drink, dust off my bar stool, I'm ready for another ride on the roller coaster! I also wouldn't talk. A temptation would come and I'd feel guilty! I'm not suppose to feel this way! Um, that is just wrong. I know some who have no craving what so ever. I usually don't, unless, and here is the key for me, I want to be numb. I don't want to feel. Which brings me to:

So today I do what is called working my program. I have a main support group, Celebrate Recovery. Other's have AA ( I know some who go to both). But it doesn't stop there. I'm active in Celebrate Recovery. I don't just go to the meeting and leave. I volunteer, and not so I can be seen. I work best behind the scenes. I also communicate. I have a support team. Ginger, my wife, is my biggest accountibility partner. I can tell her anything, including if I'm tempted. I have others I can call, and talk to. But it doesn't stop there. I have a place outside of CR, my church, where I go just to be fed. That is important, so important, to me. Not that CR doesn't feed me, it does, just in a different way. My support is a system of multiple places and people. For me, having it spread out insures that if one is taken away, I still have plenty of support in other areas.

The other thing I do is share my story. I've been accused of being too much of an open book. Nobody wants to hear that Paul! You've been delivered, don't live in the past. Well, I'm not living in the past, but I choose not to forget it. How many Christians struggle? How many struggle alone thinking they are the only one who struggles? I did. How many are afraid they will be judged if they say they struggle with sexual addiction? alcohol addiction? Believe me, I give my testimony and you see the jaws drop. This all american, clean cut, nice young man did that? Had that happen to him? I also don't say those things to puff myself up. Oh, I use to. I wanted attention. It's not about that anymore. It's about helping people.

And that is the final key. Helping people. I can't do it alone, God does it. And I acknowledge that. Sometimes when I counsel people I have no idea how to help them, but God gives me the words. And that is where the help comes from, His Wisdom, not mine. Which is where praying, staying in the Word, communicating with God daily comes in.

I still have areas that I struggle with, mainly codependency. Ginger has seen great progress for me in this area, however, as my parents will probably tell you, I have a long way to go. But that's okay, God is good and He is not finished with me yet!

So Congratulations to our friend for 11 months! Next month we are going to her 1 year anniversary and we couldn't be more excited...

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