WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?
The line I sobbed repeatedly as my director drove me down to Florida for Teen Challenge Round 2. All I did was drink once, whats the big deal? I already did 14 months in a program. What will 6 more months do? I tried this way already and it didn’t work! Why were they making me do it again? I frantically and exhaustively kept asking what I needed to do to make things right. My director just cried and told me this is what needed to happen. They kept saying things like, “you’re going to be a completely new person”, and “There are things that you need that we can’t give you here” and “Allow God to bring a deeper healing into your life.”
I had no idea what these people were talking about. I was fine. I just drank again because I wanted a drink. What did I have to change?
After a few weeks of being in Teen Challenge again, I received a letter from my director:
“I picture you, Kori, asking me what you want from me. Kori, I want you to trust in God’s love for you. To believe that He is going to show-up. I want you to have faith that He has a plan for you that includes redeeming your mistakes. I want you to believe that He is going to heal your heart and make it whole. And you don’t have to do anything but submit.”
For so long I was a fixer. I wanted to save myself. I wanted to fix myself. I kept trying to stay sober in my own strength. I didn’t want other people to help me. And I especially didn’t know how to allow God to help me.
When I asked my director what she wanted from me I was subconsciously asking “How can I heal myself?” And what she basically wrote was that it was not my job to heal myself but God’s. We can put a Band-Aid over our wound. We’re really good at that. The band-aid of behavior modification. The band-aid of religious works. The band-aid of rehabs and meetings. Those things are good in themselves but they can never truly heal.
Have you ever went to the doctor’s office with a broken bone? What if the Doctor x-rayed your leg, saw that it was broken, slapped your knee with a Band-Aid, and sent you on your way? You would probably be a little ticked off and confused wouldn’t you? A Band-Aid isn’t going to heal that broken bone. The same thing happens in our recovery: God looks at our broken heart and says “that band-aid is not going to work forever, my child. You need to have open heart surgery”
Aren’t you tired of just covering up the pain? Haven’t you been through enough? Have you ever thought why you keep choosing to lead a destructive lifestyle? I’m most certain it’s not because you want to. You have probably been searching for a while. Searching for some answer. A hope. A change. Someone to rescue you. A savior. Something to come along and change your life.
The Secret is in the deeper healing God wants to bring you. It’s that thing I was missing for so long. Its the secret to what has kept me sober. It is what made me stop wanting to hurt myself. This deeper healing isn’t found in any self-effort you can muster up. You can choose to stay sober for the rest of your life and still never experience the deeper healing that God wanted to give you. There is so much more for you. There is true joy and ability to live life to the fullest. There’s freedom from your past guilt and shame. There is a new found identity and wholeness knocking at your door.
I think this knock scares people though. I know it scared me. I was skeptical and doubtful. How could God really heal me? I can’t even see him. It’s scary because before you experience a deeper healing, it is something completely unknown. It’s like stepping off the cliff and not knowing if something will catch your fall. Remember in the movie Divergent, when Tris and all the other newbies we’re getting initiated into Dauntless? The leader of Dauntless took them to the top of this roof and told them to jump. All they could see was a black hole. They had no idea what was down there or what would catch them. Faith is a lot like that. There’s a net at the bottom that is sure to catch you, but you can’t see it from where you’re standing.
Healing requires you to open up all your heart to God. It’s not a surface thing. If it was people would call it a “surface healing”. It requires an uncovering. The tearing down of all masks, all facades, and all walls that have been erected to protect yourself. It’s scary because it pulls you into a vulnerable place where there is no more hiding. A flawed human being with all your shame, pain and regret meets a perfect and Holy God face to face. Unless you’ve experienced His love before, that can be a very scary thing.
By now you might be wondering how all this healing talk can actually be attainable. And if I can be completely frank and honest? I don’t know the perfect answer for you. There is no 7-step answer to find deeper healing (Even though many people have come up with some). There is no magic prayer I can give you to pray in this moment. Early in my recovery, I just wanted people to tell me what to do. Over and over, I begged “just tell me what I need to do to be better and I’ll do it. Just give me a list, a method, something!” I wanted a quick fix. I wanted to follow A-B-C to find freedom. And that’s just not how it works. It was hard for me to understand this for a long time. Just like it may be hard for you to understand.
Our healing looks different based on God’s sovereign will and plan for our lives. I found healing at a different place, time, and way that you will find it. Because God is not a method or system. He is a personal God and He knows the deep things in your heart that no one else knows. He understands you and the pain you have felt better than anyone else ever could. Only He knows the words you need to hear and the experiences you need to have in order to find healing.
I have learned a few things about the healing of the heart from my own experiences and from the experiences of others. The drugs, the alcohol, the addiction is not the problem. That’s the surface issue that has been used to cover up the root issues in your life. That’s why so many people relapse. They go about recovery all wrong. They try to fix the problems by focusing on behavior modification. They never allow themselves to get to the root issues that caused them to abuse substances in the first place.
Laying all the crap on the table
For me, my deeper healing came when I was ready to lay all my crap on the table. (Not a fancy or professional term but that’s what I call it) I had done the surface Christianity with God for a long time, but when I got sent back into the program, I was ready to do whatever it took to change. That’s really what it takes too. You have to be so tired of your destructive life and its consequences in order to want something different. I had kept people and God at arm’s length, but I was ready to let Him in all the way. So one day I sat alone in our gym, on the treadmill, and I just began to cry and tell God all the things that had caused me pain in the past. (This is what I mean by putting my crap on the table).
For the first time I said things out loud I had never told anyone before. I talked to God about the wounds my parents had caused me in my childhood. I talked about the days that older boy from church used to touch me. I talked to Him about the shameful things I had done and the shameful things that were done to me in my addiction. I began to pull up all the roots, I laid it all out before God, and I desperately challenged Him: IF you can heal me, God. HEAL ME”
During that time of my life I had never cried so much. I was feeling the pain of things I never faced before. A couple days later I was standing in a chapel service and God was bringing back to my memory those moments in my childhood. But this time when I thought about them, something was different. As I was standing there I saw myself as a hurt and scared little girl in my bedroom, but I also saw Jesus there with me and he was crying too. That image changed everything. The biggest reason I hated God was because I believed he was never there for me. I blamed him for not protecting me. I wondered why he allowed those things to happen to me. But that day he showed me that he had always been there, and He actually experienced hurt from those things too.
When I started this thing I told you I didn’t have the perfect answer for you. The only thing I know to do is share my experience and point you to the only One who can heal you. During those few months, I allowed God to do that deeper healing in my life. He would knock on my heart and poke at that certain place and say “I want that too” and I would give it to Him. It was painful and scary but it was worth every step of the process.
My friends were right; I became a different person. I became whole. Which is weird because at the time I didn’t know I was broken. I became secure. I was not living in the shame of my past anymore. Everything that was in the dark came to light and I allowed God to speak His truth over it.
I became free.