Repentance

God Worked Powerfully in My Life

In the late sixties, long before I committed to follow the Lord, God delivered me from an intense IV Meth addiction. There were no withdrawal symptoms of any kind, I simply stopped.

In the mid-seventies, I lived in a hippie-type community in Pennsylvania. I smoked as many packs of cigarettes a day as I could get my hands on. Filtered or non-filtered, it didn't matter. When I ran out of cigarettes, I rolled my own with Blue Bugler, the cheapest package tobacco you could by at that time. I looked physically fit, but every morning, I woke up congested with phlegm and I could not walk up a flight of stairs without stopping several times to catch my breath.

One day, while I cleaned a bushel of cherries, a friend stopped by and left an unopened, fresh pack of Pall Malls on the table. Normally, I would consider this like found money, a rare and glorious event. But for no obvious reason, I had no desire to smoke and never opened the pack. After that day even the smell of tobacco was revolting to me. I remained baffled by this dramatic release that was not achieved through any effort on my part. However, I continued to smoke pot.

A few years later, we settled down in New Jersey. My husband worked hard at two jobs and I worked for an airline. We had a new house, bought a new car and both daughters attended a good school. We traveled often and stayed at the best hotels, all practically for free, because of my job benefits. But in fact, I drank too much, smoked dope and struggled with my inability to stop.

Living a Double Standard

My feelings of guilt and shame towards a same-sex attraction began at an early age. I experienced frequent sexual abuse from an older male friend during most of my teen years, and hustling for money soon followed.

Years later, I was baptized in a Mennonite Brethren church as a public declaration that I would follow Christ. My secret desire was that maybe now my attraction and sexual fantasies towards men would disappear. They didn't, and the fantasies soon turned into years of acting out behaviours.

I attended several MB churches in different provinces over the years, all the while living a double standard. I became addicted to cruising public places that were well-known to the gay community as places where homosexuals could meet for anonymous sex – a behaviour very typical of this community. Frequenting gay bars was a given.

Life in the gay community has been tumultuous and everything but a happy time. I would be in the arms of a lover on Saturday night and then actively participate in a worship service on Sunday morning. My life was such a lie – a secret I was able to maintain for many years.

I Moved Away from "Remaining in Him"

It all happened so quickly. I moved away from the "remaining in Him" part. Yes, I still believed that Jesus is the Son of God. It was the part about "doing as He says" that had become difficult. I chose to become detached from the Vine, and I shut myself off from friends, family, community and church.

After several weeks in this social vacuum, I knew something was not right inside. Feelings of abandonment and rejection began to trigger pain. My life spiraled into a hell of drugs, booze and sex. I started thinking about death. Part of me wanted to just call it quits, but another part knew that I had come too far to give up.

Then the songs started coming back. One of the songs was, "Love Lifted Me". The tears flowed as I repeatedly spoke the words. I was so thankful I had learned this song as a child so that now, years later, I could be blessed by it. When nothing else could help, the unfailing love of God kept lifting me. In faith, I repented of my sins and asked God to help me find the centre once again. I thanked Him for the close friends that I could reach out to.

John G.: Porn and Jail

Psalm 40:3
The Lord has really put a new song in my heart.......A song of praise and thanksgiving. It hasn't always been like that in my life, for my life was anything but peaceful. I was living a secret life although it wasn't a secret from God. What I was involved in wasn't pretty. I had an addiction to pornography, which took me down a path of destruction.

My addiction was rooted in childhood abuse. A banker, a lawyer, and a minister sexually abused me. I never told anyone about the abuse because I thought that nobody would believe me. I did tell my mother however; she took the secret to her grave. I thought if I joined the service that the abuse would stop. Unfortunately, that was not the case and the sexual abuse continued.
In 1952, I went to Germany in the Army. I heard an evangelist from the Billy Graham Crusade and decided to accept Jesus Christ as my savior. I began singing in the choir and my life seemed to be healing. I was discharged in 1953, and spent some time in Washington state and Oregon.

However; due to lack of direction in my life after discharge, I re-enlisted in the Army in hopes of returning tp Germany. But my plans did not work out like I had planned. In 1954, I was transferred to Ft. Belvoir. I quickly discovered that I was only 20 minutes from Washington D.C. where there were adult book and video stores on every block. Easy access to pornography created an uncontrollable addiction. I was disturbed by my behavior and felt sorry, but not sorry enough to stop.

John: "Sin is My Sickness"

I am powerless over sin. That's my problem. I used to feel damned because my life seemed to be falling apart. By the grace of God I learned that although I was just as much at fault for the problems in my life as the people in my life, God was not so cruel as to torment me for my sinfulness. In fact only he could restore me to sanity. My higher power volunteered.

Luke 4:18
He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.

Hate: the Root of Addictions

I came into the world in 1949. My father was a radio and TV repairman.The US army had trained him to be a radar technician during world war II, and he transferred the skills to civilian life. According to my parents, Peoria was a rather dismal depressed area at the time, and my father moved the family to southern California.

My early memories are fragments, snippets here and there. I remember asking my father if there was a God when I was very small. His answer was "I believe in a Supreme being." But that is not to say our home was a religious one. At some point in my very early years I remember attending a Calvary Baptist Church with my parents, and even going to Sunday school. But my parents stopped going to Church for reasons which are not known to me. I do remember attending Sunday school but I was so young I cannot remember much of what went on.

Despite their occasional attendance at church, my home environment was less than Godly. Like many homes there was a war going on between Mom and Dad (if you were lucky enough to even have a Dad) and I became a casualty of that war.One morning when I was about 5 years old my younger brother (3 years old at that time ) and I were playing with wooden blocks in our bedroom. Vaguely I recall Mom and Dad had been fighting.Dad left the house and my brother and I continued playing with the wooden blocks. Mom came into the bedroom screaming, "I told you kids not to play with those blocks." My brother said, "run!" and we both ran into different parts of the house. Mom cornered him in the service porch and I heard the screams as she beat him. Then there was a sinister silence. Then she came flying into the living room in a boiling rage. "Now, its your turn!" she said. And, indeed, it was my turn.

The Valley Called Decision

One day a man walked into his place of worship and to his surprise the devil was at the altar weeping bitterly. When the man asked him, "Hey, what's wrong with you?" His reply was, "Everyone blames me for everything!"

This fictional story serves to remind us how easy it is to point fingers. We, like water, seek out the easiest course to follow. You see, it's so much more convenient to blame everyone rather than to look deep into ourselves. Not until I began to honestly take inventory of my own personal life, was I able to admit to myself that I was in dire need of a total spiritual and emotional make-over.

It's a humbling experience for anyone to look into the mirror and say, "I have met the enemy and the enemy is me!"

But, like a master sailor uses the contrary wind to get him to safe harbor, we too can use our imperfections as a driving force to relearn and refocus on our true self and mission on earth. Be comforted in knowing that because of Gods amazing grace, He is able to draw a straight line using a crooked stick.

If we will fearlessly open up the chapters of our past, I think we will be surprised to see that many of our hell-on-earth experiences have been caused by the inability to make right decisions. Never forget, we are the very ones who chose alcohol and/or drugs as a solution to life's problems. (Some may say, "Alcohol, drugs? That's not my problem!" That may be true, but take a good look into the cup from which you drink, is it filled with fear, pride, unforgiveness, greed or guilt?) If your answer is yes, then we welcome you to join us as we seek for the solution.

The 3rd step in the big book of A.A. reads "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."

The word decision means: The act of making up one's mind. When a person lacks this ability they are likened to a double minded (doubting, hesitating) man who is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8 paraphrased). One never builds a mansion on a unstable foundation, much less will a marriage built on sand (unstable people) survive the storms of life.

But wait! There is a better way. For He who has all POWER says to us,

"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

But for us to enjoy the fruit of this better way we must pass through the Valley called DECISION.

Many of us have missed out on excellent opportunities in life, due to the inability to make up our own mind. You see, when we doubted and hesitated, another came and snatched up all that was dear to us. In the twinkling of an eye, family, friends, careers and even our own self respect was gone.

Playing Hide and Seek with God?

I searched hurriedly to find just the right hiding place. Breathless I hid silently behind the shower curtain in my parents shower. A giggle slipped from my mouth and I quickly cupped my hand to keep it quiet. I could barely hear my friend counting... 6... 7...8 ...9... 10! Ready or not, here I come! My heart raced for fear I would be found.

I'm sure you remember the exhilaration and suspense of playing hide and seek with your friends. Now that I am older, I no longer play this childhood game with my friends or anyone else—or do I?

It is Just the Beginning

I have learned to trust God. I have faith my past is gone. I have let it all go and given it to God to handle. This is just the beginning for me, though.

My journey through recovery begins with Christ and it continues with Him. I could not have started nor could I continue without His help and guidance through all of the steps of recovery. I may not be an alcoholic or addicted to a drug, but I have other issues to contend with as a result of living with addiction.

  • Each day I must turn my need for control over to God’s care.
  • Each day I must turn over my past shopping compulsion to God because He is enough to fill any void I have.
  • Each day I must rid myself of co-dependency and be fully dependent upon Him to comfort me.

The Past is Over: Do Not Let It Define You Today

The Past is Gone
Once I learned to trust God with my life and my wills, my trust for others began to increase. I no longer allowed my past to define me. I stopped allowing the people of my past to define the trustworthiness of those closest to me.

I understand now, trusting God to love me despite my past also means I trust Him with my future. It means to believe He is starting something new within me as I rise each morning. This is a process that began with surrender, but that is not the end of the journey for me. I must also turn away from the mistakes of my past and turn toward God’s will.

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