Most of you know that Lighthouse Church is a ministry built around the reality that everybody will be in recovery from one thing or another sometime in their life. I have been very open about the fact that I am in recovery from an addiction to alcohol. I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Interestingly, I’m not very anonymous. I have tried to be transparent with my own journey as I believe I have been called by God to use my own experience and struggles to minister to others. That is what Lighthouse Church is all about. We understand your past and present struggles. We know what it means to wrestle with God. We are a community of people who follow Jesus and who will welcome you and encourage you with the love of Jesus regardless of where you are in life and faith.
In my own journey, I have learned a lot about recovery. I’m not an expert and I don’t speak for AA or any other recovery program. I would just like to share a few reflections. I hope they are helpful to you and/or to your loved ones.
1. Recovery is a process. I do not know anyone who moved in an instant from stuggling into recovery, though I do know miraculous stories. Recovery is work. Hard work. It takes focus. It takes time. It is easy to get impatient, but know that there are others who have walked the process and who can walk with you.
2. There will be bumps in the road. In my own journey I have found myself going 3 steps forward and one step back at times. I love the forward steps. I hate the backward ones. The point is, keep moving forward. Regardless of what you are recovering from, keep moving forward.
3. God is a God of mulligans. You know what a mulligan is. It is a do over. God’s mercies are new every day. His grace is sure. If you fall down, He will help pick you up. If you made a mistake yesterday, start over today.
4. You don’t have to go it alone. There are people who have struggles just like you are. They will walk with you. Encourage you. I am blessed to have two awesome men, both followers of Jesus as sponsors. They pray for me and encourage me. We meet and talk often. We have truly become brothers in Christ. I have found AA to be an amazing community. Whatever your struggle is there are others who have walked the same journey.
5. Never, never, never give up. There is always hope. I know men and women who literally have walked through hell and are now filled with hope and joy. I’ve walked through the valley myself. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on God for He never gives up on you. My prayer for a couple of months in my own journey was “God, please don’t let me loose my faith or turn my back on you.” He didn’t. God is indeed good. Believe it, even when He feels absent.
6. No one else can do recovery for you. It is up to you to make the decision to pursue it. You do not need to do it alone. You should not do it alone, but no one else can do it for you.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is the hardest thing for me. I’m still learning. The truth is, God created us for relationship. He is there for us. There are other people who can and will support you. If need be, there are professionals who can assist you. If you need help in knowing where to turn feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. You will discover who your true friends are. Stay close to them. Now I understand tough love and I know sometimes in the difficulties of addiction people have to make tough decisions. You may have had to separate yourself from someone you care about for your own health and well-being. That said, true friends hang in there and don’t abandon their loves ones. There may be a time to step away, but as you begin your recovery you will learn who your true and sincere friends are. If there is no one, don’t worry. You will find someone. I did not even know some of my best friends in the world 2 years ago. God is good.
9. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Much of our struggles have a spiritual foundation and a spiritual answer. Recovery is spiritually based. My Higher Power is God, the Father of Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Savior. In Him I find grace to forgive myself, the ability to understand the struggle of others and hope that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. In Jesus I also have the promise that the struggles of this life are temporary and that the promise of eternal life is sure. In heaven there will be no more pain, no more struggles, no more addiction, no more tears. In heaven, there will be no recovery because God will have made all things new!
10. You deserve the best. You deserve recovery. No matter what others have told you, no matter what you have done, you are a precious child of God, created in His image. God loves you more than you could every know. You deserve to find yourself again and to be renewed. So does your loved one who is struggling. God created you for joy in this life. It is still there for the taking.
May the God of peace bless you with strength and serenity today. May you find the courage to change the things you can change and the compassion to forgive yourself, just as God has already forgiven you in Christ Jesus. May He bless you with true friends to walk with you and His love to fill you.
See you at the Lighthouse,