Tag Archive | acceptance

My Jingle Bells Miracle = Healing from Addiction

Last Sunday evening, seventeen people from my church gathered in a circle in the church’s basement to sing Christmas carols. There is nothing particularly extraordinary about that, except that one of them was my husband.

What makes that extraordinarily special is that three years ago, there would have been few instances that brought my husband into a church at all. And certainly not to sing. And even more certainly, not to sing with me, his wife.

Four Christmases ago, my husband did not believe in God. He also did not place much importance in his wedding vows and marriage. He was ensnared in his fantasy world of pornography and masturbation. There was no room for me.

My husband has always grudgingly attended Christmas Eve church services with me. For that I am grateful. It was a gift to me that our family was together, even though his heart was still far away. For that evening, his physical presence brought me the semblance of the regular loving family that my heart craved. I didn’t have to make any excuses for why he wasn’t with us. I could pretend we were happy. For this night, we were worth his time, and I clung to that offering.

Things have changed in the last few years. God revealed the extent of my husband’s sex addiction to both of us in the weeks before that Christmas three years ago. It was a Christmas of profound sadness, heavy hearts, and utter brokenness. He was a mess. My heart was shattered. We didn’t know how to clean any of it up. And I didn’t know if we could. He hadn’t valued my heart, and now that it was in little jagged pieces, I held the shards tightly in my hand.

In the following weeks, God gently unclenched my grasp. He tenderly took each precious fragment, began the process of restoration and gave me the strength to offer piece after piece to my husband. While this was happening, God was also doing a miraculous work in softening and mending my husband’s heart. God was making us a safe place for each other.

My husband regularly attends church with me. At my side. But not just physically. Also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. That is my gift.

It is also my miracle. And his miracle. Because as he freely joined me in singing Christmas carols last weekend, my heart was full. For so many reasons. His recovery from sex addiction. My healing from sexual betrayal trauma and emotional abuse. The redemption of our marriage. The celebration of baby Jesus coming to earth so that one day I could gloriously have my sin and shame washed away.

Those are big things. Really big, significant things. But sometimes, when you are healing and recovering from addiction, abuse or betrayal, seemingly inconsequential incidents are worthy of acknowledgement and celebration too.

Like jingle bells. I wasn’t afraid to ring jingle bells that night. I wasn’t worried that I would shake them wrong. I wasn’t self conscious of looking or feeling foolish to my husband or others. The possibility of receiving disapproval did not fill me with anxiety and paralyze me like it would have in the past. I wanted to ring jingle bells, so I did. And it made me happy.

Standing beside my husband, united as a couple, singing and ringing bells with abandon. Freedom, joy, peace, and acceptance. Acceptance of each other. Acceptance of ourselves. Just as we were. And just as we are. My Christmas miracle.

These words were taken from my Jesus Calling devotional this morning: “As you persevere along the path I (Jesus) have prepared for you, depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles – and you will. Miracles are not always visible to the naked eye, but those who live by faith can see them clearly.”

I can see my miracles clearly. Sometimes they sound just like jingle bells.

He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. Job 5:9

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Choices!

Back in July I wrote about going to see my spiritual counselor and what God showed me at that time. I also mentioned that my counselor made a second observation and I would share it in the next post, well, I didn’t….because honestly, I was truly grappling with it. I didn’t like her suggestion or observation. I didn’t want to look at it and to some degree I am still wrestling with it.

What she shared with me was the Serenity Prayer; the first part of it. If you are familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous then you have encountered the Serenity Prayer. The prayer has worked its way into so many cultural outlets that many non-Christians know it, or at least the beginning, by heart:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.serenity 1

The rest of the prayer goes like this:

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

I admit I reacted to her strongly because deep down I was truly afraid to accept the things I could not change and feared I didn’t have the courage to change what I could…..and would I really know the difference??

Why did I struggle to “accept” things? Because I believed that accepting something was laziness. I was afraid that accepting that there are some things I could not change would make me complacent. But slowly (very slowly) I am beginning to realize instead that acceptance constitutes a leap of faith — an ability to trust, as the prayer goes on to say, “that He [God] will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.” I then make the choice to let go and have faith in the outcome.

acceptance

Accepting or surrendering takes courage…..for me the word “surrender” like acceptance, had mostly negative connotations. I associated it with resignation, failure and weakness. But the Serenity Prayer reframes the notion of surrender as an act of faith and trust. The wisdom of the prayer lies in exchanging a life of endless “what ifs” for a life of trust in powers beyond ourselves. That changes my perspective!

Another thing I am coming to realize is that acceptance takes courage, it takes courage to change ourselves. And I didn’t want to be courageous anymore, it was too much work.

One of life’s greatest challenges is imagining how our lives could be different than they are now. Often, my own deeply-ingrained habits are my own worst enemies, and simply identifying them is half the battle. Since habits gain power through repetition, it takes real focus and perspective to take a look at ourselves and our habits and ask, “Is this how I really want to live?” As the prayer states, this act of self-investigation is nothing less than an act of “courage.”

And in my mind it also meant that I must accept “hardships as the pathway to peace.” What??? I didn’t want hardship, I wanted easy, painless even!!
Yet, every person confronts obstacles in the course of his or her life. Yet, it’s what I do with these obstacles. Do I view them as frustrations or failures, or as opportunities for growth and learning? If I choose the latter then I can transcend my circumstances.
courage
Accepting what I don’t like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life, because there will be people, situations, and events I don’t like and I am not able to change.

Yet, it is true, acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. I can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond my control. It is not passive when I lean into and trust God with my life, situations and relationships. It is not passive when I seek His wisdom and ask for His supernatural courage. It doesn’t take resignation it takes strength, perseverance, faith and trust.

Please understand what I am not saying….if you are in an abusive relationship or have been abused, I am not saying that you should just accept what is happening or what happened. I am not talking about abuse. I am talking about situations and circumstances that affect us and that we feel we have no control over, maybe in our workplace, our marriage or our relationships.
It truly takes supernatural wisdom to know the difference of what we can or cannot change.

serenity-quotes-7

As you can see I am still chewing on this, wrestling with it and walking this out…..to be continued!

What about you? How do you see “acceptance” or “surrender”?