This question starts getting asked when you’re young enough to understand what it means and continues, albeit with different wording, until you graduate from high school or college. I work on a college campus and I find myself asking my student workers what they want to do after they graduate. And now that I’m back in school, people have been asking me the same thing. And up until about a month ago, I didn’t have an answer for them. And then everything changed.
I shared briefly in my first post that I was the wife of an alcoholic. Before this, I never had any experience with alcoholism or any other kind of addiction. And, to be honest, I was completely unprepared to deal with it. When Paul and I met and married, he had been sober for about 8 years. About a year or two into our marriage, I suggested we go to a bar to celebrate something. Looking back on this, it was a stupid suggestion. I simply didn’t understand that an alcoholic can’t cut themselves off once they start drinking. I think that there was actually a small part of me that wanted to see what he was like when he drank. I didn’t like it. At all. From then on, there were mini relapses once or twice a year, some more severe than others.
It was near the end of 2014 that we both started playing and singing in a band for the Tuesday night recovery meetings at our church. That was my first introduction to the world of recovery. Every week, I listened to different members tell their story of addiction and recovery, some losing all they had and even teetering on the brink of death before getting help. And although I wasn’t in recovery, the people there accepted me as one of their own. They never judged me and always loved me just as I was. I’ll tell you that people that are in recovery are some of the best people you will ever meet.
Week after week, I slowly began to understand Paul’s addiction. He never did get help and eventually committed suicide on March 18th, 2015. Since then, I have been able to talk with people in recovery and, most recently, 2 separate families struggling with a family member in addiction that won’t get the help they need.
It was after the most recent experiences that I realized that where I’m being called. I FINALLY KNOW WHAT I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP!!! There are 3 things I want to be doing after I graduate (and maybe before!). First, I want to go to churches and train congregations on addiction. I am currently reading a book called The Recovery-Minded Church and one of the statements in the introduction aptly expresses what’s on my heart for the church.
Addiction recovery is more than a referral to the closest AA group. It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for a whole community of wayward children to be transformed by the grace of a wildly-in-love-with-you God.
Y’all, we don’t talk enough about addiction in church (I’ll write more about this later). Which means that those who have addictions are left to suffer in silence with the shame of their struggle. We need to turn this around. Second, I want to help churches set up recovery programs for their congregations and communities. I’m not saying that AA, NA, etc. don’t do a good job because they do. But I think that as a church we can minister to people while helping them in their recovery. Lastly, I want to help families navigate through the intervention process with their loved ones suffering from addiction. Truth be told, I don’t know if this job exists in the real world. But I don’t think it would be on my heart if it wasn’t needed.
I’ll continue pursuing my theological education, but will also be pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in Psychology in order to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. If it sounds like a lot to you, we’re on the same page. I’m hoping that with my new focus comes a renewed bundle of energy because the good Lord knows I need it.
Until next time, grace and peace to you.