Immediately, out of the blue and totally unexpected, I felt empty, scared, alone, lost, and more desperate than I had ever felt before. Yes, there were nights I had remorse over something I had done that I shouldn’t have due to alcohol. And yes, I was not always a happy drunk and would sometimes be a sobbing drunk. And yes, I had days when I felt as I did when I was a child, but those days were fleeting, and none were problems another drink couldn’t fix. This was something entirely different. Alcohol had never made me feel like this before on the inside. Nothing I had ever felt before came anywhere close to the horrible black hole I found myself in that night. No one knew what I was going through while I was poised on that bar stool. I was experiencing it all alone, right there in that nightclub full of people. I knew a fair number of the people there that night, yet I was all alone. It was not planned; at least I had not planned it. If I was calling the shots, I would go out in a blaze of glory; on a high note; having a night of sheer ecstasy; drinking nothing but the finest, in the finest of glassware with the finest of people, in the finest of places. But it happened differently, alone on that one favorite bar stool that one night in what was once one of my favorite places with some of my favorite friends. What on earth was I going to do now?
There was no doubt whatsoever that God was in control. So in that, I took comfort, just like I had done previous times in life where there were no visible answers and no visible game plan laid out for me. As much comfort as that brings, there is still an element of stress which stems from not knowing when and how everything is going to work itself out.
I once heard a preacher on TV give an example of this experience. He shared a story about watching a very important football game on TV. He had recorded it because he was unable to watch it in real time. It was a really exciting game and the lead went back and forth. Then he mentioned how different it was, and how relaxed he was, watching the recorded game, since he knew the final outcome. That really sums it up. If I always knew the when, where and how of the long periods of losses, struggles, changes with obstacles in the middle, just like the football game he described, I could probably be a little calmer during all of it.
I love the excitement of football. My mom always says, "It's not over till it's over." I myself have seen games turn around in the last seconds and outcomes change when it seemed totally impossible. That statement rings true. It's not over till it's over and sometimes everything can change in the very last second of the game. Honestly, I don't think it would be a bad idea knowing the outcome every once in a while before I watched the game, just like in life. Sometimes the excitement of the game can get stressful. But for now, I will try my best to enjoy the ups and downs of the game and life, even though both at sometimes are stressful. I hope you remember this story next time you are waiting on God for an outcome, even when you know He is in control.
That particular night, I found myself driving to his apartment, not knowing where else to go. I had been driving around for a while making sure that I had exhausted all my options first. But as it started to downpour and I was tiring, I found myself at his doorstep. Once he let me in and I looked around, I was surprised by what I saw, and an entirely different feeling came over. His place was a mess, not from lack of cleaning or from being lazy. His apartment appeared to be falling apart. There was a leak in the ceiling, and he had placed a bucket beneath it to catch the rain as it trickled in. I wondered how his landlord was able to rent a place in such poor condition.
That feeling of desperation that had led me to his doorstep had been replaced with a feeling of disheartening. My whole outlook started to change, and I drifted away from the reality of my own homelessness. My friend had been sober over six years, and it saddened me to think that he was perfectly comfortable living in that environment. I couldn’t help wondering if he thought he didn’t deserve to live in a better place, one that was structurally sound. Was his lack of self-worth and self-esteem at a point where he was settling for much less than he deserved? I knew he was deserving of more than leaks in the ceiling and buckets on the floor to catch the drops!
God gave me a new lens to look through as He refocused my vision. As I listened to the drops hit the bucket, I realized that even though my circumstance made me seem like a failure in the world’s eyes, my self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love were at a much higher level than his. I thanked God that I had reached a healthy enough level to still know and believe that I deserved nice things. I would have never been comfortable living the way he was living. It would not have been acceptable, even under the worst of circumstances. From conversations we’d had over the months, I knew he could afford something nicer, so what I had a hard time grasping was that he was perfectly content where he was.
I hope you are hearing the significance of that story. We all deserve the best, and God wants the best for us. We are all His children and worthy of not only His love but good things in life. And even though I had just about lost everything, I had not lost
what God had given me internally. I was growing and changing and becoming the person He wanted me to be. What a revelation.
I was starting to notice that internal changes brought about external changes. And obtaining more externally created more internal change/growth. In other words, it is like a grieving process, leaving the "old me" behind, dying to self, and stepping into my new being, which in turn creates external change and the whole cycle repeats itself as I grow and change. I was not fearful of the changes, either inside or out, and I started (in pieces) believing that I was worthy of the change, which was also comforting.
Have you ever tried to rush the grieving process? I was axious to get to the acceptence stage, so I would be able to move forward. Byt as much as I tried, I couldn't speed it up. It's like increasing the speed on the treadmill in hopes of completing your hour workout sooner. It just doesn't work! Reality once again set in, reminding me that I needed to allow the grieving process to run it's course, which was going to take some time. I knew God would provide for me, just as He had done so up to that point. My head, heart, soul and gut knew that beyond a shadow of a doubt, but I did not know how and when He would do so, which caused some anxiousness.