My Story: Overcoming the Drunken Monster Within

I’ve spent some time in the dungeon of self-hatred. The term was only a few short years but let me tell you, it was hell down there. A prison-of-sorts where my worth was beaten repeatedly. My image so bruised that it even hurt to look in the mirror. It was sorrowful time, a contemplative pit of disgust and shame. A time when the choices I’d made with my own free will caused me to trip and fall, the long way down.

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Some of you know bits of my story. The pre-Me was a girl who’d enjoy any excuse for good time. Drinking was my desired gateway to fun. Oh, it was all in good spirit, I told myself. Most of the time (but not always) I was able to juggle the drink and the façade of self-control pretty darn good. Just a carefree girl with a forecast for fun, I told myself.

But the untold truth was like bubbling magma. What many did not know is that the beer swallowed cold was feeding a monster. A monster of generational alcoholism, a monster with haughty eyes and a lying tongue.

Oh, in those early years the monster’s voice was so affirming. It’d tell me such grand things about myself. It’d tell me how beautiful I was and how deserving I was of ANYTHING and EVERYTHING I wanted. I only needed to relentlessly pursue and I could have it all – the whole world, yes! As the consummation ensued, the voice would coil itself around my spirit and make me feel like a twelve story building.

Come morning, I hated that damn monster. And myself.

True enough, as the years carried on I began to chase after another baby Love. It was the heart of God. As I sought, I learned. Until oh-so-softly another voice began to emerge. This Gentle one, it wasn’t pushy. Heck, though, it spoke truth to me that sometimes stung.

“You are my ambassador,” the Gentle voice would say. “This (drink) is not good for you. When will you let it go?” The question always circled like a white dove returning home, into the palm of my hand. It was always up to me as to what I’d do with it.

Even still, despite the Gentle voice and despite my personal academy of seeking, from time to time I’d feed that monster. Without fail it pushed and bullied its way into chambers of my heart, attempting to conquer its foe, the Spirit of God.

I discovered that the monster had an uncontrollable appetite to devour the other Living occupant of my heart. And so it began, this epic battle for dominance. Back and forth like a sword-drawn Tarzan swinging from a vine. Back and forth, with each pass the Spirit hacked away at the choking weed – monster. Back and forth, with each pass the monster attempting to spew poisonous lies.

“For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. “ – Galatians 5: 17

It takes time; the sanctification, the cleansing, the killing of monsters. The death of it all was a process. The finality, grotesque. The most severe pain I’ve ever felt in my whole life. The grief – a dark tomb. For me, this self-death of drinking was my plummet into the dungeon of self-hatred.

Thanks be to God who rescued me from the pit with His right hand. Though that place was dark, the Voice was with me saying things like,

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” -1Peter 2:9

You see, when the monster died, my body felt like ash. But let me tell you, in that good-long-hard-season the Lord God made me whole again, this time, into a new creation. Yes, He did that. I can’t believe it’s been nearly eight years since He destroyed that monster within but He did, and I’ve never known such freedom. Praise be!

And do you know what? He can do that for you too. You’re never beyond His reach. Never. I believe that some of you have been living under the monster’s thumb for far too long. You’re tired. You’re lying in the pit of self-hatred, perhaps.

Dear brother or sister, listen, God’s unfailing love for you is so vast that there is nothing you can do (or nothing you’ve done) that can remove this Love. All you need to “do” is turn your head, look to Him, repent, and let Him lead you into a new (better) life. No regrets.

Amen.
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Suicide-A story of hope & intention

It was January 2007 when I got the call.

He died. My dear friend, the one from high school, the one I’d always considered a brother. It was suicide. It was intentional.

I could describe for you the pain, the looping roller coaster of grief. A cheap ride I never wanted to go on in the first place and one that took a long, long, long time to get off. But I’m assuming you’ve been acquainted with heart wrenching loss. If you haven’t…someday you will.

So, this is my suicide story. The way it sliced me to the core, bloody and bruised, leaving me vulnerable to the realms of this world and beyond. This is my story of how God courted me during that season. This is my story of how He used all those broken pieces to create something new in me.

God says He is the beginning and end. He who is, who was, and who is yet to come. {Rev.1:8} He is the past, present, and the future. And when I welcomed Him to live and reign in my heart, He promised to never leave me or forsake me. He knew what was to come, and looking back I discover that in a million little ways He was preparing me for that black moment. He always does.

Even still, grief is an unwelcome companion.

In the month’s preceding my friends suicide I had developed a very strong unsettling feeling within my spirit. It was odd. Unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I kept it to myself mostly. I prayed. Then one day, while driving I heard a voice whisper, “Death is near.” Whoa! I shook it off. Yet, it periodically returned. The voice. Those words. Death is near.

And then, the call.

Death is destruction, disaster, and a devastating mixture to our soul. Suicide tosses in additional ingredients. Heaping cups of guilt, pounds of regret, and bitterness served up in bulk. We assume our role. We feel part to blame. We could’ve, we should’ve….

This past week a young college student from my church committed suicide. I didn’t know him but my heart aches for his family and friends. I remember the pain as if it was yesterday. It’s palpable. I hold my journal in my palm, I flip back, and I recoil as I relive that moment.

This grief zone; it’s complicated, dangerously confusing, and life changing.

Are you there? Here are a few things you can do:

1. Record Your Journey. A journal helped me pour out my grief. It was good to help me cope and process the waves that crashed and battered. I quickly discovered that grief measures itself with time. One week, one month, the last time you did this, the anniversary of, words exchanged, all of which become marked by time. In the same way, your grief journey can be measured through words, thoughts, and feelings. As you look back, the million little ways that God was comforting and restoring will slowly be revealed. Not now, not in the fog, but later when you can see a little more clearly. Believe it or not, this journey will be used as a tool. It’s shaping your testimony. Write it out.

Resources: Evernote is an online tablet that you can use to record events or make simple notes. Or consider using Blogger. Opt for private settings if you wish to record for your eyes alone.

2. Guard your heart. Above all else, guard your heart. Imagine your heart as a door, the gateway to your soul. Would you allow a thief in? Never. It’s tempting to want to connect with your loved one. I know. I dabbled. I did not protect myself because I did not understand fully. And because of it I flung open doors to a world that I never intended to enter. But God gave me wisdom and in JESUS NAME I cleaned house and closed doors. I also learned some truths about the Devil. He is a trickster, an impostor, and he masquerades as light. {2 Corinthians 11:14} This means he can disguise himself to look like someone we care deeply for. To masquerade as light means that by all appearances it is good and lovely. Why would Satan do this?  To deceive.

 “Demons are undoubtedly more than willing to masquerade as dead humans if they can deceive tens of millions of people and draw them away from Jesus.” -Ron Rhodes

What’s at stake? When we focus our attention on the spiritual realm or connecting with a loved one rather than fixing our eyes on God, the enemy succeeds. The last thing the Devil wants is for you to gain strength, wisdom, and council from the Lord. This subject is wildly controversial in most circles. I’m stating the biblical truth that has been made known to me. If you wish to have a private conversation about this I’d love to talk. Please message me here.

And pray. He who is in you is greater that he who is in the world.

Resource: The book, The Truth Behind Ghosts, Mediums, & Psychic Phenomena by Ron Rhodes was a huge gift to me. Full of wisdom!

3. Step out of your comfort zone. I know your hurting. Scripture says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.”{Psalm 126:5} Stepping forward and wrapping your arm around someone who shares your grief is good for healing. When my friend died, God laid a burden of compassion on my heart for his mother. One week after the funeral, my sweaty hands picked up the phone and called her. We talked and cried together for hours. And that was only the beginning…

The remedy does exist. We discover it in a movie, a novel, or in the lyrics of a song. We see it painted in a rainbow or in one star twinkling brighter than the rest. We read it in the Word. Profound and bold, we’ve never noticed it before. The calm, gentle voice whispers truth while the hot shower beads our tear streaked faces. These are the things that bring out hope. Cling. Write. Live. Hope.

Make this your intention.

 

And Now, A Lesson in Death

In case you’re wondering…I’m still writing that dang book. The novel about the girl in Ireland. Yeah, that one. Last week I was hung up on a scene so I decided to break things down. Again. This is my new game plan.

Well, it’s the same game plan just re-written for the 100th time, in a different format, with different colors. I know your wondering. Did it work? You betcha! Unstuck and pressing on.

A few days later my 16 year old daughter was reviewing my colorful set up and asked, “What does die to self mean?”

I stopped writing and looked up at her. That feeling, mothers you know it, the one where you feel the teachable moment coming on. The air becomes thin. A quiet pause is stretched. I imagine magical sprinkles of {invisible} inspiration floating down from the Heavens, prickling the skin as it lands.

I answer, “Die to self? It means sacrificing {to the point of death} your selfish desires. For example, in my story the main character wants this one thing more than anything in the world. Yet, there is this other thing… The stakes are high. She needs to make a choice. Will she choose self? Or will she die to self?”

There are two kinds of death. Physical death, where the soul and spirit depart from the body. This kind is inevitable. It is our future. It is absolute and inescapable. The other kind is Spiritual death, where pesky sin separates our soul from God.

Dying to self is a Spiritual death.

It requires a 180 degree turn around. This is hard to do. Especially when the stakes are high. We want one kind of lifestyle. Yet, the desire to shake the peskiness remains. It’s a longing. For some of us, the separation from God is hard. We wonder why we do what we do…when it’s not really in line with what we want to do. Huh? Am I making sense?

Let me explain. Five years ago I quit drinking. For one reason and one reason alone. I needed to die.

Making the choice to quit drinking has NEVER been for any sort of legalistic reasons. I didn’t do it because I thought it was the good Christian thing to do. I didn’t do it because I think drinking is bad. I didn’t do it because anyone made me or pressured me to stop.

I quit drinking because the pesk was killing me. Spiritually speaking. Having one or two never really worked for me. The truth is that another person emerged in my drunkeness. She was ugly. Selfish. And when my physical body rejoined my Spirit after a hasty night…I didn’t really like her a whole lot.

But the death took time. Layer upon layer. Slowly, in a great span of time God called me out of that pesky entanglement and into something new.

That death. Oh, that death was painful. Yet, my God was faithful to me and never let me go.

“These scars ain’t pretty but there a part of me… These marks tell a story of me down in the valley and how you reached in with your grace and healed me.” -Mandissa

It’s about beauty from ashes. Being reborn into a new creation. Stepping out of old skin and trusting that the new has a perfect purpose for you.

Only YOU in your inmost being know the things being willed of you to lay down and die. It’s a matter of choice. The stakes are high. What will you choose?