Friday, February 22, 2013

My Road to Recovery Leads to My Testimony ♥

my dark days ended when I chose to surrender and follow the cross to the light

October 3rd, 2012, was the day I recommitted my life to Christ. It was the day I choose the road to recovery and to press forward regardless of my circumstances. It was a warm evening as I ran the neighborhood streets, listening to my favorite praise songs when tears began to roll down my cheeks.  I was filled with heaviness when I said aloud, "Okay, God I surrender to you. Tell me what you want me to do.  Speak to me and I will obey." After speaking those words, that heaviness turned into peace.

A month earlier I committed to a 12-Step Life Recovery Program with a friend. Little did I know that I would be recovering from 39 years of past hurts. 

I accepted Christ in my life when I was in 5th grade.  From that time, until about age 16 I had what I would call, seasons of deep and intense closeness with God. In those seasons, I involved myself in Christian relationships and was heavily engaged in my church youth group.  I was baptized as a freshman in high school, alongside my mother and brother.  I attended several mission trips with our high school group which included a memorable trip to Mexico.  On that trip, in addition to sharing the Word of God, our youth group built a Sunday school classroom for the small village we were visiting.   

Nevertheless, during those years I was challenged with the evils of the world, and was faced with several hardships and considerable losses. I had been trying to cope with the divorce of my parents; experienced my first death (my uncle); was sexually abused by a family member and his friend; was faced with the sudden death of my father shortly after I turned 14; encountered my first sexual experience and then a month was dumped by that boyfriend; experiencing my first heartbreak.  This resulted in a suicide attempt through an overdose of pills. I stole my brothers car, but also was caught doing so by my mother. The outcome of that incident turned into a physical altercation between her and I. That day I moved out and went to live with a high school friend for about a month. My boyfriend (the father of my two sons) was caught jumping out of my bedroom window one night; the following day I left home with him for a week. During those years, I experimented with drugs and alcohol which lead to many more bad decisions (fights with girls, lying, sneaking around, poor grades, and a lot of emotional damage.)  It's apparent how much I hurt those closest to me, but even more so, I hurt myself to the point that the repercussions of  my choices effected me some 20 years later.  


At 17, I became pregnant, having my first son when I was a senior in high school.  I had my second son at 21 and my daughter at 24.  After several failed relationships, the last two being the father of my two sons, and the father of my daughter, I pretty much gave up on love even though that is what I desired most. 

I continued to drink and use drugs which led to a painful promiscuous lifestyle; one filled with pseudo love, emptiness and sadness.  It was a lifestyle I wouldn't wish upon anyone, one that I am not proud of, but I own it and feel it's necessary to share with others because I see so many young girls and women going down that same path seeking love in this way.  It is not the answer.

Sex does not equate to Love.  Love comes from being fulfilled through God.

I never understood this until just recently when I grasped that, only through Jesus Christ can I experience unconditional and authentic love.  This is through the ultimate sacrifice God gave to us.  He gave his Son, Jesus Christ to us, to die on the cross for all of our sins so that we can restore our relationship with him. Because of this, He promises those who believe in him and receive him, eternal life and his unconditional love. Because we are human, and live in a fallen world, no single person can complete what we need to be whole; only through our Lord Jesus Christ can we receive that.

 Being a believer in Christ, doesn't exempt me from the evils, hardships, failures, losses or temptations of this earth. What is does promise is a life full of Love, Grace, Hope, Forgiveness, and Eternal Life.  

I believe that each circumstance in my life has been perfectly designed by God's hand. Often when things go wrong in life, we complain how unfair life is or question what type of God could allow such unpleasant events to occur in our lives. I find it ironic how frequently we blame God when bad things occur in life yet, often we often fail to give him praise when good things happen. God has a plan for your current circumstances and the world may do things to you with the intent of evil, but God will always find a way to use it to bring about good.

Today, when I question or have a hard time understanding the purpose of what is happening in my life, I try to approach it in a new manner.  Instead of asking, "Why Me?" I ask, "What can I learn from this and what is God's agenda in this specific experience?"  By doing so, the unbearable becomes bearable.

It's pretty clear that even though I accepted Christ at a young age, most of my life, I didn't live according to how Christians would be expected to.  I was neither an example to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ or to those who didn't believe in Christ. Throghout my twenties and thirties, I lived a very sinful life, full of lies, self-deception, alcohol consumption, drug use, sexual promiscuity, pride and envy.  I was extremely self-centered.  I put a smile on each day, but deep down inside I was drowning in sadness.  Don't get me wrong, my whole life wasn't miserable, but it was filled with a lot of confusion, poor choices and dissatisfaction, when really all I longed for, all any of us long for is to be loved.  Unfortunately, I did whatever I could to attain it, even at the expense of my children, family, friends, and my relationship with Christ.

In reading the book by Chip Ingram, titled, "Sex, Love and Lasting Relationships"  he describes two prescriptions for love.  The first is the "Hollywood Formula" and the second is "God's Prescription."  All of my relationships have been that of the "Hollywood Formula."  To be completely honest, following God's prescription is far less painful and is how we should strive to love another human being. And in doing so, you grow closer to God and allow him to work in and through you. As this book is written in the context of relationships between men and women, I've found that I can relate a lot of it's content to all my relationships. 

 
My walk back to Christ has been in the works for some time.  Almost 3 years ago, God removed me from an extremely toxic and co-dependent relationship. Part of my 12 Step Life Recovery Program is healing from this relationship, along with my other past hurts.  The choice's I've made over the last decade and earlier in life, have caused more heartache than happiness which have created long-term emotional damage that has been very difficult to overcome.  
 
Other than my inability to trust (mainly men), my two biggest obstacles in this journey to Life Recovery have been the struggles I encounter with allowing myself to feel worthy and loved.  I find that funny since love is what I desire so deeply.

Reflecting on my life before recommitting my life to Christ it's a good reminder of what it's like to do life on your own, apart from Him. It's definielty not a life I'd like to relive. Thinking back, here is the best descriptive illustration I can give:

I'm aimlessly walking in a desert, looking around in every direction but never finding a clear path to take. The endless space I was surrounded by represents the emptiness in my life.  Always feeling a constant sense of being overwhelmed, as if I was drowning in my emotions and feelings; defeated without the strength to endure any more that life had to offer, like a ship at sea without a compass, I was lost without a clear direction of which way to go.  I found that I would do things, but not have a purpose in why I did them. I gave the false appearance that life was great as each morning I put on my smile and forced myself to function like a robot, but internally I was screaming for the falseness to end. 

In the last year, before God intervened in my life, I had became so depressed I often had thoughts of suicide.  Each night I would sit outside in my car and drink just enough to numb the pain I was feeling.  I convinced myself that I needed to do this, just so that I could deal with whatever and whoever awaited for me inside my home. When I hit rock bottom, consumed with self-pity, I had no where left to look but UP. I am blessed to have a Savior full of grace who heard my cry for help. A God who rescues. 

As I will soon begin Step 6 in my recovery, I accept there will be challenges that will test my faith, but I also know that the path I am taking is lit by the Eternal Light of Jesus Christ. Through the many additional resources God has placed before me, (The books, "The Purpose Driven Life", "Humility", "Spiritual Simplicity") along with the people in my life who will keep me accountable, and the Body of Christ I'm connected to,  I'm more than excited to do God's work.  Obedience is no longer an option for me anymore, it is the way I desire to live life.  

In the book, "The Purpose Drive Life" is states, "God teaches you real joy in the midst of sorrow, when we turn to him."  This quote affirms how I can find joy in each moment in my life and how  that each moment is full of something substantial. It's molded me with the characteristics of who I am today. My misfortunes will allow me to be of service to others who may struggle in the same way as I have.  God may use me to give others hope, and in return I hope to give others the opportunity to know God.

I still find myself battling feelings of mistrust, unworthiness and feeling unlovable.  This is because we live in a fallen world, but through God's grace, love, wisdom, patience, strength and forgiveness, I trust and have faith I will endure whatever is placed in my path.
 
I would like to end my testimony with a recent experience I encountered a couple months ago.  It was a clearly defined message from God.  He wants nothing but the best for each of us.  This story was without a doubt, a turning point of my complete surrender to Him. 

~ It was a Saturday morning and I was sitting at Starbucks, finishing Step 4 - "We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." This was probably my hardest step to date, and I procrastinated completing it because it brought up a lot of skeletons and really forced me to take a good look at my life, and be completely honest with myself.  And even though, back in October I surrendered and recommitted my life to Christ, it didn't mean I was absolved of all the temptations of the world. Growth and change is difficult.  

The two and a half year relationship I was in, followed the prescription of the "Hollywood Formula" and I struggled tremendously in it. The biggest battle I found myself with was the living situation between the two of us.  He would sleep over about 3-4 times a week.  Each time he did, I would feel extreme guilt and this was creating mood swings and resentments toward him.  Eventually, I would find reasons to become angry and annoyed. I'm not sure when it occurred but eventually I realized my living situation was hindering my growth in Christ.  I was living a hypocritical lifestyle and if I was to become truly and faithfully obedient to God as I promised, I needed to end the living arrangement I was in.  

As I sat there, surrounded by strangers, tears began to fill my eyes and my heart felt broken. I text my 12 Step partner with the question, "Is it wrong to live together, share the same bed, even though we've made the decision not to have sex with one another?"  Before she could even reply to my text, I came upon the below passage in my workbook as the end of Step 4:


In Psalm 119:29, the writer pleads with God: “Keep me from lying to myself.”  If we never stop to observe and take note of our patterns from the past, and our defective and deficient ways of coping with the present, we cosign ourselves by default to another day of self-deception.  The inventory, when complied with honesty and diligence, is the beginning of facing the truth about our needs to grow in character and maturity.

I quickly turned my bible to the passage and continued reading the verse ~


Psalm 119:25-40


Daleth

25 I lie in the dust;
    revive me by your word.
26 I told you my plans, and you answered.
    Now teach me your decrees.
27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments,
    and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
28 I weep with sorrow;
    encourage me by your word.
29 Keep me from lying to myself;
    give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.

30 I have chosen to be faithful;
    I have determined to live by your regulations.
31 I cling to your laws.
    Lord, don’t let me be put to shame!
32 I will pursue your commands,
    for you expand my understanding.

He

33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
    I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
    I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
    for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
    rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
    and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
    made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
    for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
    Renew my life with your goodness.

At the same time,  I also had been "googling" questions like, "Is it wrong to live together before you are married according to God, even if you are not having sex." 

Immediately after reading the above verse, I came across the following site by RayFowler.org.  His message below was undeniably the Word of God, in conjunction with the Psalm verse I had just read.  His article read:

This is the third post in a series on living together before marriage. The first post presented statistics which demonstrate a high correlation between living together before marriage and undesirable outcomes. The second post presented various Scriptures which prohibit living together before marriage.
Many of the Bible verses in the second post assumed that couples who live together are also sexually involved. That is usually a fair assumption, but what about those rarer cases where a couple lives together but is not sexually active? Is it okay for a couple to live together if they don’t have sex? For example, how about the couple that moves in together for financial reasons but chooses to abstain from sex until marriage?
Well, I would applaud the decision to abstain sexually until marriage, but there are still good reasons not to live together before marriage. Let me share with you three.


  1. The first has to do with temptation. Let’s face it: living together, sharing a house, or sharing a bed is not the best way to fight temptation. If you are truly serious about saving sex for marriage, the last thing you should do is move in with the person whom you love and to whom you are sexually attracted. When you live together before marriage, you open yourself up for temptation.
  2. Secondly there is the matter of your testimony. The Bible says we should avoid even the appearance of evil. (Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22) How does your decision to live together affect those around you? What kind of an example does it set for younger people who are watching? How will people view your relationship who do not know about your commitment to abstain sexually? Our testimony affects how people view Christ and the church. Many have rejected Christianity because they do not see people living it out. Living together presents a poor testimony for Christ and his church.
  3. And thirdly there is the matter of trivialization. Living together trivializes marriage by taking away from the uniqueness of marriage. Living together pretends to be marriage, but it is not the same thing. It is really a mockery of marriage and therefore dishonors marriage. This goes against Hebrews 13:4 which says: “Let marriage be honored by all.” I think it’s sad when a couple who lives together and finally gets married says, “It’s not that different.” They have lost out on part of the joy and uniqueness of the marriage relationship which God intended for them.
After reading these posts, someone might ask, "What if we already lived together before marriage?"  Is it too late for us? Is there anything we can do to make it right?” That will be the subject of the next and final post in the series.

The day I came across these verses, read this article and completed Step 4 was when I knew I would not walk this journey alone.  God would be with me - ALWAYS. This was a true testament of God's power and how He speaks to us when we cry out for clarity and wisdom. 

These are what I call "God's Little Miracles." If I allow Him , He will direct me in the path He has chosen for me He will provide the "authentic" love I look for in my partner, but I must commit to do his work and take daily steps of faith.

Each day I begin my day with surrendering to God because I will struggle with issues of insecurity, pride, fear, co-dependency, and many more, but with God as the focal point in my life, with my desire to become like Christ and allowing the Holy Spirit to fill me with the goodness of all of God's gifts and blessings, I stand firm in my willingness to serve Him, according to His will, not mine.  My journey in this life, prepares me for my eternal life in His Kingdom. 

What about you?  Do you believe that no matter what is placed in your path, with Jesus Christ in your life you will never be alone?  He loves you no matter what your past looks like, it does not define you. If you want a life filled with unconditional love, grace, forgiveness and the blessings God has in store for you, all you have to do is believe it and receive it.  If you want this then say this prayer:

"Dear Jesus, I am a sinner.  Please forgive me for all I have done.  I ask that you come into my life and help me live according to your ways.  Lord, because of your grace, and the faith I have in who you are and what you did for me, I ask that this day forward you guide me to live according to your truth. I pray this in your name, Amen." 

My Road to Recovery Leads to My Testimony ♥  Tyza

 


3 comments:

  1. WOW! Powerful. I've watched this amazing journey of Love back to Christ. I remember sitting on a bench with you some 5 years ago now (maybe) and us both saying ... there must be more. This can't be how our lives are to be... there is too much confusion. It's the moment you and I bonded - that summer night. I smile. I look back with such thankfulness that God put you in my life. He knew what He was doing. It has been an honor to be your sister in Christ and to seek wisdom through His word with you. I am so happy you shared your story because it gives people hope when life is filled with such despair. As we know, it won't be perfect in a post fallen world, but there is hope and sunshine doing life with people like you... I love you T-Roo.

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  2. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2COR5:17 NIV)

    Your courage, strength, wisdom, convictions, passion and love of Christ, are an exemplar to all. Wow Tyza..... I'm without words. Wow. What an honor it is for me, as your brother in Christ, to call you a friend. Big hugs Tyza...!!!

    In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (MATT5:16 NIV)

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  3. I adore you. I am so proud of you. I will be praying for you.
    So awesome to share personal testimony Ty! I KNOW you will be helping many!
    xoxoxoxo

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