As I was pondering the recent Little Wife story about how she tried to quit drinking as a new year resolution, I remembered my own problems with substances in the past. We don’t like to think about those times, do we? It feels shameful and a betrayal of the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit that Christ has deposited in my soul. And yet, we would do our souls good to stop and consider what substances have filled us, sustained us, deceived us, tricked us, ruined us, given us strength for another day or just numbed the pain of this day.
I started smoking cigarettes at the age of 14. It was my first substance problem and continued for nearly twenty years. I’m not saying that smoking cigarettes is a sin necessarily, but for me it was a crutch and a very unhealthy, dangerous crutch to say the least. I’m so thankful that Lord took away that substantial craving in 1992 and never let me go back there again.
In high school I started drinking heavily every weekend. Alcohol is a substance that has a generational history in our family. It is a genetic addiction I believe. I would quit drinking for awhile, sometimes not a taste for years and then suddenly find myself pouring and pouring and pouring. I’m not proud of that. For our family, there seems to be a weakness for it and many of us have found solace in the bottle. Country music and beer and whiskey and Old Hank songs just all go together. My own mother died in 2007 from liver/kidney failure as a result of alcoholism. I’m so thankful that I have been sober since 2014. Thank you Jesus.
College was a crazy time! The substances really started to change in the late 70’s. Even though I was a good student at a cold northern Minnesota college, most of my friends were actually from the Chicagoland area, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and even Hawaii. They brought their substances with them to college and we were all happy to try them out – pot from Molokai, LSD from Cali, pills and even cocaine from the streets of Chicago all found their ways into our relatively isolated college life. Terrible substances to discover. Even more terrible to try and escape from. I could never afford to buy any of those substances, so it was not a real problem for me. But my first husband definitely had a cocaine problem as did several of my friends. I can’t even number how many people I’ve known who overdosed on heroin, either accidentally or on purpose.
So what I really want to say about substances is this: I get it. I really understand why women who are in an abusive marriage will self-medicate just to get through it. Sometimes I can smell alcohol on women who I counsel or those who come to our in-person support groups. Some women just come right and tell me that they have this problem with substances. I want them to know, I get it.
But I also want to say this: God will help you to find a better substance.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
I would challenge anyone who struggles today with substance abuse to consider a new substance: Faith. Believe in the power of God to help you. Trust Him to set you free. There is such a freedom in Christ Jesus. There is such a joy in being delivered out of whatever is holding you captive. The chains will truly fall to the ground, in the name of Jesus. The strongholds seem impossible from where you are right now, but please believe me that nothing is impossible with our great loving God. Please reach out for help. Our ministry would be glad to provide resources and referrals if that’s what you need. There are support groups in our area for overcoming addictions as well as support groups for people who are married to addicts and alcoholics.
Please take that first step of faith today to move closer to sobriety and freedom. The Lord will walk with you, and so will we at FOCUS Ministries. God bless you.
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