The pain and shame of it all, the hurt it caused everyone I loved, somehow it made the drinking worse. If loving my children or my husband or my God could have made me stop, I would have. It was, for me, a relationship that I could not untangle from my heart. I couldn’t make sense of it. No one could. And so I came for treatment to Shalom.
Had I missed this struggle, I believe I might have missed one of God’s most tender mercies to me. I’ve learned that the cross really did bear all the weight I put on it. That I really couldn’t outrun His Love. I couldn’t even out-drink it. It really is all of grace. Somehow the pain and hopelessness of my addiction drove me straight to the heart of my Redeemer, where today I drink deeply from the depths of His Love, His relentless pursuit, His extravagant grace. He pours Himself into all my brokenness, quenches my thirsty soul, quiets all the noise. He is teaching me to live loved – and to respond by loving. I’m learning that underneath every woman’s distress (protest, demands, striving, running, rebellion) is some ache, some core question/ fear/desire that needs an answer. I’m learning that the ones of us who can’t get those answers tend to feel very misunderstood and alone and flawed—a judgment so painful that we need to numb it. We might grasp at something for salvation. Sometimes we try-harder-to-do-better. When that fails us, we might rebel or give up. Most of the time, we whiplash back and forth between the two extremes. On the outside, we try and try, but the trying can’t save us so we collapse into hopelessness, numbness. On the inside we feel unheard, dismissed, invalidated, and resigned. We don’t know if we matter, if we’re safe, beautiful, heard, valued, or why we’re even here. No one can understand or give us the answers we are desperate for. But there is Someone Who can. And we can find, even through the pain of addiction, that Jesus Christ is the answer. Only He can give rest to our clamoring souls. The gospel is our hope. It is our salvation. But I’m not just talking about “getting saved.” Not less that that…but so much more! The gospel of Christ is our very power for living, breathing, hoping. Yes, we are so bad He had to die for us…and…we are so loved He wanted to. Both. At the same time. For me. He loves me like that! And this life is not about my performing and measuring up. And it’s not even about my failures and shortcomings. There is a third option. Christ Jesus really became my sin so I can become the righteousness of God in Him. (II Cor 5:21) It’s not about turning from the bad I do to the good I try to do…it’s about turning from the bad and the good I think I can do to Jesus–living in Him, walking in His ways, loving with His Love. I’m not talking about restraining behavior and desires…I’m talking about being transformed from the inside out, because our desires are met in Him. When we know that Christ came to reconcile us to God and each other, we can start to take risks. It might look like asking for our husbands to hold us when we need them, or accepting if they can’t, because we know Whose Arms we’re in. Sometimes, it means letting go of relationships that are not good for us. The thing is, that when the truth of God’s Love for us becomes real to our hearts, it gets easier to process the destructive relationship patterns and habits that have been holding us captive. We get new understanding and perspective. Because our hearts see that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has set His Love on me and says: ‘See that girl right there, I’m gonna’ make her mine…and love her…and never let her go. She is precious to me.’
It is a humble privilege that I get to serve at Shalom as a teacher and counselor today. And it is my heart to offer an invitation to anyone who struggles. If you are a wife, mother, nurse, teacher, minister, or businesswoman (we are the strivers who tend to go to comfort and relief to take the edge off of always trying to meet the standard – or need a little pick-me-up to keep us going)…or you might be a dancer, escort, prisoner, abused or homeless woman (we are the outcasts who tend to seek numbness from shame and hopelessness – anything to help us make it through the day,) this gospel is for you. This Jesus, He came for you. If you feel alone or confused and just need to walk awhile together, to make some sense of it all, you can find the answer that your aching heart needs. His name is Jesus. Come and drink from the fountain of grace…taste and see that the King is good…and that He is “enthralled with your beauty.” (Ps. 45:11) –Jeanette Baylor