In whatever business you are in, you want feedback, whether it is good or bad, it helps ensure you are delivering something that is of value to those you serve. I passed out some cards last Monday night at our ATB 12 step meeting to get some of that feedback, and here is a sampling of what they said. There were no negative comments, and any reference to me has been edited out.
I think you guys are doing a great thing. I pray that God will continue to create space & opportunity for you and people like you to grow and expand, reaching out and saving lives. God bless - Anonymous
I have always found the light to shimmer just a little more brighter with your words of wisdom. Anonymous
I think this program is wonderful so far. It's how I'm making a change from being a low life embarrassment to the man I'm supposed to be. The meetings keep us busy. Anonymous
Thank you very much! I attend this meeting every week because I have to have this meeting. I always leave feeling much better than before I got here. Keep doing it, it works. Anonymous
Across The Bridge has provided a safe place for me to network and allow God to transform my life for the good forever. Paul D.
Across The Bridge has provided the most inspiring meetings I have ever been to. I appreciate everything you have done for me. I'm grateful for being able to come to these meetings and I will continue to do so. Ashley B.
I absolutely love your meetings. You make them fun and easy for us to relate and learn. You guys are very comforting and easy to talk to. I also love the worksheets and how you break everything down. Erin S.
I think what Across the Bridge does for the people at my sober living community is amazing. ATB has left an everlasting imprint on my life. I'm grateful that they have been a part of my journey in recovery. Hailey M.
One of the best meetings I have ever been to. You are great! Anonymous
Across the Bridge is a truly blessed place. Everything is available from AA to CA as well as spiritual motivation speakers on Friday Nights. Also co-dependency meetings. Always learn something and enjoy myself as well. Anonymous
I love the scripture lessons that reference God's word & how my recovery links to it weekly. Cassandra T.
I love the meetings at Across The Bridge, you have amazing leaders with a good message that provokes thoughtful conversation. Anonymous
I think it is an amazing thing Across The Bridge is doing. I speak for myself when I say you have made an impact in my life. Jessica D.
There were many other great comments that we had no room to post that emphasize what we are trying to do - make a connection spiritually and emotionally that lasts through sobriety. So far so good! Glenn Y.
You have to admire those we read about in the Bible who have conquered their struggles and have become such inspirational stories to us- men and women who have endured tragedy and turned it into triumph through faith. But there are those of faith today who inspire us as well, and to me there is one man in particular who inspires me - Jentezen Franklin.
Having been at his Free Chapel Church in Gainesville, Ga several years ago, I saw first hand the great work they are doing including a wonderful women's recovery residence, but what got me paying more attention to his story was when he shared openly about the struggles in his marriage and family. The transparency was awesome, and then in a 12 Step meeting, I ran into his former neighbor who grew up with him, and praised his integrity, and at that moment I knew God was telling me to follow this man's journey.
He wrote a book about it called Love Like You Have Never Been Hurt, and I usually catch 3-4 of his sermons weekly, but this morning he was a guest on another show (which I've never watched until this morning) and shared something that hit home completely with me. He spoke about the greatest sermons he preached came out of the greatest tragedy he had faced, and he also emphasized that most folks do not realize how much God lays on people who preach or teach in His name.
As I spoke about last week in some of our groups, God leads me to experience what I am about to talk about, sometimes after I choose a topic, though I have never experienced it before. Happened twice in the past several weeks, once when I spoke about defects and had a day full of chiseling away at how bad I used to be and how far I still have to go. It was as if He wanted me to understand the pain of those I was about to speak to.
When we see people like Dusty at Campus, Don at North Atlanta, Darryl at Life Church, Trey at GLR, Jentezen, and all the other wonderful men and women who speak in Jesus' name, think about the price they may have had to pay to put a message like that together from the experience they may have had to face. Every message may not be like that, but many are, and though we feel like those words were meant for us, they may have come from a great place of their own personal struggles.
The Struggle is real, the pain translates to triumph in multiple ways. We read about it, but we live it large and in living color today. Many thanks to those who come from a place of transparency- we feel your pain!
Thoroughly enjoyed doing the group last night at Real Talk Recovery, folks were outstanding in their comments and in support of each other. To me, through the thousands of meetings we have done, this was one of the best.
It was titled from "Flaws To Flaw-Less" and in effect was all about a word with an awesome and appropriate definition:Metamorphosis. But the success of that meeting was forged in the hours before in the preparation when God, as he usually does, led me to deal with many of my own personal flaws, some of which had been resolved, and others that still remain. It was an eye opener to say the least, reminding me how far I had come, but that I still had a long way to go.
First the definition of that word: a change in the form or the nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means. And may I add from the promises of A.A.: sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly!
The Butterfly is the perfect example of what a recovering person has to go through as is the Apostle Peter (more on him later). There are 4 stages in the process of Metamorphosis for a Butterfly to emerge: 1. Egg - in its perfect state placed on a leaf to hatch. 2. Larva - it hatches, becomes a caterpillar and virtually becomes a total consumer of whatever in can consume including the leaf it was born on. Similar to what an addict will do, consume people, places and things without any thought of hesitation.
3. Then comes the Pupa or Cocoon stage when it is sheltered into a space where virtually everything about it changes, losing tissue, limbs and organs and transforms into a perspective butterfly under construction. You can see the similarity to a recovering person who needs the shelter of the process in order to be re-constructed and to eliminate many flaws that we used to survive.
4. Then comes that wonderful moment, when the Butterfly emerges in all of it's splendor from that cocoon, but there is still one step to go before it flies away. It's wings are stuck to it from being confined, and it needs to get the blood pumping toward those wings to fly.
Peter, having proven himself as an impetuous, overreactive, stubborn, and cowardly liar (not pulling any punches here), needed something more than spending three years with Jesus to get him going in the right direction - so he found himself in that cocoon, in the upper room with all of his like minded folks, and they all got a dose of God's Holy Spirit which completely changed their lives.
God pumped his blood into them, into Peter to set him free to fly, then he went out to preach the greatest sermon not by Jesus, and his Metamorphosis was complete. He went from a man with many flaws, to a man with many less flaws.
We have that same option if we are willing to let the process work!
Sometimes the cliches we hear over and over again get to a point of frustration within us, to the extent that we are ready to explode if we hear another one. Our emotions are boiling over possibly with worry, anxiety, grief, sadness, and any other assorted varieties of feelings and somebody near us utters one......like, "just pray about it"!
And after many nights of doing just that, we look at them and say, "Are you kidding me?" because they dared to insult our intelligence as if we hadn't thought of that (at this point anything sets us off)! Then, one of our trusted friends at a 12 step Meeting hears our plight, one in which we thought Armageddon was about to occur, and they say, just take it One Day At A Time, and they just fired off the fatal round in that chamber of the weapon we were playing Russian Roulette with! Instead of calming us down, we just went of the deep end.
Happy to say I didn't do that this week when facing my own trials of similarity. Looked like a desperation situation on several fronts, none of which I could control because I had exhausted all possible avenues on my own. I had definitely prayed about it, for sure had taken my version of One Day At A Time, but I had forgotten that God was getting ready to answer every one of those prayers in a different time schedule than my own.
Monday - one answered, Tuesday - another two answered, Wednesday - the biggest one answered, and I reflected back on my prayers Friday night with Jeff Lyle of New Bridge Church, and the prophetic words of Darryll on Monday night, that God would fill the storehouse - and I realized that God's one day at a time, is so much different than ours, and requires complete trust and belief on our part that he has the answers, not us.
And, not when it is our timing, but always on his because it usually proves a point to us.He understands what we need and when we need it; we think we do but we don't. Sure, we play some part in this, but our part is to be, and to put into practice what he trains us to do, be spiritually fit to run a race with many obstacles in it. To run toward him, not away from him, when the going gets tough.
Instead of a pill, I took a dose of the 23rd Psalm on Monday and did something similar that the prophet told Naaman to do (what Jeff preached about Friday), what God told me to do, read it three times and be healed. So I did, and it did it again on Tuesday, and did it again on Wednesday - and it calmed me down so that I could listen and watch for the answers. And they came......One day At A Time!
Guess what I'm doing today?
One of the most difficult things about addiction recovery is dealing with all the emotions that pop-up when you first try to get sober. Because we have usually escaped from facing them, because we were so high we couldn't feel anything except that moment of numbness, or because we were always in pure denial, we had no real experience handling our emotions.
Then along comes no escape route, nowhere to hide them, and we feel dazed and confused. When you think of it, going through a divorce or the death of a loved one is similar in that it is an overwhelming feeling of sadness, bewilderment, and grief because we lost something that had been very close to us - yes, our addiction can become our best friend.
How do we harness these feelings that seem like a tsunami has overtaken us? We can talk about prayer, about preparing for something like this with everyday faith, but when it happens, it can overcome walls of strength and penetrate the heart and soul of even the greatest believer (r: Job, David & Paul in the Bible).
So, imagine if you are a non-believing addict dealing with this, what are your options when if you are 28, your emotions make you feel like you are 15? Your options are to draw strength from your mates in a meeting or a recovery facility, go step by step, day by day until one day you open your eyes to the possibility of a higher power that may be out there. You begin to explore who he is, and along comes someone who shares a message of hope, love, forgiveness, and power greater than yours - and the light bulbs begin to turn on, and you hit your knees to finally pray.
Imagine that is what a Trey, a Darryl, an Alicia, a Sonia, a Barry, a Randy or a Stephanie, a Gina, a Bob, or any of the other volunteers we serve with do. We are here to be that person, at that time who helps connect the dots to the electricity of the Spirit of a God who can heal and help deal with those emotions.
The Emotion Commotion is calmed by the calming, healing power of the one who came to save us, and his name is Jesus. It may take us awhile to get there, to that point of surrendering what we cannot do ourselves, but when it comes, it lasts a lifetime, and once the tsunami has subsided, we realize He is what pulled us through.
We are a rescue boat searching on His behalf for survivors who want to find a way to be saved - and we are relentless about searching for them!
Where do you get your courage to face the battles of everyday life? Seemed so easy when I was a kid, Mom would tell me a story and encourage me to follow my dreams. And then when I would come home broken hearted, tail between my legs in another failure, she would make me one of her amazing Italian dishes, encourage me and send me back out to try again.
Then along came teenage dating and falling in love, sports injuries, grades failing, lack of money - it all added up to finding courage elsewhere. First a gang, stealing cars then underage drinking, then too early sex and on and on until the battlefields in the jungles of Viet Nam as a Marine.
Courage came from multiple sources of patriotism, alcohol and drug induced, and from the desire to overcome being not enough. That last one, not enough, propelled me into a performance driven life that required the fuel of addiction to keep it going, long after the patriotism wore off from disappointment in a very foolish war.
When it got really bad, when I hit rock bottom, I began to read the Bible for the very first time in my early 30s. First Proverbs, then the Psalms where I saw a man share his feelings in public, wrote Psalm after Psalm about his struggles. I found where he found his courage, and it wasn't in that bottle I was now in.
Lots of I's in this blog, but it was I that was preventing me from have the courage to face the battles that I was now running from. Not an upbringing fault, not a government fault, not another person fault; it was an I fault, but the man who wrote those Psalms used many I's as well, because his failures led him to surround that lone letter with two more, an H and an M - HiM!
And when he found HiM, he found that courage to be the man he was intended to be; he found the Courage to be In Battle, Not In The Bottle of fear and insecurity he was loathing in.
No mystery in my mind anymore; I may be not enough, but He is more than enough!
For so many people who ring that bell these two words are the best two they could ever hear - Cancer Free! After a tremendous emotional, physical and spiritual struggle, there is great relief and much joy.
Last week, our own Willie Mae Bush heard these words and those of us who have prayed with and for her and watched her struggle are dancing with joy as well for this lovely woman who has literally been through hell in her life. But what about the other folks who never hear those words, does God love them any less? Are their prayers, and the prayers of their friends and families not working? Is he listening?
I certainly don't have all the answers, but if I look at the life of Jesus, and follow the subsequent journey of others in the Bible, I see something that may be a clue. Not everyone was healed, not everyone had a wonderfully happy and disease free life and just ascended into heaven. There are factors that make no logical sense but in God's eyes they have a divine purpose and make perfect sense.
As an example, maybe your father, mother or spouse gets Cancer, and possibly at far too young an age. And, they do not become cancer free, but you have been praying day and night for their healing. First, if they pass away, and they are believers, their destination is far greater, and much happier than that of this world, and maybe this is actually the very best thing for them. But for us it is heartbreak and severe loss.
Think about how much closer to God those prayers brought you before you get mad at Him. I remember that long 5 hour journey from Daphne, Alabama to Atlanta after my son Paul was killed in a motorcycle accident. In that time God and I became as close as we ever have and the answers he gave me were not the ones that comforted my human spirit because I was devastated and virtually at a loss for any measure of encouragement.
But what happened has helped shape my life since then and bound my own family closer together. God comforted my soul, he let me know Paul was with him, he assured me things would work out if I just took the time to grieve. And then he laid on my heart that I would come back to Atlanta and in honoring Him and Paul, I would be reaching out to other young people to help save their lives.
We could talk about this forever, but here is what I know. God takes everything we see as heartbreaking, as devastating and sad, and turns it into a rainbow if we just look for it. And beyond that rainbow is someone who is Cancer Free, they are just in a different, and more pleasant destination.
And for us, the grieving loved ones, and the ones who survive cancer? We dance with joy for the life we have left, looking forward to that day when we too, will be on the other side of that beautiful rainbow!
I love hanging around grateful people, people who appreciate the little things, that can see something positive even in the most ridiculous things. And I love this statement from the Life Recovery Bible, Gratitude Makes Things Right!
Ponder on that for a moment. And after consideration it makes an awful lot of sense. If we can live our life counting the many blessings that are way ahead of the trials and tribulations we struggle with, we will automatically realize we are truly blessed. Try the 23rd Psalm as an example.
Blessing after blessing rolls out in each powerful sentence of that Psalm with one key element. If the Lord is our shepherd we will be given what we need under any and all circumstances. If he is not, we will always be searching for more, more and more, because we are following a path with no guidance or direction and little fulfillment.
There is no predictable outcome when we embark on our journey of self will except that we are rolling a set of loaded dice. Gratitude only comes when we appreciate the sacrifice Jesus made for us, our parents made for us, and our spouses and friends that we have harmed made for us, but still love us despite our incredible flaws.
Gratitude Makes Things Right because we realize that we have been given gifts we had previously overlooked because we were too involved in self absorption. Be grateful, be thankful that our God has such a tender and forgiving heart, you can't help but be grateful for that!
I used to be one of those lost sheep, so I can tell you firsthand how grateful I am that the Good Shepherd came and found me! Gratitude does make things right.
There is no doubt that we can shake our heads in disbelief at many things in life, but nowhere is it more evident than in our world of addiction. But then again, in the three years of Jesus ministry there were some very Cunning & Baffling events that rocked the status quo!
This week there were two instances that fell into that first category, one bad, one good. In a meeting we do at a Sober Living facility, a man was visiting his girlfriend in that rehab, who had been in a nearly fatal car accident. He mentioned during the meeting (yes, visitors do come), of his love and support for her, but his words of his non-addictive lifestyle made little sense to most of us there. We knew something wasn't right.
A few hours later, an ambulance whisked the woman away, non-responsive after an overdose by a drug this same guy did with her. Strange way to show love, contradictory to his words just spoken earlier, definitely Cunning & Baffling. What's worse, no one could find our what happened to her ultimately and where she was. We just don't know.
Last night in another meeting at a sober living facility, I handed a 1 year sober chip to a former gang member who had a long conversation with me several months ago about his frustrations and anger. We offer them to speak after achieving this milestone, and he delivered one of the best 5 minute recovery stories I have ever heard. Most didn't think he would make it; but he not only did he make it, he is now giving back. Cunning & Baffling? You bet.
But there is a precedent. Jesus turned away a rich religious man who had followed all the rules because he wasn't ready to surrender, healed a violent crazy man running around a cemetery who had had enough and fell at Jesus feet, never spent much time with those who thought they knew it all, (who turned out to be the ones who crucified him), yet healed demon possessed people, some of whom never asked for it, disfigured lepers and outcasts who no religious folk would even speak to, then congregated often with despicable sinners. Nobody then could figure it out.
Jesus was never cunning which achieves an end by deceit, but his baffling ways caused those against him to attempt cunning methods to trick him. Never did he fail, but because others got frustrated with him they took him down, or so they thought.He bounced back from their condemning overdose.
God takes the ones who never thought they could make it and turns them into the ones who spread his message of hope and salvation. And, the ones who choose to live by Cunning & Baffling methods who think they have it all made?
Let's just say they have a special room reserved in a very hot climate!
I asked my daughter who runs Family Promise of Brevard in Florida one day, Tara do you wake up thinking about money? This came shortly after we filed as a 501(c)3 for Across The Bridge, and her answer (she has a great husband and 3 beautiful kids as well), was YES!
The reason is we believe in what we are doing so passionately but can not always translate that passion to others to compel them to give. Churches are churches, people give because they know their money is in good hands, and they are blessed for their giving. Organizations like United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat For Humanity are all proven commodities, but they have all struggled for support at times.
In Tara's case, she took over a floundering program that helped homeless people, and not many folks were interested in that project, nor in their location. When I first visited a few years ago, they were low key and beginning to make a comeback under her leadership and beautiful heart to serve. Now, they are thriving, have doubled in size, and are creating homeowners out of previously homeless people.
But it took Tara an enormous amount of time and effort to raise money and partners. She would post things so often that you almost had to give because she was relentless. Why? Because, in reality, most folks look at homeless people as losers, people who have turned their back on responsibility, rather than people who just need help getting their lives back together. Their circumstances may be self induced or not, but they are still people in need of other people to help them get back on track. But every day, there was Tara pounding the proverbial pavement for contributions.
At Across The Bridge, our folks are similar, people in addiction and life changing circumstances, who are or have been homeless, most created by their own decisions. My job is to help them get back on track through our organization and to treat them the way the Lord instructs us to do. Not to judge their circumstances, but to provide spiritual and emotional guidance through our program of meetings, teaching, connection and coaching, and it is working!
It is hard for me to ask you to donate, and to keep pounding that pavement, but you are the ones who provide us that fuel to succeed with people most have turned their back on. We are not dressed up and pretty. we are those front line people who roll up their sleeves and get on the level of our folks to understand how we can help and not enable.
We always need your financial support every day, and we are led by a great Board of Directors, kept on a great financial path by an experienced treasurer, a fantastic CPA (2nd quarter report coming soon), and remain open to the public about what we do and that is to help restore broken lives.
Me, I am that guy who has to be Tara, that passionate person who believes in what they are doing so much that they put it all on the line, they are absolutely relentless in their faith in what they believe in, and they keep asking you to support them to do so. I beg you not to get tired of our asking; we just want to end addiction and homelessness.
Please pray about giving to us, and if you are so compelled, donate at acrossthebridgeinc.com or mail us a check at 900 Cripple Creek Drive, Suite A, Lawrenceville Ga 30043. Or if you can volunteer or wish to see up close and personal our facility and ask me more about what we do, call me at 404-915-7376.
Thank You and enjoy his blessings! Glenn
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.