No, this is not a blog about Facebook, but it could apply to it. Those initials could also apply to your Favorite Boy, Favorite Book, Faith Based, Fresh Bread or Favorite Brave (as in Atlanta Brave). Alas, it is none of those.
Instead it is about Frustration & Boredom a double dose of addiction relapse triggers. So I will take them on briefly one at a time. Frustration can turn into resentment and anger very quickly or we can turn it into as asset of growth. Here are two examples:
Today while talking to a friend in recovery who has been in virtual isolation with elderly family for the past year due to COVID restrictions etc. she mentioned an incident where frustration with her relatives narcissism led her to wanting to virtually strangle her (I know you've been there), then she went into her room, briefly thought of using but instead poured out her frustration to God in prayer. It worked, happily no strangulation.
But despite Jesus instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness to pray. Luke 5:15-16 NLT
One textbook example of how to handle frustration from a recovering addict that followed the example of the one who may have experienced frustration himself that some may have come for the miracle but not the message. That may be exactly why relapse occurs, we skip the prayer step because we have missed the message.
Then there is Boredom, and for that I will quote words from an old A'A. buddy, "When we are in our own mind, we are behind enemy lines." The obvious key to winning any battle is to stay out of a danger zone. Thus allowing ourselves to do positive activity prevents boredom plus gathering with like minded folks (meetings, church and good recreational activities with friends) allows us little time to be bored.
And then quoting the words of Jesus again, which are doubled up in Step 12, "Go ye therefore....", in other words go help somebody else, go tell them the good news, go teach them what you have learned, go ye and give back what you have been freely given. Get out of our own mind where boredom breeds discontent & causes relapse.
What do the words of Jesus and AA have in common? They are both healers, all it requires is your Faith to Believe!
While calling on extended stays and convenience stores to let them know about our Under The Bridge event this weekend, I asked one store manager if they had any homeless folks come in to buy food etc. Her response was "We try to keep them out of here".
Not telling you what I wanted to say, but I did ask if she had ever been homeless? I asked that question to our Monday Night Raw group last night and half the room raised their hands. If you haven't been there you may not have the empathy to understand their plight. But Jesus did.
Sure, some choose to stay that way, they feel like outcasts and become rebellious toward any kind of structure. Others are addicted and lost. Still others have been forced out for a variety of reasons and are looking for help. Lets see how Jesus looked at all of these situations.
For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick or in prison and you did not look after me. Matthew 25:42-43
And then added "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me". I don't believe he is saying we should all run out and find these folks, rather, when we find them do help them as if it were for him. God pointed me and ATB toward these folks through a series of events and his Spirit has not let up inside me to help.
For others, helping these people may be outside their comfort zone, but I don't read in those words any qualifications as to who should help. It truly says helping them is helping Him. Yes, it can be messy and uncomfortable, but it can also be the most wonderful thing we ever did. And we do it for Him.
May we always ask ourselves is Jesus welcome here, and are His people, which are those people, welcome too? If so ask another question so popular on that wristband, WWJD, What Would Jesus Do?
Then ask ourselves one more question, what will I do?
Lots of excitement here in the ATL for our sports teams, the Hawks are over achieving in the NBA playoffs and the Braves are back in town. May even take my grandson to a Gwinnett Stripers game tonight because the hot dogs are $2 on family value night.
That phrase is a song that is sung at baseball games often, "Take me out to the ballgame...buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks..."! An old tradition that seems to be fading away in the light of modern technology. Things always change but it is always good to participate in anything that promotes a family value.
So true in our addiction community. we have all sizes, shapes and forms of people, some who are so willing to get clean and sober that they will go to any length to do so, and others who are not sure what's up or are just plain here for a momentary pause. Doesn't matter, they are all in the ballgame of recovery and always considered family.
Sounds a lot like what happens when we give our lives to Christ, we are adopted into God's family. Someone once said heaven will look a lot like Walmart, and of course there are some crazy shoppers, as well as some just looking for a good deal. Most importantly they are all shoppers for value as spectators are also looking for those $2 hot dogs.
There is a point here somewhere, and I believe it is this, doesn't matter how you come to Christ, broken or unbroken, wise or not so wise, staggering or standing, we are all wanting the same thing - a win! And the only way to win in this life is to take the unbeatable God on our journey and let him take us out to his ball game.
May his will be done! Go Hawks, chop on Braves! Go to Walmart and look around, then buy you some peanuts and crackerjacks, that is if they still sell them. Just remember one thing will never change, heaven will always be there and always a win for those who decide they want to go there.
And also think of the words in that song, "Oh it's one, two, three strikes and you're out at the old ball game"! Don't delay, God is waiting for your attendance, go to any lengths to be there!
Fire symbolizes the guiding presence of God among the people. God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush (Exodus 3:2). Fire portrayed God's power, holiness, and protection over his people. The word fire appears 510 times in the KJV version of the Bible, and it appeared when the Apostles needed to be fired up for their faith:
"Then what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each one of them" Acts 2:3
Last night at our Monday Night Raw meeting we handed out one year and six year chips, and one of the men receiving the 6 year talked about how Jesus had changed his life. Then many comments followed where folks talked about a deep healing they received from either a faith decision or a process of working the 12 Steps. When I left after the meeting I knew that the fire of God had settled on me as a result of His presence in others. And I wasn't even supposed to be leading that meeting.
Often we get complacent in our faith walk, misdirected by the cares and troubles of this world, as well as the multitude of duties of daily life. Things become redundant. We need to have a change of focus and purpose when life beats us down and look back to the original excitement of our faith change. God knows this and sends his Fresh Fire on us in a variety of ways as chronicled in His word.
While we may feel that fire in ministering to others, he often uses the dramatic life changes of others to light the spark within us to realize that spreading the word is all he asks of us and then His Spirit takes over to light the fire in others. When I looked around last night I was encouraged, I was lit with an inexplicable joy to see how he has worked in those that we may have impacted.
And then God brought home the point. Virtually all His greatest warriors were reluctant to serve, David being an exception. They all needed to be lit up with the power of the Lord before they were effective in spreading the Good News. All we can ask is that our sometime reluctance to lead or serve can be fueled into action by that same Fresh Fire.
Bring it on Lord!
Having lost a son to death, I understand the grief a parent has in losing a child. Having lost my parents, best friend and a daughter-in-law I understand that pain. And, having lost friends in Viet Nam, still another part of death is all to familiar to me.
Then, when the tragic van accident happened and we lost Normi yet another aspect of death struck home, the loss of someone who made a huge difference in so many other lives. She was a friend to friends, an inspiration to strangers and a constant volunteer to help others. Despite struggling with her own identity she helped others find a light of hope and offered support with her words and actions that were so authentic, right from her beautiful heart.
She and I had many conversations, my favorite one being about her faith decision to be baptized. Little did I know at the time that we provided her a pathway to heaven that would solve that identity crisis, but would also leave such a huge void in our recovery community. If you come into an ATB meeting on any day, you will still see her favorite chair reserved for her, and her pictures hanging on our tree for all seasons.
When she passed there was a tremendous outpouring of loss in our community for her, one that if she were present would have overwhelmed her with love that she felt was sometimes missing in her life. She would have been thrilled that so many loved her for being Just Normi.
Now she knows, and now her life really counts for something way beyond what she would have ever imagined. And I promise you she is volunteering for something in heaven, bugging God much like she always bugged me to serve. In fact I will bet that she becomes his forever Recovery Angel.
Farewell Normi, that empty chair can never fill your void, but it reminds us of the void you helped fill for so many others!
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.