So Family Rehab has concluded and summer reflection time begins. Earlier this week, I posted about Step 1 of Life After Rehab, drawing from seven steps I found on a drug rehab site. The steps are written to help addicts as they transition from a time of intentional learning back to real life. If you didn’t happen to read about Step 1, please take the time to check it out, as the thoughts after each of the seven steps support all of them.
Before diving into Step 2, I have to take a moment to mention how thankful I am for this thinking and processing time. God has been overwhelming me this summer with His provision of time and space to think and write. I feel like I would be “hiding it under a bushel-oh, no!” not to mention the way God has been caring for my heart in a very personal way during this time. From anonymous donors who have made babysitting possible, to my mom who has given up her week to come and help me while I work from bed with a thrown out back, I have been inundated with blessing. I hesitate to even write publicly about His provision, because I don’t want others to compare and feel bad about their current situation. (I say this, because that’s exactly what I have done and would do…) But the amazing thing is that the same God who has been so generous with me is the same God of everyone who is reading this. His love for everyone else is just as deep as it is for me. His generosity and provision no less for anyone else. I know that at another time, in another season, I will read someone else’s blog and feel jealousy well up within me because their life seems so blessed. I can hear my own, “Well aren’t you lucky…” sassiness in my head. I’ve been there before and done that. Maybe the next time I will remember writing this and will eat my own words. Hopefully, I will just thank their God for being my God and for taking care of all of His children.
Okay…on with Life After Rehab…
Step 2: Evaluate the Neighborhood, and Move if Needed.
“For some people, the old neighborhood contains a plethora of reminders about substance use and abuse. They may be walking by their drug dealers on a daily basis, and the street corners, local bar fronts, and green parks might remind them of the times they spent getting drunk or getting high. These memories can be powerful triggers for addiction cravings, and they could be too much for people to resist. Other people may find that their homes are, similarly, unsafe. For example, a study in the journal Substance Use and Misuse found that female heroin users often lived with a current user or a former user. When rehab is over, these people might return to homes filled with drugs, and a relapse might quickly follow. Moving to a new neighborhood can push the reset button on cravings, providing the person with new vistas and new opportunities to explore. The neighborhood might be safer, with fewer available drugs, or it might just be different enough to push the old memories away. If the old neighborhood is unsafe or it’s too hard to live under the burden of memory, moving might be an apt choice” (http://www.michaelshouse.com).
HA! I laughed out loud when I read this step. This is NOT why we moved away from Buda! Nevertheless, I get the point and see how our move to Katy is further evidence that God was at work in our Family Rehab year. While we weren’t fleeing from unsafe people or places, we did find ourselves in “new vistas” and with “new opportunities to explore.” Honestly, we haven’t really done a lot of this work, so this step is still very applicable for our family. We don’t want to get swept up in the chaos of American dream setting and fast-paced living that we neglect the hearts of our children yet again. And the struggle to end up there again is even greater in a new place with the pressure to fit in to our surroundings. Before Family Rehab, the majority of our time was committed to people and places outside of our home (for us, as adults, as well as for the children). These commitments were all with good people and were for healthy reasons. But with every “yes” to other people we were saying “no” to focused time with our children. Having them home for school has dramatically changed the amount of hours we have alone with them. For this I am grateful and see the benefits of spending my days with them. Our conversations are not limited to the dinner table or at bedtime. This is one area where we dramatically changed our surroundings during Family Rehab. For life after Rehab, this might be a change in lifestyle that we choose again next year.
The fact that I don’t really know anyone yet here in Katy has helped me in not spreading my schedule too thin. But, I know the time will come when the temptation to over-commit will call. More concerning than over-committing time away from home, is the temptation to misuse the time I do have with the kids. Am I looking past them to the calendar for my next mommy-break? Am I easily frustrated that they just won’t go to bed because I am more concerned about sitting down and doing nothing than I am about discovering the state of their little hearts? Once our new house becomes our home, I am certain that these temptations will become a part of our new norm…honestly, they already have. But, it’s because of my weakness in giving in to these areas that we started our year of rehab in the first place. Moving to another house or city will not be an option when these selfish cravings pursue. I’m not sure what the right step will be, but I do know that likely God will ask me to do something that causes change and shakes things up a bit. I need to be open to that. I need to prepare myself now because that time will likely come and sacrifice will likely be asked of me. A life of faith-risks and ultimate trust is what is asked of me.
Perhaps what is worth noting from this step is exactly that–being willing to do the “crazy” thing for the purpose of sobriety—sober-mindedness (see previous post). Think for a minute how huge of a deal it would be to just pack up and pick up and move to another part of town, all for the purpose of getting away from temptation. That’s a pretty extreme step for the sake of healthy living. Especially if what you are tempted to do is widely accepted, joked about, and encouraged in our culture. But, if you consider doing it for your kids, that might become a different story.
Consider this: If your child was being bullied by a young neighbor down the street, or a predator was stalking your teenage daughter, relocating for the sake of their safety wouldn’t be that much of a stretch. So if the culture I am living in and submitting myself to encourages me to neglect and be disappointed in my children because they are “in the way”, then are my kids really safe with me—in my home? So what dramatic changes will I need to take if we find ourselves living in the neighborhood of busyness, impatience, fear, and neglect? I have to at least be willing to consider that changing something might be the right thing to do, not just for the children, but for all of us. If it upsets my comfort, is an inconvenience, or requires sacrifice, than I’ve got to remember that I am the only one who can be asked to take such drastic measures for my children. God has entrusted me and my spouse with them, called me to care for them and teach them, to facilitate their growth into little men and women of God. (Deuteronomy 6:7) I can’t get out of this one… (sigh). I can’t look to the Sunday School teacher or the swim coach to take over this responsibility. Am I willing? Will I be willing when even more is asked of me than just “Family Rehab?”
This is a really hard question to honestly consider.
Yep…that’s about as far as I let it sink in for me, too. It’s a hard question to consider until we are at the crossroads of the sacrifice and the decision to follow-through. My prayer is that for all of us, when we are asked to deny ourselves and pick up our crosses and follow Him, that we will find the courage to do so. I pray that God will give us all a clear enough picture of the destructive drugs we are being asked to run from that when sacrifice is required in the fleeing, there is no doubt that giving them up will be worth it.
We can incorrectly assume that life after rehab means all the hard work and incredible sacrifice is over. But it’s not. There will always be more opportunities to refine who we are and adjust our thinking and priorities. There will be new drugs, new temptations, and new addictions. The humbling thing is that God in His mercy provides joy in the midst of sacrifice. That joy is the overflow of a thankful heart that sees and recognizes the mercy and grace of the Father. The temptation to “just get through” the day instead of invest in those with whom you share the day, the drug-like highs of productivity, busyness, and stress that cause a back-lash of hurtful behavior towards the ones we love, the culture that lures us into lazy and slothful parenting—God lifts our heads above these things. He gives us hope to overcome these things, because He already has and He simply just cares that much. He rescues us from the entrapment and slavery of these things. For that, we have reason to be joyful, to give Him praise, and to worship Him. Even if we are asked to sacrifice time or comfort, or even neighborhoods, knowing that we have been freed up to be freed from our addictions gives us thankful hearts and joy in the midst of sacrifice.
“And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord” (Psalm 27:5-7).