Wow. What a weekend! Helen celebrated her 8th birthday for 3 days solid. We are all a little partied out at the Goeke household. 🙂 She wanted to be surprised, so we gave her three days of mini-surprises, all of which were revealed to her by secret codes and riddles. We had a little bit of “surprise and fun” withdrawal Tuesday morning. Only 45 seconds after awakening, Helen announced that she was bored. Oh, to be bored…if she only knew the thrill of having nothing to do. 🙂
Now that the craziness of the weekend has passed and I have pretty much recovered from my back issues, AND my secret code writing… it’s back to our Life After Rehab Steps…
Step 3: Keep Follow-up Appointments.
“Drug rehab programs sometimes work on a stair-step model, where the care provided becomes less and less intense until the person is handling sobriety alone, without assistance. Often, this means that people must head to appointments with counselors in the early days of recovery, even though the formal rehab program is over. Therapy might help people to process feelings regarding work, deal with family transitions, handle relapse triggers, set goals for the future, and strengthen skills. Life can get hectic and demands on time can build and build, but skipping follow-up appointments isn’t advisable. The work should continue, and each appointment should be considered vital to long-term success in sobriety (http://www.michaelshouse.com).
For life after Family Rehab, I’ve got to keep my follow-up appointments. First, I’ve got to keep my appointments with Jesus. Spending time in the Word and placing my struggles and fatigue into His lap will remind me of His sovereignty and love for me and my family. He will fill me with His Spirit and remind me that He lives in me. He will empower me to have continued victory over frustration and impatience, as well as all my other struggles. He will forgive me when I fail. He will help me process my feelings by filtering them through His Word and He will strengthen me with His peace.
Secondly, I also will need to keep my follow-up appointments with my husband. We are a team in this whole marriage and parenting season of life, which means we are in it for the long haul. We have got to be on the same page. We have got to advocate for each other in prayer and support the specialized work to which God has called each of us. If there is even a hint of feeling alone on the home-front, we’ve got to address it. If one of us is overwhelmed or sick, we have to step in and love and care for the other, as well as take up some of the work load. If we aren’t regularly checking in with each other, than it is so easy to miss the ever-so-slight downward slope that we can get caught on. The little frustrations or the little overwhelming moments slowly knock us down to nothing. We need to keep those follow-up appointments when things are seemingly ok, because we can rejoice together as well and build each other up. We bought two chairs for a little nook in our bedroom just for the purpose of helping us keep our follow-up appointments with each other. When we see those chairs, we will remember that we bought them with the intent of looking at each other and connecting over conversation. We needed the physical reminder…(plus, they are really cool chairs.) 🙂
But let’s be honest…there are some nights when the last thing I want to do is sit in my chair, face his chair, and talk. Either one of us can be tired or just simply “done” after a long day of listening and talking. These are the nights when despite the lack of words or chair conversation, we speak grace to each other in the most profound way. We don’t have to force conversation for conversation’s sake. We can rest in the peace and grace of Jesus knowing that skipping “catch-up” time and just resting in silence or the lull of the Tonight Show doesn’t define the state of our marriage. The chairs are to bring peace and relationship, not legalism. So we speak grace to each other in those times of fatigue, reassuring each other that Jesus wants us to rest together just as much as talk. That grace-filled interaction puts us on the same page that is so important to our sobriety in life after rehab.
We also need to keep our follow-up appointments with those sober-minded friends, mentors, and counselors. (See steps 1&2 from earlier posts.) Who doesn’t need therapy?!?! Forcing myself into conversations that expect honesty and vulnerability will only keep me honest and vulnerable with myself. I can’t live life only at surface-level, evaluating life by face-value standards and skimming life’s moments and learning opportunities. When I am forced to dig deeper into discovering what God has for me in the every day experiences, I am getting the most out of life and enhancing the lives around me. And for some reason, this week in particular, I am discovering more and more that my own deep thinking usually needs to be tested on a sound board. Despite what popular culture says, it’s usually not a good thing for me just to follow my own heart. It’s pretty full of sin and is all jacked up, so I’ve got to run all my introspective thoughts by a professional…or at least a close friend.
(sigh.) I almost missed mentioning these next set of appointments that I need to remember. These appointments are crucial. And as evidenced by the fact that these important people almost went unnoticed, I struggle the most with these meetings. MY KIDS! (I just spent the last 30 seconds hanging my head in shame slumped over the keyboard.) Pretty embarrassing for “family-rehab-lady.” These steps are really proving to hit me in the gut. It is so important for me to connect with my children on a daily basis…probably even more. They need to know we have a relationship that is more meaningful to me than the requests for help around the house and help with their baby brother. They need to know and be reminded constantly that they serve more of a purpose than simply their birth order in our family. They need to know that I want to know their interests, their opinions, their fears, their failures, and that with all of it, I still love them deeply.
These appointments help me remember how blessed I am, and that those little people are here because they are just that—little people. They are not merely extra hands around the house. They are not merely living creatures to feed. They are not merely entertainment. They are not merely here so I can find my identity as a parent. They are not merely adolescents. They are treasured, valued, gifted and talented vessels of God’s grace. Being in their presence (if I am in the right frame of mind and filled with the Spirit) should remind me that I, too, am a treasured, valued, gifted and talented vessel of God’s grace—which leads me to another reason why I should keep these appointments:
When I keep my promises and personal goals to spend quality time with my children, I am giving time and space to speak the Gospel into their lives. The facts that 1) Jesus gave up His life for us, despite our imperfection; and 2) His same Spirit that had power over the grave and death now lives in us, relate to every facet of our lives, whether adult or child. It is my privilege to listen to my children and apply this great news to the thoughts, feelings, and details found in their dialogue. My goal should be that eventually they roll their eyes at me when I start to speak of Jesus’s great sacrifice for them, because they have heard it so many times before. I want them to hear it so much that they start to anticipate when I am going to “start in again with the Jesus spiel.” They will start to hear it in their heads before I even say it, which is good practice for when they are older and on their own. I kind of like the challenge of engaging their hearts with the same message over and over again. The promises of Jesus don’t get old or lose their gripping satisfaction. I might get old and struggle to always be creatively rich with my words. However, Jesus will never fail them. I want to avoid sending them the inadvertent message that my failure to keep my promises and appointments with them is a reflection of His promises and His desire to meet them in a personal way.
It’s so easy to forget all of these appointments. It’s so easy to let other things take priority. It’s so easy to get busy. It’s so easy to play 2048 instead of opening up my Bible and journal. It’s so easy to let the chairs just collect laundry to be folded. It’s so easy to get bored with the content of my conversations with my children. It’s so easy to assume I’d have nothing deep to talk about or nothing to learn from a friend or a counselor. However, committing to these appointments with Jesus, my husband, my kids, and my sober-minded mentors can keep me from slipping into a previous way of living.
But for when I do lack the commitment and the resolve to keep these appointments:
“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15).
Stay tuned for Life After Rehab: Step 4…