This weekend we were visited by some dear friends from the Austin-area. We had a great time catching up and spending time with each other. It reminded me just how much I love them and all the other friends and family from whom we just moved away. I’m probably going to go through friend withdrawal this week at some point, so I am just preparing myself for the random emotional meltdown that will undoubtedly show up out of nowhere. As I was preparing to write this next step in our tips for Life After Rehab, I was challenged to consider life beyond my own skin. Yes, it’s sad that I don’t live near those beloved people anymore. But, there is a world still doing it’s thing outside of the all-consuming emotions swirling in my own head. That world is hurting and just a simple shift in my focus can help both of us. Raise your coffee cups: Here’s to Step 6 in Life After Rehab…
Step 6: Help Someone Else. ￼
“In rehab, people spend a significant time talking about what they’ll need to do to improve their individual lives, but research suggests that helping someone else could be a vital part of the recovery process. For example, a study in the journal Addiction found that helping others achieve sobriety reduced the risk that recovering drinkers would binge drink. By helping others, they were able to share experiences and remember what it’s like to struggle for sobriety. This allows petty daily concerns to float away, and it might make the person work even harder to maintain the gains earned in drug rehab. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous make this kind of mentoring easy, as most programs ask senior members to take on younger members and counsel them in a one-on-one fashion. However, helping could take many forms. In fact, some forms of helping don’t have anything to do with addiction at all. People could volunteer at an animal shelter, mentor a child in need, visit seniors in elder care facilities, or participate in a community garden. Giving back and doing good makes the heart feel full and happy, and this could be just the sort of sensation a person needs in order to maintain sobriety when the rehab program is complete” (http://www.michaelshouse.com).
Being a sober-minded mentor to someone else is essential for walking out of Family Rehab. We all have learned a lot over the past year and sharing that with others reminds us of exactly all that God has done and how amazing He really is. God daily works to equip all of us. He is constantly preparing us for something down the road. If I am open, there are things to be learned with every experience and knowledge to be gained about myself, others, and God. He calls all of us to share that wisdom with others. We are the Body and we are to support each other and walk through life pointing each other to Jesus. We are to speak the truth in love to each other and build each other up. Ephesians 4:15-17 says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” If we don’t offer ourselves as mentors to others–if we don’t share the things we have learned–if we don’t speak the hard truths in love–if we don’t acknowledge that God has equipped us with experiences and gifts–than the body can’t grow and mature.
This doesn’t mean we go around arrogantly offering up ourselves as mentors to everybody. It means we talk openly and freely about our struggles and how Jesus has victory over them. We don’t shy away from sharing how Jesus has transformed us. We don’t forget what He has taught us. We speak out of a confidence in His power to do great redemptive work, not out of the boastfulness of our own “wisdom” or “maturity.” There are a lot of struggling people in this world who need to be gently reminded of how Jesus is pursuing them and loving them. Our stories and experiences can connect people to the most satisfying solution to their struggles–Jesus.
As a family, I believe finding service opportunities to do together will also help us keep a healthy and balanced view of how blessed we are to have each other. Serving others will give us meaningful time together and shared experiences. In the book of James we are told to visit orphans and care for widows. I’m sad to admit, but this is something our family has not done a whole lot of. However, as we look to the upcoming school year, I hope to add this to our routine.
Sometimes we are called to just help where help is needed. I have a friend who has also recently moved. She texted me just last night telling me about a homeless couple that she came across. The husband was having a grand mal seizure on the side of the road. She stopped to help and listened to the wife as she explained their situation through her fear-filled tears. My friend called for an ambulance and stayed with them until they were loaded up and headed to the hospital. She gave them snacks and money and even helped the paramedics get the man, (still seizing) onto the gurney. Her heart was heavy for the couple as she tried to go to sleep. She expressed to me in her text that she wished she had more resources and contacts in her new surroundings so that she could better help them. But what my sweet friend didn’t realize is that what she offered that couple was already so much. She saw a situation in which others needed help and she didn’t over think it, analyze, or hesitate. Without even realizing it, she was letting Jesus overtake her heart with compassion and He worked mightily through her. She was equipped with more than enough resources and contacts.
I really want to empower all those reading out there that you are all equipped for mentorship. You are equipped to help others. You don’t have to be a pastor, a pastor’s wife, a counselor, or even someone who has all their “stuff” in order. I don’t. I am continually struggling to figure out what to do with my life and how to do it with grace. But, Jesus has equipped me through the Holy Spirit to help others with the same things that I haven’t yet figured out. It’s usually in these moments of listening to someone else’s struggles and reflecting on what Jesus’s love can do for them in their situation, that I learn how to apply it to my own life. That’s sometimes the only way for my stubborn personality to grow. God has given us all unique stories and uses us to bring Him glory and honor…if we let Him. We have to be open and willing to see beyond ourselves. We have to be willing to accept the fact that we aren’t just receivers of help, but that He has something to offer others through us. Sometimes we can throw our own little pity parities, focusing on how much we lack and how far we have to go. But it is in our weakness that He is made strong and therefore, we are made strong. Thank goodness. If we all waited until we understood it all and had the questions to life all figured out, nobody would ever help anyone. The world would be at a stand still. It’s in humility and grace that we really see how huge and relentless the love of Jesus is. Let’s share that healing message with others.
“Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:29-30).
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).