Life After Rehab: Step 7…

Well, we have finally made it to step 7 of our seven-step Life After Rehab series. ¬†Thanks for stickin’ through it. ūüôā


 

Step 7: Stay Alert for Signs of Relapse.

“According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a chronic illness, and as a result, 40 to 60 percent of people who have an addiction relapse at least once. This doesn‚Äôt mean that addiction treatment isn‚Äôt effective, but it does mean that people with addictions will need to amend their lives and be on alert if they‚Äôd like to keep the problem from coming back full force. For starters, they might need to know where a relapse, for them, begins. For some, it‚Äôs a feeling of sadness or loss. For others, it‚Äôs a sensation of happiness or invincibility. These thoughts swirl and swirl, growing stronger and stronger, until a relapse takes place. Capturing and identifying the thought is the key to stopping the relapse. When those thoughts are in place, the person can go back to therapy, visit a sober friend, catch a meeting, or otherwise deal with the issue and stop the cycle. Friends and family members might also be helpful here, as they might also know what a relapse looks like and how it typically starts. They can‚Äôt be expected to step in and stop a relapse from taking place, but they can speak up and speak out when they sense trouble, and this might be the prompt that pushes the person to find more intensive treatment” (http://www.michaelshouse.com).

 


 

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor‚ÄĚ (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of our sin. Our chronic condition has been completely healed on the cross. We have that freedom at our fingertips but we so often, like the addict, don’t amend our lives to the entirety of His teachings and His grace, nor faithfully remain on alert for attacks on our freedom. The enemy wants us to think we are still enslaved to sin‚Äďthat what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t enough or didn’t take. We, like the addict, often don’t catch the little things that lead us to a relapse of the flesh‚Äďthose things that lead us to strap ourselves back to the chains of bondage.

Feelings of sadness, loss, and invincibility can lead even the most “put-together” Christians down a path of destruction. “Capturing and identifying” as mentioned above for the addict are also key to resisting sin and it’s hold on us. ¬†In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul instructs fellow believers in Jesus that the battle we fight is not of the flesh but of a divine nature. He tells us to “hold captive every thought.” This means that with every feeling and thought we have, we need to take hold of it, identify it, and then use Christ’s standards to evaluate it. Without this process, our emotions and thoughts can become a swirling river of untamed beliefs and assumptions that guide our behavior and decisions in a destructive way. It’s Satan’s last ditch effort to pull us away from the freedom we have in Christ. Again, this is where a community of Christ-followers¬†and sober-minded friends and mentors is key to survival. There will be times when we are so far gone down the river of frustration, guilt, fear, self-righteousness, doubt, and selfishness that we need others to recognize and identify for us what’s going on. We will need others to pull us out, dry us off, and call us out on our erroneous thinking or behaving. We will need others to speak gentle truths to us in love, reminding us of our freedom and security in Christ.

When we started this “Family Rehab” journey last year, we committed to a year of homeschool in an effort to slow our pace of living down and to reestablish our home during that time. ¬†While during the past year¬†we have seen remarkable change in our relationships with our children and have seen them blossom in certain areas, it has not gone as expected. With our relocation, we lost at least half the school year to the mayhem of boxes and house projects. ¬†However, we have seen during a less than perfect attempt at homeschooling, positive and fruitful growth in our family, which only shows God’s faithfulness and mercy.

I have wrestled with what lies ahead for us and school. ¬†I see the great benefits of homeschool and being with my kids every moment of the day, learning with them along the way. ¬†The flexibility of setting our own schedule has been a healing balm for ¬†our souls and our home life. ¬†There are many reasons to do homeschool again next year. ¬†However, I realize that most Americans feel that they cannot afford homeschool or that it isn’t a realistic option for them. ¬†So because¬†the majority of the culture around me is¬†facing the realties of parenting in the midst of our crazy fast-paced American goal-setting and success-getting culture, I find myself searching for the answers to some questions:

With the early hours, the days apart from each other, the homework, our own job-stress and expectations, and the bulging schedule, how do we still remain intentionally engaged with the hearts of our children and each other?

How do we live in our American culture, yet¬†not submit to it‚Äďwithout completely pulling out of its systems? ¬†

How do we resist finding our value and worth in our success and performance when the culture around us measures us (and everything else‚Äďeven our churches) by those same weighted standards? ¬†

How do we gospel-thrive in a gospel-deficiant culture?

I feel that our year of rehab helped us to rest and hit the reset button. ¬†While nowhere near completion, I believe that I have grown in my¬†trust of Jesus and am merely starting to learn what it means to unabashedly move to the gentle whispers of His Spirit, even if He leads me to do something a little bit crazy. ¬†¬†I hope that my family is also learning this kind of discernment. ¬†I think our freshly rested souls and our post-rehab perspectives encourage us to engage in these kinds of cultural questions. ¬†Because of this, (along with some other reasons I can discuss later), we are looking at putting the kids in school next year. ¬†Having said that, we are waiting for clear direction from the Lord as to where and if this is truly what is best for our family in this season. ¬†There might be a chance that God says we are not ready and need another year of rehab. ¬†We might see that we need to “go back to therapy” because we are closer to relapse than we realize. ¬†There is a chance that we enter the school system only to pull out again in a year or two. ¬†As counter-culture and as counter-Angie as it is, I am trying not to set a 5-year plan and outline the future. ¬†We have seen God work in ways that go beyond our plans and, in fact, frustrate our plans. ¬†So, we are intentionally not setting any or forming strong biases in the area of education. ¬†So many benefits lie in all forms of education, and I believe those differing benefits can be taken advantage of for different seasons.

No matter where our children’s education takes place, this next year will look different. Instead of focusing on a year of rehabilitation, we will focus on applying the things we have learned to our new and crazy fast-paced life. I am sure we will struggle to stay grounded and will have to resist getting swept up in the things of this world. But we will use these helpful steps and trust in Jesus to be sovereign and carry us through. ¬†We will rely on those sober-minded friends and family members to pull us from paths or cycles leading to relapse.

We will continue to share our story with you (see blog posts on steps 5 and 6) as we enter Life After Rehab. I invite you to share your stories with me. My prayer is that we will remind each other over the next year that we have all been rehabilitated, restored, renewed and revived in Jesus. His work is complete in us. Let us hold fast to His word and cling to His promises‚Äďwho He is and who we are in Him. When things start to look more like the world and less like Jesus, let’s hold each other up to the truths found in His deep relentless love. Our performance doesn’t change the work He did on the cross. Our falling off the wagon doesn’t change or take away His victory over sin and eternal death. We get to continue in the joy and freedom found in what He has rehabilitated‚Äďwhat He has restored. We all have new health and life in Him. ¬†We all are in life after rehab‚Ķlet’s support one another and live it together.


We are working on a better format for the sharing of your stories. ¬†In the meantime, please share in the comment section. ¬†We’d love to be encouraged by what God is doing in your life and support you where you are struggling to see His presence.

 

Life After Rehab‚ĶStep 2

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‚Ķ) ¬†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‚Ķ” 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‚Ķon 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‚Äôs 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‚Ķhonestly, 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‚Äďbeing willing to do the “crazy” thing for the purpose of sobriety‚ÄĒsober-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‚ÄĒin 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‚Ķ (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.

[silence]

Yep‚Ķthat’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‚ÄĒGod 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).