The human heart does some pretty interesting things when constantly put in a space of pain and stress.
In this journey out of fear, I realized a way that my heart dealt with the constant pain and stress that I submerged it to for so many years was to find ways to shut down the pain, to hide from the pain.
You see, pain and stress were created for a reason.
Pain and stress were created to induce change.
They were designed for us to see them as red flags.
Red flags that something isn't working for us in a particular pattern or choice in life and we need to reevaluate what we are doing and change.
Just a simple red flag that something needs to change.
Now there are things that happen in life, that we have NO control over whatsoever, that create pain and stress in us.
And that kind of pain and stress HAS to be walked out... really walked through with the Father, and sometimes with a counselor.
In both cases... if we don't make the changes that pain and stress are red flagging in any particular area of our lives, and/or we don't walk through the pain and stress that life is bringing on, our minds and heart will figure a way out to shut the pain down.
And this is when addiction comes in.
Ways of coping, numbing pain, hiding, and shutting down all those little red flags.
In my own ignorance, and not realizing that all these areas that I thought I was making my flesh submit to my spirit...cough cough... and trying to be what other people said I was to be, the pain and internal stress that I inflicted on myself for years and years, brought on some pretty interesting "coping" mechanisms.
A heart was not designed to be submerged in pain constantly, day in and day out, year upon year. You will, maybe or if here my friends, but you WILL develop an addiction of some sort to deal with the pain.
In all the years that I attempted to squeeze myself into other people's molds and ideas of a good and right women/wife/mom/daughter/friend/minister, I began to cope with the pain of all the squeezing and pain.
In all honesty, I have had so many addictions in my life, I have lost count.
In our frail humanity, we can become addicted to just about anything... from slamming a door constantly, to eating too much chocolate, to loving a certain mood or dynamic in life, to sniffing cocaine and clicking on pornography.
We can hide behind anything!
Some of my addictions were obvious and others not so obvious.
One obvious addiction is my addiction to food.
You can see when I am walking in freedom.....she goes down.
And you can see when I am not....she goes up.
Food was my buddy for a loooong time!
It worked for a long time, until it didn't and I started getting adverse affects.
The price gets higher and higher with addiction doesn't it?
What worked for a time, after awhile stops working, and you have to up the ante.
Ooo, and the shame and the guilt that were thrown in that ugly pattern were monsters!
Being a worship leader, and being in front of thousands of people, my food addiction was in full throttle.... I was so embarrassed and so filled with shame. My clothes wouldn't fit...and then they would... and then they wouldn't....and then they would....
Weeeee.... like a teeter totter, right?
Awful awful ride.
But another one that I have battled with wasn't so obvious.
This one was a little more tricky.A little more subtle and except-able.
It was underlying for years.
I began to hide.
No no, not in the closet or under the bed... in more subtle ways.
As I look back over my life, I can see where it started... it started after my first baby was born, and has carried on ever since.
I hid behind "doing" things...
Some of my doings were really really good too!
But they kept me in a space of detachment... of not having to engage and connect.
Hide behind busyness.
Hide behind my computer.
Hide behind tasks.
Hide behind housework.
Hide behind projects.
Hide behind ministry.
Hide behind events.
Hide behind work.
Hide behind buying too much. (racked up a good many credit cards with this one.)
Hide behind listening to music and podcasts and sermon teachings.
Hide behind reading.
Hide behind my moods.
Hide behind denial.
Hide behind phone conversations.
Hide behind pointing my finger at other people and their issues.
Hide behind gossip.
Hide behind tv.
You get the picture..
Hide behind anything I could to not have to connect, feel, engage, be real and honest with myself, and be present in my own life.
Hide so that I didn't have to hear my own inadequate thoughts about myself.
I even created a virtual "space" in my hiding, to actual go to because I felt I was never alone...
I felt so bad about my own needs and feelings...
I really felt I was THE most selfish person in the whole entire world to NEED anything for myself.
So in that pain and need, my heart created the space that it needed.
It was a counterfeit space, by all means. But it created it....is that not just wild?
It will do that if we don't create the change that the pain is creating.
I hope all that makes sense.
I have hid behind so many things.... I am sure there is more I am not thinking of right now.
I felt safe in my hiding.
I didn't have to deal with any of my bad feelings, or operate in my roles, or be somebody else...
I could just hide.
Hide and NOT think about the pain my heart was in.
Guilt and shame came along... and started knocking at my door.... bad bad Amy for hiding.
Bad bad mother you are for not 'wanting' to engage and play with your kids.
Bad bad wife you are for being too busy for time with you hubby.
Bad bad bad.. all around bad.
So I tried to manage it.
I tried to make myself STOP it.
I tried to break this cycle of hiding.
But a funny thing happens with addiction, you put a cap on one, and another pops up.
Addiction changes faces.
As you can see by my looooong list up above, it changed faces many times over.
Dealing with and managing my hiding became all that I did after awhile.
It became a vicious cycle of beating myself up, repenting to God, trying to stop the behavior, falling off the wagon, beating myself up again, repenting to God again, trying to stop the behavior AGAIN!
Over and over and over again I did this.
Until my Rescuer came, and He gently knocked on the door of my heart...
I opened the door, and I let Him come in.
In my shame and my guilt....
It was honest desperation, I let Him into my mess.
And He did.
He came in.
He walked right past the sin/addiction/hiding.
He didn't flinch at it, like I thought for sure He would.
He walked right past it, like it wasn't even there.
He walked right up to this massive curtain.
I hadn't seen that curtain before!
Where did it come from?!
And He pulled back the curtain and this is what I saw....
I saw my own heart.
Beatin up, bleeding, torn up and just a mess.
All those years of living so afraid of doing something wrong.
Seeking out what I thought was the true and right way to do everything.
Being taught that any desire in me was evil and wrong.
My own heart was evil and wrong, and to never listen to it.
There it was.... a mess on the floor.
Then I saw all the molds I had been pressing my heart into for years upon years..... like those little chocolate candy mold trays.
And I saw me, taking my heart, shoving and shoving and pressing and pressing it into all these little molds.. making it fit.
And then His voice came...
"Amy, how painful do you think that is?
Is it any wonder that you have been hiding?
Is it any wonder that you have been eating your pain away?
Is it any wonder that you want to be some were else?"
Light bulb moment.
I had been trying to deal with my addictions. I had been trying to manage them....overcome them...beating myself up. "Making" myself stop it, and get over it.
But it didn't work. It never worked.
It's like having a weed in your garden, that has produced all kinds of fruit, and just hacking off the top of the weed.
The weed grows back...you have to go after the root.
Uproot that sucker, and it will wither.
This is what my Abba God was doing.
He went right past the behavior/sin/addiction to the root of the behavior.
There's a concept for ya.
This way... this one right here, guess what?
Sin management doesn't work.
Going at the root of "why" I sin DOES.
When we go at just the behaviors, it's like plucking off the fruit of a tree.
Or maybe even whacking off a branch.
But that fruit will grow back, and that branch will grow back.
But go at the root and the whole thing will wither.
And that is what is happening in my life.
I have never been more free from addiction in my whole life.
Yeah there are still things that I am hiding behind that I probably have no idea yet that are there, but I trust and know that my God will bring those to the light in His time.
The beautiful truth of His love... that My Father God loves me ALWAYS!
Nothing changes that.
His favor is on me ALWAYS!
He never leaves me EVER!
He is with me when I hide... He is with when I am present.
He is with me when I make good choices. He is with me when I make wrong choices.
He doesn't look at me with disdain and disgust. He sees me for who I really am.
He sees me complete and whole.
So when He sees me struggling in my sin, in my addiction, in my hiding, His heart is moved with compassion to remove that thing that is destroying me.
He hates sin because it hurts me.
Such a different view for me.... I had always felt I needed to get my sin in order so that I would be except able to God.
When really, Jesus and the cross have made me except able to God...always!
I AM except able to God whether I sin or not.
It's something that already is and always will be!
The sin hurts me. The sin has it's consequences, and THAT is why my Father wants to remove it from me.
I distance myself from God because of shame, not Him.
He never leaves, I just "think" He leaves because I am ashamed of my sin.
But He doesn't. He never leaves. Always in me... always with me.
Oh thankyou, Father... thankyou, Jesus....thankyou, Spirit of God.
More to come... Amy the Free