photo by: Chase Showen
As you probably already know, I run a non-profit. This Friday we’re having our annual benefit concert to raise money and awareness for the building of our rehab center in Kenya.
I remember very vividly what it was like to have my Kenyan dad propose the building of the center and I remember how terrified I was at the thought.
Like this is gonna be huge, take a lot of money, and I was just scared. Thank goodness one of my friends (and now co-director of the non-profit, Shalee) had like a million more pounds of faith than I did and we went forward with it.
But even then, I still didn’t understand how I could fit into all of this. Sure, I had battled addiction in my life but how do I begin to tell people about this story? This rehabilitation story?
It wasn’t until I visited a rehab center in Kenya that I truly began to understand the narrative that God wanted us to tell.
When we first met with the director of this other center, he introduced himself as an addict, even though he hadn’t had a sip of alcohol or taken drugs in over 5 years.
He explained, “Addicts are addicts forever. By calling ourselves that even though we aren’t currently drinking or doing drugs, we are reminded of who we were, because at our core, that’s still who we are.”
Addicts are some really humble people. Addicts understand how much they’ve messed up and the pain they’ve caused. Usually that self awareness is what causes them to continue to be addicts. Being one myself, I can attest to this. We feel BIG and HARD. Sometimes so big and so hard that we have to shut out the world by running to our addictions. It hurts too much to feel. So we’d rather be numb.
But as we all know, feeling nothing is actually NOT better than feeling something. It leaves you lonely, scared, and empty.
Addicts understand all of this. So that’s why even addicts that have been clean and sober for 20 years still remember what it was all like. Because every day is a reminder and a choice that life is better. Truth is better. Feeling is better.
They understand their addiction and when their eyes are clean and sober, they understand life. Talking to them is my favorite thing in the world. It reminds me of just how beautiful redemption is.
To me, a rehab center is a really beautiful picture of the redemption that Christ brought to us. I absolutely believe that Christ washed me clean and I became a new person in Him but being aware of my sin doesn’t negate His work in my life, it celebrates it.
“But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom”
I could only know that he paid my ransom if I was aware of my debt.
My debt reminds me of my Creator. It reminds me of my life.
The past year has had so many ups and downs. I’ve been pretty transparent on the blog and the internet about my life, my struggles, and my pain.
I’m not sure that was always the wisest decision because people are very quick to judge and decide things about you. But that’s okay with me, decide away. I gave up a very long time ago trying to think that I am in control of what other people do and think.
But through all of this, I’ve learned that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I will never stop being shamelessly vulernable. I will always tell the truth and I will always be free of anything anywhere close to guilt or shame.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
For me, I am a slave to what people think of me. But that’s not really realistic. None of us can control what other people do, we can barely control ourselves sometimes (example: I don’t have an off button when it comes to eating pizza).
I think a lot of us care much more about what others think that what we will ever admit. We want to be the best version of ourselves on social media and we often hold others to that standard as well. On the flip side, we also take things that we see and we dwindle down a person to that one post. We forget everything else about who they are, and we decide everything about them based on one thing that they do or one trial that they endure.
But people are much more than that. We are all worth so much more.
I don’t even know how to understand this past year. I mean seriously, it was truly a whirlwind of the craziest things in my entire life. Some parts were REALLY great and some were REALLY bad. And I remember in the middle of it, thinking “this cannot be happening to me.”
I run a non-profit, HOW could I question my faith? That was the question that hurt the most and still hurts the most. It was such a painful reminder of how life works. I truly had to walk through that to understand who I am and how to run the non-profit better. I had to walk away from a church I loved with all my heart to heal in a new place with new faces.
I know this is painful and probably strange for most of you. But isn’t that what the body of Christ is about, we can’t all be arms or legs right? Some of us are shoulders or toes or belly buttons. We all make up something beautiful and we all form differently.
So if you saw me this past year and you were confused or didn’t understand, well that’s okay…I didn’t either. But to me it’s not always about understanding, it’s about being honest.
But what I do what you to understand is that I will never be too christian/too put together/too anything to not be honest. Honesty is at my core. Shameless truthtelling is simply who I am at this point.
I don’t care if it embarrasses me or causes judgement but a Christianity that has to “look good” is not Christianity to me.
Life is hard. We are all broken. If that’s true why can’t we all be reminders of that for one another? Why can’t I look at you and simply say “me too.”
I love Jesus. I love how He has redeemed me and healed me. I love that even through all the pain that I’ve gone through this last year and how I desperately wanted to walk away, He never left my side. There was always a constant reminder of His love in my life.
And at the end of the day, that’s what I want our rehab center to be for people. I want to meet them where they are at. Right there in the middle of their addiction, I want them to know that we are with them. Because that’s what Jesus did for all of us. I want to make a place for them to be desperately honest about their pain and I want to look them square in the eyes and say, “me too.”
I think today we could all use a few extra doses of grace and love. Use everything you’ve got to show grace and love to those around you. We all mask the pain that we’re going through but grace and love break down those walls and they make a free space for our pain.
I want to always create a space for our pain to be free. Your pain is allowed. Your truth is yours and it’s valid and it’s worthy. Tell it shamelessly and tell it often.
Thanks for listening, friends.