As I mentioned on Instagram last week, I am starting a series on the Fruits of the Spirit, and I have asked so of the most faithful women I know to write an excerpt on one they feel they can relate to! This week's post is by none other than my oldest sister, Mary Kate. Although I had some of the other girls choose the fruit in which they wanted to write about, I specifically asked Mary Kate to write about faithfulness, because I felt she truly embodied it. In her younger years, I watched my sister struggle with many obstacles throughout her life, most revolving around an alcohol addiction. I watched her hit low point after low point, and then rejoiced with her as she finally turned to God to rescue her. It has never been an easy road for her, but through everything she choses to remain faithful. Hope you enjoy!
I’m currently sitting outside with my doggies reflecting on the past year. Can I just say holy cow, it went by so fast. It was the worst year ever, but also the best at the same time. I had love, I lost love, I traveled to 8 new countries, I bought myself a new car, got a real job, I rediscovered how amazing my friends are, I quit blogging, and then I started it up again, but mostly I set goals for myself. God used so many experiences in my life to help me grow and give me strength. I am not an emotional person, but I couldn’t tell you how many times I broke down this year. When I said it was the worst year, it really was. It was extremely hard rediscovering who I was and who I wanted to be. But I did it, and I am continuing to do it, and that is what also made it the best year. God’s plan for us isn’t what we always envision, but there is meaning behind every experience, and every heart ache. God teaches us in ways we could never imagine. I am extremely proud of myself for picking my self up and starting over and I can’t wait to see what this next year has to offer. With God anything is possible. And I am so incredibly happy and thankful how my year ended. I mean lets be honest, we are given the same amount of minutes in the day that Steve Jobs, Mother Theresa, Beyonce, and Coco Chanel all had. And I’d say they made full use of their time.
.............................................."Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
2 Corinthians 5:17
My last post I did one of the hardest things ever and opened up like never before about my breakup. I just wanted to give you a little update on what I have learned over the past couple months. Now mind you, this was my first heartbreak, so at 24 this was all new to me. The first month was physically painful, full of anxiety, countless tears, and even hope. It was apparent in my lack of blog posts. But it is okay to feel that way, you have both family and friends who support you like no other. You can cry and talk their ears off, and they will simply just be there. You are surrounded by the people who love you most. And honestly, that is the easy part. Letting go and starting over is the hard part, the scary part. I was actually just talking to my sister Leslie last night about how both of us don’t ever want to date ever again, just find our husbands and live happily ever after. And yes, we understand that is not logical in the slightest, nor do we need a man to make us happy. And yes. dating can be fun, but it can also be reeeeaaally annoying. People put up such a front on who they really are that only time proves, but who really wants to wait around for that? I dated someone for two years (pretty much inseparable to add) only to discover that I have no idea who he really is.
Here’s a little about me so you guys get a better understanding. I am a closed off person for the most part. I don’t trust many people and it takes me a while to open up, so when I finally put my trust in someone and do, it’s a pretty big deal. Take Leslie for instance, she lived with my family for a year before we even became close, and now she is one of the most important people in my life. I honestly don’t even consider her a friend, just a sister. I’m extremely hesitant, but when I finally let you in, you are in for life. And when I love and care, I love and I care deeper than anyone you will ever meet, even if I don’t always express it. In fact, I rarely express how I feel. If i’m upset, i’m silent. And no discussion will change that until i’m over it. If I love you, I show it by a bit of sarcasm. I’m not very good at the mushy stuff, especially in person. And if you want my real feelings, I’ll most likely write them before I speak them. The point i’m trying to make is that when I get to the point where I love and care about someone, it’s not in me to give up - i’m too stubborn for that.
I think that is has been the hardest thing for me through everything, is understanding that giving up sometimes is okay. It doesn’t mean that you failed. And honestly, I think I was holding on to the fact that I didn’t want to give up rather than focusing on the fact that the relationship was not right. Like I said earlier, I’m stubborn. I think I was also holding on to my fear of not wanting to start over again. That I didn’t want to go through the process of dating again. When I made the decision to let someone in and date them after 22 years or being perpetually single, I was 100% in. I was happy loving one person for the rest of my life, that was easy. For someone like me, the words “always” and “through thick and thin” really resonate. BUTTTT part of life is learning to adjust. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still feel incredibly deeply, because I do. That doesn’t mean that there are not constant reminders and memories, because trust me, they are everywhere! I was out traveling the world for two months and that still wasn’t enough to distract me. Yes, I thought we could be friends. I would cave in and text, I would continue to fight, I would try to prove things because I still cared. I lost more confidence then I ever thought was possible. I felt more alone than I ever have, even when I was surrounded by people. As much as your friends and family support you, you still constantly feel the weight of it, but honestly you don’t even want to talk about it anymore. There is nothing more to say, there is nothing more to do than to let go and move on, and that will only happen with time and faith.
Having a relationship that is healthy and brings you closer to God rather than away from it. Later on i’m sure I will laugh at how I think I feel right now. I’m realizing how important it is to get a life started for myself before I think about one with someone else. Even though it is hard, don’t regret, become bitter, or angry. I’ve realized how much it takes over once you let it in. Delete pictures, numbers, and unfollow on social media. Don’t check up on them, because those constant reminders eat away at you and make it a million times harder to move on with your life. Through this time, I have learned how important loving and believing in myself is. I have learned to be honest and patient. I have learned who my friends were, and I have learned what I want in my future relationship. I have learned that I love deeply and I should never be sorry for that. Everything will happen in God’s timing, and putting your faith in him is the most important thing in this world. He has a plan. He will replace what he has taken with something a million times better. I’ve just learned to get through the pain and time will make all things new again. Good luck to anyone else who is healing!
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
- Psalms 147:3
““I hope you never have to know addiction, I hope you never have to feel this pain. I hope you never know what its like to slowly go insane. And what its like to be an addict on the verge of pure catastrophe, losing all of lifes direction hoping for a tragedy.
I am not a very open person, but I am getting extremely personal in this post. I hope that this can help someone who is in this position.
Honestly, nobody every talks about the other side of addiction, the side that includes loving an addict. Nothing can prepare you for it. But yet, for every addict there is someone on the other side. The truth is when addiction enters in to your life, it comes in like a wrecking ball destroying everything in your path. There is nothing that can prepare you for the roller coaster of emotions, the doubt and questioning of your faith, and the ultimate heartbreak that is doomed to follow. You read every article inside out trying to explain why someone is addicted, you compare every story or every situation to your own. How did they get this way? And why can't they stop? Is it me? What is the reason? You can be there at the drop of a dime when someone needs you and it still won't be enough. You live off of fear of wondering every day if they will be just another one of those stories you read : someone with the world at their feet who lost everything, and ultimately had an untimely death. You live every day wondering if you will do something to make them use, and if one day you will be enough to make them stop. And although you don't become addicted to a drug yourself, you become addicted to saving them.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
- 2 Timothy 1 : 7
Without realizing it, you stop living for yourself. You stop doing the things you love or focusing on things that will better your life. Your number one priority is getting them to stop. The hardest part about drugs is that the person who you fell in love with slowly fades into someone you don't even know. Your life rotates between the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. One day you will have the person you fell head over heels for, and the next day you want to run as far away from your relationship as possible. But you know that they are still in there somewhere. Holding on and believing in them is all you have. The beautiful memories fill your brain every time you want to give up. But the truth is that in the process, you are no longer you. Those memories are long in the past. You don't smile and you don't laugh, anxiety and worry consume you. You become so invested in saving them that they don't even know who you are anymore. You are no longer that girl that they fell in love with.......but after everything, how could you possibly be? You now take on the role of a mother or a care-taker. The fear of them losing their life eats you alive.
"For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world."
- John 2 :16
Addicts come in all different forms. There are addicts who are open about their problems, and there are ones who you would never know had an addiction from the outside. There are people who are prone to addiction. Some long for love and others are running from fear. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, sex, or even food, addiction stems from trying to cover how you actually feel. When they use they don't have to face their problems.....until of course that high goes away. But then they just use again. They use until they become numb to everything. They turn off their emotions, because that is the only way to get through the day without all of the regret and pain.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
- Psalm 23:4
But being on the other side, you constantly wonder.....Don't they understand what is at risk? They love you, but obviously not enough to stop for you. ......they are throwing away their life for a high........what about their career? they are fooling everyone into thinking they are normal and happy.....But you know better........ You see through all of the non-sense.........You can help them.......BUT guess what? You CAN'T. No matter how hard you try, someone will not stop until they are ready to. You could be the love of their life, their best friend, their mom, their pastor, but it will never be enough. You can show them as much love as humanly possible but it will NEVER be enough. YOU will never be enough, the high is what they want and that high is what they will get.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
- Jeremiah 29 : 11
There is one word that come to mind when going through addiction with someone: failure. Everything you worked towards, every minute you spent researching, and every time you stopped in your tracks to be there feels like just one big failure. The most passionate love in the world was ripped from you. The plans of marriage and decorating your future house, and mostly your future kids are gone. Your hopes, and plans, and dreams all failed. The thought of them even taking a single sip of alcohol, taking a drug, or indulging in things that could harm them gives you anxiety like you have never felt. What happens if this is the time his heart will stop? What if he is alone? What if no one around him can tell? What if he ends up in trouble? I was his protector and now I feel like I failed to keep him safe. But the truth is I didn't. I did everything I could possibly do. As much as you love someone, you can’t live their life for them. You may become the center of their hate for holding them accountable, but deep down they do know how much you love them and care.
"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
- Psalm 55:22
Obviously there are people who can become addicted and change right away. But majority have lengthy and dangerous struggles with it. My words of advise are, don’t let it consume your life. You can always believe in them and always pray for them. And always hold on to hope that they will be happy and healthy and the person you fell in love with one day. But instead of sacrificing yourself, give it all to God. Don’t fight the battle alone. In times like this I wonder how much more I would have been lost if it hadn't been for my faith. And trust me, I doubted, and I was angry. Heck I still am. But I have never not believed. I tell God how angry I am. I tell him how bad I am hurting. But I know there is a plan in everything he does. We may not see it and it may not be what we want at the time, and honestly it might be the most painful experience of our life, but he has a plan. To have hope that everything will get better is the only healthy way to get through it.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 4 : 6-7
Lastly, i want everyone to know that I commend anyone who is on the other side of addiction. You are strong. You are appreciated. You are brave. You felt every drop of the pain and you bear through every last bit of it. As much as if feels like you have failed, you haven’t. One day your tenacity and unconditional love will be appreciated more than you will ever know. It is okay to be selfish and let go of the anxiety and constant worry. Trust in God’s plan for YOUR life. I may not know what it is like to crave a drug, but I know what it is like to feel both physical and emotional pain. To feel that back and forth love-hate relationship. To feel like a failure. But I won’t run and I certainly won’t hide from it, I will get through it and eventually I will heal. Because with God I am strong, with God my fears no longer take over my life. Don’t let it take over yours as well.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
- James 1 : 2-4
Do you want to know the crazy thing about life? No one's is perfect! So why do we try so hard to convince ourselves that ours is?? Do we truly believe that our sins are better than another's? I'll tell you one thing, I am not perfect and I am nowhere near it. I sin on a daily basis. I lie, I can be greedy, I gossip, etc. I recently read the book Whiter Than Snow and it changed my entire perspective on who I am as a Christian. I am a sinner. I was born a sinner. And I will continue to sin throughout my entire life. That is the reality of being a human. So as I stated before, why try so hard to convince ourselves and others that we aren't sinners? Every story in the bible gives us examples of redemption. Sinners who were lost, broken down, and then redeemed by God. When you read these stories it is easy to say oh my goodness I would never act like that, or how could he/she do that, don't they know better than to defy God? But these stories are us. The Prodigal Son, King David, Saul, Mary Magdalene, Cain and Abel, Job.
Paul was a persecutor, who vowed to put an end to Christianity. I very often hear stories in this day in age of Christians persecuting other believers of God solely because they feel that their way is the only way. But the truth is, we are all one in Christ. Christ did not persecute, he lead by example with love and patience and others followed suit. In fact, he struck down Saul off his horse asking him "why do you persecute me?". Paul was redeemed by God, and became one of the biggest Christian evangelists of all time.He does not want us to act self-righteous, to persecute, judge, or condemn, we are meant to uplift and show compassion, just as Jesus did.
The prodigal son was full of greed! He left his family, taking his inheritance and spending it all on his wild ways. Now who can relate to that? Greed. We long for worldly things , and crazy lives! But what happens when you waste away all your belongings and get lost in the world? The prodigal son came to his senses, just as we all do. Just as his father welcomed him back with loving arms, our father in heaven does the same for us!
Mary Magdalene was about to be stoned to death for her promiscuous ways and Jesus wrote in the sand "Anyone among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone" (John 8:7). Do we often find ourselves being judgmental towards someone who's sin differs from ours, as if our sins are better than theirs? I feel like this story is one that everyone can relate to most. It is actually one of my favorite bible verses. Let me just reiterate - WE ARE ALL SINNERS. It is not our place to judge or condemn.
Cain killed his brother Abel out of spite and jealousy when he saw that he was getting more admiration than him. How often do we find ourselves jealous of what others have or the attention that they receive? Although we don't o as far as to commit the act of murder, we make other choices that can put down or hurt another. Just as God reminded Cain, sin is ever present in our lives but it is our job to make sure that we don't indulge in it.
Job had everything in life : wealth, a beautiful family, flourishing farm, ect. He was a good man. He avoided sin as best as he could and shared his abundance with others. But was he only good when everything was right in the world? Did his good fortune make him who he was? Are we more often than not thankful and happier when everything is perfect? When storms come do we fall apart?? Job had a foundation like that spoken in Luke 6:48 " They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock, When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it because it was well built." When the storm came that stripped everything Job had from him, including his family, he held steadfast in his faith and showed enough patience to know God had a plan. A lot of times in our storms, we lose sight of and won't accept God's plan. Life is not always perfect. We need the patience of Job to fully understand God's reasoning behind everything.
Lastly, the story of King David.....God blessed King David abundantly and chose him as a mighty and great King to lead Israel. In gaining so much power, he got entirely lost in the world. He used his power to get whatever he wanted. He saw a women who intrigued him, seduced her even knowing she was a married woman, got her pregnant, had her husband killed in battle and then made her his wife. Now talk about sin. Lust, Adultery. Murder. And when God questioned him about it he was so far into his sins that he didn't even realize the wrong he committed until after it was brought to his attention. The entirety of Psalm 51 is David's plea to God to forgive him, wash him of his sins, and help him live for God. It is such a common occurrence now for families to be destroyed by lust and adultery. It is even more common with people in positions of power. Power is often used to get what you want without caring who is in your path. Could you imagine if we had a God like that? A God who used power instead of love?But God showed mercy on David, just like he will forever show mercy on us.
Although these stories can be extreme at times, isn't it crazy how we can relate them to our own lives today? Self-righteousness, greed, power, lust, promiscuity, impatience, jealousy, being judgmental. These are all things that we struggle with on many occasions! God took these men and women in these stories, broke them down and the prospered them! They were all sinners just as we are. They gave in to temptations, acted selfishly, yet they are some of the most influential people in all of Christianity. So it is important to understand that we are and will never be PERFECT, but luckily our God is merciful and full of compassion. When we become aware of our sinful nature it is easier to do our best each and every day to avoid giving in to temptations.