Embracing Light

I’m an addict named Rya n   I’ll never forget being at the Bridge. It was the most difficult, terrible, wonderful, life giving, e...

I’m an addict named Ryan 

I’ll never forget being at the Bridge. It was the most difficult, terrible, wonderful, life giving, exhausting, gut wrenching, and beautiful experience of my life. Through my 6 weeks there a couple of moments that really stand out. To really explain them in detail would take more time than I have to write and for sure more time than you have to read. So you will have to do without the backstory, but there is one moment I want to share. 

I made a mistake. I treated someone poorly in the midst of one of our group sessions. I had several justifications for my actions. I talked myself into believing that I acted in the correct manner and that person didn’t deserve any more from me. I might have been right, but I missed a huge point. It wasn’t about her. It was about me. It was about the person I wanted to be. I wanted to be the man I had tried to get people to believe I was. Only this time, I wanted to do the work and actually be that man. My choice didn’t have anything to do with her. Choices are funny that way. We make them about the people, circumstances, and our position at the moment. There is a flaw in that logic. One we very rarely actually explore. The consequences of my choices are ones I have to live to with. The impact my choices have on other people is a weight that I will be tempted to carry. My choices are not about you, but about me. For better or worse I will have to live with them. I will have to accept them. 

I remember talking to a counselor. She was such a success story. She was such a genuinely good person. She would say a few words to me in that moment. These words would stir in me for the next 24 hours. The next day at group I apologized to the person I wronged, and I laid down some boundaries for that relationship moving forward while doing my very best not to excuse my behavior in any way. It was a humbling experience for me. However, there was a lot of clarity in that moment for me. I picture of what the rest of my life could look like. Not perfection, but doing the next right thing. 

After this session the counselor walked up to me and said something that I will never forget. 

“I saw the real Ryan in that room just then. And you know what? I really like him. I’m proud of you!”

She saw me. 

The real me. She could see the man I wanted to be and she believed in me. The power in letting yourself truly be seen is unparalleled for me. 

What I did wasn’t that special for most of the world. This is something a lot of people learn at a much earlier time than I encountered it. But it was real, and it was honest. It felt like a step towards the light. 

Before I go on. You need to know something about me. I hate being hot! I hate it. I sweat a lot. More than a normal human should. It’s not a sexy thing. This isn’t a commercial for some product where a good looking man sweating makes women swoon. I start sweating and women don’t stare at me with good thoughts. They more have a stomach virus face and if they walk over to me it would be to inquire as to whether I should maybe go to the Doctor or see some sort of professional. 

I’m just not a fan of the summer time and even more than that I hate the sunlight in the summer. I run from it. I find shade everywhere I can. The sun makes me miserable and as unreasonable as it may be I am certain that effects the temperature 30 to 40 degrees.

Now. I am a smoker. Yes! I know it’s a terrible habit. Yes! I know I should quit. Yes! I have every intention of doing so at some point.

Here is the thing about the sun. It’s like that girl/guy that had a crush on you when you were in school, but absolutely cannot take a hint! You see them coming and you walk in a different direction as quickly as possible. That crush. No matter how clear I make it to the sun that I curse its existence and I blame it solely for how unhappy I am most days in the summer. It hangs around. It could be cloudy and raining as it did for Noah and the ark and I walk outside and bam!! There the sun is trying to peak through the clouds. It makes me unreasonably angry. I know it’s dumb. Don’t judge me. 

I was sitting outside of work the other day smoking a cigarette. It was hot! But the sun wasn’t out. So I am thinking maybe this won’t be too bad! Nope! I was out there all of 3 minutes and there comes Mr. Freaking Sunshine! I was ready to punch something. I just looked up at having some sort of standoff with the sun. I look directly at it and said “Really bro!?!? You couldn’t wait 5 minutes. You had to come out now?! Really?!” This may or may not have been out loud and someone may or may not have looked at me as though maybe they were questioning if they should make a call to the people in the white jackets. Let’s not worry about that right now though.

As I was sitting there being angry I thought to myself about how stubborn the sun is. It is always trying to find its way through no matter how heavy the clouds. It often seems as though it moves around trying to find its way out trying to peak through and remind the world it is still there and it won’t go anywhere. 

As an addict I can look back to my time when I was active in my addiction and remember all the times light was trying to peak through into my darkness. The darkness of my choices, my lies, my pursuit of something that wanted nothing but death for me. There were a lot of occasions where lights was trying to peak through into the mess that was my life and show me the way out. For me this light was Jesus. Jesus was doing everything he could to show me the way out of my hole, but I wasn’t ready and I didn’t trust him. 

The light came in lot of different ways.

People who wouldn’t give up on me.
People who still loved me even when I didn’t deserve it
A hug from a friend.
Kindness from a stranger
A gift I simply couldn’t explain

And so on and so forth. The light was constantly trying to peak through. Just as I was in physical world though, it was just as big a nuisance for me in the emotional world. I didn’t want any light. I needed to darkness because I didn’t have a problem and if it was too bright in my life I wouldn’t be able to keep convincing people of that! I wouldn’t be able to pursue my addiction every chance I got if there was too much light. I needed the darkness. The darkness was safe!

It was a slow fade though. The affect of darkness on my life.

I ran from the light.

I disconnected from Jesus

I slowly disconnected from the people closest to me.

I slowly disconnected from myself.

I completely disconnected from myself until I didn’t know who the man in the mirror was any more.

I convinced myself he didn’t deserve to continue living anymore.

I made steps to end my own life.

The moment came.

But that pesky light wouldn’t stop trying to shine through.

My phone rang. Just someone telling me they loved me.

It saved my life. 

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had no idea which way was up and which way was down. I just knew I needed help. Part of the help I received was becoming comfortable enough to let people see the real me. 

Addiction is a daily struggle, but its gets easier. Some days it gets harder and then easier again.

Here is what I learned from that pesky light. I will embrace the light that is trying to peek in on those dark days. When I want to give in and call it quits. I will run towards it. 

For the addict still struggling and still active. Move towards the light. Run towards whatever the light in your life is. The people that love you. The people that have refused to give up on you. The people that still see the best of you even though at this moment you cannot see anything good in yourself. The kindness from a stranger. Move towards that. Fight for more of it and know this. You don’t have to live like this another day!

Everybody has a light in their life. The question is whether or not they want to pull back the clouds and let it in. 

I don’t know what life has ahead for me, but I know darkness isn’t it. I know God isn’t done with me yet. My pain, my anguish, my struggle, and my restoration are all in his hands. My prayer is that my story paints a beautiful picture of God and His desire to bring us back to him.

For the addict still suffering…. You aren’t alone. There are ways to get help. There is a community of addicts who fight this struggle together. They will be there for you!

I leave you with this. The song lyrics seemed fitting. 

"By your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The Resurrected King
Is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare your victory
The Resurrected King
Is resurrecting me"

Elevation Worship

Until Next time,

You Might Also Like