We all experience the pains of suffering through hardships. Whether those hardships are brought on by us or lured by those we love and trust, it still is painful. At some point, after undergoing much suffering we come to the realization, we are no longer in charge. Unfortunately, for most, this takes a longer time then we want it to. Until, we reach this point, chaos and drama ensue. If we don’t keep firm boundaries to protect us, our relationships can quickly turn toxic, and we can become slaves to sin. Then we fall onto a long, hard and scary rollercoaster ride. This ride can turn into the longest ride of your life. When and how we get off depends upon us.
Over the Holiday’s I was fortunate to have deep conversations with four recovering heroin addicts who gave me insights into this roller coaster ride and how to get off. When I asked the one girl how she was doing with her sobriety her response was not quite what I was expecting. I asked her about it, because it was the Holiday’s, and I know how difficult they can be for many people, especially those battling addictions. I thought talking about it might help her in some way, it turns out she may have helped me more than I, her.
She shared with me how she gets by one moment at a time. I asked her what were her bottoms that lead her to sobriety? She said, “ that was a tricky thing because, you would have thought that getting incarcerated would have been her bottom, but it wasn’t. You would have thought that giving birth in prison was her bottom, but it wasn’t. You would have thought to have her child taken from her forever, would have been her bottom, but it wasn’t. She continued, every time she reached what appeared to be her bottom she found another level of bottom. The bottom of the floor just kept moving lower as though there were a trap door.” I asked her if that were the case then what convinced her that she needed to stop? What was it that finally broke her? Her reply, “I got exhausted…. I was so sick and tired of the toxic cycle. I craved the drug and would do anything to get it, and then I would do it, and then I would need it again. It was a rollercoaster that never stopped. I finally realized my decisions were not getting me anywhere good. I could no longer trust my choices or myself; I could not be in control of my life anymore. It was only when I let go and let God take over that I was able to get off the rollercoaster a transformed person.”
Her response amazed me, I never heard someone tell it quite like that. Her brutal honesty was incredibly beautiful. On New Year’s Eve I was at a party and had a deep conversation with another recovering heroin addict, and he shared a similar story. His breaking point was exhaustion too; he couldn’t take the roller coaster any longer. The vicious, toxic cycle would exhaust him and make him sick. When he could no longer take it and gave up control to God, God healed him. He has been in sobriety now for nine years and never wants to go back. The other two men, one of them being 21 years old has the same story. What appeared to be the worst thing that could have happened to them, turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. It provided them the means to get clean and regain their faith. The 21-year-old confided the sin was killing his soul, and it was haunting him.
Isn’t this the way it is for us too, in many of our life circumstances? Maybe we don’t hop on the addiction rollercoaster, maybe a difficult person or situation throws us on a different roller coaster, and we stay there thinking we can fix things. We take control of what is not for us to control then we sit there baffled, because things are not going the way we had planned; our pride doesn’t let us, let go. The roller coaster becomes our pathway to sin. The good news is when we wake up from exhaustion and realize we have been the one driving the roller coaster out of control, and then we notice Jesus next to us waiting for us to surrender. He takes over and not only forgives us, but he heals us and remembers our sins no more.
Remembering a story of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. After receiving a number of visions of Christ, she told her confessor about them. He suspected the visions were fabrications and gave her some discerning questions to ask the Vision in order to determine its true source. When she recounted all of Christ’s replies, he was still not convinced. He told her to go back and ask, “What sins did I confess yesterday?” She did and returned to the confessor confused. The confessor asked her, “What did he say?” She replied, “He told me he did not know your sins. He has forgotten.”
This example is what we should remember. However, horrible a sin we commit God forgives us and if we hold onto that sin not forgiving ourselves we commit another sin of pride.
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25