"Progress, not Perfection" I hear this all the time. For someone that struggles with addiction, it's an important mantra to remember. While living in the ministry, it was so easy to keep things in line. It was a shield from the woes of the outside world. I remember being told on more than one occasion, in one way or another, that "The world is still the same". It's one of those things that you hear so much that you just kind of roll your eyes and move on. I wish I would have taken that to heart. It's so easy to feel bulletproof when you're shielded from the world.
I danced around the idea of sharing this story publicly, mainly out of embarrassment. After some prayer and thought, I decided that the chance of using this story to help others is more important than my pride (which I still struggle with). With that being said, I am going to share with you what happened.
At the end of December, I received a call from a recruiter, who offered me a potential position as an IT Helpdesk Analyst. I was perfectly happy where I was, but I didn't figure it would hurt to talk to them. Within a week, I had a job offer in my inbox, and the pay was a 50% increase from what I am currently making. I immediately jumped on it for the money. The process happened so fast. They sent the offer on a Friday, and they wanted a decision by the following Monday. At this point, God was sending me signs that this isn't where he wanted me, but my worldly self got in the way. I checked the benefits package, and the health insurance was $160 per week, which almost ate my extra pay. That was a sign that I wrote off and thought "well, I will just get a private plan". This whole time, my decision did not feel right. Verse after verse in the bible, it says that God speaks in a "Still, Small Voice." The problem is that the world is noisy, and if you don't keep that close connection with God, the world will drown out the voice of God. I had lost my strong connection with Christ, because I haven't been putting into practice what I learned. I have been a fairweather Christian. Going to church on most Sundays, if I felt good or wasn't tired. I wasn't serving the church. I hadn't found a church home, and was instead hopping between 2 or 3 different churches, but I digress. Let's get back to the story.
I took the job against my better judgement, again, blinded by the money. James 1:14 says "but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed." I was to fly out from Memphis on 1/13 and I was getting an all expense paid trip to Portland for a week of training at corporate headquarters. My plane was late leaving the tarmac at Memphis, which put me late landing in Houston, resulting in me missing my flight. I reached out to my contact and they booked me a new flight. However, I was going to have a 2 hour layover in Houston. I decided to use the opportunity to take care of some business. About 30 yards from my terminal was a computer bar. I decided to go over and sit away from the bar itself in one of the outlying tables with a plug. I plugged up my computer and ordered a coke. A few minutes later a gentleman sat down next to me started asking me about my laptop because he liked it. He was drinking a martini. The waitress came over and asked him if he wanted another, and he did. She then asked me if I needed anything, and immediately my mouth opened and I ordered a Double Sailor Jerry's. I've been doing so good, I can treat myself to one drink (so I thought). That one drink wasn't enough. Once I began to feel the effects, my inhibitions fell away, and I ordered another double. Then I ordered another.
I got up and thought, OK, I have about 9 hours of flights left, so that was it. I spent the remainder of time in the terminal, and caught my flight out to Denver. By the time I landed in Denver, I began to feel like crap because I was sobering up. I was feeling ill, dizzy, guilty, shameful. Now, something that I didn't know about airports is that there are bars every 50 feet! So, I passed a bar, sat down, and drank until my flight left. Once on the flight, nerves kicked. I was about 2 hours away from landing in an airport where I would be picked up by an employer. I ordered vodkas on the plane all the way to Portland. Once I was sitting in the terminal in Portland, the fogginess lifted. I can only speculate it was God clearing the cobwebs enough to give me a moment of clarity. I can't take this job. I can't be this far from accountability for a week. I knew if I stayed, I would stay drunk, and if I managed not to get caught by the employers, I would just keep going when I got home. I sat in the lobby and made some phone calls. I asked for my old job back, and was accepted, and I texted them and told them I was going back home. It was one of the most awkward conversations I've ever had.
At this point, I was feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I drank ALL the way back home. I was terrified that I was off the deep end again. I had to explain to everyone at work why I decided to come back without admitting the truth. It was such a familiar and terrible feeling to have to cover up again. It is just so much easier to be honest. If you have ever talked to me, I can be socially awkward, so I decided to write this as a form of therapy/confession and hope that it helps someone else from making the same mistakes.
The point is that the world is out here. 1 Peter 5:8 says "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour". This Verse should be engraved into ANYONE'S head that struggles with addiction, because I am telling you, it's true.
The point is, the Ministry didn't teach me to be perfect. It taught me what to do to overcome my imperfections. Like anything else, it sounds simple, but it's far from it. Shame and Guilt are very powerful tools that Satan uses to keep us down. They work very well on me, and I struggled with my mistakes for weeks. Then I remembered my kids. I can't let them see me be defeated by a stumble. They need to understand that NOBODY is perfect. People make mistakes, but it's what they do with the lessons taught by that mistake that matters.
I met with a Pastor at a local church over coffee last night and we spoke about this, and that is part of inspired me to write this post. I have made a commitment to him to begin serving at his church and attending service every week, as well as some groups. He told me to expect some tough love if he sees something that needs to handled in my life and I am dancing around it. I'm hard headed and I need that.
I still have some mending to do, but this post is the first step in a long journey to fully recover from my stumble. I want my readers to know that I am doing well, and I even though I stumbled, I am not drinking. If anyone of my friends or readers is currently struggling with a relapse, please reach out to me and I will be happy to help.
I am so thankful to my boss for taking me back into a place where I have accountability and work with people that truly me and make me want to do good. I have no plans to move jobs again any time soon!
I will close with this verse.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.