Dear friend, I got the impression that you consider your addiction as a time of failure. Maybe I was reading into it, but just in case, I want you to know I don’t think of it that way.
I want to share with you why I have “great is thy faithfulness” tattooed on my arm.
Towards the end of that first year when Grace had cancer I lost all faith in God. I had reached a point when I literally had nothing left-- nothing left to believe with, nothing left to trust with. I was not at zero. I was in the negative and by a very dangerous amount.
It was a time of total silence when I did nothing. Weeks passed. He provided everything during that time…and I didn’t care.
He was like a Father tending to his comatose child. I was the child who repaid the kindness by peeing on him. I had nothing to reciprocate but brokenness. At the time it didn’t seem like an intimate moment because when you’re the one peeing on God, it’s not very nice to know you’re doing that.
It was a time of shame for me because I had always imagined myself to be a potty trained Christian. I thought I had an immovable faith, and I think others might have thought that of me too. For a long time I saw that break of faith as a time of failure.
But watching a Father who has his invalid child draped across his lap as he tries to spoon enough oatmeal into her mouth to keep her alive, it’s an intimate, tender moment. Our God is the Father who needs nothing from his comatose child. He doesn’t need the child to recover and repay him. He doesn’t need to have everything work out so he can look back and say it was worth it.
Even as the child drools oatmeal out the side of her mouth, and even when she hasn’t language or even the recognition to thank him, that Father is complete in the moment because his love was never dependent on her. He was always completely sufficient in his love and the opportunity to lavish that love on one not capable of reciprocating…that is the love of our Father.
And because of his abundance of love I became the beloved even as I remained the invalid.
Before Grace’s diagnosis I really did see myself as self sufficient in my faith. I built my identity around that. I thought myself to be unshaken, impenetrable, and unfailing. I imagined myself as being so self sufficient that I could save others without being broken myself.
And pretending to be that when Grace was sick was the thing that broke me. Because of therapy and Celebrate Recovery God has been able to destroy the identity I had built for myself. God showed me that I have always been the invalid. I have always been the prostitute in the gospels. And when I was able to accept this truth I loved him as only a forgiven prostitute can.
I imagined that having been healed and redeemed I could now move forward in faith. Again and again God has been preventing me from that. He knows I am so inclined to return to my old identity of being “the faithful.” It may not be true for others, but for me, I am to remain the invalid. Permanently. I am to remain wholly indebted to his love.
The breaking process has been painful because I valued my identity. It was safe. It was admired. It gave me power. It was painful and humbling to crawl back to being broken and destitute. But that’s where God meets me every time. And like the one who has been forgiven much, I love him much. Very much.
It’s been interesting because lately my brokenness has become a dear friend. I value my weaknesses. I love that I have such fragile faith. I love it because every time I acknowledge that it’s all I’ve ever been, that’s when I’m the child being spoon fed on my Father’s lap.
And the beauty of that situation thrills my heart. I love to see God act in such humility and sacrifice for one so unworthy. And I am so blessed to be an unworthy one.
That is why I got the tattoo. I am so prone to wondering from God, so prone to return to my false identity. I figured if I inked it on my arm I would never be able to run from the truth that he will be faithful even when I have no faith at all. My faith is now about his great faithfulness, not mine.
So that’s why I don’t see your addiction as a failure. I see it as brokenness and the time when you found who you were all along. Who we all are. All the time. We are all so broken. So human. So deeply loved.
I hope my sharing that is somewhat helpful in some way,