Hello friends ☺️
It’s been a while since I’ve used this blog. However, today, I felt the tug, maybe it was the Holy Spirit? (I hope so!), pulling me back here to start writing and sharing again.
I let my blog go for a long time because I wasn’t quite sure HOW to use this space. Is it a place for my business, or to share my heart?
More than anything, I’ve always wanted this blog to be a place of CONNECTION, where anyone could pause, relax, read, share a laugh or a tear, learn something new, gain inspiration or motivation, feel inspired to delve deeper into the Word, and then feel safe enough to reach out to me themselves – through comments, emails, and if needed, setting up an actual face-to-face meeting!
Neglecting to write and communicate has left me with a big hole in my heart because that yearning to connect to others – to write and share ideas and thoughts and discoveries and feelings and joys and sorrows is still there, very strong inside me, just stirring around all alone, driving me nuts as I think, “I wonder if I could actually be connecting with others through this little space online???”
I’m still not sure that this is the space for all of that. But, maybe it is – and that would be amazing! And if it fails, big deal – it fails. But if I don’t give it a try, all I’ll have is the regret that I never gave it a shot. I’d rather live with a million failures from having tried the things I love than a lifetime of regrets.
Speaking of trying new things, in January of this year I began a new career working in a non-profit ministry that believes that CONNECTION – to God and to others through Jesus Christ our Lord – is the answer to the problems we face in life. The organization is called “The Holy Friendship Collaborative”, and our ministry is especially focused on ministering to those who are struggling with addiction/substance use disorder.
This has been the most challenging and yet most rewarding work I’ve ever been involved in, and it has changed me profoundly.
When you begin to look at all people through the eyes of Christ, you realize that we are all struggling with many things in life, and all of these struggles can be traced back to a loss of (or never-realized) connection with God and others.
There is a popular field of study in current culture that looks at this, called “trauma informed care”, in which we study ACEs, or “Adverse Childhood Experiences”, and how these traumatic events in our lives have affected us and often traumatized us in various ways.
Adverse childhood experiences have been linked to risky health behaviors, chronic health conditions, low life potential, and early death. As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.
Trauma Informed Care (TIC), teaches us how to realize this, look for those possibilities as the underlying cause(s) of disorders, and to seek to understand and treat others in such a way that prevents or lessens the impact of trauma in their lives.
This is all secular terminology for a field of biological/psychological/medical study, and I am learning so much from the study of this, and by implementing the concepts into the work in which I’m involved.
But there is another component of it all that many of my colleagues and I have recognized, as Christ-followers. If we are also studying this (ACEs, Trauma Informed Care, Mental Health First Aid, etc…) from the biblical standpoint, we continue to see an even deeper truth in the entire concept.
Seeing others through this “Trauma Informed Care” lens combined with a spiritual lens (through the eyes of Christ) has helped us to realize more fully how we are all designed for connection, for relationship… and yet through the Sin of this world (that is capital-S Sin) we have all suffered disconnection and trauma at some point in our lives.
Even if you do not answer any of the 10 questions from the ACEs list regarding your life in the affirmative, I believe that we ALL suffer from the trauma of the effect of original Sin in our lives, which is the root of the disconnection from relationship with God, the Father of all creation.
Therefore, we are all in need of recovery from the trauma of that lack of connection/relationship.
This need for connection and relationship will haunt each of us throughout our life and, without a way to recover our relationship with our Creator, we will each spend our entire life searching for something, anything, that will fill that void.
Many will try one, many, or all of the salves that the world offers – drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, pornography, money/things/wealth, power, toxic relationships, and the list goes on and on – believing that there “must be something out there that will finally make us “happy”, or “complete”, or “worthy”, or “whole”…
But in my own life, and now in my work, it has become abundantly clear that there is absolutely NOTHING that the world can offer us that is a “salve”, or that can soothe that desire, fill that void, or “make us happy or whole” – except salvation through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is THE BRIDGE to our relationship with God, our Creator – the very One who created us with that need for connection, that desire to find wholeness in a relationship that is only fulfilled in HIM ALONE.
I have witnessed so many who have been struggling with addiction to so many different things in life, and the common theme that I hear regarding recovery from their addictions is some version of this, “I was always struggling, striving, reaching…. and when I finally reached my breaking point, the end of the rope, I knew that I had to just let go, submit, release to a “higher power” (this is part of the 12 steps of recovery). And then [some of them] did this….over and over…succumbing to my addiction over and over….UNTIL THAT DAY – the day that I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and, in my weakness and humility, completely turned it ALL over to Him.”
Jesus Christ is that chain-breaker. He, alone, is the answer to substance use disorder, to addiction of any kind, to loneliness, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, weakness of any kind, ALL OF IT.
And I believe that we ALL struggle with addiction – when we trust ANYTHING of this world more than we trust Christ, then we are struggling with addiction and are in need of recovery.
Not one of us, not a single human alive now or ever, except for Jesus (who was fully God and fully human), has ever NOT struggled with addiction and the need for recovery.
Therefore, there is NO ONE, not one of us, who can stand in condemnation of another human being for the state of their affliction.
Instead, if we have been saved by Christ, if we have submitted to the authority of the Lord God Jehovah in our lives, then our relationship with God, which was once broken because of Sin, has been restored completely, and we are “in recovery” and have become connected in “Holy Friendship” to a COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS, otherwise known as The Church, the Body of Christ.
This, our salvation and our baptism into this holy fellowship of believers, is not due to anything we have DONE ourselves but by the grace of God alone. THEREFORE, our job is not to condemn others, but to go out and SEEK OTHERS to join us in this “Holy Friendship”.
The Holy Friendship Collaborative is prayerfully working to inspire, equip, and mobilize the Church to truly be the Hands and Feet of Christ, to seek out those in need of connection and to minister to them wherever they are, whether that is someone simply in need of connection, friendship, love – or someone who is struggling desperately in the chains of addiction.
Oftentimes, the Church is guilty of withholding the extension of the hand of friendship to “those people” who don’t seem to fit into the neatly filled pews of our worship centers. Much like the older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32), we find it easier to stand aside and judge, and question why our Father would rejoice over the return of a son or daughter to His table (the Church) when they are not as “good” as we think we are or have been.
It is this view of the church, as a self-righteous, condemning judge, that has led to the loss of so many who would have turned to Christ for the healing for which they are so desperate. We did not do anything to “earn” our way into a relationship with God – we have only to submit our lives, believe that Christ died to give us the Way to salvation, and allow Him to be Lord of our lives – so why do we expect others to do something, “to get clean” so to speak, before they are welcome home to celebrate at the Father’s table with us?
This is why so much of the “stigma” from and toward the Church exists today. Those in need of healing do not come to the Church because they fear judgment and condemnation from believers, and the Church does not leave the 99 (Matthew 18:12–14 and Luke 15:3–7) to go out to find the one because it is scary, uncomfortable, dirty, hard, risky work that still might end up in failure or rejection.
But it is our job!
It’s more than that, Church….
It is our PURPOSE (and we all need a purpose!) to go out and invite EVERYONE to the table (Luke 14:15-24), to weep with one another in suffering, to lavish the love of Christ over each one, to rejoice over every single one with love and acceptance, and to feast at that table of celebration, of Holy Friendship, with them!
I’d much rather be AT the party rejoicing together than sulking in the dark corner alone!
So, starting my blog back up and writing here from time to time is one of the ways in which I am inviting YOU to this table of “holy friendship” with me.
I’m on a mission to learn more, to dig deeper into this journey of becoming more like Christ, to do the hard work to be done….and also to receive the blessings that come from being obedient to my Father – the blessings of a life of abundance and beauty and connection and truth.
It won’t be a perfect place. It’s going to be messy. It’s not going to be easy. Many won’t like the messages that I share. The world will resist this. I’m personally probably going to fail hard and often.
But we can be on this journey together, at the table of Holy Friendship, with our Father at the head.