Am I religious?

Recently I was asked the question “Are you religious?” The answer is a resounding YES. I understand there are many people who are put off by that. So many times people have assumed that, because I’m Christian, I must be judgemental. I’m not sure why people think that. I can only guess it’s because there are a lot of us Christan people out there (me included) who fail to behave in a Christian manner much of the time. (The fact that someone asked me if I’m religious is not lost on me here… Obviously I’m not doing my best at demonstrating my Christian values or I wouldn’t need to be asked). Anyway, I told my questioner that there’s no way I could have made it through some of the stuff I’ve been through without God.

I’ve gone to a couple of AA meetings in my life and, from what I understand, they teach about accepting that the addict is powerless and that there is a higher power in control. AA does not call that higher power “God” but many of the addicts I’ve talked to have eventually turned to God through AA. I’m not writing this to preach to anyone. I believe I’m right in my own Christian beliefs but don’t let that scare you away from future posts if you disagree with me. If you love an addict, my hope is that you’ll take comfort in feeling less alone in what you’re going through.

When Laura was 15, her Dad and I divorced. Laura was already using drugs at that time but things we’re not even close to as bad as they would get in the future. I was a single mom with no family living anywhere close to me and feeling pretty alone. I had been actively involved in church but, due to the nature of my divorce, I felt very embarrassed and ashamed to go to church. I felt like people there could see right through me. It felt like they knew all my faults and were judging me for it. I couldn’t have been further from the truth. In reality, my church family were the most loving and forgiving bunch of people! They did know my faults and they were there for me anyway.

After I reached the point of forgiving myself, I was able to grow in my relationship with Christ. That relationship is what kept me from completely losing my mind during the worst of times. I spent a lot of time talking with my very good friend, Jake. I remember him asking me “Do you trust God to take care of you?” I said I did. He then asked me “Then why don’t you trust him to take care of Laura?” That’s a difficult question to answer. As a parent, I felt like it was MY responsibility to keep my daughter safe. I was looking for control over a situation that I was completely powerless to control. Learning to let go and trust God took time (years later I still need to remind myself daily) but trusting God gave me so much relief. I felt a peace inside me that is indescribable. So many times people have said things to me like “I don’t know how you do it. How do you stay so calm?” The only answer I have is my faith.

For years I have called Laura my little bird. It comes from Matthew 6:26-27 which says “Look at the birds of the air; they do not show or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” When I begin to worry about my children, I tell myself to “look at the birds” and I trust God to care for them because they are valuable to him every bit as much as they are valuable to me. I can honestly say that God has not let me down.

So, this is why I’m religious…. Because my faith in God has carried me though years of loving an addict. I’ve become stronger and more loving. I’ve become less judgemental and more generous. I’ve seen the power of prayer and faithfulness in the miracle of Laura’s sobriety. I’ve been completely powerless and felt peace in the middle of the chaos. If you love an addict, you know how precious that peace can be.

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