Charlie is smart!
Many years ago I took a job at a small branch of a large corporation and was told Charlie is an addict. Charlie is actually a funny, intelligent, and wise man. One day Charlie mentioned his soon-to-be-ex-wife wanted to take one of his paintings he was reluctant to give her.
My Christian neck-hairs stood on end. Not because he was an addict but because he was getting divorced. I’m frustrated because good people seem to throw in the towel because marriage is uncomfortable, inconvenient, or they just don’t feel it anymore. UGH
So of course I stepped through the door he opened and asked why he was getting divorced. I wasn’t prepared for the answer. He was divorcing the wife he loved deeply, to save his life. It took some time for me to fully grasp his reasoning.
Charlie was relatively fresh out of rehab and working to stay clean. I had no understanding of that. Oh I know my share of addicts but none who were in this stage of recovery. Past admitting there is a problem but before fifteen years sober. In fact about eight months later he gave me a 1 year coin celebrating his first year clean-and-sober.
How does an addict move from user to fifteen years clean? One day at a time. I know it sounds cliché but watching Charlie at work taking hundreds of one-day-at-a-times impacted me in ways I am just now realizing.
Charlie is taking control
So what did he do?
Charlie went to rehab and took an account of his life, his trajectory, and confronted himself. He had the added encouragement from work that said this is your one-and-only chance with us. External motivators can have some influence but ultimately change only lasts when it’s internally driven.
Charlie returned from rehab and started the real work of living without hiding behind drugs and alcohol. This is where life happens, daily choices really matter. You can drastically change your trajectory by making one tiny shift today then adding to that shift by agreeing with it tomorrow. Then increase the shift by adding a little every day.
For an addict the first day without using feels like an extreme shift. Extreme because they’re out of their comfort zone, but the zone is very close at hand. All their friends, contacts, sources, and enablers are right there. They don’t like the change because it’s their comfort zone too.
Charlie is wise
Charlie recognized his circle of influence would impact his success.
Work became a safe place for Charlie because one person who partied with him was fired and another quit because of his behavior. When he returned from rehab two of the three other employees were new and had no reference to his old habits. He was honest and open about his history but he worked clean and sober. I only knew the true Charlie, not Charlie the addict.
Home life was not as good. Charlie’s wife insisted she didn’t have a problem and she should be able to drink or use drugs if she wanted. Charlie agreed. But her choices impacted him, so he filed for divorce. He knew he had to take responsibility for who he allows to influence his life. The risk was too great to stay. His life was more valuable than his marriage.
That was hard for me to wrap my head around.
All the time I say “nothing is wasted in God’s economy.” This is one harvest I am reaping years after it was planted. I still have that 1 year coin that has the serenity prayer on one side. On the other it states “To thine own self be true; recovery, unity, and service. It’s one of my most treasured possessions reminding me I must be my true self, made in the image of God, for His good service.
I am responsible for me and my choices. What I allow to influence me impacts my walk with God. Every knee will bow before him and all the finger pointing ended in the garden. Spring is a great time to confront myself, look at my trajectory and take an account of my life.
- Where am I headed – what’s my trajectory?
- Am I an influencer where I need to be?
- Who or what influences me?
- What influences positively impacts my relationship with God?
- What have I allowed in my circle of influence that negatively impacts my relationship with God?
- Have I elevated something above my relationship with God?
Charlie’s wife was a type of idol to the god of addiction. He knew if he remained with her he would bow his life once again to addition’s will. Things that we can’t live without sit on the throne of our heart. These are idols and we weren’t created to worship idols. Idols can be people, activities, and things.
It’s your turn. Share how you have taken back control of things in your life. What type of things get in the way of growing your relationship with God?