I haven't written in over a week. I've wanted to, but didn't have anything I felt passionate about writing. I prayed for direction a few times and nothing came. Yesterday, I started realizing how many times I've experienced true peace in the last seven months and even more so in the last seven days. Peace? Was that what I was supposed to write about? How? I woke naturally this morning, at 5:00 and I knew He was about to learn how. I'm writing as it comes to me. I also now have an answer to a question my girls asked me last year. I'm excited for them to wake:)
In April of last year, we moved into a home that is nearly 100 years old. It was our fourth home, and the "one" I'd imagined since I was old enough to plan my wedding. I'd always wanted an older house, the kind that "has character". It's a Tudor style house that sits up on a hill, off the road. The family who sold it to us had raised three sons here. The matriarch grew up here. She's in her mid-eighties now and this was her childhood home. It has both character and memories.
Nostalgia aside. the house is just old. Prior to moving in, there were several things that had to be addressed. The electric wasn't up to code. The shower stall in the master bedroom had a single, standard lightbulb screwed into an exposed receptacle. The third floor, although it had its own staircase and two sets of windows, had holes in the walls where you could see through to outside. The pipes are cast iron giving us more than we bargained for when remodeling three of the bathrooms.
The renovations necessary to move in took nearly four months. We were packing up, but still living in our former house and slowly moving things into our current one. That whole transition was in the height of my drinking. The only reason I wasn't drinking during the day was because my disease hadn't yet reached that point. It would have eventually though. But only by the Grace of God...
Once we moved in, I was limited to what I could do. The house was still swarming with contractors. I was unpacking, but I only had access to a few rooms. I got bored quickly and decided I would "get handy." I figured, why wait on Carl to get home to help me hang pictures, shelves or curtain rods? I had time during the day! I was confined to a few rooms and there was little I had left I could do in them. I taught myself how to use the drill, even to install anchors for supporting things I wanted hung outside the studs. I was so proud of myself...
We've all heard the dangers of pride. For me, it's exceptionally dangerous. It's one of my triggers. For years, I drank to medicate anxiety, fear, stress, self-pity and insecurity. But, I also drank to celebrate, or as a reward. Some people "earn" a few slices of pizza, a drive thru at Dairy Queen, or even a new outfit (I earn that too!)
I earned vodka and sodas with lime. Or wine. Or Coronas. Whatever was in the house. If I had nothing, I'd go get it before the kids got home from school. And by the end, by the time we were in the middle of the renovations and I was using power tools, I was reading the labels on the bottles. Not for calorie content, but for alcohol per volume. I wanted more "bang for my buck". By the end, I was choosing what to buy not on flavor or cost, but on what had the most alcohol in the fewest ounces. What would get me drunker faster...
I said I wasn't drinking during the day. But, like most alcoholic storytelling, that isn't 100% truthful. Fridays were different. On Fridays-the "real" and "accepted" beginning to the weekend-I'd usually start mid-late afternoon. It wasn't uncommon for me to have started by the time the kids walked home from school. I mean, aren't Fridays internationally known as the official happy hour? Just because I didn't have a salaried job outside of the home shouldn't disqualify me from participation!
On a typical Friday, I'd get the kids off to school and dive into some grand project. I'd deep clean the bathrooms, organize all the closets, assemble a storage rack, run all the errands for the week. Whatever the chore, it was a means to an end. It was a series of accomplishments I could use to justify a binge. It wasn't accidental or subconscious. I planned from the moment I woke what I would need to "check-off" to earn a cocktail. It was exciting, something to look forward to! Fridays were VERY productive!
We'd renovated the master bathroom for the girls. Although they're only 8 and 10 now, we plan to live here forever. We felt fortunate enough to have a large bathroom shared between two bedrooms that could accommodate teenagers! I had a vision for the space long before it was finished. I've always wanted to surround the girls with inspiration-photos, art and quotes that encourage and empower. I was overwhelmed with the opportunity in this blank canvas that was now their shared space.
There were scriptures I'd read and wanted displayed around our house. Specific ones stood out to me, for each of the kids. The one for the girls symbolizes the irony, hypocrisy and narcism that are so common in alcoholic thinking. I'd chosen Proverbs 31:25. I wanted them to grow up feeling strong and full of dignity. I wanted them to have self-confidence, independence and courage.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...
Did I think a vinyl decal would instill the values they needed since their mother was an indulgent lush? I REALLY believed I was strong and dignified. I REALLY thought I was fooling everyone-even God! I was proud to hang that decal, a proud testimony from a mother to her daughters. HA!
The day I decided to hang it was a Friday. It was mid-afternoon and I really wanted it finished for them to see when they got home. I'd spent the day crossing things off my list in an effort to earn a good bender. It was warm and the sun was shining. Spring.
It was a beautiful, spring Friday. Prime circumstances for indulging.
I'd had a few drinks by the time I got started. I had a long level to draw to mark where to stick the decal. I was clumsy, sloppy in my application. I cannot believe the end product looks as nice (and straight) as it does. There was only one mishap. In my reckless execution, I'd scraped the edge of a heavy tape measure right across the verse.
It isn't incredibly noticeable. It's definitely not an eyesore. But it's there. A permanent scar to memorialize my lack of strength and dignity. A tangible reminder of God's grace. And humor!
The girls thought it was beautiful and immediately asked what it meant. They understood the word strength, but asked about dignity. Carl and I did our best to give examples like how to hold your head high, be proud of who your are, make decisions that honor God, and live by His example. (None of which their most influential role model was demonstrating at the time.)
When they asked what it meant to "laugh at the days to come", we all heard crickets.
"...she laughs without fear of the future." (New Living Translation)
"...she is full of joy about the future." (New Life)
"...she shall rejoice in times to come." (New King James)
I don't know about yours, but my kids don't think a whole lot about the future. What could you possibly fear or laugh about something you'd never considered to begin with? We responded with, "it will make more sense the older you get..." Don't deny it! You've had to pull out that "pass" at some point too!
This morning, as I wrote, the real answer came. At least, the answer I'm going to share with my girls.
"When you live a life for God, in complete trust and dependence, you'll know peace. When you ask Him for guidance in your decisions, when He's the center of your choices, you'll experience peace. He can make the decisions for you, if you let Him. He'll protect and advise you. When you're strong enough to ask, and stand tall with dignity in accepting His answers, you'll live life with confidence, not fear. You'll know contentment. You'll rarely question or doubt. You'll be able to find peeks of light in the darkness, and blessings in the misfortune."
I no longer fear the future to come. I'm not afraid of the future because I've learned I don't control it. He does. He'll direct and guide as I ask, reassure and encourage when I'm weak. In recognizing and accepting His plan for my life, I am now at peace with where we're going.
Even laughing along the way.