Life wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.
As a red-haired, freckle-faced little girl, my childhood dreams included being a well-liked teacher, driving a fancy convertible, wearing sparkly things.
However, my story did not progress as I had planned. Despite my aspirations, my young adult reality would have made for a depressing TV movie. My days were filled with bullying, betrayal, and rejection. As I sought to fill my intense emptiness and loneliness, I sampled everything I could from the “smorgasbord of life.”
Food. Shopping. Alcohol. Men. Drugs.
At the age of 26, I found myself as a single mom. Used. Abused. Alone.
Not knowing how to calm the caverns inside of me, I turned to outside remedies once again. The bar became my nightly hang-out, and alcohol and cocaine use quickly consumed my life.
On the outside, everything looked fine. I smiled and worked hard and loved my 2 year old son the best I could. But on the inside, I was still empty, lonely and hurting.
Before long, the façade began to unravel, and the weight of pretending to be “fine” was more than I could bear. Even though I had chosen to use alcohol and cocaine to numb my pain, they were now using me, and I didn’t know how to stop.
In the midst of my mess, I reached out to a friend’s mom and shared the web of deception I had created, and a meeting was quickly arranged. Compassionate Christian women held notebooks and yellow pads filled with plans and strategies. Go to AA. Check into a dry house. Pursue inpatient therapy. Tell my parents.
None of the proposals appealed to me. I left the gathering with a fresh sense of self-confidence. “I can do this. I don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to get clean. I’ve got this. Everything is under control.”
I discovered willpower alone is not enough to overcome the allure of addiction.
Within a matter of days, the cravings were too much, and I caved to my temptations. There I was – back in the bar making the same old self-defeating choices. Comfortable in my sinful surroundings, yet miserably uncomfortable. “I’ll try again tomorrow” became my evening tune.
Two weeks later I accidentally overdosed on cocaine.
After driving myself to a med center for emergency aid, my parents were quickly notified. One concerned nurse informed my mom she should say her goodbyes to me, her only daughter. The medical team’s prediction as they rushed me by ambulance to a local hospital: I would be dead on arrival.
Thankfully I didn’t die like they expected (whew!), and the overdose became my “bottom.” Out of desperation and a determination to survive, once again, I asked a friend’s mom for help. This dear woman shared with me four words – simple words, but words that have changed my life –
“Cindy, you need Jesus.”
And on that day, July 26, 1996, freshly discharged from the hospital, I cried out to Jesus and asked Him to enter into my addiction and help me.
Can I just say – best decision ever? Life has never been the same.
Willpower alone is not enough to overcome the allure of addiction – but Jesus is.
Jesus alone can rescue, redeem, save, deliver, restore, and open up those prison gates and set any captive free. There is no one too far gone from His redemptive reach.
Can I get a Woo Hoo?!
Now I wish I could share it’s been an easy, carefree journey of sobriety and freedom. Not so much.
Although Jesus delivered me from my pit of despair and destruction, I’ve also had to do my part, including:
- Pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ. Surrendering every area of my life to Christ, and inviting Him to be the Lord of my life.
- Renewing my mind with the Truth of God’s Word. My life has been transformed because my mind has been transformed, and that’s come by meditating on and memorizing God’s Word.
- Leaving behind the “old” life, involving: quitting my job, letting go of any alcohol/drug related friendships, and avoiding any environments where temptations would be high.
- Stopping secrets and lies, and exposing all areas of my life to His Light.
- Getting to the “root” of the problem. What was I trying to numb? Why? Through Godly counselors, we were able to identify the true source of my pain, allowing inner healing to come.
- Asking for accountability. For many months I met daily with a recovered drug user. The times I didn’t want to meet, she’d find me and make me stay longer. Day-to-day accountability and support made a huge difference in my journey to freedom.
- Starting new healthy habits. As I left behind the “old,” I needed to replace my behaviors with healthy, life-giving choices.
- Praying! I asked God daily to protect me from temptation, replace my destructive cravings with His satisfaction and peace, to surround me with women to build me up and encourage me, and to fill my heart and mind with His Truth.
The good news? This year I celebrated 18 years of sobriety. Yay, God!
Please know I’m not a trained therapist or licensed counselor, just an ordinary girl transformed by an extraordinary God. There isn’t one single day I don’t invite Jesus to be Lord and do His powerful work in my life. I’m desperate for Him! But I show up to do my part as well. Life’s worth it. Jesus is worth it!
How about you, friend?
If you’ve been searching for something to fill the emptiness and find yourself ensnared by the lure of addiction, please remember, willpower alone is not enough to set you free.
Sweet friend, you need Jesus. Please don’t wait another day.
With nearly 20 years of ministry experience, Cindy is a popular women’s speaker, author, and Bible teacher. But don’t let her cheerful smile fool you—Cindy has endured single parenting, overcome bondage to addiction, and survived tragic loss.Cindy’s Bible study, Red Hot Faith: Lessons from a Lukewarm Church, was released in July 2014.Cindy lives in Michigan with her husband and their four kids. Most days you can find Cindy walking her beagle Rocky, attending one of her boys’ hockey games, or serving hot lunch at her kids’ school.Visit Cindy at www.cindybultema.com.