The First Lady of New Beginnings
by Linda Bright
I could be so big headed when it came to my life. I faced difficult circumstances with the attitude that I was capable of handling them on my own. My husband was now a pastor of a small church founded in our home, making me the First Lady, but in reality, I was desperate for God. I realized that there were so many things I couldn't do anything about, but God could. I loved ministry as much of my husband and having been recently ordained, I was in the midst of forming my own woman-focused ministry. "Passing the Faith Along Ministries."
I was a professional with a graduate degree, my use of drugs 25 years before found me involved with the 12 step fellowship and counseling other substance abusers. I was one of the few African American females in our state to be certified as a Certified Addiction Counselor, and I would later receive certification in a neighboring state. My family was very proud of my accomplishments. Teen wife and mother, 7th grade drop out and, former addict, a success story.
I worked on several grant related projects that focused on women and children, especially those who had been cocaine exposed. I would travel attending conferences, and eventually became a presenter. Many of the grants were government agencies like CSAP. I would also play a major role in changing the attitudes that others had about methadone, and help introduce suboxone to the opiate dependent community.
Despite long-term sobriety, my life's fabric had fringed edges. Anger, low self esteem, shopping and relationship difficulties. But I was highly respected and knowledgeable in my profession. In many ways, my own work helped church ministry better understand how to best reach out to addicted individuals who sought to identify a higher power in their lives.
My story does not start the same as it did 25 years ago, when I shared how alcohol and cocaine had taken over my life. That was a life that had seem so far away, but there was a new chapter, one that would tell of a doctor's quick fix to a horrible disease. A doctor's intention to possibly relieve short-term, a dark rooted disease. A doctor's hope to help another become healthy, unaware of the harm that would result.
I recently went through a devasting two-year battle with clinical depression and ADDICTION, that included severe panic attacks. While sitting at the bottom of that deep, dark pit, I discovered that the pit of depression and prescription drug abuse was always filled with waters swimming with worry. I worried about how I got into the pit and how I would or even if I could get out. I worried constantly if my depression/addiction would hurt my family and my husband's ministry.
I worried about what people would think of me when they saw my weaknesses and failures. The words said to me by good friends when I tried to reach out often stung and I avoided talking to them about it. They really never knew the truth. In my darkness, worry made everything seem bigger and uglier than it really was. Worry helped to usher me into the pit, and worry
was now one of my prisons' guards. I desperately wanted to trust God, exchanging my worry for His peace. I begged God to take away the anxiety and the fear. Nothing seemed to work. I was losing the battle, while sinking lower into the grip of darkness. There had to be a way out I would often tell myself.
My journey back began with another's real love and concern for me. No longer were they willing to stand back and watch me be sucked into a place where no light shone. They openly talked about confronting my doctor and the media coverage of Michael Jackson made it clear that addiction did kill. And like Conrad Murray, my doctor, had become a monster, because of my manipulation. I became an expert on benzodiazepines and doses, I forged documents and attended non-existent therapy sessions. Now my husband was talking of taking down her practice because she had been bambuzed by a resourceful addict. My family did not like what I had become, I never came out of my room, and was no longer the fun loving person they had known. They openly grieved their loss of wife, mother, grandmother, and social director.
Even when I took a strong, clear look at this new monster in my life, it was not a pretty picture. My addiction had permeated every are of my life, invading peace, warping perspectives, and affecting physical and emotional health. The effort to continue this addiction was a waste of energy, it was consuming, draining and unhealthy. Addiction did not fit the picture of a joy-filled life that I knew Jesus had come to give to me, and I had once known.
But through it all, my husband constantly ministered to me, and I heard him say one day, Isaiah 26:3 "that God would keep in perfect peace all who trust in Him, whose thoughts are fixed on Him. "
Family interventions and support are important to one overcoming the strongholds of addiction. But I know that, Phillippians 4:7 reminds me that my God's peace, which goes beyond anything I can imagine, will guard my thoughts, and emotions through Christ Jesus, and so I cried out. The chance of experiencing physical withdrawal was high, my last attempt to stop resulted in seizure like activity. I was scared, but my family encouraged, and encouraged, and......
Today I am better understanding my walk with Him, and I know that I am not to be anxious about anything, and everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, am I to present to Him.. It is then that I'll know the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, the peace that guards my heart and my mind.
Sadly, despite the devoutly religious individual's have described Mrs. katherine Jackson as being, she was not able to help her son understand the healing grace of Jesus, because despite all the human interactions in the world, there is still a certain aspect of healing that no human can do despite all the education and training they may have received. Restoration, it's a God-thing. He is the One who can restore us to a greater quality of life He intended for us.