I have the most beautiful office this morning. I am in Playa, Mexico at the beach. On a retreat. A recovery retreat. With yoga. I’m here because I get to be. No other reason than that I simply get to be. For a week I am in a no judgement zone of beautiful women who I can relate to like no other. It’s day 4 here and I have a bond with twenty of the most brave, courageous, and loving women that you wouldn’t think was possible in such a short time. The kind of bond that can only develop in this amount of time when it’s not wasted on trying to impress anyone. This is a place where shoes and makeup are optional. Yoga is optional too. I have gone twice, but my personal jury is still out on that one.
Every day I feel my brain slowing down more. It is incredible, and I have been able to experience a peace and contentment that is so new to me; I feel reborn. Is it because my phone is in my nightstand drawer most of the time? Is it because I am in the same place every day where the furthest I venture is the beach? Is it because there is not a J&H Family Store in walking distance where I could get my sugar buzz on? It’s all of those things and more. However, the biggest one is setting aside all of those earthly distractions for a week, allowing a space to open up in my life to fully feel God’s presence.
I get to do this all because I signed up for Alcoholism 101. There are women here for many different reasons, but this seems to be the popular one. We are here because of an organization called SheRecovers that I have been involved with. You can read more about it at sherecovers.co. The central theme is, “We are all recovering from something,” and I get it. I’m not just recovering from alcoholism. Throw in some codependency, add in some shame and sugar, and there’s always work to be done. So I am being kind to myself, and taking a week to be gentle to me. No high expectations of any kind. None.
At last night’s gathering, we had to throw a list in the fire. A list of what we need to let go of. My list was short, just one line. As I stood there poised on the edge of the flames, I felt its warmth. I closed my eyes and felt the heat on my body and heard God say, “Now. Toss it to me.” So I did. And even though this thing that’s been consuming me was not miraculously gone, this morning I felt lighter. I trusted him and handed it over. It’s in his hands now.
That is kind of what I did in my third year of sobriety. I asked God to use me in any way he saw fit. Maybe talking to another woman about sobriety, sharing my story. He said again, “Toss it to me.”
The very thing that I was so ashamed to talk about, I felt ready to share: my drinking. I had a mental picture of a cozy coffee shop, talking to another woman stuck in the cycle of addiction. It didn’t happen that way. A friend asked me to speak at a women’s conference in Zeeland. Zeeland? My community? I would rather speak to 10,000 women in California then a small group in Zeeland. I mean, this would be really coming out with my story. I would feel naked and exposed but God told me, “You won’t be ashamed. For if you are ashamed, your story does not do anyone any good, and it will hurt you. Be proud of what you went through. How strong I have made you.”
I told my story that day. (You can listen to it at shesurrenders.com/about)
But there wasn’t anyone in that audience that benefited more than me. I was free at last; free from the darkness that I had been hiding my light in. I started my blog, my book, connected with women that started writing to me, and I have never looked back. Nor have I ever regretted it.
We used to sing a song in church when I was little:
Pass It On
It only takes a spark
To get a fire going
And soon all those around
Can warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You spread His love to everyone
You want to pass it on
I wish for you my friend
This happiness that I’ve found
You can depend on Him
It matters not where you’re bound
I’ll shout it from the mountain top
I want my world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on
We sang this song in Gems (aka Calvinettes), and I remember it verbatim. When I was just ten years old, did I ever think that I would use this song as I wrote about my alcoholism? No, I was singing that song, and God wanted me to remember those words. He was equipping me with tools at that tender young age. I am grateful I’m learning how to use them, the biggest one being my voice.
“I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found.”
Pass it on,