Luckily, most of the people who surround me now have not seen the worst parts of me. And by “worst” I specifically mean that girl who is suicidal, depressed, addicted, and miserable. Almost four years ago, I was changed by Christ in one instant. Literally one moment that radically altered every decision I’ve made since then. I have not had a drink of alcohol in those four years. That, in case you were wondering, is a big deal.
Many people ask how I quit. They want to know if I went to AA. Yeah, actually, I went to one AA meeting a couple years before I quit. I decided the people in that group were nothing like me. A few months later I was drinking more on a regular basis than I had in my life. I fully believe AA or a similar program is what some addicts need to get back on track. It just wasn’t for me.
What happened then, you know, is I was delivered. It sounds really big-tent-revival of me to say that, but it’s true. Or, it would be more accurate to say (although incredibly passive grammatically), I am being delivered. It’s not done yet. I experienced a one-time, instant realization about seeking Christ. I did not experience a one-time, instant deliverance from my alcohol addiction.
It’s an every day deliverance.
At least once a week I consider having a drink. We used to live in a dry county, so the temptation was usually overcome by the laziness to drive out to county lines and purchase alcohol. Now I pass three different displays of alcohol walking to the dairy section in Wal-Mart. And I think, “Surely by now, I’m okay. Surely by now I could have a beer now and then and be fine.”
But I don’t, I haven’t, and God-willing, I won’t.
Smoking is another addiction with a grip on me. I go in stages of smoking for several months, quitting for several months, picking it up again, quitting again, ad nauseam. It’s not sinful for me to smoke any more than it is for me to drink, but neither are particularly wise choices. (Feel free to insert some 1 Corinthians verses here.)
How about depression? Just the mention of depression and faith is enough to set some people over the edge, feeling judged or condemned. Even in high school, I was crushed when a bold, Baptist classmate brazenly announced, “Real Christians won’t get depressed.”
Did that cause me to question my salvation? It sure as hell did. Did it cause me to sink deeper into depression? Yep, that too.
I appreciate his well-meaning statement, but it’s simply not true. Some of the darkest times in my life have been in the past four years. Periods of depression still overcome me for days, weeks, or even months at a time. But I know that’s a result of a skewed, selfish perspective. (This is where some of you will want to attack me. Go ahead, but just know it won’t give you any more relief in your own depression.) That said, I struggle with depression more than anything else in this list. And I know there’s periods of depression in my future just waiting for me to find them there, already weeping and wailing and welcoming me in.
Thankfully, however, I’ve already been delivered from that forthcoming doom. Because I already have the one thing that brings me through it and will continue to bring me through it. It’s hope. It’s hope in my freedom.
So here’s what I mean by delivered, and maybe I should have said this up front: I don’t mean that these things won’t still attack me. I don’t mean that the enemy won’t still try to break me with them. I don’t mean that my own sinful nature won’t try to use them to self-destruct me, that I’ll never feel depressed or turn to a cigarette when I’m stressed instead of prayer or pass a case of beer and considering having “just one” because I’ve done really good these past four years and deserve to relax now and then.
These things still follow me, but I am free from them. In the words of the great Jennifer Connelly in The Labyrinth, “You have no power of me.”
It’s that freakin’ hope, man. That hope that my God is big and capable and willing to keep me free from the chains I keep shackling to my wrists and ankles. I know I need deliverance, and I have hope that his deliverance is from past to present to future. That even if I need deliverance every moment of every day, he’ll carry me through it.
What kind of deliverance do you experience in your life? How has hope for deliverance carried you out of depression, addiction, or another dark place?