“He’ll never change,” the lady told me. “I’ve known him for over 20 years, he is what he is. He will just break your heart,” she added. “He will always be a drunk,” my loved one said. I felt defensive, ashamed. I started keeping the sordid details of my life to myself even amidst the turmoil in my heart. What had been an exciting, three month courtship now resulted in a young twenty-two year old disillusioned bride.
I fell hard for this man. He was unlike any I had dated before. Worldly, successful, funny and 15 years my senior. I felt safe with him, and there was no doubt I loved him. My friends gossiped and marveled I fell for an older man. My family just about disowned me and did their best to intervene, yet something deep inside made me determined to marry him.
We were married 2 months when I found out I was pregnant. This was the only child we had planned to have. Three months in I realized what appeared to be social drinking was really an alcohol addiction. Confrontations led to dismal fights which led to declarations of cutting back or doing better. We existed in a realm of illusory, he knew I wasn’t happy yet he tried.
The drinking fractured our family time, our relationship, our outlook. I started thinking about leaving, my adorable toddler gave me strength to insist we deserved better. Then I found out I was pregnant, again. I decided to keep trying but I had to have help.
I went to church but it wasn’t the right fit, I was gossip to those who knew me. It was hard getting myself together with a toddler in tow, to show up and make an appearance with a big smile on my face. I didn’t see other wives hitting the altar because their husbands had issues. Yet I had this overwhelming feeling I needed to be in church.
The addiction continued to take its toll on our family. In a drunken, angry state my husband quit a job providing a six figure income. In the 80’s, this was a substantial salary. Within months we found ourselves losing everything. He agreed to rehab only after he came face to face with financial ruin. Soon he was offered a job in Louisiana. It was a new start in a new place.
He went ahead to find us a place to live. Weeks later I came with our babies. We were barely settled into our new home when I realized he was drinking again. I was heart broken, hopeless.
GOD provided a Christian family next door. I went to church with them, I felt GOD’S presence. I saw hurting people on the altar, I let my guard down and shared my painful secret. They prayed and taught me to pray for GOD’S will. They shared with me it was GOD’S will for my husband to be a born again Christian and to be set free of his addiction. I had hope.
We were in Louisiana just less than a year when the job was over. The owner was selling out. We were going back to Tennessee. I was considering going my separate way when we returned home. It would be an easy transition during the move. In the process of packing, I found out I was pregnant with our third child. Yea….GOD has a sense of humor. I stayed.
The struggle continued to be heart wrenching, the finances were tight. My first born was pretty sharp and soon picked up on daddy coming home drunk. Thank GOD he wasn’t a mean drunk but a sloppy, affectionate, sentimental drunk. My feeble heart literally ached because my child could see the difference in a drunk daddy.
I remember crying out to GOD…..”I don’t know what to do, you have got to help me GOD.” Our third baby was born and amazingly GOD led me to a new friend named Debby. A vivacious, GOD fearing, spit fire full of faith. What a friend. She led me to a church with a pastor named Jerry. An evangelistic, friendly, soul winner man of GOD. What a pastor. Jerry shepherded a loving, non-judging church family with real problems too. What a church.
I started praying one night a week with Debby and another friend. I learned to pray specific, I remembered the precious family from Louisiana who taught me it was GOD’S will for all to find salvation. I believed and claimed this promise for my husband.
We prayed it would rain on Sunday’s so he couldn’t golf and maybe go to church with me. We prayed he would get hangovers….something he never did. We prayed GOD would wrap his spirit so tight around my husband’s heart he would suffocate in conviction. It rained 6 weeks in a roll and he attended church some. He started puking his guts out after he drank and I so enjoyed listening to his gut wrenching bathroom sessions. I specifically remember thanking GOD for hangovers.
One night he sat down and watched a Billy Graham crusade on television. I sat next to him on the couch as tears streamed down his face and he wiped them with his hand. For 7 months, we prayed, we prayed specific, we prayed expectantly, we prayed in faith.
Three days after we watched the crusade on television he was in his favorite local pub with all his golf buddies. It was a Sunday evening and my babies were loaded in their car seats as we headed to church. The pub was on the way….GOD spoke clearly and said….”Stop and send Matthew in.”
“Send my baby in a bar Lord?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from GOD. I literally sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes wrestling with whether to send my three and a half year old into a bar. Finally with a heavy heart, I stood at the door as my baby went in and asked his daddy to go to church with us.
We settled into our seats near the front, liquor on his breath. He wasn’t drunk but he had knocked down a few. I remember thinking, I hope no one smells the alcohol on his breath. The pastor brought a powerful salvation message directed at my husband. I knew he was under conviction when the invitation started. I looked at his knuckles white from griping the pew so tight.
The pastor offered one more verse, I was about to give up. Then all of a sudden he turned to me and said, “I’ve got to go Mel, he’s calling me.” He shot out into the aisle and hit the altar. The pastor went and counseled him. I waited and prayed but made it to the altar just in time to hear him pray the sinner’s prayer.
I remember my husband holding me on the altar after he asked Christ into his heart. I remember the taste of my salty tears as we embraced each other for what seemed like forever. I cried into his chest, he cried on my shoulder. The entire church was rejoicing and praising GOD.
GOD was so faithful to my family that precious night. I relive it often. He has brought us so far, replenished us financially, restored relationships, restored hope. What the devil took….GOD replaced.
We will be married 30 years in January 2015. He has been sober since giving his heart to JESUS on March 17th, 1990. What rehab and a devoted, young bride’s love couldn’t do…GOD did.
I have often thought about what would have happened had I not sent my innocent little boy into the pub that night? Crazy isn’t it? GOD told me to send my baby into a bar? I still scratch my head about doing so and I have never shared this detail of our story till now.
We’ve read countless stories of GOD telling our bible heroes to do crazy things haven’t we? So it stands to reason….why would he not tell us to do crazy things too? Remember the leper, Naaman? Elisha told him through a servant, go wash in the muddy Jordan seven times and you will be clean. Naaman was angry Elisha did not come out to meet him and call on the Lord. He questioned the choice of waters stating there were cleaner rivers around. He went away in rage. If not for his servants convincing him to go to the Jordan and obey Elisha’s directives, Naaman would not have been healed. (2 Kings 5)
Its a beautiful story of stubborn obedience, similar to mine. I have learned through my 49 plus years, GOD’S ways are certainly not my ways. (Isaiah 55:8) He doesn’t do things the way my flawed mindset would do them.
If I had been the one who went into the pub that spring night in 1990, I don’t know if my husband would have responded with a yes. It probably would have angered him I showed up….especially in front of his buddies. The little wife had come to fetch her husband could have been his embarrassment….but seeing those sweet, little, expressive eyes with arms reaching up…speaking a tender, innocent plea…. I believe GOD used our baby to move my husband.
This reminds me of the scripture in Corinthians….
“But GOD has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and GOD has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
We don’t have a clue what GOD wants to use in our lives to bring him glory. Our ways are not HIS ways and HIS infinite wisdom will never be matched. It could be foolish things, the weak, it could be sickness, an addiction, a baby in a bar….but whatever he chooses to use…. we have got to be willing to do the things not making sense…. the crazy things…. if he asks us to.
The sadness hovering over our community this week has been debilitating to me personally. The death of Will McKamey has dominated my mind and prayers. This beautiful young man was the type of kid the world needs more of. Just doesn’t seem fair does it? It’s just not the natural order of life to loose a young man with so much promise and goodness.
I have wrestled with so many questions this week. Why things happen…tragedy, heartache, sickness and trials?
The devil always throws a few more jabs when we’re discouraged……my husband had testing this week revealing troublesome health issues. Waiting with my husband in recovery as he slept……. I was miserable in spirit and I just found myself asking GOD….do I really trust you?
These are hard days Lord…..do I really trust you?
This life stinks Lord….do I really trust you?
It’s so hard to pray when discouragement bares down hard and you wrestle with life and death issues.
Getting down in the pit and rolling around in the discouragement is exactly what the enemy wants us to do because it throws us off our game…..focus….. and mission. I’m sad to say I fell straight into the enemies snare.
I am amazed at the faith of the McKamey family……rejoicing in grief…..because they know where Will is. I honestly don’t know what I would do in their situation? I think back to the time my own son collapsed on the track after winning a regional meet. It was his senior year and he had just won the KIL county championship the previous week. He was preparing for his fourth visit to state, predicted to win it all in his division.
Doctor’s told us he had swelling on the brain from a bleed. The swelling caused seizures and unconsciousness. We were stricken with fear….I was numb. He was a week away from graduating, we didn’t know if he would be able to walk across stage. Diagnosed with a weak, leaking vascular angioma in the left frontal lobe of his brain, we were told surgery was too dangerous…..the risk for stroke too great…..and just like that…the scholarships were gone…..the athletic career ended …..it was over for our seventeen year old ambitious son.
When I heard Will collapsed last Saturday morning, I immediately told my husband. We stopped and prayed for him right then…..we knew what this family was going through. My heart just ached for them. I am still aching although I cannot understand the grief they are now in. My son couldn’t compete anymore….their son is now in heaven……I can’t really relate to their loss.
How does a family go on in the face of tragedy?
How do we cope in times of hardship and discouragement?
Everywhere I have turned this week I have been reminded of the scripture in Isaiah 40. This precious chapter holds several of my favorite reminders that give me hope and remind me who GOD really is.
In verse 11 it says…….
Like a shepherd HE will tend HIS flock, in HIS arm HE will gather the lambs…..And carry them in HIS bosom; HE will gently lead the nursing ewes.
HE is our shepherd in all the seasons of life…..and death. The shepherd keeps us from straying….in our deeds and thoughts. Sheep are prone to stray, they are easily confused and frightened……. they are totally dependent on the shepherd for protection and guidance. They listen to their shepherds voice and follow him…..they don’t lead……they follow.
If we know JESUS as our SAVIOR…..HE is our good shepherd…..and we can totally be dependent on HIM. HIS voice won’t lead us astray.
In verse 18 it says………
To whom then will you liken GOD? Or what likeness will you compare with HIM?
Who in your life has been everything for you? Man will let you down….even family…spouses….but GOD will never let you down. Who in your life can compare with GOD? There is nobody in my life that can restore me….heal me…..replenish me…..comfort me….. only GOD has done these things for me……nobody compares with my GOD.
Verse 26 reminds us that HE is our creator…….
“Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, HE calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of HIS might and the strength of HIS power, not one of them is missing.”
HE hung the stars, HE calls them all by name, HE knows exactly where each one should be, they don’t go missing. HE knows and calls us by our name…..HE knit us in our mother’s womb…..we are not invisible to HIM….therefore; HE tends to our needs….our broken hearts….our souls…..HE sees us.
The scripture goes on to say………
“HE gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might HE increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly……Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
So here we are LORD…..we are weary. Weary to the point that we lack might……so we wait for you LORD. We wait for new strength…..we wait until you take our weariness away. We need our good shepherd to keep us from going astray in our grief and discouragement…..we need you to call us by name and tend to our hurting hearts.
Who else can we trust?
Who else has been faithful the way our LORD has?
Only HE can be ALL and EVERYTHING to us.
Only HE can give peace to the McKamey family….only HE can give them a portion of healing to sustain them in the days to come…..
Only GOD can be their ALL and EVERYTHING.
No man or earthy thing can comfort them like our GOD can.
I honestly don’t know how people make it without JESUS? How do they cope? Who gives them peace and joy in tribulation?
I can’t function without my JESUS…..
We will experience hardship, loss, and pain in this life but the only one who can sustain us is JESUS.
JESUS is the only one we can trust.
Will McKamey’s life is powerful evidence of his trust in JESUS as well…….he knew him……he relied on him……he had felt his healing power before…….and now he is basking in his SAVIOR’S presence.
Well….I’m having one of those days where satan is absolutely trying to mess with me. It actually started yesterday. You ever feel like you are just so sinful….and unworthy…..and a disappointment to GOD? Unfortunately I have many times. I loose my temper…..I think a bad thought….I get stubborn and harden my heart.
Its hard to lay our sin down sometimes…..but even harder to believe that GOD forgives us the first time we ask….so we keep reminding HIM and asking for forgiveness again and again….when really….if we are truly repentant….HEforgave us the first time we asked.
Anybody out there keep asking GOD to forgive you for something you’ve already confessed?
Satan is the one continually rubbing our nose in our failures……NOT GOD!
Grace is such a beautiful concept that has always been so hard to graft to my heart. I think insecurities…..child hood experiences…..even church experiences can have something to do with that as well….after all….Christians are hard on each other. We want to recall or remember when our sisters or brothers wrong us…..yet we don’t want them to remember our offenses.
Feelings are liars……they make us think things not true….they make us believe the worst sometimes….when GOD has only feelings of love for us…..HE thinks only good for us.
I wish there was some kind of magic filter that I could just install in my psyche that automatically screened out all the feelings and thoughts that cause me to beat myself up….over and over. “I shouldn’t have reacted that way…..I shouldn’t have said that…..I failed again.”
For instance…..when I felt GOD telling me to start a blog…..about three years ago….I kept telling myself….”Who do you think you are…speaking for GOD?” Many of my friends know that I am a playwright for church…I even struggle with writing plays that are effective for the kingdom….I don’t feel worthy……up to the task…..clean enough……yet HE fills my head with all these beautiful pictures and stories that translate into characters on paper.
I fought the blog thing for a long time…..until GOD spoke to me and said….“Just share your struggles…..as real as you can.” Relief is finally what I felt…because I no longer feel the burden of speaking for GOD.
I am just trying to share my heart…..as real as I can….through words. Am I perfect?…..HEAVENS NO!!! Do I struggle with sin?….ABSOLUTELY!!!! All I can do is share how GOD takes this stubborn heart and prunes….jars…..grieves…..disciplines…. tenderly to the point of submission…. helping me think the way he wants me to think.
You see…..GOD just doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up over and over because of our failures……and as Christians….HE certainly doesn’t want us to keep beating up our brothers and sisters when they fail us….that’s just a tool of satan.
So when I fall in the ditch that satan has dug for me…..somehow GRACE sends just a bit of light….enough for me to stop….and realize…..GOD’S not rubbing my nose in my failures…..satan is.
I deal with my stinking thinking and ask GOD to help me think his thoughts. I recall some of my favorite scripture that encourages me…….
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1John 1:9 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they are red like crimson, they shall become as wool. Isaiah 1:18 These are just a few of the many verses I love and write out from time to time just to let the words seep deep into my heart. I encourage you to get alone and look up every scripture where GOD tells us HEforgives us….over and over.
One of the tools I use to straighten out my stinking thinking is putting those thoughts through the Philippians 4:8 test.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable….if anything is excelling or praiseworthy think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 Put every thought of self loathing…..unworthiness……failure…….absolutely every thought that rubs your nose in your past……ask yourself…is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable?
Remember GOD doesn’t want us wallering in our past failures….but Satan does! ALWAYS BE ON GUARD OF SATAN’S TACTICS TO MAKE YOU FEEL LESS! HIS MIND GAMES ARE STRAIGHT FROM THE PITTS OF HELL!!!! I pray that someone …..somewhere out there in the big “blog o sphere” that totally confounds me…..will get the message….HE loves you….HE forgives you…and HE forgets it……and…