Hi. My Name Is Stephanie, And I'm An Alcoholic
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
For those of you who know me, you know that I am a recovering alcoholic. I have been, by the grace of God, sober for almost eight years. What I have found in my own personal recovery is that there are really good days, really bad days, and days in between. Through it all, Jesus has carried me every step of the way. He has shouldered the times that I don’t think I can make it through the day without a drink. He has walked me through the times when I feel so alone in my addiction that I can’t bear it. And He has even celebrated with me when I have made it past another milestone.
What is so interesting about my recovery, anyone’s recovery, is that there are those in my life who have been extremely supportive. There are those in my life who haven’t been at all supportive. There are those in my life who simply don’t care about my sobriety. And there are those in my life who never give it a second thought.
I’ll never forget when I first got sober, I actually said, “This is my problem and no one else’s. I don’t want anyone to change his or her behavior just because I am an alcoholic.” Well, nice thought, but what I didn’t understand at the time is that addiction is a family problem. When I told my parents that I didn’t want anyone to make any changes, my mom, the wise woman she is, said, “I understand what you’re saying, but I am not serving wine (my drink of choice) when you are in my home.” Thanks, Mom. Today I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.
I had to learn over time that my recovery was going to affect many people in my life. Fortunately, in more good ways than bad. I also had to learn that my recovery wasn’t going to be a short process. Quite the contrary. Even eight years later, I still have days when I want a drink. It’s on those days that I turn to God and cry out to Him. It’s on those days that I lift up my hands and say, “It is not my will but Yours, Lord!”
In my recovery, one of the prayers I learned was the Serenity Prayer. What a beautiful prayer of surrender. It’s a reminder that I need to surrender not only my addiction, but also to anything that I shouldn’t carry on my own. It is the Serenity Prayer that many in recovery often pray to get through each day:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
(Although known most widely
in its abbreviated form above,
the rest of the prayer reads as follows.)
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Many of you are in recovery yourselves. Many of you are struggling with addictions you aren’t quite ready to surrender. Many of you have loved ones who are in the above categories. Perhaps your loved ones have the toughest challenge of all. Love with compassion, wisdom, and sensitivity.
My brother, along with a group of family and friends, were all meeting at a restaurant to celebrate one of my “recovery birthdays.” Before I arrived, one of the members of the group started to order a drink (simply out of habit more than anything). My brother spoke up and said, “Out of respect for this celebration, maybe we shouldn’t drink.”
I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. I understand that the person who ordered the drink certainly didn’t do it with any ill intent; however, my brother went a step further. He recognized that my alcoholism was a deep struggle for me when I was drinking. He recognized that it still can be. He recognized that the anniversary of my sobriety was a huge achievement. Not one that I have traveled alone, but an achievement to honor.
For those of you who are in recovery for addictions of your own, whether one day, 100 days, or many more, let me congratulate you on a job well done! You are on a difficult path, but you are not on this path alone. Jesus knows your challenges, and He is right there with you.
For those of you who are still struggling with an addiction, know that Christ wants to take this torment from you. Find help and support. Surrendering is not easy, but it will change your life. Do what the Serenity Prayer says and “[trust] that He will make all things right if you surrender to [His] will.”
For those of you with loved ones struggling with an addiction, it’s not easy. Find support of your own. If you have a loved one in recovery, always remember that the hard part is not over for the addict. Most people dealing with an addiction still struggle from time to time. Be sensitive to their needs.
So, I am grateful for every day I complete another day sober. I am blessed to have family and friends I love and who love me. But most importantly, I am grateful that I have a Savior who loves me so much that He doesn’t give up on me. Jesus has been faithful to me even when I have been faithless. Jesus loves me, and He loves you.
1 Corinthians says it much better than I ever will. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Thank you, Jesus!