Immobilized to Move
Updated: Nov 3
This month’s guest blog is written by Lisa Wenninger, founder of Authentic Truths, who shares her personal journey of mothering two children who battle addiction.
“A person’s steps are established by the Lord, and he takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord supports him with his hand.” Psalms 37:23-24 (CSB)
I am the parent of adults who battle substance use and addiction. I believed I was a failure for a long time because of their choices. However, I am no failure, so I worked endlessly to fight in this war with them. As I marched along with time from one year to the next, the losses piled up.
When they compromised a win, I felt the crushing defeat with each relapse. I internalized every misstep they chose. For years, this was my routine. I planned to fix what I saw, engage, and be proactive in their growth.
My plan failed miserably.
By the time I woke up to face the consequences of my choices in their addiction, I was a broken and bloody mess. My mind was adrift with anxiety, and my heart was heavy with depression. I would squint, blurry-eyed, to see the line between my reality and theirs. With tears cascading into pools at my feet, I cried out for help.
God responded by not allowing me to physically move that day. I was a prisoner on my couch. That was over a year ago. Initially, after hearing this, my counselor said it was an attack from Satan, and I agreed. The fear I felt that morning was brutal. Fear is a liar, and it deceives us.
God is In Control
However, I believe God was in charge that day.
He knew if I left my house that morning and went about my day, I would indulge in my unhealthy habit of letting go while holding on. I catalog tragedies into compartments as a pattern of coping and habitually brush dangerous opposition under the rug of faith. In His wisdom, shaken and subdued into submission, God’s guidance reassured me He was handling the situation in my sudden immobility.
Everything in me believed I knew what was best for my children. What they needed to think, say, feel, and do. The further they walked from my hope and dreams and into their addiction behaviors, the more I would rage. I filtered through all the negative emotions- anger, guilt, hurt, contempt. In addition, I began to resent and fear the positive ones- joy, hope, happiness, appreciation, and even love. It was dangerous to feel positive emotions because the letdown felt imminent. At that point, I needed recovery as much as my children did. In the process, God led me to His ambassadors for the moment.
A Christian counselor I met with years ago and a Bible study leader (and fellow mom in a similar journey). This became an opportunity for my healing, not the kids. Many parents like me are too busy trying to fix their children and we lose sight of our brokenness. Most failing relationships involve misplaced finger-pointing. We tend to blame or criticize the other person rather than reflect on and repair ourselves.
I learned a lot during my six months of God’s intensive therapy. Thanks to His care, I am a better mother, wife, and believer. I now lean heavily on God, where I once hid from him. I choose to move on from the why’s and my bitterness. Resting in that unsettling space does not fulfill my need for answers or resolution, it allows me time to let back off and let God work.
When we are stuck on why, Satan uses that opportunity to inject his opinion and lies, and his goal is to separate us from the truth of God. Instead, I moved on to ‘what now’.
Why Mercy is Necessary
There are no perfect people here. I remembered God’s grace in my life. I also embraced the concept of mercy. We know grace and mercy as gifts from a loving God. However, it is hard to apply to the behaviors in an unloving addiction. Jaded by talk of enabling and tough love, I lost sight of these basic concepts.
Mercy never calls wrong right. If wrong was ever correct, we would never need mercy. I thought if I applied heavy compassion, I was encouraging lousy behavior. Mercy never compromises God’s holy standards, and there is no negligence or permissiveness in the act of being merciful. Mercy does not make judgment unavoidable. Boundaries still exist and love still flows.
Mercy does not make judgment unavoidable. Boundaries still exist and love still flows. ~ Lisa Wenninger
“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13 (CSB)
God gifted us a path to redemption with his compassion and kindness when we deserved punishment. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus- Mercy prevails. Though risky, forgiveness and mercy are critical elements to healthier minds and hearts. Recovery requires risk, and you have to let go of everything your brain thinks it needs to survive.
This is true when recovering from addiction, and it is valid for anybody wanting to recover from trauma, let down, disappointment, and hurt. Relationships can be complex and come with aches and bruises. Healthy healing begins with mercy and a forgiving heart.
It took a takedown of my physical being for God to get my attention. God cared about our complete wellness long before it became a trend. Self-care is nothing to take lightly. I had a strong desire to carry my children out of their illnesses, then, I began to battle my own.
We cannot fight the wars of those around us, and it was never our purpose or God’s plan to bury us on the battleground of another’s rebellion. That was the perfect work of Jesus Christ. The day He arose, we became free. If you are experiencing life overload right now, I challenge you to prevent burnout. Do not force God to immobilize you as a means to get your attention. Seek Him now, in the middle of your mess. His power is made perfect in our human weakness.
Lisa is a freelance writer and speaker for Jesus! Married and a mother of four grown children, with six grandchildren, she courageously shares her personal experiences with family addiction and mental illness. You can read her journey on her blog, listen on her podcast, and follow along through social media.
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