Featured photo: Ben Jacobi www.bdjphoto.com
Monday’s are when Laura and I meet at Watermark only to be separated by a program that takes us on a journey to recovery from struggles (or spiritual diseases that eat away at our psyche). To name a few:
- Abused (Physically/Verbally/Emotionally/Sexually)
- Acceptance/ fear of rejection
- Body image
- Critical Spirit/Complaining
- Defined by my past
- Drugs/Substance Abuse/Pills
- Emotional dependency
- Evil thoughts/actions
- Greed/Selfishness/Love of Money
- Pride/Self Righteousness
- Sexual immorality/fornication
The list is much longer, alarming, and questioning, but stem from three main roots identifiable here. The program is a heavy load to bear, but worth it. I’ll assure you. The step group of men I’ve been assigned with have just completed the “3rd Step” heading into “Inventory” (4th Step) to a 12 Step—year long process for understanding, healing, and change. Inventory is where I’ll be enduring the “max” weight of the process, with my band of brothers to “spot” the weight. This is the equivalent of what it takes to be a Navy Seal but from a spiritual perspective. The determination that qualifies my recovery is entirely between me and the Holy Spirit of God. Will I qualify?
Raised attending church and later even considered a PK (Preacher’s kid); having been sexually molested and abused as a child; medicated the majority of my life for ADD/ADHD (Ritalin, Strattera, Adderall, and Vyvanse); devastated by my parents divorce, depressed and confused; addicted to pornography; emotionally and physically manipulated and abused; exposed to and experienced sexual misconduct and immorality; disowned family while abandoned by family; experienced drugs and transported; the hypocrite of hypocrites; liar and deceiver, hiding my pain with the guilt of others shame; holes in my doors and walls, angry at everything; dead to the world with literal broken bones, hydrocodone, and time to kill; finally, the truth is but a question still, “Am I Forgiven?”. I’ve said to myself over and over again, “‘But’ this. And, ‘but’ that.”. In response to not understanding or trusting that I’m truly loved by God. So for me to accept a truth that such evil could be forgiven, was intolerable, “It can’t be! Impossible! How?”. I’d make the claim, “My sexual reproductive system ‘justifies’ the act of my ‘second glance’ that deems me guilty of committing adultery according to the preacher’s preaching.”. Then I must be already on a river course to Hell. Why would this life permit such evil “freedoms” in respect of (not getting caught) governmental laws and city ordinances that would convict me otherwise, if not to subtly and discreetly enjoy? So, my flesh would say in its sin, “What happens in this life ‘stays’ in this life.”, after all, “It’s forgiven.”. Reader, do you hear that pride? According to biblical standards; offering up my blood as payment for a place in the Kingdom of God will not suffice for a Holy God and will have to (justifiably) come to a verdict, “guilty of sin”. I am incapable of bearing the weight of my sin and no amount of money will free me from the truth within the “needle” (death penalty) that awaits me. Have I been abandoned by God?
Around the age of 16 I’d disowned my dad (Jim Dooley) and denounced him to the “biological father” status with an agenda to prove the point. When my dad would approach me with open arms for a hug, I’d refuse; or again with a hand shake, in public, still refuse. On my graduation day in front of all my fellow classmates and peers had my name called out as my step-dad’s last name, “Powell”. To make it clear with my legal name change that I would have nothing to do with Jim. It wasn’t until I was so broken (literally) alone in my home, finding a letter from my dad that wrote “I love you” all over the face of it and inside, the desired expression to have a “relationship again”. When I had first received this card, I’d thrown it aside thinking it not to be found ever again… Until. There is a part of the story with powerful significance to this letter that will have to come in a later post. Amidst the lies of the enemy that would cloud my judgment and ability to discern right from wrong realized I had the ability to forgive Jim. It had nothing to do with anything my dad had done wrong. Only the fact that I had the power to forgive. Get this! Even having the knowledge of all that has been done wrong in not only my life, but my family’s, left me in a position to choose the next step. Will I forgive it all? All that was presented and lain before you in my life above. Have I forgiven it? And, am I forgiven? I broke down sobbing with snot and tears when realizing that God was speaking to me in that letter, “I love you” — “I hope to have a relationship with you again”. My lust, pride, and insecurities had me blind to the nature of God as my Father. It was not until the “prodigal son” would call his dad asking the right to his last name again, “Dooley”, that I’d taken the step to become a prodigal son of my Heavenly Father. The most difficult part about forgiveness is trusting its integrity. It was only until yesterday that I’d decided to truly trust the Word of God without a “but” to deter my focus from that truth. That faith in The Word of God, is how I’m qualified!
12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.