Daily Devotionals

The Winding Road to Recovery

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Scripture:  “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:7


My younger sister is a terrible alcoholic.  She has been non-functioning nearly all the time for about nine years. When you hear the phrase “addiction is a family disease,” believe it! It ate up the lovely young woman we knew as daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. We’ve blamed circumstances, we’ve blamed each other, we’ve cried, we’ve pleaded, we’ve screamed, we’ve taken turns being the caregivers, we’ve thrown up our hands in frustration, and we’ve gotten down and depressed. You name the emotion, and we’ve felt it.


The first few times my older sister and I took her to rehab, we were so hopeful that she could beat the beast.  I wrote to her every day.  I found Bible verses and quotes that would lift her spirits and give her hope and encouragement. When she got home from treatment, I made sure to keep in touch and follow up with her progress.  


After so many relapses, I decided that I wasn’t going to run to her rescue anymore.  She never appeared to put forth any effort to get and stay sober once she was back in the real world.  Others kept enabling her in different ways, but I found myself pulling back retreating into indifference.  My energy was zapped.  My outraged frustration at her enablers turned cool. My fury at how she wrecked our parents’ golden years and ruined her children’s childhood became almost forbearing. Where I once prayed for her morning, noon, and night, I found myself letting days go by without talking to God about her.


I told our family that I would not take her back to rehab unless she ASKED for help. I texted her that I would go to her at any hour and get her help if she would only ask for it.  She never asked. This past summer, she almost lost her life to alcohol-related illness twice. The last time she had a seizure (thankfully in a public place) and ended up in intensive care, again unable to walk unassisted, and her beautiful face bruised the color of eggplant.


It began to dawn on me that God was doing the asking for her. She’s now, at the insistence of our family, checked into a yearlong program at a facility halfway across the country.  Now that her head is clearing out of the alcohol fog, I’ve felt my anger coming back, and I welcomed it!  I’m furious with her attempts to veil the truth from her counselors!  My heart has softened again too.  I’m feeling forgiveness toward her enablers.  Most of all, I am pounding the Lord with prayers for her. 


The incident that landed her in the hospital this most recent time ignited me to ask for prayers from my Small Group, my friends, and anyone else I had an opportunity to ask. My conversations with God are more intentional, guided, and specific.  I know he has a plan for her. Maybe God was just giving me a breather for a while so I could help her make it through the coming year.  I don’t know. 


Mark Durrett’s comments in his last sermon regarding predestination struck a real nerve with me. God has a plan for my sister.  She’s endured this mess for a reason.  I just need to trust God and his perfect timing for this revelation.  My sister’s ex-husband (who is also a recovering alcoholic) told me there is a saying amongst the recovering:  “God gives every alcoholic two lives, and he saves the best one for last.”


Now that my anger has subsided, I’m going to sit down today and write a letter to my sister.  I’m not sure how I’m going to start it, but I know it will end with “I love you and I’m praying for you always.”


Prayer:  Dear God, help me be an encourager, a beam of hope, a steadfast assistant to those in need.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.


Submitted by:  Kelley Woody