Admit It, Accept It, Apply It
Irene Rollins | Co – Lead Pastor | i5 City | Glen Burnie, MD
When my husband Jimmy and I re-launched our church in September of 2012 we had so much enthusiasm and vision about all God had called us to! We had no idea that the earlier part of our stories, the parts that were far before we envisioned ourselves in ministry would affect us so greatly in this new work that God had called us to. All my bad choices and bad things that had happened to me resurfaced in my mid-thirties when we stepped into this new role pastoring i5 Church.
In our first five years of ministry, we experienced things that I am sure if you are a pastor you are already very familiar with. We experienced the PAIN in ministry that we couldn’t be prepared for! Pain, pain and when we felt it was going to quiet down… more pain paired with a great deal of loss. People died and I had a hard time with the finality of it, people got divorced and I felt guilty as if I could have done something about it, people left the church and I felt abandoned and rejected. Suddenly all the things that excited me about ministry began to wane. I was stressed, burnt-out, I was emotionally unhealthy and miserable. I had been boundary-less and allowed all the negativity of life to penetrate my heart and mind. I allowed that negativity to seep into my relationships. My relationship with God became inauthentic and disconnected, I felt disconnected with my husband, my children, the church, with myself. The pain was growing louder and I began to cope with alcohol to dull that pain. What started out as something casual, a drink with dinner, a drink before dinner, turned into a full-blown alcohol addiction over time without me even seeing it coming.
Sin is an illegitimate way to meet a legitimate need. It is our human nature to reach for something to cope with, because we were designed to reach for Jesus! A free life is not the absence of pain, it is bringing your pain to God to give you wholeness through His holiness. Reach for healing and reach for healthy coping mechanisms. As humans our natural tendency is to hide like Adam and Eve did. Today, we don’t hide under leaves, we hide under work, doing good, we can bury it in a shopping addiction, or overeating. If you were completely unafraid to be honest, what would you say your coping is? If you aren’t reaching for Christ, you are reaching for something, so what is it? Is it prescription drugs or alcohol? Are you hiding in the shame of one or more of these addictions, afraid to be disqualified for ministry if someone found out?
In my story, I became so sick in denial and shame that I hid and isolated myself. This only made me more sick. The enemy was devouring my soul. I ended up having to seek treatment in a rehabilitation center for the disease of alcoholism, the disease of co-dependency and PTSD. I was humiliated and suicidal. I thought my husband, my kids, the church, they could all just do better without me, I was saved and had suicidal ideations. I did not think I could live through the recovery.
I am so glad that God makes a way to redeem us when we submit to His work in our lives. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT it says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” At that time, I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable, I needed His power. I had to hit rock bottom and ADMIT I had a problem with alcohol before my process of recovery could take place. The promise of His power and strength was activated in my admittance of my weakness. In that MOMENT, His GRACE came in and it was like a huge weight was lifted off of me.
“You can not quit it until you admit!”
Then I had to ACCEPT the fact that I was emotionally unhealthy and had not coped with my stress and past trauma appropriately. I had to accept that people may find out one day that I was in rehab! Me! A Pastor’s wife! I had to accept that the consequences were out of my control. I also had to accept that the Lord, my husband, my children and my church still loved me! I had to accept that His GRACE also applied to me and not just all the other people in the church. I had to accept that I related to the stories I would hear in AA of people who were addicted to alcohol, those that had distorted thinking and relational issues as a result of their dependence to alcohol. I had to accept that alcoholism was a part of my story and then accept God’s daily redemption in that.
Lastly, I had to make all that pain and misery of the healing process count for something! All of the trauma therapy, attending countless AA meetings, pressing through breaking the shame off my life and all the painful effects the disease had on my husband and children as well. All that I had learned through the breaking I had to APPLY to my everyday ordinary life and it developed well-formed maturity in me!
I know now that what the enemy meant for bad, God would use for good! Genesis 50:20
I know that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable! Romans 11:29
“Your pain and misery will be your greatest ministry if you can admit it, accept it, and apply it!”
So, let’s get honest today! Talk to someone, take a first step towards your health and your freedom. No more hiding in silence. You are not alone! You don’t have to have it all together! God can use “ALL” your yuck for GOOD! He wants you healed and whole but you have to come out of hiding first and submit your “ALL” to Him so He can turn it ALL around for good! Romans 8:28