Lindsey H.

from KS
Story #426
My parents were divorced when I was only 20 mo. old, and my brother and I were raised by my father and his parents until he remarried when I was 7. I always felt lucky because I didn’t remember my parent’s divorce, and did not realize until much later in life the huge impact the abandonment of my mother at such an early age had on my life and the choices and decisions I made.

I am however so grateful that I was raised in a Christian home, I went to a Christian school and was in church every Sunday and most Wednesday’s as well. I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of 9, our family joined Lenexa Baptist Church in the early 90’s and I was baptized at the age of 11. I knew that my eternity was secure, but in my everyday life I was under the false impression that it was up to me to make the right choices and to be a good person so God would be happy with me. I grew up in this codependent state were my self-worth and confidence only came from the praise of those around me and I wanted to please everyone. I liked being good and I was very good at it. I excelled in school, church and in athletics. I was always being told by the one’s I loved that I was doing great and was so happy pleasing them. I did however have an extremely hard time pleasing my stepmother, no matter what I did I felt as though I was not good enough for her. We were two very different people, she was very angry and bitter over her previous marriage and it seemed like at times I was the only one she was taking it out on. Deep down I knew she loved me, but most of the time I felt as though she did not like me very much. I had such a hard time having any kind of close relationship with her because I just never knew how she was going to respond to a situation. She would become very upset with me; yelling and screaming at me for some insignificant comment or action I would say or do. I became very good at avoiding her and always going to my father for the things I needed. This only proved to build up a great resentment between the two of us.

As time went on and I started getting older and more involved with outside activities we became less involved in church, and my freshman year of high school I transferred from my Christian school to SMNW to play softball and eventually try for a scholarship to college. I was still very shy and insecure, and now the people that I started pleasing were my peers who were not Christians, and I started leading a double life. I no longer had the stability and accountability of church and private school, and the good Christian girl I had once chosen to be began slipping farther and farther from me. I didn’t realize just how powerless I was to make the right choices. I had been a “good girl’ for so long and just wanted to be like everyone else. I became sexually active at 15, started smoking at 17, I gave up softball my senior year of high school (so much for my scholarship) and by the time I left for college I began drinking and partying with everyone else. I knew what I was doing was wrong, I just felt as though I deserved to have some fun, and I had time to get my life together. I began to view God like I did my stepmother; I was not making good choices, and therefore avoided the idea of Him. I knew He was there and that He loved me, but because of my actions I felt as though He didn’t want anything to do with me.

Nearing the end of my freshman year of college I began dating a wonderful man named Tom, he treated me better than any other guy I had ever dated, and the fact the he was not a Christian but believed in God was good enough for me. We fell in love and I knew it was only a matter of time, but this would be that man I would eventually marry. We dated all through college, partying and drinking as we went. I was eventually introduced to marijuana and I quickly became addicted. I never thought you could be addicted to pot, but I now know that I was self-medicating the anxiety I had experienced my whole life and numbing myself to the disappointment that was caused by my poor choices and my past hurts of things I had no control over. I graduated college in May of 2005, and Tom and I were married in September of 2006.

I realize now that not only was I suffering from addictions to cigarettes and marijuana but my whole life I had suffered from “destination addiction”, I was not really happy with my life at the time, but I felt like I was just waiting till the next chapter in life and then maybe I would be happy? My goal now became to be married and be a stay at home mom, and then I would be happy?

Tom and I built our first home and moved back to Shawnee from Louisburg in Aug of 2008, and I continued to smoke, drink, and party until we unexpectedly became pregnant with our first child. Alice was born in July of 2009, and like most first time parents, we had no idea how much our lives were going to change. I loved being a mom, and for the most part I was very good at it. Tom and I would occasionally attend church; we would take turns going to LBC or Saint Joe, the Catholic Church he had been raised in. However, since we could not agree on a church home, most of the time we just didn’t go anywhere. I felt so ashamed when I would go, I felt that God was disappointed in me; I just didn’t know how to break the cycle I was in. The path of sin I had been traveling down was taking me farther then I wanted to go and I was staying much longer then I wanted too.

We became pregnant with our second child, and I could see the time in life I had been waiting for quickly approaching. The income I was making as a vet assistant at a local animal hospital was not enough to pay for daycare. With the birth of Emma, I would be staying home with my children, and I thought I was finally going to be happy. That could not have been farther from the truth. My party lifestyle was over, my friends and job I loved was no longer part of my life. It was just me and my girls, home all day while Tom worked very long hours. I just didn’t understand, this is what I had always wanted, why was I not happy? I really didn’t know what to do, I wore a very good mask; to most people on the outside I appeared happy. I don’t think Tom even really understood the severity of my anxiety and depression.

I started to really desire for Alice to know the Lord; she was about 3 or so and really loved for me to read to her. We had a children’s Bible and I pulled it out one day and started reading it to her at night before she went to bed. Before long I would be reading a story and tears would just start running down my face. I would have to pause and collect myself and Alice would ask me “what’s wrong mommy” and I did not know how to answer her. I was having all these memories come back to me as I was reading these beautiful stories I had learned so long ago.

She started having a lot of anxiety about the wolf in the three little pig’s story, and I didn’t know what to do about it. On night I just started praying with her and asked Jesus to send down an angel to keep her safe. I can’t even tell you how long it had been since I prayed out loud. It was very comforting to her and she started to sleep better. My journey back had begun; I just didn’t see how it would be possible for us to be active in a church without my husband.

For Easter of 2013 Tom agreed to attend LBC with us, and I so enjoyed to message we heard that day, however Tom left the service very angry and confused. He wanted nothing more to do with my “Baptist church” and I felt like I knew what needed to be done, but I was on my own. For the next year Alice and I would go to church on our own, I would drop her off at Sunday school, and attend the main worship service. As Emma got older, I started bringing her as well and by the spring of 2014 we were coming every Sunday that we could. This was around the time of Pastor Steve’s transition and Pastor Chad taking over as the Senior Pastor. I will never forget the first time I heard Pastor Chad deliver a sermon. He was talking about Paul and he made the comment “aren’t you glad that Paul wasn’t one of those Christians only concerned with his own salvation?” and something inside was awoke in a way that I could no longer deny. I was barely able to wait until the invitation; I walked down front, tears streaming down my face and prayed with Pastor Kelly to rededicate my life to Christ. Two weeks later, after discussing it with Tom, I went forward again to join LBC as a member. I couldn’t get enough; I was reading my Bible again, and craving knowledge of God and His word. I looked forward to Sunday like no other day, and couldn’t wait to go to church. Then a few months later toward the end of service the congregation was introduced to a new program that would be starting called Celebrate Recovery. I felt like I was the only one in the sanctuary and they were talking just to me. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said this is what you have been waiting for; this is how you are going to get past these addictions that had become such a big part of my life. In August of 2014 I attended my first CR meeting and my life has never been the same. I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to overcome my smoking addictions on my own, and CR showed me only God could give me the strength and courage to overcome them. I was still very concerned with the salvation of my husband but I was encouraged by the wonderful leaders at CR that I could not make his salvation my priority. I was then able to focus on my own recovery and my personal relationship with Jesus. I told God that I was giving Tom to Him, and it was only then that I started noticing a change in Tom. He would ask me a question or make a comment, and I could tell that the Lord was working in his life as well. On December 26th 2014 Tom prayed with me to receive Christ as his Savior, and he joined LBC in February. I am also happy to say that July 17th 2015, I experienced sobriety for the first time in a long time. Since that day I have had moments of weakness, but each time have quickly laid it back down, and now I have been clean and sober since December 27th, 2016. What I thought was never going to be possible became possible only through the power of Christ. I am so grateful I serve a loving and merciful Savior who never gave up on me. He has taught me that I am powerless to control my addictions and character defects. It clearly states in Romans 7:18 “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but cannot carry it out”. I wanted nothing more than to control my addictions, but until I submitted my life and my will to Jesus and admitted that I could not do it, there was no way I could overcome them on my own. Philippians 2:13 “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

As I look back over my life I can see now how even though I thought I was not walking with the Lord, He never left me and He knew the choices I was going to make and He offered the grace and mercy to see me through. I would like to leave you with a verse that has become very dear to me. In Ezekiel 34 verse 16 God says “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick.” I am so grateful that our Shepard does not allow His sheep to wander or get lost without going and searching for them. He brought me back to the flock and I will forever be grateful. Thank you for letting me share.

You can learn more about Lindsey here.
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