Today I was given several gifts from my good friends at TNL - Mason, Katie, and Chris. Among the gifts was a necklace with a shield pendant, the back inscribed with Joshua 1:9b :
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
The shield symbol especially strikes a chord with me because I am beginning to realize just how greatly God has protected me through my life, even as I was spitting in His face and cursing His name.
With my father's struggles with alcoholism, I have a very dark past regarding substance abuse, as it was prevalent in my family. Indeed, I still carry genetics that make me incredibly susceptible to alcoholism, which is one of the many reasons why I don't drink.
Yet it was through the troubled times of my childhood that God's light shone brightest of all - to see now that His love for me is so all-encompassing and incredible that I cannot fathom it. He protected me from walking a darker path - one that I could have all-to-easily stumbled into.
I have heard it said that 'The sins of the father will be repeated by the son' - and I have also heard of (and witnessed firsthand) sons and daughters of alcoholics who immerse themselves in the very activity that drove their families apart. I am incredibly blessed to have never stumbled into drinking, and I thank God every day for my health in this regard.
I had many friends in High School who drank quite heavily, as it was their way of numbing themselves to the pain of their shattered family lives. They would often invite me to drink with them, and despite my great desire to numb myself from my pain, I would choose to return home in order to care for my mother instead. God impressed a great desire to care for others onto my heart, so much so that I would seek to aid others even in the face of my own brokenness.
I found that by helping and caring for others, I could forget my own troubles - if only for a few moments. My family needed me to be strong for them, and so I did exactly that - and I figured that as a drunken addict, I would be of no use in caring for my family.
Thank You, God, for keeping me strong in my greatest moment of weakness, and most of all, thank You for never leaving me - when all others had abandoned me, You never left.
I owe You my life Lord, and I'm ready to follow.
Teach me, and I will learn.
Break me, and I will thank You for it.