A connection I have seen in all of my studies is that God does not care how we reach him, it is that we do. God has spoken and directed humankind in many ways.

The atonement connected the human race in a dramatic way. When Jesus died on the cross it was for our sins. In the course, it is asked that we forgive as we have been forgiven.

We are living in a growing place. This Earth brings us many things. The smell of fresh baked bread, the hunger that comes from it; the love of another person, the love we give. It is our place to become. God has provided for us our needs. He has given us our wealth from the day we were born. Our wealth is the growth we make while we are here. When we reach the place where we have no growth left, it is the place where “heaven and earth shall pass away…they will not continue to exist as separate states.”

I have made many mistakes. When I was a young girl, I was looking for comfort and acceptance. At one point, I found myself seeking substances to cover the feelings I did not like. Loneliness was one of the biggest feelings I had that lived within me like a ghost of myself. I had a friend. He was my best friend. We were together at a friend’s house. It was not uncommon for us to find a way to get alcohol (no matter that we were way under age). But this time, he pulled out a joint. He had taken it from the coat jacket of his father’s friend. We lit it. We smoked it. The numb feeling overcame me as the smoke wrapped around my body. Every care in the world went away. I was so thirsty, so hungry and that was all that mattered. I thought I would love it, but then I had no ambition to stand up. I felt as if I couldn’t move. Before long, I was annoyed. I wanted to function. I wanted to do things and I did not feel like my brain even worked at all.

Today I am thankful that God placed in me a dislike of that feeling. My friend continued. He not only drank and smoked a lot, but he dabbled in more drugs. I don’t know what all he ended up being addicted to, but I know he has spent time in and out of jail, he developed a form of schizophrenia, and he is unable to really take care of himself or his children.

Because I had that experience with drugs, I also shared it with my cousin. She is younger than I and we were both struggling with young people problems of identity and parental control. I had none. She had plenty. But she also had a much older sister that would let us stay over and give us alcohol. Plus, we would smoke with her too. Even though I didn’t like it, I felt the pressure to do what everyone else was and it really didn’t matter to me. I had nothing else to do and nothing else to live for. There were many night we would drink so much and smoke so much that we would sleep with our faces on the bathroom floor because the cold felt so good, and because we needed to vomit most of the night. She also continued the lifestyle. She now lives in another state and will not return because she has some crimes to pay for.

The Course says we need to forgive ourselves and forgive others. I used to blame myself for how they both turned out. I felt that my involvement and acceptance of the behaviors somehow gave them permission to continue. As if I am powerful enough to do that. Just thinking of it that way makes me laugh. I really thought it was my fault that they turned out the way they did and I did not. As I grew, I reached out to them and offered my help. It was too late.

What I know now is that God placed something in me. Something with purpose. I was meant to experience those (and many more) in order to reach my potential. It also is not me to judge what my two friends ended up doing. I am not that powerful either. God can work through me now though. Instead of feeling guilt and worthlessness I am choosing to be a miracle. It says, “Miracles arise from a mind that is ready for them.” Somehow I was born with the ability to walk away from that lifestyle. As I look back and as I meet others, I realize it was actually quite easy for me. I know it was necessary to experience. Because now I can hear and believe people who are so lonely and down that it physically hurts. I felt that. Alcohol and drugs cannot help. But I can also understand when people look to them for help. They have not been introduced to God’s love. I can be God’s love.

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