How Recovery Helped Me Take a First Step

It was one of those moments at work where you have a mini panic attack. The report is due but like the scene from Office Space, instead of printing you get an error message that reads “PC LOAD LETTER.” Our band had recently pulled into Kansas City to play a show when we quickly discovered the key to the lock on our trailer had snapped off inside the lock. Everything we needed to play the show was locked inside. Merchandise, lights, guitars, microphones….everything.

paper-jam

At a loss for what to do or how to set up, we quickly called our bus driver, Boo, to see if he knew of anything that could get the lock off the trailer and get us ready for the show. Luckily, Boo happened to be carrying a metal blade steel cutter that would easily tear through the lock!

As I watched sparks fly everywhere, and our equipment finally freed, I began thinking about the personal locks I’ve had in my life that have kept me from “going to the show”.

Throughout my life, I’ve often struggled with resentment. I’ve had people in my life do things that have hurt me over the long run. Perhaps the one I’ve struggled with letting go of the most are my abandonment issues after my parents got divorced, which ultimately lead to trust issues because of all the lies, anger, and frustration that came from their divorce. Those who have experienced a divorce in their family or life understand that it is a messy and hurtful process full of tears, stress, and confusion. It is literally the dividing and separating of something that was once whole: A family.

During my parents divorce, I was young enough to not fully comprehend all that was happening. This lead towards resentment, anger, and changed the way I viewed other people. Because of the divorce and the fact I’ve been betrayed by those in my closest circles of friends and family throughout my upbringing and also later in life, I tend to keep people at arms distance to avoid getting hurt. This has caused me to set up a lot of relational barriers that keep me from trusting people.

However, in the midst of my hurt, I knew I wanted to find a way to be freed of the pain and resentment that woke me up every morning. I needed something to bring down the huge wall that I had built towards the outside world. It was a wall that kept everyone out of my heart, never letting anyone get too close to me so that I would never be hurt like that again.

One day, however, my buddy Ben Sledge introduced me to the 12-Step program for Christians. At the time, he was going through the program and let me know “It’s not what you think…you can do it for anything you want. Jake, I think it might be a good idea for you to think and pray about going through the process and see if there is anything you think you need to be healed of”. Sure enough, after hearing him talk about it, the first thing that came to mind was finding healing for all the anger and resentment I had towards so many people in my life because of past pains.

So I ended up joining the program and walking through 12-Step.

The program was really hard. Not that you needed special skills or intelligence to do it, but I had to walk through a lot of my past. I had to relive some of the things that had haunted me and where I felt others had abandoned me or weren’t there for me in times of need. And yet during the process, I ended up realizing that there was so much more there that I actually needed to get rid of. What I went in for only touched the surface, but there were bones lying deeper causing decay in my life. I began to see that I wasn’t completely innocent in all of my past experiences. I, too, had done my fair share of causing pain to those close to me and that I needed help and the strength to carry on. I was able to find my strength in my relationship with God. It also took the form of making amends to people I had wounded in my past and seeing that I needed God’s love in order to love. I discovered that love shone brightest when I found worth in myself while forgiving others and forgiving myself.

Because of the Steps I was able to see the world clearer, understand and love people (as well as myself) much better, and live free from the burden of carrying around guilt and shame. I have a much better relationship with my family members, where, instead of dwelling on the past, I get to make incredible, new memories with them.

cut-lock

Looking back at the trailer lock, I realized there’s a lot of parallels to be drawn through the journey of our wounds and ultimately finding healing. The lock can easily represent our resentment, anger, and frustration built up inside. It keeps us locked in place, never able to come out, and never free. Because the key is broken off in the lock, we can never escape and see the world for what it truly is. And the trailer walls are the walls we’ve built up in life that’s holding us from having that next great relationship or our dream we desperately want to become a reality. It’s what is holding all of the equipment that we need in our hearts to play the show!

Ultimately, it’s stopping us from being the person we most desire to be.

Perhaps some of us have even made attempts to try and unlock the lock on our heart. And just maybe we’re coping instead of trying to really escape. Maybe instead of really looking for that way out, we numb our circumstances. That could be drinking to cope with the pain or bouncing from relationship to relationship and giving away pieces of our heart and maybe body to earn love as we numb our circumstances. Maybe our past pain has built up so much anger and resentment that we’re mean and spiteful. Maybe because we’re unfulfilled in our lives we run to social media to push other down with an arsenal of words to make ourselves feel better. Just maybe we really hate the things we do to cope and hate what we do to others. But the allure of numbing it seems far better than confronting and trying to fight to find a way out.

We’ll always stay locked inside until we’re willing to fight to cut that lock off. Even though our band had the key, it ultimately failed and trapped us. Instead, we needed something stronger that was going to grind straight through the metal and force the lock off. Something permanent.

[clickToTweet tweet=”We’ll always stay locked until we’re willing to fight to cut free of our past.” quote=”We’ll always stay locked until we’re willing to fight to cut free of our past.”]

The question is, what’s the step you can take to permanently remove the lock?

For me it was the 12-Steps. The entire process sucked and admitting I even had a problem was humbling and gut-wrenching. The past was painful to bring up. I cried. I sweated when I had to talk to my sponsor. I often got angry. But it was the steel cutter to the lock in my heart that finally released me from the pain buried inside.

Perhaps today take a moment and think about what it is that’s holding you back and keeping you trapped. Then imagine your life as if you were actually living free. Imagine the joy and love you would feel not having that struggle locked away inside you. What would it take to get there? Is it 12-Step? Is it coming clean with a friend? Going through our Restore Program in January? Making a counseling appointment? Sharing with a group of people? It will vary for all of us.

But whatever it is that whispers to you and tells you it can start to cut you free…that’s going to be your steel cutter.

 

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Comments
  • Belle
    Reply

    I’ve seen you mention Heartsupport on Instagram a couple of times and I have to tell you how happy I am that I decided to check it out. Currently I’m walking in a healing process that has turned my world upside-down. Your words are very inspirational and encouraging. I can see that this is not in vain for me and good things can come out. I’ve prayed to God for strength to be free from what I know I keep holding on to, preventing me from freedom.

    Thanks for this!!!

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