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I would like to welcome you as I present the second post in my series, Stories of Overcoming Adversity. My guest writer today is Dawn Ward from Faith to Flourish. Her topic is peace in times of trouble and she shares the story of addiction in her family. So please, let’s share her lots of love. You’ll catch her bio and website info at the end of the post. Without further ado, I present…Dawn!
“Our son is addicted to drugs.” The words my husband whispered knocked the wind out of me. How could this be happening to our son, our family? How could I have prevented this? What can I do to fix it? How can we find peace in times of trouble? The questions came faster than the answers, most of which I didn’t want to hear.
I felt I was looking over a cliff at the waves crashing below. A storm was raging. My feet were slipping as my world was falling out from under me. Consumed by feelings of complete hopelessness, guilt, and shame, I suddenly became “that mom.”
Peace in Times of Trouble: Shaky Ground
Those words were spoken over fourteen years ago. It was a defining moment in my life. The peace I once held was built on the belief that if my family was okay, I was okay. I believed the lie that if I raised my children right, addiction and mental illness would never hit my family. God would bless us and protect our children from the evils of the world.
“We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble.” Jeremiah 8:15 KJV
“Lord, I prayed for my son, loved him, took him to church and put him in Christian school. I thought if I taught him about you, he would grow to love you and serve you. Now at the ripe old age of eighteen, he’s addicted to drugs and rebelling against us and you. What happened? Where were you? Where are you?”
I have been a Christian since I was a young girl. I needed Jesus as much then as I do now. Growing up in an alcoholic home, I knew the damage that addiction could bring to a family. I lived in a constant state of fear. Would my dad would come home drunk and angry? I was even scared that he might not make it home at all. There were so many overwhelming feelings that I was somehow to blame. How could this be happening again? I always knew God loved me. Now, my struggle was more with feeling forgotten by Him. Aware of the all-too-familiar feelings of abandonment, I started to panic.
These feelings and more flooded my soul as I began the process of accepting that our lives were forever changed. The words of the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” became my daily petition to the Lord. Webster’s Dictionary defines being serene as “a state of utter calm or unruffled repose or quietude.” This in no way described my emotional state of mind. Although I was forced to accept the new normal our family was living in, peace still evaded me.
Peace in the Storm
Asking difficult or even impossible to answer questions was robbing me of my serenity. They were my peace-snatchers. Besides stealing my peace, they were also stealing my joy, my faith, and my hope. I needed that true peace in times of trouble.
Another peace-snatcher came from my over-weighted sense of responsibility and need to fix my son. Having no control over his choices or actions, this burden was too heavy to bear. It was difficult to trust anyone to help him. The professionals offered little hope. My son naively thought he knew it all and had it handled. I didn’t trust my own discernment anymore. Sadly, I was having a hard time trusting God, at least enough to lay my son at his feet.
The peace snatchers had done their job. My questioning and controlling were robbing me of the peace I so desperately craved. Miserable and broken, I cried out, “Jesus, save me!” And that’s when I heard it. Through the wind and waves, through the storm that threatened to destroy everything, “Peace, be still!” Mark 4:39a
The Lord had spoken. The chaos running rampant in my mind was silenced at the gentle words of my Savior. “You are loved. You are safe. I am with you.” The peace-snatchers were forced to flee with just three precious words spoken by Jesus. “Peace, be still.” My eyes were fixed upon the One who has full control over everything. The raging storm had lost its power over me. Nothing else mattered but those three words. I played them over in my mind. Peace was restored.
“And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39b KJV
The return of the peace snatchers
During the years that followed, I needed to remind myself of those words often. I do not come by peace naturally. I often return to that place of fear from my childhood. Addiction snatches more than peace from the lives of the people it affects. It is a dream-snatcher, a hope-snatcher, and a life-snatcher. It doesn’t play fairly and is no respecter of persons. With my son finally free from its grip, it moved on to his brother. Once again, the peace-snatchers came calling right when some semblance of normality was returning to our lives. I have learned when the storm hits, don’t panic, stay calm, don’t act too quickly, be patient and let Jesus quiet your heart and diffuse the situation. Finally, pray with thanksgiving. Click To Tweet
One of the many things living with addiction in our family has taught me is that life is very daily. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. There will be moments of calm and moments when the storms are raging. I am often tempted to try and grab the helm and steer my ship, but that never works for long. Surrendering my need to be in control to the One who is in control calms the waves of fear and anxiety welling up in me.
Thankfully, I have learned a few more lessons along the way. The first is when the storm hits, don’t panic. Stay calm. Next, don’t act too quickly. Be patient. Let Jesus quiet your heart and diffuse the situation. Finally, pray with thanksgiving. What? How can we be thankful when our world is crashing down around us? For one thing, we can be thankful because God is in control, so we don’t have to be!
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 KJV
The passion that comes from peace in times of trouble
As I learned to let go of the things I cannot control, God gave me a passion to help others do the same. The more I poured myself into serving the Lord by serving others, the less consumed I was with the storms raging around me. I started a ministry called Christian Moms of Addicted Children on Facebook. Here we encourage each other and pray for our children. I have also started a blog for women who have prodigal loved ones in their lives called The Faith to Flourish.
For most of you reading this, addiction or mental illness isn’t what’s stealing your peace. Disease, financial disaster, job loss, marriage problems, the economy, and many other peace-snatchers threaten to keep you up at night, stressing over problems that are beyond your control.
Jesus is my peace-keeper
What words have stolen your peace? What thoughts, attitudes, or false beliefs have replaced your serenity with fear? It is time to silence the sneers and taunts of the peace-snatchers in your lives as you listen instead to the still-small voice of our Lord, our Peace-Keeper. May He quiet the calamity within you and bless you with an overwhelming sense of calmness as you hear Him speak these precious words, “Peace, be still.”
Dawn Ward is the founder of The Faith to Flourish, a ministry that supports women whose loved ones struggle with addiction or mental illness. She has served in Women’s Ministry for over thirty years and is an author, teacher, and speaker. She can be reached at her email address.
I hope you enjoyed Dawn’s guest post, How I Found Peace in Times of Trouble. For other stories in our series, check out my compilation post, Powerful and Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Adversity. Check back monthly for more additions to this series.
Please be sure to leave your comments. What have you done when the peace-snatchers show up in your life? How did you cope?