On the evening of Sunday, September 11th, my life and the lives of family would be forever changed. It was the day that I received the phone call that my mom had passed away. In an instant, time stopped and I felt like a little boy all over again. To make this already unbearable news even worst, I was told by my Dad that she had taken her own life.
Nothing can prepare a person for this kind of phone call. And believe me when I say that I wasn’t prepared whatsoever. My wife and I were leading a small group in our home that evening and I was expecting news that my Mom would be coming home from a stay at the hospital. Thinking back now, we must have scared our friends who were with us that night.
As people have asked us how we’ve been doing the last couple months, the answer I seem to consistently give is that we’re navigating. There are good days, bad days, and really, really hard days filled with so many questions and emotions. And yet, in the midst of this life-changing event, I’ve felt my heart lean into Jesus in a way that I never have before. Perhaps I’m an anomaly, but I’m actually not angry with God or angry with my Mom. I know this isn’t everyone’s story, but it’s mine.
I’m thankful also that on this journey that I haven’t chosen to go back to old behaviors and my former lifestyle as someone who lived with a sexual addiction. In the midst of my grief and loss, I haven’t felt the urge to medicate my pain. I believe this truly is a testament to the work that I’ve done over the last 14 years in recovery.
Again, I understand that everyone’s story is different. And that’s why I really wanted the heart of this post to be for encouraging those of you who may feel like you’re not doing so well. Believe me when I say, there is no judgement here. I completely understand that walking in sexual purity while navigating through life-altering trauma can be a serious recipe for disaster for many.
So what are some important things to remember if you’re walking through some kind of loss in the midst of also trying to keep your recovery strong and consistent? How do you stay healthy? Perhaps not a surprise, but a lot of what you will read may not seem radically different from what healthy recovery should normally look like.
- Stay in the Word & Worship — Believe me when I tell you that if you’re a person walking in recovery from some kind of addiction AND you’re walking through some kind of loss, be it the traumatic kind or even the smallest kind, you’ll need to be reminded there is always hope available to you. In recent months since losing my mom, continually staying in the Word of God and in His presence has been that hope for me. Jesus is our hope when all seems lost. When there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel, He is our light. And the peace that He’s brought to my heart in this midst of this loss and as I navigate through recovery has been so precious to me.
- Stay in Community — As in recovery, you want to keep an eye on how much time you’re spending alone. It’s very easy when you’re in a place of loss to withdraw and pretend you don’t need people in your life. When it’s actually the complete opposite that is true. If our relationship with the Lord is any kind of model it shows us that we are beings designed for relationship. Inviting healthy, safe people into our lives helps others to see they can speak into our pain and hit helps us to realize we’re truly aren’t alone. Community is where we were meant to live. That doesn’t mean you have to be everyone’s best friend. But it does mean you should keep a few meaningful consistent relationships always at hand for the tough times.
- Stay Aware of Your Heart — It’s time we learned that our hearts are always speaking to us. We have needs, wants, and desires that long to be fulfilled. Not only is this happening as we journey through recovery, but it is intensified as we walk through some kind of loss. If we look upon our hearts as we do our car’s dashboard, then we’ll understand there are moments when we’re low on gas or that we need an oil change soon. What does this translate to for our hearts? Perhaps it’s that we need to slow down, re-fuel our tanks with life-giving friendships or the presence of God. Maybe there routines or rhythms in our lives that need to change. Even as I write these words, I feel the vulnerability and fragility of my own heart. I know there are certain things I will need today to keep moving in a healthy direction. Pay attention to what your heart is telling you.
Navigating through recovery can be really intensive. But couple that with loss and you may just feel like you’re in a war for survival. That’s why the ideas above are really important to keep central in your life. You need to be rooted in what is healthy and nourishing for your soul. Small Groups Online is one avenue you can take to accomplish this! SGO delivers an incredible opportunity for you to cultivate community in your life. Each week, you’ll join an online group of other men or women like yourself who are also walking through their recovery. Your group will be private, encouraging, and convenient as there are many days and times to choose from during the week.
If you’re trying to navigate your recovery while walking through the grieving process or you’ve experienced some kind of loss, there is so much help and support out there. Consider implementing the tips listed above and you’ll be on the road to becoming healthier than you ever could have imagined!
Frank is passionate about helping individuals live with sexual integrity. He also works alongside his wife Tracey in helping spouses who have been devastated by their partner’s addiction. Frank & Tracey live in beautiful southern Delaware with their two children: Nathan and Addison.