When God Broke Our Contract: A Story of Hope
Growing up, my family believed in Jesus but did not regularly attend church or seek out a relationship with Him. As a result, I was left to form my own conclusions and develop my own notions of Christ.
To me, a relationship with Jesus meant good behavior was rewarded while bad behavior was punished. The simplicity of this contract was appealing. It hinged on a linear cause and effect; a self-engineered life plan where God simply reinforced good and punished bad. It was predictable and allowed me to control my life, to navigate around pain, while maintaining the fallacy that I was following God’s design for man.
Then, in elementary school, a longtime family friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. This woman was the personification of goodness. She was the purest, most selfless person I have ever met and a beacon of God’s love. Watching her deteriorate and eventually succumb to her diagnosis invalidated the contract I had made with God. Good was not always rewarded and bad was not always punished. These complications challenged my illusion of a comfortable, self-governed life. It meant the world, and specifically a relationship with Jesus, was more uncertain. That suffering was an unavoidable part of the human experience, an extension of God’s will.
As a result, I disassociated from God. Instead, I launched into a life guided by my own will; a life attempting to avoid the unavoidable. I began to seek fulfillment in all the wrong places. Prescription painkillers became an avenue to regulate it all. I used them to restore some sense of peace and maintain a false sense of control, of comfort.
While my world began to crumble around me, I watched it all burn in a sedated fog of artificial bliss.
Ironically, my attempt to escape God became the gateway through which God re-entered my life. Through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was forced to examine the consequences of a life run on self-will — to accept my own powerlessness and to recognize the havoc that a self-empowered life wreaked. Through the 12 steps, I discovered that my salvation was derived from the relationship with God that I had abandoned in elementary school.
Addiction is loneliness. It is seduction by false idols, misguidedly seeking peace from avenues that sow destruction. Addiction is a human condition. Whether it be material wealth, status, power, or influence, addiction is an attempt to nourish our soul with anything that is not God. To put a square peg in a round hole.
Inversely, recovery is a renewed relationship with God. It is a surrendering of self-will and acceptance of a life guided by a higher power. It is an admission that no proportion of things from this earth will bring true peace.
Recovery is a practiced disillusionment, a breaking of the notion that anything but God will suffice.
I stand in awe of God’s resilience and with a newfound understanding of pain and suffering. Pain is not an extension of God’s will; it is not a punishment. Pain is a consequence of the flesh, of a life propelled by self. My pain was self-created, but God used my pain as a “trade wind” to redirect my course. To pull me to Him and to surrender to His authority.
Allowing God into my heart has changed everything. It has offered a more thorough understanding of self and, by proxy, a sense of connectedness with the shared human experience. The pressure to conform to social norms or compare myself to others has been replaced by a new, more purposeful rubric:
Did I live in God’s image today?
Christ has challenged me to be better, to honor the commandments that He has called us to uphold, and to seek Him for guidance in every area of my life. This has impacted me in innumerable ways, including a redefinition of my relationships with:
1️⃣ Myself. I’ve received a newfound sense of dignity, of purpose. Even before addiction, I was chasing a sense of wholeness. Those pursuits left me feeling empty, left me riddled with a turmoil that distorted my outlook on the world. Through Christ’s forgiveness, I have received an objective perspective of self. I’m not bogged down in self-loathing, chasing to fulfill narratives or undue pressure I’ve placed on myself based on social expectations. This has awakened my heart. It’s given me an opportunity to feel self-love and to radiate that to the world.
2️⃣ My family. Giving love extends especially to my family. Relationships are no longer transactional or “what you can do for me.” I am a participant, a contributor in family affairs. I’ve received a renewed sense of appreciation for these relationships and given up the sense of entitlement to them. I am able to be a witness to Christ for them, to show them the miracles He is working in my life.
3️⃣ My fiancé. A relationship centered around Christ has given us a shared purpose. It has created a newfound understanding of teamwork and helped to illuminate the characteristics that unite us as an unstoppable force. The call for abstinence has challenged us to develop a deeper spiritual and emotional bond. It has given us an opportunity to demonstrate our unconditional commitment to each other, without sex as a confounding factor. While we have not always upheld this commitment, our shortfalls have led us to lean on Christ and our Woodside community for guidance, strengthening the bonds of those relationships
It seems that when God tore up the contract I had drawn for us, He replaced it with one artfully penned by His own hand. One in which the consequence of my idolatry was not only paid in full, but its previous hold on my life exchanged for the pervading, all-redeeming power of His grace.
To hear more of Andrew’s Story, watch the video below!