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Introductions and Testimonies Please tell everybody something about yourself. Tell us a little. Tell us a lot. Its up to you!

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Old 07-14-2020, 10:04 AM   #1
gr8ful
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Default Grateful for my path and still growing

I no longer meet in the local churches, and I am not conscious of a resentment against persons or the group of people meeting with or leading either specific local churches or LSM. This was not an easy process for me, as I did suffer guilt and fear for years about leaving the ground of oneness, seeking spiritual help or fellowship outside of the circle of The Recovery or the recommended writings in the group.

Some background. I began meeting with a local church in the mid 1980s and jumped in fully. I had been seeking a fellowship based in the Bible and with a spiritual richness. I felt like I was home early on. I attended the FTTA and began serving full-time for several years after.

But I also struggled. I was, unknown to me, an early-stage alcoholic (an early-stage alcoholic is one that can seem to handle their alcohol with few serious repercussions; but with continued drinking, the progression always gets worse). I would go for years without drinking, but at certain times I'd slip and enter a period of uncontrolled drinking. Any time I fellowshipped about this problem, with great shame, I'd be told that "so-and-so was an alcoholic before they entered the Body, but being in the Body freed them." I didn't meet or hear about a current member of the church who struggled with alcoholism until the mid 2010s. I thought I was alone and "doing it wrong."

I left serving full-time at the turn of the millenium because I could not stop drinking on more and more frequent occasions. I stopped serving because I did not want to cause a scandal to the church or ministry -- and I had no hope of stopping, which would have ended my hypocrisy, obviously.

Over the succeeding years since 2000 my meeting life became harder because I could not find anyone with whom I could really open up to about this dark side. Going through the Experience of Life helped some, but I couldn't get past the "gross sins" like others could. When we started practicing the Vital Groups to have vital fellowship, I was hopeful, but (due to my fear or whatever) it seemed we focused on surface-level items, not the deeper demons that plagued me.

By mid 00s, I had begun seeking professional help for my alcohol problem. But I had an extreme revulsion to seeking help outside of The Ministry, or speaking to 12 Step Recovery groups about a generic "God, of my own understanding." If calling on the Lord and the High Peak and the Experience of Life couldn't help me on the Ground of Oneness, how could an anonymous god outside of the Divine Stream help me? I would participate in therapy and 12 Step work just enough to get sober a while, but I felt compelled to return to the Church and Ministry to get "real help." I kept going back to drinking.

Eventually, I did meet two people who had discovered their alcoholism while in the Church Life in my then-locality (mid-2010s). These two helped me very much and I felt like NOW there's a Levitical City I can go to! Alas, their fellowship was, "I went to Alcoholics Anonymous long enough until my daily Life-Study reading took over my need to drink. Go to AA for a while to get straight, but your real recovery will be in The Recovery."

I did this bouncing around until I despaired of living. Finally, I gave up. I went into treatment and stopped trying to explain how the All-Inclusive, Indwelling, Seven-fold Intensified, life-giving Spirit of the processed and consummated Triune God was waaaaaaay better than "God, as I understand him." I stopped thinking I was erring by reading Other Literature. I admitted my pride (pride to be correct, pride to be on the winning team, pride to be chosen and special to be in God's Move in this Age). I became willing to listen and share my experience with others.

And a weird thing happened. I started to gain peace and freedom. I started to enjoy fellowship with people who were experiencing God's presence, even if they didn't know his name (like I "certainly" did). I started realizing that it's not of him who wills or him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.

After a year in AA, I thought to go back to meet with believers. But…having done this several times over more than 5 years (go to AA, get sober, go back to my local church), I realized I didn't *have to* meet with the local church. And now I didn't *want to*. So, I didn't. Instead, I went to the most "Stand & Sit and Sit & Stand" church I could find, which was a Lutheran church in my neighborhood that had a hippy minister who fed the homeless, built tiny houses, grew a sustainable garden and spoke traditional Lutheran teaching. LET ME TELL YOU everything in my being shouted at me to reject that formalized, organized system of worship with it's clergy and laity, forms, images, crosses, incense. But I sat and listened. And I could hear the Spirit. It took a long time to turn off the internal judgement for all the "wrong things" the people in that Christendom meeting did. (And taking communion for the first time is a whole story itself). But, funnily enough, I am not a Lutheran today. No...that was a step to get beyond the confines of a bubble I was in that wasn't working for me.

At some point I realized that I didn't need the local church anymore. I don't know if it was AA, that little Lutheran church, or what, but I realized that I can be grateful for my experiences with so many good people, honest about the less-than-glorious things, own my failures and shortages, and not hate the local churches or the LSM.

In fact, one of the 7 Feasts came to my hometown a while back and a family member asked me to come; so I did. I went without fear (or sense of judgement); simply to participate and be with my family member. A few people from other places who knew me saw me and greeted me -- some without a sarcastic "oh, look what the Spirit drug in" semi-shaming (ok, full shaming) comment, but not all. I listened to the message and appreciated some of the healed scars from deep wounds evident in the speaker's message (Ron spoke, of course) but when it came to the part of the message that limited God's move to the Recovery, I recognized that wasn't my sense or experience and I didn't need that. No need to judge or oppose, just let it be what it is to those who are in that place in their journey. It's no longer my journey.

Today, I am continuing to grow. I'm in AA and sober. I am reunited with my kids and living a life of purpose in a pandemic in an age of unrest, grateful for all that I've been through.



NB: While I no longer meet and have shifted my focus elsewhere, I tell my story of deep shame and maddening inability to find healing while "growing in the garden of his grace" to encourage ones in whom this resonates that you're not alone and there is a way out of such a desperate personal situation.

Last edited by gr8ful; 07-14-2020 at 12:00 PM. Reason: Add a reason for this post
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Old 07-14-2020, 12:08 PM   #2
UntoHim
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

gr8ful, thank you so much for you heartfelt testimony! It takes a lot of courage and fortitude to come on an open forum like this and speak the things you spoke today! You can be assured that your testimony will be a help and encouragement to those who have struggled with any kind of substance abuse. Please stick around a while and tell us more about your journey! Your testimony here brought to mind the apostle Paul's word to the Philippians: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phl 1:6)
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Old 07-14-2020, 12:14 PM   #3
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It's obvious you are in a good place, doing well. It is a wonderful story to hear, God bless you.
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Old 07-14-2020, 04:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

Quote:
Originally Posted by gr8ful View Post
I no longer meet in the local churches, and I am not conscious of a resentment against persons or the group of people meeting with or leading either specific local churches or LSM. This was not an easy process for me, as I did suffer guilt and fear for years about leaving the ground of oneness, seeking spiritual help or fellowship outside of the circle of The Recovery or the recommended writings in the group.
Welcome aboard! You're not alone in suffering the 'guilt and fear' of leaving the LSM..I think most people here have been there-done that. The LC/LSM may have inflicted that guilt and fear but JESUS came to take away our guilt/fear and shame. He never gave up on you..never will no matter your weakness. I'm not telling you anything you didn't know..but we all need a tad of encouragement and a reminder now and then.

Quote:
At some point I realized that I didn't need the local church anymore. I don't know if it was AA, that little Lutheran church, or what, but I realized that I can be grateful for my experiences with so many good people, honest about the less-than-glorious things, own my failures and shortages, and not hate the local churches or the LSM.
I love your testimony. We all do I'm sure. May God continue to heal you and strengthen your heart and mind, filling you and your family with Peace and Joy and of course more of His Love.

Quote:
In fact, one of the 7 Feasts came to my hometown a while back and a family member asked me to come;
I don't know if that was a typo or a phrase I'm not familiar with in this context. (I am very familiar with the 7 feasts of the Lord btw ) Can you clarify that phrase for me please? Thanks in advance.

Quote:
Today, I am continuing to grow. I'm in AA and sober. I am reunited with my kids and living a life of purpose in a pandemic in an age of unrest, grateful for all that I've been through.
Again... so very happy for you! May mucho blessings shower you and your family.
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Old 07-14-2020, 06:13 PM   #5
gr8ful
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

"One of the 7 Feasts" -- one of the international LSM conferences held yearly around certain official holidays, vernacularly referred to as "the Seven Feasts." These rotate regions and countries and are (pre-pandemic era, anyway) usually held in large venues to accommodate a large attendance.
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Old 07-15-2020, 10:07 AM   #6
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

Thank you very much brother. Your testimony was very much encouraging to me, since I'm facing all kinds of condemnation from my family members for not meeting with the Local Church anymore. Their words tried to instill some kind of 'guilt' within me but not anymore. I know there are many others like me from what i read in this forum. I know there are many more outside this forum who are going through a transition in their life. This is the journey towards real freedom - the freedom and rest the Lord has promised.
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Old 07-15-2020, 01:16 PM   #7
Nell
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

Gr8ful,

Thank you for sharing your story with us. What a God we have!

He rescued your soul!
He offered you hope when you lost your way!
In weakness he found you!
He gave you the healing and grace your heart always hungered for!
Thank you Lord.

Your well written story reminded me of this song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9qtzwYe2qY

Wonderful merciful savior
Precious redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of man
Oh you rescue the souls of man.

Counselor comforter keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost our way
Oh we've hopelessly lost the way.

You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore.
You give the healing and grace our
Hearts always hunger for
Oh our hearts always hunger for.

Oh mighty infinite father
Faithfully loving your own
Here in our weakness you find us
Falling before your throne
Oh were falling before your throne

You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace our
Hearts always hunger for
Oh our hearts always hunger for.

You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace our
Hearts always hunger for
Oh our hearts always hunger for.


Nell
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Old 07-15-2020, 03:55 PM   #8
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

Thanks, Gr8ful, for that thoughtful and well-written introduction! He is a God who answers our prayers and also our groanings which cannot be uttered! Praise Him!

And Nell, thanks for posting that wonderful song! We sing that song here from time to time, and it always moves me deeply. I never knew where it came from.
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Old 07-15-2020, 08:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Grateful for my path and still growing

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Originally Posted by sinnersavedbygrace View Post
Thank you very much brother. Your testimony was very much encouraging to me, since I'm facing all kinds of condemnation from my family members for not meeting with the Local Church anymore. Their words tried to instill some kind of 'guilt' within me but not anymore. I know there are many others like me from what i read in this forum. I know there are many more outside this forum who are going through a transition in their life. This is the journey towards real freedom - the freedom and rest the Lord has promised.
Yes and amen!

The wonderful chapters 9-10 of John's Gospel describes the story of those born into legalistic and oppressive societies holding the children of God in bondage and blindness. They long to hold us in prison, manipulating us with guilt and shame, knowing we may be shunned by friends and family alike. In like manner many former members in the LC's have also been healed and set free by Jesus, our Great Shepherd.
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Old 07-15-2020, 08:50 PM   #10
gr8ful
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Originally Posted by sinnersavedbygrace View Post
Thank you very much brother. Your testimony was very much encouraging to me, since I'm facing all kinds of condemnation from my family members for not meeting with the Local Church anymore. Their words tried to instill some kind of 'guilt' within me but not anymore. I know there are many others like me from what i read in this forum. I know there are many more outside this forum who are going through a transition in their life. This is the journey towards real freedom - the freedom and rest the Lord has promised.
The fear of being wrong is a powerful thing (and I'm talking about the motivation of others to be worried about our choices). Sorry to hear you're experiencing this in your family relations.

Once I learned to breathe, I could accept those fearing for me without having to carry that weight or explain myself. At the same time, I could let them be at peace where they are in their own journey. I realized their anxiety didn't need to be mine, and I didn't need them to change, either. (This also applies to Thanksgiving dinner conversations on politics!)

I had two experiences early on in my Church Life experience when I initially struggled (after about 3 years in). First, a couple in the church with whom I lived, were totally afraid that I was going to move out and move in with family -- they told me if I did that I'd leave the church and be out of God's blessing. It was a fear on their part; it was also a group-dynamic that was a control (not intentional, I think) -- you know, "a controlling vision."

The other experience came from two elders who met with me privately. They saw my struggle and came to tell me that I did not need to meet with the church to be saved or to experience the Lord -- it was optional to meet -- but if I wanted to return, there was a seat at the Table for me. This freed me from the weight of the decision...to leave or not... and I did for a while, but returned for another 20+ years. This experience was one of the most mature discussions I have had regarding this matter of meeting or not. No fear, no pressure...permission to choose.

Unfortunately, the second experience stands out mainly because of its uniqueness over 30 years.
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Old 07-16-2020, 10:53 AM   #11
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Yes and amen! The wonderful chapters 9-10 of John's Gospel describes the story of those born into legalistic and oppressive societies holding the children of God in bondage and blindness. They long to hold us in prison, manipulating us with guilt and shame, knowing we may be shunned by friends and family alike. In like manner many former members in the LC's have also been healed and set free by Jesus, our Great Shepherd.
Praise the Lord. It is only because of Jesus' great love and mercy toward us that we are out of the prison of legalism.
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