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(Dedicated to Tiffany and Dianne.)
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve doubted God’s plan.
The years I spent full of rage at God are countless, and I can’t get them back. My anger stemmed from my belief that God was just repeatedly punishing me for wrongs I committed as a child, or as a teenager.
The losses, the traumas, the assaults, and emotional pain I battled on a daily basis were all my penance for a rebellious youth. I kept asking him, “When is enough going to be enough? How much more can I take? Haven’t I had to pay enough?”
I envisioned God sitting upon his throne, laughing his ass off at me, mocking me like I was some form of prime time entertainment for the eternal world. There were times I felt I could not endure one more ounce of pain or disappointment, one more assault or injury to my heart, but then something else would happen, and reaffirm, in my skeptical mind, that God punished me.
My cup had runneth over with suffering and I was certain God hated me because I was not worthy or good enough for his love and protection. That was until March 7th, 2021. The day started out as any day would with one of my best friends.
We met for brunch, which led into a long afternoon full of laughter fueled by too much wine and poor judgement. God did not punish me that day, however. Instead, he watched over me and ensured I was safely returned to the family that loved me. Do you know why? Because I truly believe he knew I finally had enough—enough wine for a lifetime, enough pain for a lifetime, and enough anger for a lifetime.
He knew that Lydia could not absorb or handle one more challenge to her emotional state. He knew my pain level was at max capacity. He knew if he watched over me on March 7th, 2021, that I would finally realize he was on my side and he had a bigger plan for me.
The following morning when I woke up, hungover as all hell, not wanting to face life, and feeling that my family would be better off if I was dead, I prayed harder than I have ever prayed in my life. I begged God to help me, to remove the desire for alcohol from my body and to heal me.
I did this because I finally realized I never wanted to behave like that again. I never wanted to disappoint my children and husband like that again. And I never wanted to wake up another morning loathing myself again.
God listened that morning, and he freed me from the desire to ever put alcohol into my body again. The longer I am sober, the more I meditate and reflect on my life, the more I realize that God has been there many other times—times when I thought he had abandoned me.
He was in the operating room when I was in full eclamptic seizures and my baby was dying. He made sure I survived and came back after being resuscitated three times. He was there the day my son, Ian, fell asleep at the wheel on his way back to college and crashed into a tractor trailer. He totaled his car, but only sustained mild injuries. Thank you, God!
He was there the night my grandmother left this earth, and I watched as he carried her home. And he was there during the darkest days of my depression when my mind was telling me that the world was better off without me here. God’s protective arms embraced me and helped me feel safe enough to seek help.
God has always been there.
I realize now this is his bigger plan for me. Each struggle. Every hardship. The heartache. Suffering loss. Enduring trauma. Healing my past. Everything was in preparation for my current journey and ongoing personal exploration. Through all the heartache and pain, anger and rage, God gave me the gift of empathy for so many others in life.
Had I not endured everything I have, I may not be so compassionate, caring, and vigilant about helping those who cannot help themselves. I would not be so successful in my current role, and I certainly would
not be pondering what more I can offer, for the possibilities are endless.
God has given me the power to help others who are also struggling with behavioral health issues, alcohol abuse, trauma, depression, suicidal thoughts and finally healing from it all. God knows I am only in the beginning stages of this new journey, but as long as I know he is with me, I know I am going to be okay.
He has given me confidence in my voice. I am no longer ashamed of my stories. God has given me the ability to embrace them and share them to better the world, to end the stigma, and to help others heal. And I will not squander this gift he has bestowed upon me!
Each and every morning, I thank him for everything and for watching over me and all those I love. I once told my friend that sometimes when I drive and am singing, I just stop and look up toward the heavens, and tears of joy come to my eyes. You know what she said to me? In her deepest Georgia drawl, she said: “Yea, Lydia, that’s the Holy Spirit!”
Whatever it is, there’s no purer feeling of happiness in the world. For in those moments, just looking up and giving gratitude where it’s most deserved, I feel God with me and all is right in my heart.