A Part of my Story

Continued from I Haven’t Got a Clue…….

When I was WILLING, He was able.  I had no idea what throwing my hands up in the air, surrendering my plans, my will, my ideas, my pride, my motives meant or looked like, but I was cooked – DONE and READY to get off the winding road.

Looking back I can see now that God had been preparing me for this specific time.  Several months prior to this He had me stumble across a book through my friend’s sister called Uncommon Woman By Susie Larson.  Just the name of the book struck a cord in my heart – Uncommon Woman, that is what I wanted to be.  I picked up the book in February and devoured it.

Not only once, but twice.  I chewed on every chapter.  I had the passion in my heart to possess the characteristics of the woman described in the book.  But me?  I can’t be that woman, I’m not good enough!  The tapes would play over and over in my mind of all the horrible things that I’d done, the things I’m CURRENTLY doing, the un-pure thoughts I have, the prejudice and judgmental attitudes I stored in my mind – simply put, I am undeserving………look at me, who am I?  You see, I did a really GREAT job in my life accomplishing most of the NEVERS that I vowed I would NEVER do.

In April 2009 I got a call from a dear friend of mine, a mentor friend, a wise woman who I admired, she wanted to have coffee.  We had a chance to catch up and I shared with her the book I had read.  It intrigued her and she asked if I could do a “book club” on the book.  I thought, wow, my THIRD time reading this book, REALLY?  It took me only a brief second to respond, “Ok, I’m in – when do we start?”  We decided that we would meet every Thursday morning and discuss a chapter each week.  I was so excited!

The following week we started.  Before we dug in, my wise friend asked me a profound question.  She said, “What can you give up and surrender in your life over the next few weeks, as we go through this book.  Something that will free your mind and allow you to focus as you read; to really get the most out of what you’re reading?”  As I thought about her question, she shared with me what she was willing to “lay down”.  Then I responded with my answer, “I will lay down alcohol – for the next 12 weeks, I will not drink alcohol.”

I was excited about this commitment, THIS is what I needed – accountability.  In the back of my mind, I had been a little concerned about the amount of alcohol I had been drinking ~ I LOVED LOVED LOVED to unwind at night with a glass of wine.  But the problem was that it wasn’t just one night a week, it was most often seven and it wasn’t just one glass of wine it was most often one bottle (or two).  So, that day, I did two things……..I committed to NOT drink for an extended period of time from the bottom of my heart AND I broke my commitment; that night I drank so much wine that I passed out.

I wore the shirt of shame and the pants of guilt for the next three weeks when I met with my wise friend.  A day didn’t go by that I didn’t have a drink.  She didn’t ask about my commitment and I didn’t tell.  I was dishonest and in fear.  I was fearful of what she would think of me and afraid of what I had discovered.  I was in bondage to alcohol and it was controlling my life.

On the morning of Tuesday May 12th 2009, I set out to accomplish one thing, pick out tile and granite for our home.  The reality of that day is this.  I started drinking by noon and I was passed out, tucked safely into my bed by my husband by 6:00pm.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was to be my last drink (by the grace of God).

I felt physically miserable when I woke up on Wednesday May 13th.  Vowing AGAIN that morning for the millionth time I will NEVER drink again.  I looked in the mirror and hated who I had become, BUT this is when the revelation hit me.  Remember, one week earlier the cry of my heart was God show me what to do, I am nothing without you?  Not only had He been showing me, little by little, but He was preparing me.  Out of curiosity, today, I just looked back to my Facebook status for that day and here’s what I had posted:

May 13th 2009 – Teri Fitch Johnson is I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart…….                                                    May 13, 2009 at 4:40pm via Facebook for BlackBerry  · Comment · Like

WOW ~ ONLY God could’ve given me the JOY that I had felt on that day and the strength to do what I had to do the following day.  I had to be honest with my accountability partner, my wise friend who I was doing the “book club” with.  As we sat down to get started discussing our book, I began by saying, “I will never find the freedom that is talked about in this book.”  I started to cry and through my tears I continued, “I have been dishonest with you, I haven’t been able to NOT drink alcohol.  I’ve been drinking since we started and I don’t know what to do.”

We closed our books.  We talked openly and honestly about my struggle.  We discussed options. I made a decision.  I called Hazelden and admitted myself into their impatient treatment facility for alcoholism.  The decision was easy for me to make, but it didn’t come without a thousand mixed feelings.  I was willing and I had handed over the wheel one week prior and prayed for a revelation.  God answered my prayer and all the details fell into place.

Today marks an anniversary for me, 365 days without alcohol – ONLY because of Him!  Yes, I am an alcoholic.  I’ve embraced this asset and have had the privilege to help others who struggle with the same issue.  However, this does not define me.  WHY?  Because I’m made up of hundreds of OTHER imperfections, good qualities, and experiences, this just happens to be one of them.  Through this experience God has revealed to me my true passion and for that I am forever grateful.  I feel that my earnest revelation prayer  that I prayed on May 5th 2009 continues to be answered.  It seems that each day different pieces of this “life puzzle” fall into place as God shines the light on my path and I surrender my will daily (sometimes MANY times throughout the day!)

You have to know that while writing this I’m feeling very vulnerable.  Exposed.  Naked.  One thing we wrote about with Keeping it Personal in Who we are is this, “We want to inspire you to keep it personal in your daily interactions.  Inspire you to look for the moments where you can impact the lives of others around you by sharing your experiences and your story.”  This is my moment and that is why I’m sharing this story.  Maybe, just maybe, this post can impact the life of one person.  Maybe, this post can be shared with another person who has a similar struggle to give them hope.  Maybe, you’re reading this and want to connect with me because you can relate.  Whatever the reason I’m feeling compelled to share……..thy will be done.

Who we are…

Keeping it Personal: not as in keeping it to yourself. It’s not, NOT sharing with others or being in your own private thoughts and keeping IT……….what ever IT may be to yourself. Not ‘keeping it personal’ in the selfish sense of the phrase similar to a child who wants this to be “mine, mine, mine” or an adult who doesn’t want to share a good idea, thought, or compliment.

We’re keeping it personal – we’re about the relationship, sharing what’s real on a personal level. We’re taking the “impersonal” out of what society has made impersonal to speed up the process, to get going with the next thing. We want to inspire you to keep it personal in your daily interactions. Inspire you to look for the moments where you can impact the lives of others around you by sharing your experiences and your story. By freely giving compliments and encouraging words to others. We want to motivate you to reach out to others by keeping it personal, by using your special gifts and talents; by being real, honest, kind, genuine. We want to educate you and provide you with ideas that will impact your life, which in turn, you can share to impact the lives of others.

Keeping it personal is what customer service lacks. Keeping it Personal is what can turn an acquaintance into a life long friend. Keeping it Personal is what can give someone hope who is hopeless- because you were transparent and shared a story they could relate to. Keeping it Personal and sharing your passion could be the start of an organization to help a family in need or a homeless/runaway on the street. Keeping it Personal is dropping that personal handwritten card in the mail. Taking action with those lingering thoughts; NOT ignoring them. Keeping it Personal is taking the time to make a phone call to the person who’s been on your mind. The personal touch may be just what one person needs on a particular day to bring joy to their world.

Our mission is to be a daily reminder for people to keep it real by keeping it personal. Through sharing our experiences and our stories online, we hope to inspire you to keep it personal as you connect with your community and others around you.

Who are WE? We are simply two women, two mothers, two daughters, two friends, two aunties, two sisters-in-law, two wives, two children of God who have come to realize through our own past experiences on this journey of life, that keeping it personal is what keeps us grounded. We have not mastered this by any means or claim to be perfect, but are striving to keep it personal in all our affairs. We find joy and fulfillment by reaching out and sharing with others; and in return we grow and are inspired by what others share with us in their stories and experiences. Our hope is for others to find what we’ve come to realize.

Keeping it personal is a community of twos. We hope to attract and influence a community at large who share our vision of keeping it personal.

Teri and Leah