Trials Come In Bunches But So Do Comebacks

My testimony
by Christopher Chavez
Christopher’s Facebook

I come from a divorced home. My mom raised me, and I have one older brother and one older sister. My mom told me that I was conceived during a reconciliation; I was unplanned and it was an overwhelming time for her. My father was an addict so he was absent most of my life; growing up was hard without a father, my mom worked tirelessly to provide for us.  I was a very needy child, I remember always wanting people to like me and I was always looking for a father figure.

 

unnamed

The abuse started when I was six or seven years old. I was abused verbally, mentally and physically. The main abuser was a relative; he felt that because I didn’t have a father that he should step in and “discipline” me. Sadly, at times my mom would ask him for help in bringing that “discipline.” I remember being taken into my grandfather’s room and being smacked so hard that I couldn’t move my neck afterwards. To make matters worse no one knew I suffered with ADD and a learning problem ’till much later in life.

I remember being hated by relatives because of my behaviors; they felt sorry for me but at the same time they were cruel. I have been to eight schools in my life – that instability affected me greatly. I never had long term friends and was often hated for being the new kid.  I was forced to go to church as a kid so I had some basic fear of God. However during my sophomore year in high school I turned away from God and started to smoke weed; some friends lured me into the drug scene. During that time my family had also lost our family home and we were living with our grandmother, so I started smoking cigarettes, then drinking, and smoking weed.  I didn’t care for the high I felt so I stuck with weed until my senior year then I tried meth.

I remember I wanted to get away from my family – I wanted out. I did think about suicide at times to escape my pain but I didn’t want to go to hell. I almost bought a gun from some gang members to kill my abuser, but they wouldn’t sell it to me. They asked why I wanted one and when I told them the truth, they said they didn’t want to be involved with that. After I went to continuation school I felt even worse about myself and more depressed. I was nineteen and older than everyone else because I had been held back two grades. So all I did during school was drink and get high; it was the biggest waste of my life.

For the next four years I went head first into drugs. I was doing meth just about every day, until it came to a point where I stopped because I had a nervous breakdown. I started hearing voices and seeing shadows; I went to God and stayed sober and tried to change my life for the better. I managed to stay sober for five years, then I started using again and hanging out with old friends. That’s when I got into smoking crack. I would go with Simone who would steal a car and we would drive down to the projects in Compton and get a couple hundred dollars worth of crack. During those times we never got caught – it was God’s Mercy that we never got robbed or shot at.

I never stole anything, it was my friend who did; I was just along for the ride but if we would have gotten caught I would have been in just as much trouble as the driver. A few years later I got sober again and tried do the right things, but drugs damage your body, spirit and emotions. I couldn’t get myself together.  I ran into hard times, started smoking weed again and began hanging out with the wrong friends. It was the year 2000, I had just gotten a good job as well as my own apartment, then drugs came back into my life again.

I was in a motel room doing meth. I decided to do a hundred dollars worth in one big line, and after I snorted it my nose began to bleed everywhere. My heart was beating so fast I could have sworn I saw it pounding out of my chest; I ran into the shower hoping it would calm me down but it didn’t do a thing, so I started to cry and ran outside naked screaming for help.  Someone brought me inside and called 911; when they told me that help was coming, I fell to my knees and began crying out to God, asking Him to not let me die in that state.

That was one of three times I that I rode in the back of an ambulance. The second time I was upstairs at someone’s house. To make a long story short I had to jump out the second story window to get help then walked to the fire department. I was taken to the hospital because I was overdosing again. The third time I was at my aunt’s house. I had done meth, alcohol, and crack everyday for two weeks straight. I had gotten sick so I took some robitussin, but by the second day I started feeling faint. I felt weaker and weaker and began to look pale; my body was ice cold. I called 911 and they gave me oxygen because I felt like I couldn’t breath. After that night I had people saying goodbye to me because everyone thought I was going to die. I cried out to God, “Help me! I wanna live!”

Then in November of 2004, I rededicated my life to God, and never touched alcohol or drugs again. I did, however, have to deal with the aftermath of my addictions. I suffered from horrible anxiety, nightmares, and had a very difficult time trying to rehabilitate my mind. I had lost everything and was starting my life over from the bottom. I realized that staying sober meant the difference between living and dying.

I know God gave me a another chance for a big reason; I’ve stayed sober all these years by being rooted in a church and cutting off all relationships with anyone that used drugs or partied. I also found role models to look up to, such as my cousin Danny Perea who used to be a heroin & cocaine addict, Adam Goldstein AKA “DJ AM,” as well as some well known ministers on TBN. As of today I am one of the leaders of the youth ministry at my church and I’ve witnessed to them many times about about my past with addiction and speak on abstinence too. I give all glory to God for saving me from myself, and refer often to the Bible verse that got me through the darkest of times:

Psalm 118:17 says, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.”

 

unnamed-3

On a side note, my father came back into my life in 2005. He is now sober and recently married. He opened up and told me that he had been living on Skid Row for twenty-one years during his addiction; he now does ministry work on Skid Row every weekend and feeds the homeless with his church. I just want to close and say that if God can change my life he can change yours; a better day is coming, don’t give up.  Jesus loves you so much that He died for you. As well there are plenty of programs such as AA that are available for you. You can also find wonderful programs through your local church. Someone is always ready to help you.

“Trials come in bunches but so do comebacks” – Christopher Chavez

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please contact: 1-800-273-8255, or visit: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Website

If you are an adult victim of child abuse, please contact: Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse

For help on drug and alcohol addiction, please contact: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.

Seven Ways to Have a Better Body Image

“Perception of the body is something everyone shares, whether positive or negative. Body image can be shaped by a variety of complex factors including genetics, environment and the media.

Negative body image is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone, at some point in their lifetime, experiences a poor picture of themselves, whether it be mental or physical. The important thing to remember is that you are never alone and reaching out for help is a critical step in building a healthy self image.

Here are seven ways to clear away the dust and reconstruct a better body image.” 

Read more on Recovery Warriors.

 

The Hope Diary: Step Eleven: God’s Will be Done

Step eleven of the twelve step program teaches us that recovery is a daily renewal of our minds, bodies and souls. Without surrendering to God’s Will for our lives it is impossible to have a successful and abstinent day. I tried to live my life in recovery my way for a long time until I finally became exhausted because I kept ending up in the same place: failure! I just said “Ok God You win I give up! Your Will be done not mine!” Now whenever I feel myself getting frustrated it is a warning sign that I am trying to live life on my terms, and so I have to 1. Stop and 2. Simply ask God for His help. Man what humble pie tastes like going down! But the rewards of humility and surrender surely are sweeter than trying to do things alone.
Prayer does not have to be fancy. God wants us to come simply as we are. I often pray “Father, your will be done, not my own. In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen.” God is a God of hearts.

What is your Step 11 Prayer that you can use throughout the day?

Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook for the following questions.

A New Hiding Place
2 Samuel 22:1-33

1. How was addiction a hiding place from life for me? Compare this with having God as a hiding place.

2. Describe how I experience “conscious contact” with God:

Thirst for God:
Psalm 27: 1-6

1. What do I most seek from God?

2. What is difficult about trusting God with my requests?

Joy in God’s Presence
Psalm 65:1-4

1. What keeps me from accepting God’s forgiveness?

2. What scares me about knowledge of God’s will for me?

Finding God
Psalm 105:1-9

1. Is my life changing daily? Am I noticing when I am resentful, selfish, dishonest, or afraid today? Identify ways that I am changing:

2. Am I aware of others’ feelings, needs, and rights? What have I noticed today?

Powerful Secrets
Psalm 119: 1-11

1. What am I hiding in my heart–secrets of old behaviors and issues, or God’s Word?

2. List what I can thank God for today:

Patient Waiting
Isaiah 40: 28-31

1. How does impatience show itself in my attitude and behaviors?

2. Am I impatient about my progress in recovery? Do I expect myself to “get it” the first time? Do I expect perfection?

3. Why is it hard to “trust in the Lord”?

Friends of the Light
John 3:18-21

1. In what areas of my life am I still afraid to seek God’s will?

2. When I think I am hearing God’s will, whose power do I act on? Am I tempted to do God’s will in my own power?

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

The Hope Diary: Step Ten: Taking Daily Inventory

Step ten is the first step that I take daily in order to keep myself in check. When I find that my character or food plan might be getting a bit sloppy, I try to immediately surrender myself to God and ask for His help to renew my mind In Him and take account for exactly where I am going wrong. In doing so, I am able to get back on track much faster and have a fruitful day. In the past before I found strong recovery I just kind of floundered around mercilessly inside and felt very lost. My mind was weak because I had let the eating disorder and other problems control it for many years. Thank God for His Grace and the twelve steps of recovery to bring daily help in every single situation that can arise.

Thank you to The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop for the following questions.

Personal Boundaries
Genesis 31:45-55

1. In order to restore trust in relationships, what particular weaknesses do I need to set boundaries around?

2. Is there a trusted person to whom I can clearly define my commitments? Who? What commitments am I willing to make?

Repeated Forgiveness
Romans 5:3-5

1. Do certain behaviors and character defects that show up in my Step Ten inventory point to a pattern? Which ones? What is being revealed to me?

2. Am I having trouble admitting these promptly and forgiving myself?

3. Do I give myself grace? Why or why not?

Dealing with Anger
Ephesians 4:26-27

1. What is my first response when I am angry? Lashing out? Stuffing down? Avoidance and covering up?

2. How was anger dealt with in my family? How did my mother deal with anger? My father? Which pattern do I follow?

3. When I am angry, can I promptly admit it? Why or why not?

4. Do I have support people who can help me learn to deal with anger more appropriately? Am I willing to ask for assistance with this issue?

Spiritual Exercises
1 Timothy 4:7-8

1. As this continual inventory is important for spiritual fitness, where in my daily routine can I set aside time to make myself self-assessment part of every day?

2. Do I have any resistance to evaluating my defects daily? What are my objections? What do I fear?

3. An example of a simple, daily, personal inventory:

Where have I been selfish, dishonest, fearful, inconsiderate, or proud?

What have I done right today?

What do I need God's help with tomorrow?

What am I grateful for today?

Perseverance
2 Timothy 2:1-8

1. How do I see my recovery as a war against addiction and as a fight for my soul?

2. How do I see myself as an athlete in training for the marathon journey of recovery and serenity?

3. Am I working in every season and situation? planting seeds of recovery by applying the Twelve Steps to my life?

4. Where do I lose heart in fighting, training, and working through the Twelve Steps?

Looking in the Mirror
James 1:21-25

1. Have I been quick to recognize but not take action in a particular area of my life or defect of character? If so, I can take action without self-criticism by going back through Steps Six and Seven, then Eight and Nine on that particular area or defect.

2. On what area or defect do I need to take action today? This week? This month?

Recurrent Sins
1 John 1:!-10

1. Have I hoped for immediate release from my defects as I may have had from my addiction? Have I perhaps unknowingly hoped that by doing all this step work I could attain perfection? Write any thoughts and feelings that arise from reading this meditation:

2. Am I clear that I still need inventories to continue my spiritual growth? In other words, have I developed enough humility to accept that inventories will be a regular part of my journey?
Explain:

3. Am I sensing that my conscience is returning or developing so that I more easily recognize my faults? Am I humble enough to admit them more readily? Record any progress you've noticed in your conscience:

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose

The Hope Diary: Step One, I am Powerless!

The Hope Diary: Step One, I am Powerless!
October 30, 2012

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I have been spending the evening quietly reflecting the past couple of days and how so many people in Jersey City and NYC around me are without power, submerged in water, scared, alone and helpless. I am extremely thankful that by the very Grace of God, my home was one of the only to not be affected with loss of anything, and I am definitely counting my Blessings.

The running theme right now of helplessness around the East Coast reminds me of Step One of my Twelve Step program for recovering from an eating disorder. Step One states that when we finally come to the realization that we have a true problem that is destroying our lives and many times, the lives of others, we say that we are “powerless.”

It took me 19 years to admit to myself and to others that I was powerless. Even after going for help 17 years into my bulimia and anorexia, I still did not admit that I was powerless. I sought help mostly for the wrong reasons; to please others and to make myself look better. I wanted everyone to think that I was again…perfect. That even though I had had an eating disorder for so many years that I could, in fact, pick myself right up and get help and be recovered immediately.

How absurd it was to pridefully seek help, and never really admit my powerlessness. The outcome of this was I went around and around my problems for much longer than needed, with results far more atrocious than the past.

True admittance of my powerlessness came when I found myself with nowhere to look than up at God for my life and my answers. Hopefully you will be smarter than I was and learn from my and others’ mistakes and seek help before you have to just about kill yourself to get there.

My Twelve Step Program defines powerlessness as such, “Step One: We admitted that we were powerlessness, that our lives had become unmanageable.” My unmanageable life, emotions, finances, and relationships all became sure-fire signals that my addiction had taken over and that I was powerless over myself. It was a sad realization but one that truly set me on the path to God, self-discovery, recovery, and ultimately, saving my life.

If you are thinking that maybe you have a problem with food, anorexia, bulimia, taking laxatives, over-exercising, or binge-eating, here are some questions and correlating Bible verses taken from The Life Recovery Workbook by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop that are truly valuable in helping you get on the way to recovery.

Genesis 16:1-15
No-Win Situations

1). What feelings do I experience as I acknowledge people in my life who have power ( such as supervisors, spouse, religious leaders, and sponsors)?

2). What do I try to escape from?

3). How do I escape my feelings such as anger, boredom, fatigue, or loneliness?

4). When things do not go my way, or when I am in a no-win situation, what is my reaction (with relationships, work, promotions, kids who question or rebel, traffic, drivers in front of me, people talking on cell phones in public places, financial difficulties, people who hurt or disappoint me, or God, who seems to be silent)?

5. If I could, how would I change my response?

Dangerous Self-Deception
Judges 16:1-31

1). What is the longest time I have been able to stop addictive behaviors or using addictive substances?

2). What are some of the reasons I use for starting my behaviors or substance abuse again?

3). What are the things I think I can control? How do I lie to myself, and about what?

4). What is so scary about telling the truth?

5). As I explore powerlessness, what blind spots have I discovered?

6). What are the results of pride in my life?

A Humble Beginning
2 Kings 5: 1-5

1). What is the difference between humiliation and humility in my life?

2). How do I regard myself as being a little more important than other people?

3). What makes me think I am in control of anything?

4). How do I try to influence or control God or his representatives?

5). When have I places expectations on other people or God?

6). When have my attitudes shown that I believe I know better than God?

7. Why is it difficult for me to follow another’s instructions?

Hope Amidst Suffering
Job 6:2-13

1). What kind of people do I hang around with and trust– people who criticize, or people who encourage truth?

2). What emotions can I identify with when I am at the bottom?

3). What have I done in the past to tidelands with pains or sadness?

Like Little Children
Mark 10:13-16

1). What happened in the past that still provokes fear in me today?

2). When do I feel the most cared for?

3). What do I see in my life that reveals God’s care for me?

A Time to Choose
Acts 9:1-9

1). When I continue to pursue my own agenda without asking God for direction, what happens in my life?

2). Are there areas of my life in which God may have to use extreme measures before I will listen for direction? Which areas?

3). What will it take for me to listen to God?

The Paradox of Powerlessness
2 Corinthians 4:7-10

1). These are examples of when I have demonstrated acceptance of my own powerlessness and God’s Powerfulness.

2). How do I respond to trouble?

3). How do I respond to being perplexed?

4). What do I do when it seems that God or someone else has abandoned me?

God Bless,

Nikki DuBose