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A Furious Love

My Secret to Finding Sobriety

My wife lost patience with me for having no patience for her and others who, unknowingly, prevented me from seeking fun. This idol delivered every time, or so I thought, when I would drink or get high or both. Without these, I could not have fun. Fun became my focus, instead of what really matters in life.

She said I’d have to change or else she would seek divorce. Instead of realizing the weight of her words, I simply left her. I’d rather be on my own pursuing pleasure than having to deal with a spouse who didn’t understand me. Drugs, specifically marijuana and vodka, “helped” me with anxiety and depression and made life fun. To a depraved mind, it’s easy to see how easy becoming depressed can be, especially when life throws difficulties like 100mph fastballs. When drunk or stoned, those fastballs seemed to hit me, the batter, every time. To feel better, I’d drink and get high. That was my way of dealing with difficulty.

In a full-tilt withdrawal from life’s challenges, I didn’t have the answers she was looking for.

We agreed to separate. I moved back to Huntington Beach, renting a room from friends. I thought I was free to enjoy life the way I wanted. For seven months, I contemplated divorce vs. going into rehab for treatment. Turns out, I wasn’t free. Instead, the chains of addiction had extended into every area of my life.

Through bleary eyes, nauseous belly, foggy brain, feverish body and the overall opposite of wellbeing, I counted the other costs for my pursuit of pleasure. The woman I loved wanted divorce. My daughters wouldn’t speak to me. My friends didn’t know my hypocrisy. My prayers seemed to fall on deaf ears. I lost hope. I lost hope in love, friendships, my faith and eventually in life.

I’ve never been a wiz with math, but these expensive costs were bankrupting me. Plus, I mind and body felt like death warmed over. 

“Maybe I need help,” the thought finally occurred to me.

I reached Step one. “Admitted I was powerless over marijuana and alcohol, that my life had become unmanageable.”

It took me a few more weeks, and a few more horrific hangovers, to muster up the courage to make thecall to a rehabilitation treatment facility. But finally, I did. Then, I admitted to my housemates that I had a problem, and I was leaving the next day.

I made the drive, sober and scared. Without the usual chemical cocktails running through my brain and body, I was a shivering, nerve-wrecked mess. Detoxification settled in. Upon arriving, I met Brian, who showed me where to check-in and offered to keep me company, in other words, take me under his wing. I was extremely grateful, because I felt alone in the battle to beat the ‘ism disease.

Somehow, I knew God put Brian in my life at the right time. Brian, a former pastor now hooked on fentanyl, became my first sponsor, helping me through the next two of 12 steps.

He handed me my first assignment — Read “The Furious Longing of God,” by Brennan Manning.

Manning’s little book opened my eyes to the big heart of God, and his passionate desire to fall in-love together. He writes that it’s often easier for a Christian to believe in God than it is to believe He loves us. So, Manning encourages the reader to pray this simple, but paradigm-shifting prayer for 30 days:

“I am my Beloved’s; and His desire is for me.” (Song of Solomon 7:10)

I started to grasp His furious longing for me, which led me to Step 2: “Came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore my sanity.”

My next assignment was to read the first 11 chapters of the Alcoholics Anonymous book, which discusses the 12-step program, how it works and what it accomplishes. I felt God stirring my heart. I was eager to take the next step; Step 3 says, “Make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God.”

Among those pages is a prayer which sounded very familiar, but nevertheless had new meaning to me. With all the earnestness I could muster, I turned my will, my life, everything over to God, again.

God answered that late night prayer. 

“Whooooosh,” a new clarity of purpose wiped over my life. Immediately, I knew what needed to happen. God stamped my mind with these five actions that He was going to help me with.

  1. Reconcile with my wife, Heidi
  2. Restore my relationship with my daughters
  3. Be the breadwinner for my family
  4. Find a 12-step community in my area, with a sponsor
  5. Find a men’s Bible study asap

I didn’t know how this was going to happen, but I knew, beyond any shadow of doubt, that God would help me, because of his furious longing to love me. All I had to do was surrender to His Lordship, and ultimately to His love.

That was 7 months ago. Since then, God has revealed to me His ever-presence and longing for me. I had become new, a changed man with a purpose for living. God opened my eyes to the exciting work He is doing all around me, and through me. Life is ripe with opportunity. His mission has become my mission.

It took awhile for Heidi to believe the change. But she found forgiveness for who she now calls, King David. It’s like God installed a new upgrade program, David 2.0, that doesn’t have bugs anymore. After 12 months of separation and nearly divorcing, God saved our marriage and it is now stronger than ever.

My daughters have started talking with me again. I found a Marijuana-Anonymous 12-step group in Santa Barbara and an awesome, experienced sponsor to help me. I’ve focused on earning like never before, because now my mind isn’t cluttered, weighed-down or inwardly occupied. And, I’ve taken steps to participate in a new men’s Bible study, along with Christian Business Men’s Council (CBMC), that allows me to be nourished, while God nourishes others through me.

God has restored my life in awesome, mind-blowing and incredibly amazing ways. He has healed me with His love. I know now God desires more than a relationship with me. He desires complete unity — a level of intimacy the Bible compares to a marriage. God sent His son so we could know His love, but also so God could pursue us with his love to accomplish His goal of becoming united in Him, with his Spirit taking root in us, so we can bear fruit that never withers. In, perhaps, the most passionate prayer by Jesus for us, he asks God the Father, our Abba — or Daddy:

“I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in unity that the world will recognize that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me.” (John 17:22-23)

God loves us as much as he loves Jesus? Wow!

Paul also prays for us in Ephesians 3:17-19 “That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,– to know that the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

I’ve come to realize deeply in my soul that God loves to “lavish unfailing love” on his children — which brings me back to those simple, but powerful words in Song of Solomon that today I celebrate will certainty: “I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is for me.”

DISCUSSION:

  1. What part of my story gives you the greatest sense of God’s love for you?
  2. How does God’s furious longing for us change the way we live?
  3. Share a time you’ve experienced God’s lavishing of unfailing love, and how it’s impacted your life.

David Jahr, APR

2 Comments

  1. Julie Sibert says:

    Thank you, David, for being so authentic and sharing your story vulnerably. No doubt God is working through you to give others hope and courage toward sobriety and the Lord’s deep unending love. Having lost my brother just a few months ago to alcoholism and homelessness, a story like yours is a ray of goodness in what has been so much sadness. I know that not all stories of addiction end tragically. Keep fighting the good fight, my friend. I’m grateful for you and that God made a way for us to reconnect. Many blessings to you and Heidi and your girls.

    1. DAVID JAHR says:

      Thank you Julie for your note. My deepest condolences for your loss. I’ll keep up the fight.

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