Falling From Grace

I invite you to read Kathleen’s transparent, powerful message for…

Woman walking cross country and trail in autumn forestBy Kathleen Flanagan

It was my 26th year, and all the years preceding it had not prepared me for the fall from grace I was experiencing. I had grown up loved, the youngest of four girls cherished by Christian parents. I had plenty of food, a safe home, and good education. Surely I was immune to the more hideous of human flaws? Dazed and confused, I spent many painful hours enshrouded in shame and guilt. How could it be that I had landed in a treatment center for alcoholism?

Never mind that my drinking career had been short and relatively boring, it nearly robbed me of life itself. It’s not that I drank often, but when I did I could never predict the outcome. That blindness nearly ruined me and my marriage. True it is that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you far more than ever you intended to pay. It never occurred to me to count such a cost ahead of my frivolous folly.

But there I was, sharing space with others like me who’d sustained the sort of degradation of soul from which I now suffered. Most were far older than me (remember, this was 1975 and young alcoholics were very, very rare); some were professionals, others jobless; some had great family support, others had lost everything; some had resorted to things I could scarcely fathom, things like prostitution and robbery. They were believers and unbelievers; black and white; men and women; healthy and dying. It boggled my mind at the first, but it didn’t take long before bonds formed among us. Our long held arrogance gave way to humility. We held hands. We cried together. We prayed. We were, after all, far more alike that we were different. We shared a common foe. Many of us shared a very uncommon God.

I share this today, some 39 years hence because it’s as good a reminder for me as it is an intended encouragement for you. If I’m to thwart the cunning schemes of an enemy that would take me hostage to besetting, self-defeating thoughts or behaviors, then I must remain God-centered and vigilant. Feelings of guilt or shame are the tell-tale signs that that enemy’s on the prowl. He condemns us. God never does! (Romans 8:1-2 NIV)

But I also share it because someone among us may be struggling with such; afraid to speak up or reach out. It’s yet another scheme, the one the enemy uses to isolate in order to cut us off from our Blood supply. You and I need never fear the truth or the telling of it. It is what sets us free.

In closing, let me just say how grateful am I for those painful days of yore and any since. Pain can be of powerful purpose and effect if I’ll but be still. As blessed as I am by God’s lavish generosity in my life, I can honestly say my failures have been every bit as impacting in my ongoing dependence upon Him. I had to learn the hard and painful way that He is for us ~ yesterday, today and forever!

“ … we know that in all things God works for the good of those who
love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the
image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among
many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called;
those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Romans 8:28-31 NIV

HeadshotKathleen Flanagan shares a wide array of transparent life experience with her pen.  Faith and family are the bookends to her life as a wife, mother and grandmother.  Until her recent retirement, Kathleen juggled a career in business management and church ministry.  From the vantage point of her now-senior life, she shares the very personal aspects of her walk with Jesus ~ the good, the bad and the ugly.  Her sassy perspectives will make you laugh, or cry, or think deeply about the trajectory of your life.    She can be reached via her Blog at Sassy Granny.

20 Responses to Falling From Grace

  1. Kathleen,

    The pouring of your heart with transparency, is an absolute blessing, always is.

    You hit the nail on the head here:

    “True it is that sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you far more than ever you intended to pay. It never occurred to me to count such a cost ahead of my frivolous folly.”

    and here:

    “If I’m to thwart the cunning schemes of an enemy that would take me hostage to besetting, self-defeating thoughts or behaviors, then I must remain God-centered and vigilant. Feelings of guilt or shame are the tell-tale signs that that enemy’s on the prowl. He condemns us. God never does!”

    I rejoice in the way God will use your story to reach, teach, encourage and bless others to draw them to His Son Jesus for we’ve all had some experience that we can relate to what you wrote.

    Love you my friend and sister!

    • You do us proud, Lisa. You do me proud. Not only is your example of transparency an inspiration, your sincere love is grace-laden as well. I am stunned in the best of ways to witness how Jesus literally crafts beauty from ashes; and how He takes a life like mine in one part of the world and connects it to yours, and to the lives of so many others who long to love, obey and serve Him. What a splendid, blessed fact that we’ll spend the entirety of eternity rejoicing in unfathomable ways together. God bless your sweet heart, my forever friend.

  2. Her story makes me love her more than ever! It is for reasons just like she so beautifully shared, that I find myself singing “Amazing Grace” every single day of my life, because His grace is so AMAZING, and so is the way He works in the hearts and lives of His dearly loved children. What a special lady she is!

    Lisa, so are you! Thanks for all I glean from your heart and your writings.

    • Amen Judy! Amazing Grace is still one of my favorites. Speaks the truth of my heart-appreciation for all that Jesus has done for me. And I agree with you, it’s Kathleen’s story that makes me love her even more.

      Thank you Judy for your warm words and I send my love to you dear one!

    • I do declare, Judy, you are such a blessing. I treasure your friendship greatly, but not nearly so much as I treasure the eye God’s given you for beauty. He helps me see the colors, dimensions and glory of His world more distinctly because of it. Now for a rousing chorus of “Amazing Grace”, adding a lyric from Chris Tomlin: “My chains are gone
      I’ve been set free. My God, my Savior has ransomed me. And like a flood His mercy reigns
      Unending love, amazing grace.”

  3. Oh Kathleen, thank you for sharing your story. I love how you wrote:

    “But I also share it because someone among us may be struggling with such; afraid to speak up or reach out. It’s yet another scheme, the one the enemy uses to isolate in order to cut us off from our Blood supply. You and I need never fear the truth or the telling of it. It is what sets us free.”

    I wonder how many suffer silently or fear what others may think if they share their story. But God gets the glory when we surrender it all to Him. Through Jesus we are forgiven and free! I pray that someone will get this and finally understand the grace and mercy of our God. As I glanced up at your reply above, I laughed as that same song had been going through my head. Yes, my chains are gone. I’ve been set free. And I thank Jesus for that.

    Each one of us struggles in different areas of our lives. May we each point to where our help comes from. I know I couldn’t make it another day without Jesus in my life.

    Blessings and love,
    Debbie

    • I know your testimony well, Debbie; and I thank God that He has equipped you to not only be a woman walking with Jesus, but one who runs well the race set before her, too. I love the image of chains laying, broken & rusting, in the “past tense” of our lives. Let freedom ring!

  4. I am touched on so many levels, Kathleen. Someone I love very dearly became very sick because of alcohol and other strongholds. They are much better, but have not found complete healing. I pray GOD will continue to heal and restore them and use their lives for His glory.

    Love you much, my sweet friend!

    Hugs,
    andrea

  5. I’m sorry to hear that, Andrea. It’s very painful to watch a loved one battle addictions in whatever form they come, and sometimes equally painful to witness their recovery. I join you in prayer for their healing; and that one day they, too, would walk with Jesus. You & I both know it’s what their soul truly hungers for. In the meantime, your witness is powerful. So, too, your eye for beauty. I pray He makes of it a contagion!

  6. Oh Kathleen how I thank you for writing these words of hope and encouragement. Alcoholism has all but destroyed several people in my family. My youngest brother has been sober two years now and has become a new man. He attends meetings practically daily and is now heading up boards and going into prisons sharing his hope. My father died an alcoholic. My other brother is caught in its snares. One sister struggled but got out of it 15 years ago. It is a powerful tool the enemy holds with this but He has overcome! Loved all the scriptures you have shared here, and my prayer is that this post reaches the right hearts with hope, encouragement and saving grace. Hugs to you!

    • It’s a sad, sorry fact that most of us are surrounded by people who struggle with addiction. I love your subtle yet powerful proclamation: ” … but He has overcome!”. He truly is the Healer in these and all other maladies. And, as in my own case, He used that very malady to bless me ~ primarily in the object lesson of “My grace is sufficient …”. I thank God for the recoveries in your family, and join you in prayer for those who’ve not yet come to their Way of Escape. God bless your faith-filled heart!

  7. My dear brother has suffered with the same disease for most of his life. Now as a grown man, he has come to the realization that only with God’s help he can be sober. He is now serving the lord, and has been taken in to live with a precious young couple who love him. My heart was very touched by your testimony of God’s grace. We were also raised in a Christian home. The enemy is famous for making sin look inviting. Truly, “His grace is sufficient….”for us to overcome!

  8. Bless the Lord! I’m so happy to hear of your brother’s recovery. It’s a hideously true fact that only 1 in 36 alcoholics actually achieve & maintain sobriety. No wonder those of us that have escaped are forever doing the Happy Dance (humbly, of course). Another fact that is sobering is that addiction is no respecter of persons. It afflicts believers & unbelievers, black & white, democrats & republics, children & old women. In essence, no one’s immune. Thus I pray the cycle in my family & yours has been broken with the Blood Bought Escape Jesus applied to your brother & so many others, and to me. God bless you!

  9. Pain’s a game changer in our lives – a teacher if our hearts are open to the classroom. Thank you for your vulnerability here and for allowing your past to work FOR you instead of AGAINST you. This is the very good grace of our God. Love you.

    • Amen, Elaine! That very good grace also compels us to look at “all things working together”, which in turn makes of that good grace even more amazing. And if anyone knows of pain’s game-changing components, you do, sweet girl. Oh how I love witnessing your walking with Jesus!

  10. Thank goodness it’s Spring, Denise. You won’t be needing those socks! On a more serious note, I can only imagine the grace that attends your own journey. Thus I pray bountiful blessings & health upon you, sweet friend.

  11. God is do amazing in changing people’s lives. I am one if them that God changed and made whole.
    Thanks for the inspiration to be more nearer to God.

  12. Thank you for your beautifully honest and vulnerable post. I know that it will serve as a great encouragement to many. I took a *sideways* turn in my life, too. Not alcohol, but the enemy nudged me out and away from my walk with the Lord. What you have spoken here will be a comfort no matter what the individual *circumstance* might be. In the end, the Lord is a master at rescuing us from ourselves, and for putting us back in close fellowship with Him.

    Glorious.

    GOD BLESS!

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