A note from Kelly King: How are you telling the stories of God’s redemption and grace in your leadership? Stories are powerful examples of how God restores brokenness and makes beauty from ashes. I was reminded this week that God took dust, just like ashes, and created life. He can create life from the ashes of those trapped in addiction and offer freedom. In today’s article, Kaye Hurta shares one of those stories. How will you tell yours?
Addiction’s reach is vast. As an issue, it is no respecter of persons, not by gender or age. That said, women face unique issues when it comes to substance abuse partly influenced by biology along with differences based on culturally defined roles for men and women. For example, it takes a smaller amount of certain drugs for women (versus men) to become addicted. Female hormones can also make women more sensitive than men to the effects of certain drugs. While statistics like these can be helpful as you minister to hurting women, nothing can replace the power of knowing someone’s story. The more you invest in knowing the stories of the women around you, the more help you can be in predicting, identifying, and helping them through the dangers of addiction as well as the recovery process.
My dear friend Victoria has an addiction story and a recovery story. Knowing her story helps her, helps me, and helps others facing similar difficulties. Knowing her story may also keep someone from making the same mistakes by identifying patterns and behaviors early on.
Victoria struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for 20 years beginning at the age of 15. What began with drinking to hide anxiety and numb painful emotions soon led to substances that were more powerful. Her young life was filled with pain. Her father was an addict, verbally abusive, and angry. Her mother added to the family dysfunction with her own version of co-dependency. Victoria was also sexually abused from a very young age until the age of 9. She used drugs to forget and numb her pain. She became an addict.
As an adult, Victoria’s addictions continued. Eventually, her marriage collapsed, she suffered with infertility along with the grief of her parents’ deaths. The breaking point for her was fear. She had started using heroin, and she was afraid of dying so she sought help. Help came first through an in-patient 12 step program. She was later discharged, armed with a plan and tools to help, including Alcoholics Anonymous, a sponsor, and personal counseling.
While all this was helpful in managing her addiction to substances, her character flaws and desire to control were overwhelming, and her life was not yet fully surrendered. She began attending a Bible-believing church and gave her life to Christ. Finally, a fully surrendered life!
Today, Victoria is a leader in our church’s Recovery program. Her marriage is restored, and she is on staff at our church. I hold her in the highest regard and have so much respect for her. She would tell you that addiction stole her identity, relationships, innocence, time, and much more. Recovery—and most specifically, Jesus—gave her freedom, peace, forgiveness, and dignity. Has everyday been smooth sailing? Of course not! However, Victoria’s Jesus recovery has given her her life back.
My friend would tell you that telling her own story was and is critical to the healing and recovery process. Equally important was having someone trusted to tell it to. As a helping community, we absolutely must become experts at listening (without judgment) to one another’s stories. We must hold their stories with care and respond with both truth and grace. There is power in the telling of a story and quite possibly healing in the hearing. One woman’s story can make all the difference.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.