By: Tina Cook
This article is dedicated to my Victorious Living & Break-Free families at COTC in Bradenton, Florida. Thank you to Ms. Judy & Mr. Don Wyllys for their ministries.
My life today is so different than what it had been; there is no denying that I have gone through a transformation. As a recovering addict, I could go through a checklist of items that I’m sure many could identify with immediately because I am not unique or special in my addiction. I am, in fact, quite common in the things I have done while under the influence. But, for qualification purposes, I will tell you that I was first arrested in 1985, because of my addiction, and was released from jail the last time in 2011.
My convictions range from public intoxication to possession of a controlled substance with a few miscellaneous violations thrown in here and there for good measure. I even managed to be captured as a fugitive from justice and faced two counts of robbery, burglary, and theft while being held on a quarter-million dollar bond. It makes no difference that the main agenda in charging me with them was to apprehend the two escaped convicts I was hanging out with. The tragedy of it was inflicted mostly upon my family who had to endure the humiliation of my name, face, and crime on the front page of my small hometown newspaper, as well as hear the repeated details of it on the local news stations. I’m sure many of you suffer as I do with guilt, shame, and regret over the pain our addiction has placed on our loved ones.
I want you to know that I also do not believe I am uncommon in my inability to live life successfully while NOT under the influence. I will venture to say that many who suffer from the disease of addiction have tried at least once to live without the use of drugs…and failed. I will even be so bold as to say that some have become productive members of society and been reunited with their families once again…only to have it all come crashing down around them when the sleeping monster of addiction awoke very angry and extremely hungry. Yes, I could supply many dates, give details, and describe desperation regarding how the disease of addiction had become so much a part of me that I no longer knew where it ended and I began. But, instead I want to tell you about the power that transformed me into a new creation.
I am the woman I am today because God created me specifically. He made me with purpose and designed me wonderfully and individually. He thought of me and all the days of my life before any of them even began. I am not an accident…I was intricately planned; I am not unworthy…I am immeasurably valuable; I am not common or ordinary or replaceable…I am special, extraordinary, and irreplaceable. I am where I am today because God devised something for me to do in His kingdom that is so unique that if I don’t do it, it won’t get done. I am priceless. I am God’s favorite. Long before I ever took a breath, I was on God’s mind; long before I ever heard of Christ, He had His eye on me. He had designs on me for glorious living. I am able to walk with my head held high today because the God I serve is a God of infinite mercy, abundant grace, untiring patience, and innumerable chances. I know who I am today but once I was lost…I was confused…I didn’t know how to live. Now I know: Jesus is the way…Jesus is the truth…Jesus is the Life. He brought me through a dark valley to grow me up and into Him, to show me how to live and how to love and how to become the woman I have always dreamed of being. I am where I am today because He has work for me to do and I want to do it. I am doing what I am doing because He wants me to tell others that He loves them just as much as He loves me and to assure them they are wonderful, valuable, unique, extraordinary, and irreplaceable – they are priceless and we are all God’s favorite. He has something for them to do that is so specific that if they don’t do it, it won’t get done. I’m doing what I need to do to be better prepared to tell those who have lost their way, their faith, and their hope due to addiction that they never have to believe the lies of their disease or of the world or of the devil again. I’m here to tell anyone who’ll listen that Jesus CHOSE to die for us rather than live without us in eternity. We are ALL on the mind of God and in the eye of Our Redeemer. I have been converted from enemy to friend, living my life as a beacon of light signaling that God STILL intends for each of us to become EXACTLY who He created us to be.
I am able to be “here” in this moment filled with Holy changing Power, thriving in an intimate relationship with my Creator, joyfully doing the work of my Savior because I have been radically transformed. I was once unknowingly a pawn of Satan leading many to death simply by the way I lived my life. I was lost, detrimental, hopeless, and helpless to self and anyone else. I have been redeemed from that misshapen carnal Christian. Now I am found, productive, hopeful, and helpful. I am the epitome of the well-known biblical sinners’ that Jesus reached toward, loved greatly, and died for. I am the reason He left perfect Heaven and died on the cross…and so are you!
By: Tina Cook
Director, Athens-Limestone County Family Resource Center