(This post is about faith in God. If you aren’t interested in this topic, you can skip this post. No hate mail, please.)
Where Are You, God?
I’d known hard times in my life—traumatic childhood events, surgeries that took months to recover from, a car accident that damn near blinded me, the death of the person I felt the safest with, and the demise of my marriage to the father of my four children. I thought I understood pain and sorrow. Then came benzo withdrawal and I discovered that nothing in my life had even remotely prepared me for the brutality of the suffering it brought. In the moments I was more lucid, I’d shake my fist at God and ask, “Why me? What did I do to deserve such a punishment?” When no answers came, I shook my fist at Him and called Him things I don’t want to repeat here. With friends and family not understanding what I was experiencing. and God apparently not there for me, I felt totally abandoned. I am not sure what was worse, the deranged and cruel symptoms of benzo withdrawal or the terrifying feeling of being completely alone. I cried out over and over, “Where are you, God?” But it seemed no answers came.
Many of us felt abandoned by God when we were in benzo withdrawal. We prayed and prayed for healing, believing with the faith of a mustard seed, that we would wake up in the morning and be well. We prayed our prayers in Christ’s name. We did everything we’d been told to do for our prayers to be answered, but we continued to wake up in the throes of withdrawal. If you are experiencing God’s seemingly turned back, I understand the fear and confusion that can cause. But I want to reassure you that you have not been abandoned.
The Story Of Joseph
What helped me cope with the sense of abandonment was the story of Joseph. God promised him that he’d be blessed with a life of leadership and all the perks that went with it. But he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. As a slave, he was falsely accused of attempted rape and subsequently imprisoned for many years. I often wondered what went through his mind as he sat behind bars year after year. Did he feel as abandoned as I did? He may not have seen any evidence that God was there with him, or that God was going to keep his promise to him, but Joseph didn’t abandon God. And that was what I finally decided that I would do.
Faith Steps In
I decided that even though I couldn’t feel God working in my life, I was going to step out in faith. Instead of asking God “Why?” I asked Him “What?” and “How?” Asking “why?” kept me stuck in the problem, “What?” and “How?” moved me over into the solution. And answers starting coming! I felt urged to plant a flower garden in my front yard where people came by every day. I made new friends and built an amazing community for myself. As the years slowly went by and benzo withdrawal loosened its grip on me, I was more able to see God’s handiwork in my life. Little by little, He revealed Himself in my life and I realized that He had never abandoned me. I was just too damaged by withdrawal to notice Him.
Looking back, I see that God didn’t abandon me. I was in His arms all along, being carried. He never stopped loving me. He never stopped helping me. And in my case, I can see now that benzo withdrawal was the most life-changing thing for me! It the end, it was a blessing, because it gave me the opportunity to heal from all my old trauma and baggage that helped me get put on a benzo. Benzo withdrawal was the grit I needed to polish me into the person I always wanted to be. Was it hard? Hell, yes it was. Would I want to do it again? No! But am I grateful for the lessons learned and the new and improved version of myself? You bet I am!
Blessings Are Waiting
If you are angry at God, or you can’t feel Him as you once did, or you’ve lost your faith, I understand. It’s hard to believe in God’s love and mercy when we feel so deprived of it. But please know, that God is there with you. I don’t know why He allows suffering. (I wasn’t there when He laid the foundation of the universe, a question He asked Job when Job questioned Him about his suffering.) I’m not privy to His ways or His timing. But I can assure you that you are not alone. You are loved. And, you are being carried. You can relax into His arms. You can rest assured that if you keep your heart open during your recovery that you’ll come out on the other side and be amazed at who you are. Just like Joseph, who finally was released from prison and given great leadership and power, you will receive your blessings. And, they may surprise you! Mine have.
I Started With a Different Message
I sat down to write this post with a different message in mind. But these are the words that have poured out of my heart. I so want you to know that you are loved by your Creator. I want you to hold on and trust that this hard journey you are on will one day end. When it does, you are going to be amazed at how good life is! You will be able to feel God in the simplest things in your day: a sunset, a cloudburst, birds flying overhead, the sound of your child laughing, a warm embrace from a friend. You are going to know such peace and love that it may feel overwhelming at times. I am so grateful for what God has done in my life. He turned the worst suffering I’ve ever known into the best life I could ever imagine because He is love. And love can’t ever be destroyed or altered. It is my deepest wish that you know the peace of God and that your life is filled with awe and wonder, and joy and love, as is mine.
If you are not aware that I write and publish a devotion online called Soul Reminders, I’d like to introduce you to them at Soulreminders.com. I also teach workshops about the healing power of love, combining social neuroscience with spirituality. If you are interested in a future workshop, I invite you to join. If you are struggling with your faith and would like to talk about those feelings and concerns, please feel free to book a coaching session with me. If someone asked me what was the one thing that helped me get through benzo withdrawal I’d have to say it was God. it wasn’t my faith in Him, as that went out the window for a while. It was Him. His love for me kept me going when I was in the depths of my despair. I am eternally grateful.