Last week, a friend shared with me the most courageous website I have ever seen. I Am Not Anonymous is a blog filled with stories written by men and women recovering from addiction. There’s pain, despair, grit, and victory– all out there with their names and faces for us to see. Friends, this is courage!
My Personal Story
Addiction and mental health, often though not always correlated, have mattered to me for a long time. Not only did I grow up with friends and family who have walked these long journeys, but I also worked in an addictions-recovery ministry when I was 19 years old. Living with adults who had walked through unspeakable brokenness opened my eyes. As a sheltered, idealistic college-bound young adult, my naive understanding of the human experience was shattered for good. I met people who had struggled with real evil— things I shuddered to think about, activities that were twisted and sick, bondage that was unrelenting, shame that was everlasting.
My idea of human nature back then was not an entirely optimistic one, but I had never been exposed to the many things that can entangle and entrap the human soul.
But neither did I realize what that meant about the Gospel of renewal and regeneration I had come to know so well.
Even as I discovered the deep, sorrowful throes of human addiction and bondage, I grew more amazed at the power and depth of God’s saving grace. Human brokenness ran deep; God’s love ran deeper.
In fact, the more I encountered similar stories of isolation, self-hate, deep-seated hurt and unyielding addiction, the more I began to notice the repetitiveness of the cycle. These were stories of violence, manipulation, abuse and trauma: forces that broke into innocent lives and became the formidable strong man in that house.
But there, in the midst of their heartwrenching stories was a single thread that undid it all. The same themes kept reappearing– and now I know why. Evil is uncreative. Evil comes up with the same things over and over. Evil does not give life. Instead, it takes it away.
Good, on the other hand, is creative. When people become entangled in good, they break free of these chains. They become who they are intended to be. They grow in positive, life-giving forces such as generosity, gentleness, peace, joy and love. True goodness creates. It also re-creates. It makes all things new.
Not Anonymous Anymore
If you read the stories on I Am Not Anonymous, you will hear echoes of redemption in the pits of utter darkness. These individuals are brave because of their victories. They are brave because they overcame something that had previously choked out all joy and life from their existence. They are brave enough to throw off the stigma of “anonymous” and write their stories with their hearts in their hands.
Can we just applaud them? Well done, my dear friends. I hope that one day I will have that kind of courage.