The trauma of victory... a guest blog
Recently, I had a nice long conversation with my brother, Stewart Maxwell, about his experiences of coming alongside others. I guess it runs in the family :). He told me so many encouraging stories about the ministry he, his wife Heather, and their life group in Arnprior, ON, have "found" themselves in. I thought his experiences describe in a tangible way what I have discovered about and desire for Butterfly Way. I have said before that yes, Butterfly Way is a place, but more so, it is a mindset, a way of life. So I invited my brother to be a guest blogger and share some of what he has learned with us. Enjoy!
It was the fall of 2011 when our journey began. A family member found themselves in the grips of addiction. Good judgment and sound decisions are not possible when you’re in the grips of addiction. It was difficult to watch, and more difficult to love, as this family member’s life began to unravel. What do you do? I did the only thing I knew to do, love them and pray! Always asking for divine intervention, that someone would come along and change the circumstances and see our family member’s life restored!
Several months later, the “divine intervention” I had been asking for, happened. With one small glitch, God chose my family to come alongside. God brought the family member to us. We didn’t know what to expect, yet God did amazing work in all our lives. It would take a book to capture all that happened that summer. The miracle truly was that both our families were transformed! My eyes were opened to a work that no person could ever boast about. God restored our family member to their own family! Addiction was defeated and continues to be a defeated foe!
The celebration of God’s victory was amazing, yet short-lived. Within a few months, we went from the ‘summit’ to the ‘desert’. I call it the trauma of victory. The reality of summit experiences is they are not designed to be life-sustaining. We can’t camp on the summit, there’s not a lot of room, it’s lonely, and there isn’t enough oxygen! We have learned, desert seasons are designed to equip us so we can then help lead others through their own desert experience. The trauma of victory for us was a 9-year walk through the desert. Our desert experience changed our perspective on so many things. We began to understand the pressures and tensions of life differently. This change in perspective introduced us to new people and new relationships.
We were invited to attend a church with our new friends. They asked if we’d like to join their Life Group, a small group of people of various ages, who desired to walk with one another. All people who had experienced their own trauma of victory! Their heart was to ‘walk alongside’ each other. Their motto: Life is better together! The problem? I had grown too comfortable with living in the desert!
As the relationships grew, so did our hearts and our outlook. This life group became my oasis, a lifeline. We discovered the importance of having others to come alongside us. Why? We all have learned to manage and be comfortable in our ‘deserts’, alone. Walking with others, giving and receiving, helps us through our own traumas of life. To be supported, to be loved, to be encouraged. Doing life together means just that, doing life together, not separate! We acknowledge at a core level that each one of us does not want to be alone.
We experienced firsthand how much we need each other on one particular night we will never forget. It was one of those times when ‘all hands-on deck’ was necessary. As one couple rushed to the hospital to give birth, another family was in hospital for a serious injury. We all managed the chaos that night together! The benefit of walking together was so real, having someone to not only be supportive to but who was also coming alongside us as we helped changed our perspective forever! The effects of crisis and the anxiety of the circumstances were minimized.
After this experience, we began to ask ourselves, “Could we share what God has done for us, with others in our community?” Our community (as do most other communities!) have many who just need someone to come alongside, love, and support them through their circumstance. “How do we meet the needs of so many people?” One person/circumstance at a time? To help others, how do we manage our own expectations? What was our goal? To see people out of their circumstances? Was it simply to come alongside and walk with them? Could we do something that would encourage them and strengthen them? How can we let these people know that they don’t need to walk alone? What needs can we help with? What resources were at our disposal?
We simply prayed and asked God to make it clear what needs could we meet. He always answers prayer! We were introduced to four families who had a variety of needs. The one they all had in common was food! As a group, we decided to do what we called a “Big Cook”. We had a budget of $220.00 to buy groceries. We invited the families to join us to create the meals (one family participated which was great!) Together on a Saturday afternoon, some did the prep and others entertained the children. When it was all done, we created 16 meals of chicken, pork chops, potatoes, and other vegetables. Four meals for each family of four. We delivered them and blessed the families. There were leftovers, so each family from our group was able to take one meal home for themselves. Amazingly, the total cost for each meal, $13.65 ($54.60 per family). Using $218.40 of our $220.00 budget.
Since then, we have delivered gift baskets to people and bought groceries for a young family in crisis. We bought a coat for a gentleman who needed one. We continue to pool our resources so we can respond immediately when we become aware of a need in our community. We have learned, don’t react, respond! We develop creative ideas for resources, not to keep but to give away. In doing life together, we have discovered that life is not all about us, there are others who need support and often, they are not that far away. We believe we are making a difference in the lives of those we meet.
We journeyed through the desert for a long time after being part of God’s intervention in our family members' struggle with addiction. After many years, we are better equipped but needed to be drawn out of our comfort zone again and into a willingness to be vulnerable, allowing others into our chaotic lives and vice versa! It has meant being willing to step into the chaos of other people’s lives too.
We are intentionally coming alongside people, caring for, loving, and encouraging them, empowering them to make good decisions that are best for them. We are not above, we are together! Courageously contending for the freedom to walk in relationships that are purposed. To enjoy the freedom, the joy of walking together by embracing the chaos of life! This is the greatest adventure I have ever been on!!! I would encourage anyone reading this, try it you’ll be so glad you did!
I’ll conclude with this quote from Discipleship on the Edge by Darrell Johnson, “Things are not as they seem. There is more to this present moment than we can know. There is more to the flow of history than we know with our unaided intellect and emotions. The more we see this, the more our perspective on life changes… We find ourselves making different choices about our use of time and money. Most importantly, we begin to see Jesus differently. We begin to see the cross differently. We see his being crucified as the way the living God triumphs over evil.”
How are you coming alongside people around you? If you want to share some of your experience, send us an email, at email@example.com, we’d love to hear it!