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Life in a Plastic Bag

Updated: Jan 7, 2022

“Just put your things in a plastic trash bag and be at the home at 7pm.” Those were the words of Ike Grozier – co-owner of Recovery Connections Residential Treatment Services in Santa Clara, CA. His instructions held a fragile ridiculous hope that somehow, I could get help for a difficult path of addiction that by now had become hopeless and lethal. Anyone who’s struggled with addiction knows the reality of being too scared to live (to face ourselves and our lives) and being too afraid to die. After two failed rehab attempts, seventeen months later, somehow, I was forcing myself to live.

Do you have any secrets in your life? Have you found yourself “trying to keep it together” as fear, anxiety, and hopelessness threaten you? Do you sometimes wonder if that younger, carefree, happier version of “you” will ever show up in your life again? Maybe that youthful better version of you never existed? Regardless, can you dare to believe that God somehow is big enough, caring enough, loving enough to reach into your difficulties and help you?

As seven o’clock approached Jan 10, 2008, I shoved stuff inside my plastic bag. T-Shirts, jeans, and socks found their way to the bottom of the bag, along with underwear, deodorant, and a toothbrush. I crammed a hoodie in there too. My tore-up hiking boots were wedged into a side of the bag with my black wool beanie. I put precious things in there too. I wasn’t sure how these things fit in my life at the time but knew they were necessary. My bible, notebook, and a couple pictures of my kids were tenderly added to the contents of my plastic bag. I remember standing on the porch of the treatment home before knocking on the door. As a fifty-something-year-old guy, I owned my own home, had a six-figure income, was a respected boss at work, and had been following Jesus for several years. Somehow it all ended up in a plastic trash bag. Looking back, I can say it was miraculous “willingness” that changed everything. I had NO HOPE, NO DESIRE, NO UNDERSTANDING, AND NO PLAN for fixing myself. I only had enough willingness to mostly follow the instructions of another imperfect man, who had given his life to helping people like me through his treatment center.

I’ve learned not to fear the “plastic bag.” Brokenness is a pathway to hope. There’s tremendous relief when we let ourselves be honest and broken. Would you like that freedom in your life? Failure doesn’t define us. It teaches those who are willing.

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