Spoken by Sarah Johnson at the most recent phase promotion for UGM Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall
Good evening and thank you for coming tonight. I got a voicemail asking me if I would do the charge message for the phase promotion dinner tonight, and although I am truly honored by the request, I have to be honest… My first reaction was fear and doubt about my ability to charge anyone. So, I called my friend and told her what was being asked of me, and I told her, "I don’t know what I will say." She replied, "Pray on it.” To myself, I thought, I’m scared.
In that moment God met me once again, and I remembered that my journey is not just my own. I am a grateful servant to the One who delivered me from the depths, and I began to recall three not just valuable, but critical, things that I learned while in program. All of the following things go hand in hand.
1) Remember what a great God we serve and that all things are possible with him. He will use me or you to show just how mighty he is, and that he has our best in mind.
2) Have the courage to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is defined as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” Some see it as being weak, but as Dr. Brene Brown (author and social researcher) says, vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. Vulnerability begets self-awareness. Most of us were taught to hide our emotions or run away from them.
Being vulnerable is having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.
But we do know who does have control – a loving, just and faithful God. This brings me to my third point tonight.
3) – Surrender. Surrender is an interesting thing. Surrendering to God is a daily process, and the process builds our trust in him when we don’t necessarily know what the outcome will be. Surrendering our thoughts to God not only impacts us spiritually but physically, as well. When I was fighting and trying to figure things out on my own, I dealt with anxiety and more stress brought on by my need for control, which had a negative impact on my health – spiritually and physically.
Surrendering to the fact that I can no longer continue to live if I am in addiction. Surrendering my will to God’s will is the most important choice I make every day.
Once I surrender my life to God, I no longer have to succumb to fear, regret and shame.
Surrender brings reassurance, for it says in the Bible, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Surrender also brings trust. On this journey of surrender, I’ve learned that God has a big picture view of every situation and that our feeble attempts to understand, based on our limited intellect, fail every single time. I must admit things don’t make sense sometimes. However, I’m learning every day to trust that God has all the information: The beginning, the middle and the end. Trust is not easy, but as we renew our minds in the Word of God daily and lean not on our own understanding, we can rest in the process as we trust him more.
Lastly, surrender brings rest and peace. I don’t know about you all, but that is something I really need. When we surrender our thoughts to him and focus and meditate on him and all that he is, we can truly experience rest and peace that no man can provide. And our bodies can relax and function the way they were designed to function. Hallelujah!
Everyone in this room is here for a special reason. It always amazes me that we have all come from different walks of life, and yet, here we are together in this moment. Glory to God, for it is because of him that we are literal walking miracles. I have to give a shoutout to the UGM staff, volunteers and the countless people who donate to UGM. They are doing what God commands – to love God and love each other. And aren’t we all so lucky to be the recipients of that love? The kindness and acceptance that I was shown when I stepped through the doors of UGM is unlike any love I have ever known, and do you know why? The people of UGM – staff, volunteers, donors – are a direct reflection of God’s love.
Let us break the chain. Let’s live our lives for God and for each other. Let us show the world that we do recover. Together. Bless you all.