I came to a big realization this week about how I use the “free time” in my life these days. As a gambling addict in recovery, I now have the blessing to be able to give back by working my 12th step in sharing the good news of hope and freedom. I am able to spend time now teaching and sharing the Good News through the ministry that has changed my life. I no longer fight my old way of life, but continue to build the new…
In April of this year, I will celebrate 5 years of freedom from my gambling addiction – and God is using me now to share the good news of recovery and freedom – and as I teach lessons on the 12 steps, I love how God teaches me in the process…
This past week I shared a teaching at Celebrate Recovery on being READY. More specifically, being ready for the changes God wants to make in our lives and humbly asking Him to remove our character defects. Every time I have the opportunity to teach, it means I have to dig deep into that topic, and reflect on whatever the step is in the 12-step process. In this past week’s teaching it was Step 6.
Each teaching in the Celebrate Recovery 12-Step lessons has an acrostic that maps out the discussion topic, and for READY, it was as follows:
R: Release control
E: Easy does it
A: Accept the change
D: Do replace your character defects
Y: Yield to growth
What I learned this time around, came from the letter D in the acrostic. “Do replace your character defects.” I had to reflect on how my life has changed since walking away from gambling. During the years I gambled, it ate up all of my spare time… my idle time. I chose gambling because in my idle time I had to think about things in my past that caused me pain or made me unhappy. During my idle time, as I begin to think those yucky thoughts, it was easier to fill that time with something to escape those feelings, and for me it was gambling – sitting in front of a mindless slot machine and not thinking about anything… For others it’s alcohol, food, drugs, shopping, sex, pornography – for me it was gambling…
We turn those things because we don’t want to feel, and usually we have to “feel” when we sit idle with our thoughts.
But it came to me as I wrote the teaching that I don’t consider myself to even have “idle” time anymore. I have filled my life with so many good things including:
- my alone time with God in the morning,
- my service and leadership in the Celebrate Recovery ministry where I found my healing,
- continuing to work the 12-steps in recovery by leading women’s step-study groups,
- spending quality time with my children,
- devoting special time to my marriage to make my husband feel loved and appreciated (this might usually include a few games of Yahtzee, or Scrabble)
- cooking and baking for others out of love,
- racing – anything and everything auto racing – both at our local dirt track, and NASCAR – we try to get to 2 NASCAR events a year, and we also work at our local dirt racing track every week during the season.
All of this, coupled with a full-time job I love, and some really amazing friends I try to carve out special time for – makes me a very busy person. But with that, I still have extra time where I think thoughts, and feel things. But now, from where I sit, free from addiction and the hurts of my past, I don’t consider that “idle” time anymore. I am FREE through God’s grace and mercy – so that down time now I call “free” time.
If I were sitting idle without freedom from my addiction, I’d probably be back there again. But I am not. I am free, and with my free time I choose to do good things that bring real joy to my life.
Maybe this makes sense to only me – but there is a huge difference between having “idle time” and having “free time.” I wrote this, today because I had some free time, and in my free time was thinking about my recovery journey.
If you are sitting there with idle time on your hands think about this – nothing changes… if nothing changes.
Ask yourself… Would you rather have “idle time,” or would you rather have “free time?”