How do you know you’ve heard an awesome message at church (or a seminar, support group, professional meeting, etc.)? Simple- you cannot stop thinking about it, AND you want to keep applying said message to your own life.
About a month ago I heard a sermon at our family’s church that really sparked some thoughts for me. The topic was “What Happens After the Victory?” and revolved around the attitude of victory. The pastor’s baseline story was that of Paul and Silas’s divine prison break in Acts 16:22-34. If you don’t know this story, here is the quick and dirty:
- Paul and Silas were imprisoned for their practices and beliefs
- While in prison, they prayed and sang hymns while others listened
- An earthquake rocked the prison, and the prison doors and shackles were opened freeing everyone inside
- The jailer in charge (who was sleeping) awoke to prisoners released from their cells
- The jailer was ready to kill himself BUT Paul was able to convince him to put his sword down
- The jailer wanted in on Paul and Silas’s salvation
- Paul and Silas encouraged him to simply believe, to give himself to the Lord
- The jailor did as he was told, made a commitment to the Lord, and then invited the guys over for dinner
As the pastor pointed out, Paul and Silas could have claimed their victory as simply being freed from jail. However, their real victory came when they saved the life of a lost soul.
Man, that’s powerful!
And so the message went that most people focus solely on the victory. Victories might be a new job, buying a house, getting married, losing weight, having kids, running a race, receiving a promotion, GETTING SOBER (see my personal connection to this sermon?). He said that oftentimes the attitude that comes with victory is that of selfishness, complacency, and arrogance.
I think we can all agree that his words are true. Seriously, think about it- have you ever been self-absorbed, (too) confident, or vain about something you’ve accomplished or achieved in your lifetime? I sure have!
So how then do we handle a victory? What do we do AFTER the victory? Well, he posed three questions for thought-
How do you manage your victory?
Who shares in your victory?
Where will your victory take you?
As I listened to his answers to these questions, I found myself applying everything to my sober journey. Getting sober back in January was a HUGE victory! Putting down the bottle, asking for help, ridding my body of all the toxins in that first week, making a conscious decision to live a sober life is a MONUMENTAL victory in my life’s book.
But he was right- what kind of attitude do I need to uphold now that I am sober, now that I’ve been victorious? Am I being selfish about it? Have I become complacent in my journey? Do I have an attitude of pride?
Let me share his answers, as well as my own sobriety interpretation.
Q: How do you manage your victory (of sobriety)?
A: Thankfully, humbly, and strong.
Becoming sober has brought about a great deal of gratitude and thankfulness. In fact, I’m most thankful for the pain and suffering I endured because without it I wouldn’t fully grasp the joy and freedom I now feel. I’m also able to empathize with so many, not just alcoholics, on a much deeper level because of my past. And I’m building strength, showing it can be done on both good days and bad.
Q: Who shares in your victory?
A: We must turn to those who are lost and broken, not just friends, family and yourself.
Yes, it’s nice to share my sober milestones with friends and family. I personally feel ecstatic as I’m nearing my first year soberversary! But that victory is not mine alone. I think of the girl I was in those first few days, weeks, months, and I know there are others out there in that same place. They’re lost, scared, broken, and self-loathing. They are the ones that need my victory. They need HOPE that they, too, will reach a place of pure freedom. They need connection, support, and encouragement. So who am I to keep this victory to myself? I must share with those who need it more than me in this very moment.
Q: Where will you victory take you?
A: We must be open-minded to where our victory may lead us.
Just because we’ve “won” does not mean the excitement is over. We must share the good with others. We must utilize our win for the greater good. Thus far, my victory has taken me to a place where I feel strong enough to share my story with the World Wide Web, with YOU, and with those who are seeking answers. But it does not stop here. I can go bigger! I can share and encourage my future students and coworkers. I can volunteer at recovery centers or events. I can reach for higher mediums to share my voice in recovery. I can find new and creative ways to keep paying it forward!
So now I ask you… what victory of yours do you need to share? What piece of your victory might very well be the missing piece for a lost and broken soul? Where will you let your victory take you?
Share the victory, folks! The world needs it!