By Tessa Littlejohn,
For Kim, fear has had a big influence in her life. She says, “For me fear leads to anxiety and anxiety leads to shame. The shame of not being strong and not being the person the world expects me to be. This shame has divided me from God’s love for too long, just about 40 years.”
Kim grew up close to the St. Lawrence River, on the South Shore from Montreal. She was the oldest of four children and the family of six lived in an 800 square foot home.
Kim started her life with God and was baptized as an infant but Jesus was not part of her family life, only in church and school. Her parents taught her right from wrong, to be honest, to be hard working and responsible, to take care of people and to set the perfect example for her siblings. “I know my parents loved me the best they knew how but my childhood was about them and how I could help them. I survived my childhood with very little affection or appreciation for my obedience to them. My whole life has been driven to prove that I am the worthy and competent person I was taught to be.” Kim explains.
As a teen Kim lost her spiritual connection. She started down the path of addiction at 11 with alcohol and smoking. This progressed to drugs, and later, a life of relationship addiction, workaholism, euphoric eating, binge TV, isolation and other things, to avoid facing her fears. The fear of unworthiness and the fear of emotional pain turned into the shame that ultimately follows. Kim goes on to say, “These shameful feelings divided me from the forgiveness of Jesus.”
She moved to Alberta with her first husband and two young children at 18 years of age. For thirty years Kim believed religion was a crutch people needed to get over difficulties. She believed it was a good thing as it helped people improve themselves in so many ways.
Kim says, “While taking care of others and hard work are considered good traits, I did so at a cost to my health, all my relationships, and especially my relationship with God. I began to think that trusting in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit was leaving things to chance. I became my own God by controlling everything in order to accomplish what others expected of me. What I expected of me. I still fell short and shame was ever present. My dysfunctional emotional response was, “Why am I never good enough?”.”
Without knowing Christ as her Saviour, Kim’s disease of addiction was driven to crave relief from the shame of her imperfection. Addiction kept her in a fog for so many years and the ability to seek the truth was lost for that time.
Kim was introduced to CSC at 40 years old, by her friend Scott, who she never thought would acknowledge God. She says, “He told me to come with him and hear the awesome music and listen to Pastor Henry’s amazing messages that were meaningful and touched his heart, and seemed to be specifically for him. He described the atmosphere as ‘blue-jean’ and laid back. This description appealed to me, so I went.”
Kim attended frequently but several years later she still didn’t wholly believe in Jesus as her Saviour. By 2005 she began looking for evidence after hearing Pastor Henry say that if it is true Jesus died for us, then the truth is the most important thing in our lives. Kim joined the Alpha course and shortly after Pastor Henry began his series titled, “Why Believe?” Kim saw the series live and then purchased the DVDs and watched it several more times as she continued her search for the truth.
In 2014 Kim was diagnosed with a disease of the brain, one she was born with. A chemical imbalance reduces her ability to feel normal, to feel satisfaction, and overwhelmingly drives her senses to find relief and reward.
This disease of addiction accounts for about half of the probability that she would behave in harmful ways physically, mentally and spiritually. Environmental conditions, such as abuse and neglect exasperated her condition.
For three years Kim struggled with severe anxiety and lost her connection with God but in 2017 she committed to a twelve step program which turned her life around. Seven of the twelve steps are centered on re-connecting to God. Kim says, “Acceptance and surrender to the truth by putting my faith in God to take my burdens are the first steps of my 12 step program of recovery from Addiction. I was lost until I found this program, as well as Freedom Session, that lead me back to God and my faith in Christ and the forgiveness and grace He offers. Now Jesus is present in my life everyday through my 12 step study, prayer and the messages and community and music at CSC.”
Kim goes on to say that, “ Fear is a liar! Today I believe the resurrected King is resurrecting me. I want to surrender my life to Jesus and to ‘Love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength’. I want to learn to ‘Love my neighbour as myself.’ I know to do this I need to love myself as God loves me and be who God intended me to be, not who the world expects me to be.” She explains that now she is baptized and made a commitment to grow in Christ, she feels a freedom to live life rather than simply to survive. Kim is so grateful to wake up each day and be thankful to our Father in Heaven for His forgiveness and grace, to Jesus for His sacrifice and to the Holy Spirit for guidance through the day. As Kim says, “I will never be alone again!”