SUMMARY: Accepting your circumstances as if they are from God himself is another step toward freedom, restoration, and reconciliation in the face of addiction as a man. In this series of Resolute Podcasts, Vince Miller is joined by Joel Carlson, one man who is moving from addiction in his life toward freedom in Christ. Hear the stories of his life as he guided us through steps to freedom. In this episode, Joel suggests that seeing our circumstances as an opportunity given to us by God is one thing that kept him from turning back to the addictions to escape the challenges before him.
Vince: Well men, Welcome to the Resolute Podcast, where we make men better. I am Vince Miller, your host. And today we’re in a series that we have entitled, “Moving From Addiction To Freedom.” And today we’re discussing the topic of, “Acceptance.”
So welcome back to the program. If this is your very first time tuning in, well I want to say thank you for joining us. Resolute exists to make men better. Because we know men today face unique challenges in their quest for Godly manhood. For more information on our program for small groups, you’ve got to go to the website at beresolute.org. We have numerous, numerous great series’ for men – for any one of your small groups, you’ve got to check it out. Head there today. And now, at this time – let’s dive in.
Well, I’m joined once again by Joel Carlson, who is a good friend of mine. Who I’ve built a relationship with over the last few years. Joel, in his life – has been working to defeat his addiction. And with that – he has written the following episodes for us and wanted to share this good news with the world.
Today we’re dealing with the topic of acceptance. Because Joel believes – as do I – that accepting your circumstances as if they are a gift from God himself, is another step toward freedom, restoration, and reconciliation in the face of any addiction that we face as men. And so, welcome with me – Joel Carlson, back to the program.
Joel: Thank you, Vince, always good to be here.
Vince: So Joel has used these words with me, that were very freeing words for him in his life. Created a theme in his pathway of moving from addiction to redemption. He said, “I can’t, but he can – and I’m going to let them.” Very powerful words. Today we are looking at the theme of acceptance. Now acceptance is a very important word, I believe as we move from addiction toward freedom and restoration.
But Joel, what was the process of your journey – that led you to a point of accepting things as they actually are? Acceptance is a major theme in your life. So, so tell us what was the process of your journey of accepting things as they are?
Joel: Vince the – the key, again – as a reminder to our listeners of the “I can’t.” Has to do with the model of step 1 of AA. Where it says, we admitted we were powerless over alcohol, and that our lives had become unmanageable. And to admit the powerlessness, to admit that life is out of control – is such a great step forward in the recovery. But it also doesn’t mean that once you admit it, that life is going to take a turn for the better. It means that things are going to still happen in life that is going to shake you. That is going to hurt you, and are going to be possibly negative.
So the key to that whole process is the ability to accept all things as they are – as part of a greater plan. And Alcoholics Anonymous, we have a – a book. We call it, “The Big Book.” And one of my favorite quotes out of that big book comes from page 417. It’s something that we read at our meetings.
And it says this. “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life unacceptable to me. And I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.” And here’s my favorite part of this. “Nothing – absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”
Now to me, that is the perfect reminder that God has a greater plan for me. One that completely is different from the plan that I think I should have. And if I can accept the fact that God is in control. That He is guiding my path, that He has paved the way for me. And there are going to be roadblocks. There are going to be speed bumps. There are going to be things that are going to happen along that journey. But if I continue to say, “Lord, this is your plan and I will accept anything that comes my way because it is your plan.” Then life can take an entirely different turn. And the road to recovery and the road to redemption from me is so much different and so much better.
Vince: Okay, I like that. Because I – I had a, an interview with a good friend of mine at one time, right in this room actually Joel. Where we were talking through kind of the hairball of situations that we get ourselves into in this life. And he said, “Sometimes these hairballs are really hard to unwind,” right? It’s kind of like a big bowl of twine that all get knotted together. You try to unwind it, and it doesn’t just come unwound with one pull of the string, right?
Vince: He said, “Sometimes that hairball or that ball of a string doesn’t come unwound with one pull. You just have to do the next right thing. And you’ve got to accept the situation exactly as it sits today. Because there were a lot of things that led to that hairball, right? Or to that ball of twine getting all knotted up.” So what I hear you saying was – acceptance is a big piece of that. Just accepting the situation exactly as it is, and taking one day at a time. Is that right?
Joel: It’s exactly right. And again – just because I have gotten to a point of understanding all of the mistakes that I made, and seeking forgiveness and trying to make a change in my life, and being a better man, and surrendering to God each and every day. It doesn’t mean that everything’s going to work out well. And even in the process of my recovery as – especially in my early sobriety. I ran into some significant roadblocks and challenges, that really could’ve affected my – my character, my sobriety – and really could’ve led me back to who I once was, because–
Don’t get me wrong – that state of delusion that I lived in when I was drinking so much was not always a bad place to be, in my mind at that time. And the temptation to go back to that was certainly there. I dealt with my father developing pancreatic cancer – just in my early stages of – of sobriety. And he was given a short time to live, to live – and he, and he made it 90 days from diagnosis until he passed away. My dad was my hero. We’re going to talk about him as we go on in these interviews.
But dealing with his death, and being by his side as he passed away was so hard, and such a road block. But I just knew that this was a part of the plan that God had. That it wasn’t about my father’s death that was going to affect me – it was the life that he modeled, that I could really grab onto. So I was really was able to accept that. Because I had learned how important that is.
Vince: Okay, so here’s what I hear you saying then. What I hear you saying Joel, is that – there’s going to be moments in your life that are going to be moments that could drive you back into old patterns, right?
Vince: And you’ve learned all these old ways of dealing with things like we talked in some of the podcasts that we’ve already done. Like honesty, right? You can manufacture lies and deception in your life, as a way to deal with your own insecurity. But here you’re saying, “We just need to accept what’s in front of us, and not return to those patterns. But look at the situation as something God has given us, and respond in a new way. Is that what I’m hearing you say?
Joel: There’s a great quote from a movie, and I forget which one it is. But it’s where the person says, “I know 2 things. There is a God, and I’m not him.” And I think that if that’s the mindset I can have – is that – that’s such a joyful thing to remember, “I’m not God, but I sure want to be sometimes. I want to be in control. I want to run the show.” So saying that “I’m not God,” there’s acceptance right there. “I am not God.”
Joel: But I know he’s out there. I know he’s there.
Joel: And I know he’s running the show.
Joel: That’s the surrender part too.
Joel: Which is so huge. But accepting the fact that God is going to send me on a journey that’s going to take me in a lot of different directions – a part of it’s going to have to be growing. A part of it’s going to have to be reminding me that I’m not in control. Those are all positive things. And when I can just accept that nothing – absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake – then I can take each day as a gift, and remember that He’s got it all planned out for me. And even though it might not be the way I want it to be, that’s where the acceptance comes in. Because then I can say, “Okay, this might not be what I wanted, but God you’ve got a greater plan.”
Vince: Ah, there you go.
Joel: So I’m going to just keep on taking it each day by day.
Vince: Okay, so you – you gave me this text, and you said that this was really important for you. Along the lines of this theme of acceptance. It’s from Psalm 34, verses 17 through 18. Reads, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them. He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Tell us what those words mean? There must be some sort of special meaning in those words for you, Joel?
Joel: I love the last few words, where he says he saves those who are crushed in spirit. And I think that as we’ve kinda gone through these first few points of powerlessness–
Joel: And honesty. That’s a developing process of saying, “I’m a broken person.” And that’s what I love about these words. Is that God is saying, “You’re coming to me crushed, but I’ve got this great, great plan for you.”
Joel: You might not know what it is today, you might not know what it is next month – but I promise you I’ve got this great plan for you. And so I – I love the fact that God just cradles us like a baby, and say, “I know you’re broken and you’re hurting right now.” And for me, dealing with my father’s death – having to deal with a divorce and my kids moving miles and miles away. Having to deal with the consequences of my behavior from – from my employment. All of those things are, are crushing to me. Not because of the consequences, but because of just my actions and what I did. But knowing that God is there saying, “Just trust me.”
Joel: Just take things as they are, and I’m going to carry you into just this great journey. I love that.
Joel: He just wants these people to come so vulnerably.
Joel: And crushed.
Vince: Okay, so there – that’s a great word. He wants us to come vulnerable and crushed, right? Like so what I hear you saying to the men who are listening today is this. Is that – yeah, we have these patterns of sin, right? And we can continue to repeat those patterns of sin that are very unhealthy. But we have choices every day. And we can look at situations as if they’re from God, or somewhere else, right?
And every time we have a choice to respond, whether it’s an addiction that we face in our life, whether it’s a challenge in our marriage, it’s a challenge with our kids, it’s a challenge in our business. Whether it’s a challenge with health or a challenge in our family – God puts those things in our path. And we have a way that we can respond to them. It sounds like the best way you’re saying – from experience in your life, is that we accept them guys.
And so if you’re listening out there today guys, know that God is putting things in your path – not to punish you, but to bring you closer to him. To put you in a place of vulnerability, as it says in Psalm 34, 17 and 18. Because he eagerly desires to save those who are crushed in spirit and to bring you into a place of vulnerability. Joel, thank you again for being with us.
Joel: Always good to be here Vince, thank you.
Vince: Well that’s the show. Thanks so much for listening. Guys, as we close – I want to remind you that none of this would be possible without you. Your prayers, your financial support, and your encouragement – are exactly what keep us going. Therefore, we would be honored to have you consider a monthly donation to Resolute. Even a small donation makes a huge difference for us.
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So guys, as we close – please remember, as I always say – that I hope you enjoyed this podcast. But please know that the time that we spent together today is worthless unless you choose to act on it. So do something today – by getting off the bench, and into the game. And I will see you right back here next time on another episode of the Resolute Podcast.
Vince Miller is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to speak to men’s audiences and has a deep passion for mentorship and God’s Word. He has authored ten books and small group content for men. He is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Reach out to him today if you need a men’s speaker or content for your men’s small groups.