My Sister Gay’s Fourth Installment: “Like Sunlight Burning at Midnight”

First Installment: Meet My Sister

Second Installment: The Functioning Years

Third Installment: The Maelstrom

From Gay’s heart to yours…

Gregg Taylor, my pastor and sweet, sweet friend, said in a sermon one night at Mercy Street that “the person who has a WHY to live can bear with almost any HOW.”  He was quoting Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles Frankl’s experiences as a concentration camp inmate.  It means that if I have a reason, a purpose, something beyond where I am, a sense of what I could become, and I know that tomorrow is going to bring me closer to that then I can work with where I am today.  He went on to say, “If you have no hope, life ends.”

I didn’t stop breathing while I was out there on the street, but in all other respects my life had ended.  I knew that.  I knew that I had caused my family to leave me because I had not been willing or able to stop drinking.  I don’t know now whether I couldn’t stop or I wouldn’t stop (probably some of both), I just know that I didn’t stop. In my mind, I no longer had anything to live for.  My family was gone.  My employability was gone.  My desire to make another stab at recovery was gone.  My self-respect and integrity were gone.  My faith in myself and God were gone.  I had no reason, no purpose, nothing beyond where I was.  I only had another miserable day on the street, in the elements, cold, sick, hungry, filthy, beaten in more ways than one, full of heartache, resentment, jealousy, fear, self-pity, self-loathing and hate.  My only purpose each day was to figure out how I was going to drink myself into unconsciousness so that I couldn’t see or feel the hopelessness that each day brought.  I didn’t want to wake up to another day of hustling, begging, stealing, cheating and doing what I had to do to stay alive, all of which were pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  I didn’t believe in God anymore — I knew that the All Mighty, All Powerful, All Merciful God that I had been taught about in Sunday School would not let me, ME, live out there like a wild animal!  I had lost all hope, and with that, I had lost the will to live.  I didn’t care anymore if I lived or died.

Yet somehow, unbeknownst to me, God WAS there.  I was just too covered up with my own “stuff” (heartache, self-pity, hate) and too busy trying to blot out that stuff to see Him. In the process, I had blotted Him out, too.  I did not see that when my body finally screamed out for food that food was there.  I did not see that the people I despised and hated, fought and scratched with, and told them I was BETTER THAN THEM were the very angels that God had sent to protect me.  I did not see that the porch that I slept UNDER (because I would get arrested for trespassing if I slept ON) was His shelter.  I did not see how much worse it could have been had my drug of choice been anything other than alcohol.  I did not see that each day that I woke up breathing was another day closer to the day He would strike … the day I would be ready; when all of the things that had blocked me from following His lead in the past were brought into submission.  The entitlement, the pride, the judgment, the dishonesty, the unwillingness to be obedient to His will for ME, for MY life, had to be surrendered so that I might not only obtain sobriety but also be effective in His world.

Now, let me rest on this for a second before I move on:  I found out later that His will for me was not simply for me to quit drinking.  It was for me to DO THE THINGS that He put before me each and every day, one day at a time, and that HE WOULD EQUIP ME with the tools to quit drinking!  He would EMPOWER ME.

Note: I know these things now.  I did not know them then.  Hindsight is better than foresight but I am hoping that those of you who are listening will not be as hardheaded as me!

Moving on …

After wandering aimlessly IN THE WILDERNESS for 18 months, a series of events that only a God could have brought together led me and my friend, Jerry, from Galveston to Houston.  The street was hard and mean in Houston.  No beach, no everyone-knows-each other-and-watches-each-other’s-backs, no First Presbyterian Church serving breakfast fit for a king on Saturday mornings.  As a matter of fact, all clothing and food supplies had been sent to Galveston to aid those still suffering from Hurricane Ike which had ravaged the island just six months before.  The City is much harder, walking distances much further, people more desperate, dangerous and demanding.  I couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t survive anymore.  It was too hard.  So I just laid down on the concrete underneath the Sabo Road overpass to die.  I didn’t panhandle anymore, I didn’t beg anymore, I didn’t fight anymore.  I laid down to die.

According to Jerry, I didn’t move from there for about two weeks, except to sit up long enough to drink myself back to sleep.  I might have eaten a bite or two.  I maybe even stumbled across the feeder road now and then to use the facilities at Jack In The Box, maybe not.  I don’t know.  I was in a blackout.  I had only one lucid moment during that entire time that I remember well, so well that it feels like yesterday.  It was night and I was alone in the dark.  I was lying on my left side and in my fear, whether of death or of continuing to live, I thought of my children and, at that moment, they became my WHY.  I didn’t care enough about myself to pray for my life but I cared enough about THEM to do just that.  I turned onto my back and hearing the endless roar of the traffic overhead, I spoke out loud to God where He could hear me and I could hear myself.  I spoke very precisely, almost demandingly and with my arm outstretched toward Heaven, I cried, “God, I know that You are up there.  I have been taught that all my life.  Now, I need Your help.  Now!  Because I’m going to die out here, Lord, and there are two little boys in Sugar Land that need a mother.”  Just like that, just exactly like that, and then it was done.  Amen and Amen.

I don’t know how much time passed between that prayer and being gently shaken awake by Tut: an hour, a day, two days.  But alone again in the night in the exact same spot, I felt a nudge and I heard a voice saying, “Gay, get up and get in the truck.  We’re going home.”  I didn’t hesitate.  I didn’t look around to see who I might take with me.  I didn’t look around to see who might stop me.  I didn’t even look around to see who it was.  I simply got up off the concrete and walked to the truck, one foot in front of the other, each step closer and closer, remembering the prayer because it was the ONLY thing I could remember about the weeks prior, knowing with each step that God – that God — that’s all I knew, without a shred of doubt, — that God had heard my cry and had moved Heaven and Earth to save me!  I became acutely aware in those miracle moments of the size and depth of the Love of God for a sinner like me.  As I settled into the warm, soft, leather seat of the white Chevy Suburban that I had ridden in so many times and looked over to confirm that the man was indeed Tut, I was struck with an awe that I can’t possibly describe.  That awe multiplied as we pulled away and I saw the bridge that I had tried to die under get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.  It was over.

 

It was OVER.

 

It was OVER.

 

My heart is pounding now as I bang this keyboard and I feel an urgency to cry my eyes out in more gratitude than I know how to express.  In my mumbling and fumbling to find the words to describe those moments, I think of the words to a song by Francesca Battistelli.  It goes like this:

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be.
Awakening my heart
Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace
Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful.
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful.

 

Gregg Taylor, my pastor and my sweet, sweet friend, also says that God never brings an end without offering a new beginning. I didn’t know HOW I was going to begin the climb out of hell.  I just knew that I was going to begin.  I was never the same after that night.
I have come undone.
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace.
Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful.
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful.

 

Praise Jesus, Love of my life.

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471 Responses to “My Sister Gay’s Fourth Installment: “Like Sunlight Burning at Midnight””

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Comments:

  1. 51

    What an amazing Valentine’s post….a message of His powerful love for you. I wish my Dad would have believed in our merciful Father enough to cry out to Him….maybe he did….but I’m ever so thankful that YOU believed:) I’m so proud of you….just so proud…wish I could give you a great big hug in person:)

  2. 52
    Kay says:

    Gay, Amazing. That same song has been the one that brings tears to my eyes as I reflect on how God saved me from my pit. I can still feel the clay under my feet in that pit, but I’ve been out for some time. And it’s all by God’s grace. He is amazing.

  3. 53
    Robin in New Jersey says:

    What Amazing Grace you have experienced, Gay. Thank you for sharing your story. I do hope that you will tell us more and that it doesn’t end here. And I hope we get to see a picture of you. 🙂

  4. 54
    Elizabeth says:

    What an incredible testimony. You, my sister, are dearly loved and sought after in ways that display the love of God powerfully. Bless you! May God multiply blessings your way.

  5. 55
    Christi says:

    Gay, thank you for making God so real for me today.

  6. 56
    Melody Reid says:

    God bless you Gay, and your willingness to share your story. I love you and I don’t even know you! Your courage is life-giving.

  7. 57
    Daphne says:

    This story is a very sobering one for me as I reflect the damage and years I lost because of alcohol and other addictions. God bless you in your journey to help others find the freedom we now have in Christ Jesus by the power of his holy spirit!!! Amen and amen!!! Much love to you and Beth and your families!

  8. 58
    Carolyn says:

    Dear Precious Gay, Thank you from the bottom of my heart. There was a time in my life when I felt hopeless, when the enemy had blinded me so to the love of God that I almost walked away from Him and everything I know is truth. I know it isn’t easy to relive and share these things. We need to be reminded that God is relentless in his pursuit of us, but we have to cry out to him. I am soooo glad you did. I know Beth is thrilled to have you back in her life. Sisters are so special. No one can substitue for a real live flesh and blood sister. Hugs to you!

  9. 59
    Kaye says:

    Praise be to our mighty God! Cant wait to hear the rest of the story! Its never too late with God! Praising him for your victory Gay!

  10. 60

    I can feel POWER, God’s POWER radiating thru my computer screen as I read this tonight. As Beth said in her last post, there are no adjectives strong enough to describe a deliverance of this magnitude.
    I didn’t want it to end!!! Will you keep writing?!
    We love you so much, Gay.

    • 60.1
      Peggy Westberry says:

      Thank you Gay for your courage in relaying your experience with our Fathers unrelenting love and passion for those of us who have walked through similar situations. I also want to hear more of your experience and hope you post more. I also have a past with alcohol and in the blackness of one event, He came and rescued me from myself. I too thought He had given up on me, but for those of you out there walking through any addiction, that is a lie from Hell and you need to know God Loves You and will respond to you when you ask Him to help…..my friend, HE WILL HELP!

  11. 61

    Gay,
    Thank you once again for being so real with us about your story. I could picture Jesus being there with you so anxious for that moment when you were going to cry out for His help so He could come to your rescue. “…He rescued you because He delighted in you!” Psalm 18:19b

    We love you!

    Jen

  12. 62
    Robin says:

    Thank you Gay for sharing your life story with us . It truly gives me hope as I struggle with my son’s drug addiction and recent relapse. HOpe that God answers our prayers and never gives up on us!

  13. 63
    Kristin says:

    Every time I read one if your posts, I am blown away by your courage! Thank you again for sharing your story of redemption with us!! We have such a merciful, powerful, amazing God! All glory to His majestic name!!!

  14. 64
    Helen says:

    Thanks again Gay!!!
    The timing is so perfect! Just two days ago my daughter who has been running from God and into drugs and alcohol for years now, knelt on my kitchen floor to confess, repent and tell God she could no longer do it her way. Your story of how God had His hand on you through all the tough stuff is so inspiring to me!! I want to get your story to her as I think she would so identify with it!! Thank you so much!!

    • 64.1

      Praise God Helen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 64.2
      Gay says:

      Oh Helen — I am in tears and know so exactly how your daughter feels, so exasperated and baffled and can’t figure out why we are doing it at the expense of hurting the very ones we love the most. It is just EVIL and it doesn’t get any better, only worse. I’m so thankful that your daughter is willing to surrender and do whatever it takes to slay the beast. God really likes for us to work hard at it so ENCOURAGE HER in whatever program she chooses. There are many. I am praying for you and your daughter like crazy!!

      Loved you are,
      Gay

  15. 65
    Tisha says:

    Oh Gay-what a blessing you are!! And thank you Jesus for your love…a relentless love that hears our cries and answers–oh thank you Jesus!!

  16. 66
    Amy says:

    Please oh please oh please tell us what happened next.

  17. 67
    Heather says:

    Gay, THAT WAS INCREDIBLE. I am in AWE over how God reached out to you. How He never left you, brooded over you (like a hen), enclosed you, protected you. Praise God for how He loves us. I can’t get OVER IT!!!

  18. 68
    buffy says:

    Oh – all Glory be to our God – who is full of mercy and compassion and who is MIGHTY to save!!! That is my overwhelming response to your miracle! That and hope… hope to keep praying, to keep believing for the complete deliverance of my brother. The hurt is huge, but God is bigger. Thank you for sharing your story, thank you!

  19. 69
    Melissa says:

    With tears streaming down my face, all I can say is HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!! Thank you so much for sharing your testimony!

  20. 70
    mmaureenross says:

    Dearest Gay,
    When I first started receiving the posts about your testimony, it was the week before Deuteronomy The Law of Love was to begin. I have waited with joy and celebration to be able to share in your “newly created life”! I also come from a messy, addicted, dark background!It’s God’s sovereignty and grace that pulled me back from the brink of death. I have been transformed into His image (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically)!I celebrate with you in God’s glorious love and mercy!I am so thankful and humbled at your transparency and willingness to share so that others may have hope and be able to see that God can change all those bad days for good ones. And the best is yet to come. Bless you, sister for your commitment and heart to and for others. I have come to know you through your testimony and it spurs me on!Kudos to you! Praying for you and lifting you up for strength and endurance as we run the race set before us. I am running right beside you, cheering you on in my heart. Blessings and love from a humble sister in Christ.

  21. 71
    Sarah Marion says:

    Your story is such a blessing to me. It is amazing! Thank you for your encouragement to keep hope in Christ Jesus and reach out to those in need with prayers and action.
    I love that song by Francesca.
    Sarah

  22. 72
    Michelle Baylerian says:

    An AMAZING testimony of God’s faithfulness. Praise His name

  23. 73
    Di says:

    Gay, thank you, thank you, for sharing your story. It sounds so much like my younger sister’s many many years of alcholism and the fight to survive. This story gives me hope that one day God will set her free from her prison. I know that only ONE can free her from this horrible disease. How I pray, that “your” story will
    one day be my baby sister’s story. God bless you sweet sister.

  24. 74
    Kim says:

    I just want to hug you with all the strength I have. I’m not even sure exactly all the reasons why – I just do. You are amazing and I thank God for you.

    I am also hoping there is another installment.

  25. 75
    Tina says:

    WHOA! Thank you for sharing and remembering your story. GOD is Miraclous!

  26. 76
    Debbie says:

    Gay,

    I love reading your story. It’s so powerful and will help so many.
    Thank you for sharing.

  27. 77
    Kelly says:

    He hears us. He heard you. He’s hearing me. Thank you

  28. 78
    kendal says:

    i. love. this. story.

  29. 79
    ForeverHis says:

    Gay, I look so forward to your posts. God is so awesome. I love to hear the miraculous things He does in a sisters life. Thank you so very much for sharing your story and showing others that God can STILL move mountains!

    Lawan
    Phil 4:8

  30. 80
    kathypinkbicyclearkansas says:

    Your willingness to share your story is truly a sign that you are walking with God and He with you.

  31. 81
    Stephanie says:

    Gay, I sit here trembling….praying that my son will come to the grace of God that you came to! He is in the center of an addiction, that I cannot speak of to anyone else but here…because I know that you understand! Praise God that he is using your story to help others to take hope that God is there, and He can use even ones that seem so far from Him! Thank you, so much Gay…you will never know the depths that your story has helped!

    • 81.1
      Robin Cotton says:

      Stephanie, I have a son too who is struggling with addiction. I pray daily, hourly for his healing from this horrible disease. I will be praying for you son as well and I am here if you ever need to talk . Blessings, Robin cottonsgvlga@aol.com

    • 81.2

      Amen. We too are believing God for our adopted children living in darkness. God has such great plans for them! Keep believing!

      Peace,
      Cynthia

    • 81.3
      Gay says:

      I am praying for all of you and your sons. So many people prayed for me for a long, long time. Hang in there, Mamas. God is good and His mercy endureth FOREVER!!!!

      Together with you in the journey,
      Gay

  32. 82
    KK says:

    I can’t hardly stand it. I am speechless and in tears. Tut, your husband came and got you? Oh, I can’t stand it! Now get busy writing your next installment young lady! You express yourself beautifully and God is just good. Shaking my head in disbelief, no, in wonder of our gracious and loving God. Thank you Gay. Shout it from the mountain tops, there is a hurting world that needs to hear.

  33. 83
    Tanya says:

    All I can say is wow…

  34. 84
    Kay Martin says:

    Gay, what a powerful testimony and how brave for you to share from your heart! You are sure to give hope to many who have given up. Thank you for opening yourself up for the world to see.

  35. 85
    Joyce Watson says:

    Oh, how precious is God’s love toward us! Oh, how He touches our very hearts in praise!
    God knew, He knew you how much you needed Him. He knew where you were and He was waiting with open arms. How beautiful!
    Thank you God that you care so much. Thank you that when we are in the wilderness, in the pit, in the darkness_You don’t give up on us. When we cry out in our deepest, darkest moments of our lives, You are our Deliverer, our Rescuer, our Provider, our Protector and so much more, God! Thank you for rescuing Gay. Thank you for Your love toward us. I love you, Lord. in Christ

  36. 86

    His mercy. Wow, His mercy — reaching to us all. So thankful you reached out to Him, Gay!

  37. 87
    Janice Onskii says:

    How deep the Fathers love for me, how vast beyond all measure…to make a wretch His treasure…” thank you Gay for this amazing testimony. Whenever Bethhad mentioned you over the years it touched me because my husband is an alcoholic. Your story is proof that miracles can happen! Just before your first installment I told my husband to find another place to live. I wasn’t mad at him or yelling I just felt sorry for him and felt I needed to get out of the way so that God could work in him…since reading your story I have definitely felt more compassion for him. I sit riveted reading each installment. Thank you. A sister in Thunder Bat Ontario Canada! X0. Janice

  38. 88
    Cathy W says:

    God bless you, Gay for sharing your heart and the healing you have received. I love reading your story and pray that you continue to reach those who so desparately need the hope that you are sharing. I am sharing your writings with all my Facebook friends in case there are some praying for loved ones with adiction problems. Nobody is too far gone for God’s grace.

  39. 89
    Dorothy says:

    Gay:

    My Spirit praises God with you and for you. He does deliver. I am looking forward to hearing more. God bless you and yours.

  40. 90
    Leslie says:

    WOW! THANK YOU DEAR ONE FOR SHARING YOUR AMAZING STORY! GOD IS SO GOOD – HE HEARD YOU WITH HIS HOLY EAR. YOU ARE BLESSING SO MANY.

  41. 91
    Elizabeth says:

    Gay, I have read each of the prior installments carefully. They are honest and raw and APPRECIATED. Oh that we should all be comfortable sharing so that the Lord would get the glory He is due.

    When I got to the part where you said you were shaken awake by Tut I was literally thinking, No Way. No Way. NO WAY. And then a voice in my head said, ” “I am THE WAY, and the truth, and the life.”

    Rejoicing in your recovery, your relationship with the Lord, your immediate & extended family, namely your sister and the impact you have made on this blog. To God be the glory.

    Siesta love to you this day.

    • 91.1
      Jeannette says:

      “Oh that we should all be comfortable sharing so that the Lord would get the glory He is due. ”

      I love it!! So right – I’m using that tomorrow in my Bible Study group!

  42. 92
    Kathy says:

    HALLELUJAH!!! How amazing is God? That is awesome how (as you said) God moved heaven and earth for you. I was trying to share it with my mother and couldn’t hardly read because of the sobs. God loves you sooo much Gay. You are awesome just like your sister. Thank you for being willing to share your tender moments with us. Bless you my sister.

  43. 93
  44. 94
    Tammy Bellinger says:

    Praise God, our Father, God who saves!

    Thank you for sharing your heart and miracle with us.
    Tammy

  45. 95
    Donna B. says:

    I have cried out in that darkness too…Praise Jesus that He never gives up!!
    Your story is beautiful, I could read your writing all night long. You have brought me to tears with your GOD-story. Thank you for your courage to share.

  46. 96
    Lauren says:

    Dear Gay,

    I cannot believe this is the first time I am posting a response to one of the installments of your story. Thank you so, so much for sharing your bone-shakingly, heart-piercingly powerful story with us. It is beautiful, and you are beautiful. Every single segment has touched and challenged me in such a deep way. I have been forwarding your posts to my mother who has also been so moved and inspired by your posts.

    Thank you, thank you. Bless you.
    Lauren

  47. 97
    traci says:

    ALL GLORY and HONOR and PRAISE to our God!!!!!!!
    Love you Gay!

  48. 98
    Renee says:

    Your story is incredibly God. I have a son who is celebrating 10 months of sobriety from cocaine, marijuana, alcohol , pain killers, and more than his mother would ever know. Don’t let the lack of comments, let the devil tell you nobody cares. Only the people who have been there or their family members know what pain it brings. I wish I would have seen all of your other posts. The Lord has a huge plan for you, you see you can understand people that many church people won’t or care to notice. God Bless you, continue to stay strong. Would you pray for my son his name is Joshua and he will be 26 this summer? Thank you.

    • 98.1
      Gay says:

      Renee — Thanks so much for your encouragement. I won’t let the devil deter me but, believe me, he keeps trying. My sponsor told me a long time ago that it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, it only matters what God thinks because He’s the only one Who counts!! Congrats to Joshua!!! I will absolutely keep him in my prayers and I won’t forget his name — my youngest son is named Joshua. Great name!!

      Loved you are,
      Gay

      P.S. The other posts are out there. There should be a link to them soon.

  49. 99
    Laura Sei says:

    WOW…that’s all I can say.

  50. 100

    Another wow, Gay. Another one. Yes, I look at you and think wow. You could have been dead I am sure many times over but you didn’t die. I think too that maybe the difference between you and the one that is gone now, is Your Ernest Cry to Him. But, I don’t know. I don’t understand those things. But, He chose to save You for a Grand Testimony. Amazing. Love to you Gay. Allison

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