Paige Peeples' Story
My name is Paige, and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with addiction.
Broken crayons still color. It’s a simple statement of four little words, but their meaning in my life is clear. When I found out that the fall theme here at FBC Starkville was that of restoration, I was very excited. You see, this subject strikes a chord in me. I’ve been at the bottom, looking up, and Jesus has shown me His amazing grace, and He has restored me.
I have a heart for broken people which comes from a place of knowing. For many years, I lived a life that many would perceive as godly and good. What it really was, though, was an amazing façade that I had come up with to portray to the world what I wanted them to see. I was a master at mask-wearing, and everyone around me only saw the person I so badly wanted to be. Addiction to pain medication was not something that I ever planned for my life. It began with small choices, and grew to bigger choices that seemed to swallow the real me as every day passed. It was like the old story of the frog in hot water. If you put a frog in boiling water, he will jump out. But if you put a frog in when the water is room temperature and gradually heat it to boiling, he will sit there without realizing he is boiling to death. I was in over my head, yet not jumping out of the pot. I knew where I was could kill me and cause me to lose everything, yet I didn’t know where to turn or who to turn to. Surely the people at the church would look down on me for being one of “those people.” I didn’t want to be looked down upon for being “too broken.” I went for years being silent because I was scared of what others would think of me. I was screaming for someone to see me drowning and throw me a lifeline, but no one seemed to see me flailing among the circling sharks.
Through genetics and sometimes just plain bad luck, I have accumulated a list of surgeries that most people don’t collect within a lifetime. In the beginning, I took pride in being able to get off the pain medicine as soon as possible. But, somewhere along the road, things changed. A turning point for me was when I began to start having pain in my left hip in 2008. After doing injections, physical therapy, and test after test they still didn’t know what was wrong. During this time, I was continuously on medication because of the pain. Finally, after a year and a half, a diagnosis was made and the surgery was scheduled. But the need was already there. I did my best to take what I needed, when I needed. But as every addict will tell you, I figured out that two made the pain hurt a whole lot less than one. I recovered from the surgery but I was already headed down a road that would cost me so much.
I was convinced I could quit anytime I wanted. Of course, this confidence came when my prescription was full. I absolutely could NOT admit to myself that I had a problem at all. But I knew how to work the system like a charm. And I had “friends” that could get me what I needed, for a price. If they didn’t have what I needed, I opted to borrow or steal from friends and family. Unfortunately, taking a few at a time turned into taking more, and I became brazen in who I stole from and how many I would take at a time. Out of all the people I ever stole from, the one person I hurt the most, yet ultimately showed me the most grace and compassion, was my daddy. He had issues himself that required him to take medicine. In my darkest moments, I knew that he needed his medication, but chose to think of myself instead. Every time I would promise myself and often my daddy, that I would never do it again. But my walk didn’t match my talk.
Through circumstances, numerous bad choices, and an intervention from my daddy and my family, I finally had my eyes opened. I was led to an amazing ministry called Celebrate Recovery, where for the first time, I was able to open up and see myself clearly. Up to this point I had said “I’m sorry” too many times to count. But what I was beginning to learn was that my grief was simply horizontal. I was sorry about the consequences I was having to face and that I had been caught, not necessarily for what I had done. Through Celebrate Recovery and a specific challenge from my daddy, I was able to learn about vertical grief, that dimension where I was broken and truly sorry for what I had done. I was finally able to take my mask off and feel safe to deal with my issues without the feelings of persecution. But the greatest thing that happened for me was finding out how beautiful broken really was. God met me right where I was and loved me at that very place. I thought I was unlovable. I was facing things in my past, and Satan was trying his best to make me feel like everyone around me saw me as I saw myself: a person who was completely unforgiveable. Coming face to face with all my hurts, habits, and hang-ups was almost more than I could take. I realized that not only was I ashamed of what I had done, but I was also loathsome of who I was. Satan had stolen my hope and will to exist. He tried to make me feel like I could never amount to anything more than an embarrassment to my family and a failure as a mother, wife, and daughter. But in the exact time I needed, God gave me what would become some of my favorite verses. In 1 Peter 2:9-10, God’s word says, “But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God Himself – You are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own – all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were less than nothing; now you are God’s own. Once you knew very little of God’s kindness; now your very lives have been changed by it.” I discovered that I was a beautiful daughter of the King. If I would allow Him, God would use my past hurts and shame to bless other people. I just had to be willing to let Him. I am proud to say that today, I am over two years clean and sober.
I live in a house with a husband, two children, and a dog. It’s no wonder that I’m around broken things, and not all by my choice, might I add. But, I’ve tried very hard to see that “things happen” and to “roll with the punches.” It’s not always that easy. We try to keep our lives put together for the world to examine and approve on a daily basis. When things don’t go our way, we try to patch them together the best we can and hope that no one can see the holes or will try to pour water in the vase we just taped up because the dog knocked it over. It seems the more perfect we try to be, that’s when things tend to fall apart the most.
I’ve recently learned of a Japanese art form called Kintsugi, by which broken pottery is repaired using a lacquer mixed with gold. Legend has it that sometime during the fifteenth century, a Japanese ruler broke one of his favorite bowls. After he sent it off to be repaired, it came back to him with staples that he thought were ugly, so he had Japanese craftsmen come up with a more flattering method to repair his bowl. Kintsugi was born, and this art form is now a part of the Japanese culture. They embraced the art as a beautiful statement of restoring broken things and giving them new life. The idea is not to hide the parts that are broken, but to celebrate the object as more precious than before.
I think this is such an amazing picture of what Christ does for us. Our homes are likely filled with mismatched plates and dishes, most likely because a bowl or dish has been dropped on the floor or in the sink and the remnants have found their way to the garbage. We don’t keep broken things in our houses because we see many of these things as worthless. This is how Satan wants us to see and view ourselves. He wants us to feel broken, worthless, and worthy of the garbage. He wants followers of Jesus to continue to desperately try to hide their bruises, cracks, and scars. But just like Kintsugi, broken can become beautiful. Jesus sees beauty in the flawed, the damaged, and the imperfect. Our God is a God of restoration. He is the ultimate artist. He desires to restore us and make us new again. The world is full of people with broken hearts, broken spirits, and broken relationships. We see damaged people all around us, and we see it in ourselves when we are courageous enough to go there. When I stop being ashamed of my past, my failures, and my hurts, that’s when the power of Jesus can be revealed. The more broken I am, the more the light of Jesus can shine through.
There is a place for everyone. We are all broken; some just haven’t admitted it yet. Remember what I said at the beginning? Broken crayons still color. I love this. I’m not perfect, and neither are you. We often think we’re not good enough. We’ve made too many mistakes. We’re too broken. I’ve been there, but it’s not true. We all have something to offer the world. We all have a purpose, and that doesn’t disappear because we discover a chink in our own armor. What if that broken piece is what the world needs? I don’t know about you, but I relate a lot more to people who admit their failure than people who pretend to be perfect. The world needs us to be real, to keep coloring even when we’re broken. So find a broken person today. Remind them that they have something to offer the world. And if that broken one is you? Keep coloring. The world needs you.
And together, we’ll make a masterpiece.