A friend of mine is struggling through overcoming an addiction. It’s a tough road. Seriously, really tough.
He’s been clean now for a while. And the freedom he’s experienced after running away from his addiction, finding rest and satisfaction in Christ, has been amazing. And to tell you the truth, it’s been refreshing to me, as well. Seeing a man live in realization that Christ has broken the chains of sin reminds me of the work Christ did to rescue my heart.
And here’s what I’d like to tell you right now: He’s still clean every day. Every day gets easier and easier, and it’s as if the past years of addiction are melted away, and their power to sway is so weak it’s as if it’s nonexistent.
But that would be a lie.
Just the other day, he had to confess a breach in sobriety. And I wept for him. And with him.
And that conversation could have easily been the last of our conversations. Because many Christians say that they’re willing to walk the hard road with a struggling brother. ”You need a helping hand overcoming _____? I’m there for you!” Underlying that open hand of mercy is a backhand ready to be unleashed the moment that friend takes a step backwards. It’s one of those unspoken rules. ”If you fall back into that sin, my helping you is done.”
Maybe it’s because, if they fall back, it’s reflects badly on them. It used to just be the addict’s problem…now it’s the helper, too.
Maybe it’s because they want to help…as long as it’s not too difficult emotionally.
Maybe it’s because they wrongly think that an addict’s addiction is over, once and for all, the moment they ask for help. That the problem will never resurface, and that the struggle against it is, in a way, over.
Whatever the reason, it’s not a good one. Take out a pen and paper and write this down:
A breach in sobriety is not the end of the battle.
That’s what I told my friend. I reminded him that our relationship is a safe place for him to be open and honest…even if he messes up again. There will be consequences to him taking steps backwards. It could wreck his life…again. But it wouldn’t wreck my commitment to walking this through with him. I reminded him that just because he messed up again, he hadn’t lost the battle forever. That he still had work to do, but that I was still standing beside him, helping him fight. That he was going to probably mess up again, but that God’s forgiveness still covers him. That he could be honest about even the smallest breaches, and that in being honest with the small things, he’s working to fight against the Enemy, and do battle even in his failures.
My friend needs me. Your friend needs you. Especially when they’ve messed up…again.
Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. -God, Deuteronomy 31:6
Have you ever had a friend mess up time and time again? What did you do?
Have you ever messed up time and time again? How were you treated by others?