Archives For addiction

Creative Commons user Marc Wathieu, edits mine

It’s “sexy” to talk about your past. Where you’ve been. The grit you’ve experienced. The pain you’ve had to bear. The crazy life you used to live. When you talk about your past, you get looks that say

Wow. You’ve come so far!

OR

Wow. You’ve overcome so much!

OR

Wow. You had a lot of fun!

It’s “sexy” to talk about your future, too. Nobody gets upset when you’re talking about where you’re headed in life. Whether you’re talking about heaven (where there will be no tears or crying or pain) or something a little shorter in focus (your goals and aspirations), these are fun conversations. When you talk about where you’re headed, it’s cast in a bright, positive light. Nobody clams up talking about that!

But your “present”? It’s not so sexy to talk about where you are right now. In fact, it’s quite awkward. And I’m convinced awkward conversations need to be had.*

It’s not cool to say,

“Yeah, I still struggle with ____.”

OR

“I still need help with ______.”

OR

“That thing that we talked about last week…I messed up again.”

The awkward humiliation

It’s humiliating, really. It’s like saying, “I know I told you I was headed to Nashville, but somehow I ended up in St. Louis. You told me to turn left, but I just went right.” Silly, no? Turns out they didn’t listen to directions, look at their map, or heed the signs that said, “Nashville, turn left.” And they did this for 450 miles.

Talking about your present struggles is like swallowing a spoonful of medicine. You know it’s going to help, but it tastes rancid going down.

Talking about your present struggles admits, “I’m not where I need to be,” “I’m not who I appear,” and, “I don’t really know how to get where I want to go.”

The beeline to shame

Where we go wrong when someone begins “talking about their present” is that we make a beeline for shame. Instead of the Prodigal’s father, we play the role of the older brother (Luke 15:28-30). Our arms are crossed and our head swiveling back and forth in judgment. We say things like “How are they going to ever learn?” or “Someone’s got to give them the truth.” or “If they’d only followed God like me” We think it’s our job to convict their hearts with the truth.

When we’re quick to convict, we inadvertently shut down a potentially life-changing moment of confession.

The good news about grace is that grace doesn’t keep a record of how many times you’ve messed up. In fact, “where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Romans 5:20) Grace celebrates a step in the right direction. Even when it’s followed by two steps backwards.

Grace welcomes home

Grace doesn’t mean that you become a doormat that’s walked on. It means you welcome someone home when they “talk about their present.” More than likely, conviction’s already happened. (hint: that’s why they’re talking with you!) Your role isn’t to convict…you can let the Holy Spirit do that. He’s better at it than you are, anyway. What someone needs, in their moment of taking a step of faith by saying, “I’ve messed up…again” is a “welcome home!” embrace.

Next time someone opens up an awkward conversation by sharing something they’re counting to struggle with, try being full of grace. Try showing them that we serve a God who never leaves or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6), even when we’ve followed a stupid decision by a stupid decision. In those moments, you’ll find that truth acts more like a weapon.

Grace is what’s needed, because grace moves the ball forward. Shame throw it backwards.

* catch up with the “this is awkward” series HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Battle

Ben Reed —  August 29, 2010 — 1 Comment

The battle against sin is a tough one, isn’t it?  The more and more we fight against it, the more and more it seems to keep creeping up on us.

And if you try to say you don’t really have any sin you’re dealing with, you’re fooling yourself.  (See 1 John 1:8)

John Owen, a Puritan, in his book The Mortification of Sin, says,

“Indwelling sin always abides while we are in this world; therefore it is always to be mortified.”

Why is this fight against sin so tough?  Because we’ve got flesh and bones…and a Spirit.  And they don’t like each other.  (see what I mean HERE)

The Apostle Paul understood that, and explained the battle well HERE.

Our battle with sin is a battle to the death.  That besetting sin that keeps following you won’t give up until one of you dies.  It’s relentless.  It doesn’t take a day off.  And the moment you take a day off, it’s ready to strike.  Owen again rightly points out:

“Sin will not only be striving, acting, rebelling, troubling, disquieting; but, if let alone, if not continually mortified, will bring forth great, cursed scandalous, soul-destroying sins.”

If you’re serious about fighting against sin, why not do some real battling?  Bring someone into your story.  Confess your sins to someone other than God.

Setup boundaries.  Understand your triggers.  Know your weaknesses.  But don’t try to go at this alone.

Eternity is worth it.  And that’s what’s at stake.

I’ve been listening to Mumford & Sons a lot lately.  Check out this video below…seems they’ve done some real battling against their addictions.  I’ve posted some of the lyrics below it.

May you find a new resolve to fight against your sin.

The Cave

So make your siren’s call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

 

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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?

 

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