We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our life had become unmanageable.
My bones are brittle as dry sticks because of my sin. I'm swamped by my bad behavior, collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt. The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots because I've lived so badly. And now I'm flat on my face feeling sorry for myself morning to night. All my insides are on fire, my body is a wreck. I'm on my last legs; I've had it - my life is a vomit of groans. Psalms 38:3-8 The Message
“What helps at this point is to see your consequences as your teachers. You have been sent a lesson to learn. If you don’t learn the lesson this time, it will manifest itself again, and probably in a more painful form the next time. -Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.
Moving From Dis-Integration to Integration
As we battled alone against the progressive nature of our addictions, we experienced a general disintegration of our lives. Our lives get worse, never better. Many of us have expressed how we’ve felt that we were getting sicker and sicker every day that we battled our addictions alone. No matter how valiant and determined we were, and still are, the war has continued to rage. And, much to our chagrin and embarrassment, we have been losing the battle.
In Scripture, which is the historical backbone for everything that we believe as Christians, there are examples of people who suffered because they lived selfish lives and the result was a life that became destructive for them. For example, the Psalmist David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, gives us an example of someone who, even though he had previously experienced deep intimacy with God, found his life disintegrated because of his selfish way of life.
In Psalm 38 that we reviewed above, David’s words speak to us regarding the physical consequences, the guilt and the resulting shame and self pity that come from living life in a destructive way. We don’t know exactly what it was that was causing David’s distress and that’s really not so important right now. What is important is to realize that we, along with David and everyone else, will experience inevitable consequences as a result of the way we live our lives. The consequences of a destructive life, as much as we would like to deny it, manifest themselves in failing health and an overall loss of life, especially in our relationships.
David found that it was time to ask for help. He did this by admitting that he was powerless over his problems and that he was not qualified to manage his life. A little later in the same chapter from the Psalms, David continues to say in verses 21 & 22, “Don't dump me, GOD; my God, don't stand me up. Hurry and help me; I want some wide-open space in my life!”
The lesson for David, as it needs to be for all of us, is that we will bring calamity upon ourselves when we run our life independent of God and contrary to what we know is right. Also, David helps us to see that when our lives are shattered as a result of our own mistakes, it is never too late to ask God for help and mercy.
As Christians, we know that God created us. But, God did not create our addictions. Our addictions are a result of the way we have lived our lives. This is not to say that we are totally at fault for becoming addicted because none of us ever meant to become addicted to anything. Sometimes addictions can be a genetic misfortune that when coupled with the first taste of an overwhelming temptation take hold of a person with a life consuming power. While we are not totally at fault for having an addiction, we are wholly responsible for our addiction and for reaching out and making the most of the help that is available to us. Neither God nor anyone else is responsible for our addiction or for our recovery. None of us will ever recover if we expect some one else to do it for us. Complaining and pointing fingers will never help us recover from our addiction or in anything else. To recover, we have to be willing to surrender our life and no one can surrender our lives but us.
For most of us, surrendering our addiction and asking for help has been the most difficult thing we have ever done. No matter how hard it was, we had to. We really didn’t have any other good choices left. If we wouldn’t admit that we needed help we could not move from the disintegrating life of addiction into the integrating life of recovery.