recovery in Christ when life is broken

How do I know if I’m addicted to porn, alcohol, drugs, pills, sex, relationships, work, gambling, my phone, food, love, shopping, etc.?

 I googled this question on December 22nd, 2005 – and God used it to save my life. Literally.

What could be life-saving about this question? Because, if you don’t know and admit you’re addicted, you won’t get help. Things may even get worse before they get any better. That was my story.

People used to tell me, “I think you might have a drinking problem.” I would quickly snap back, “Are you kidding me? We were drinking together!” They would reason, “Yeah, but it’s different with you.” They were right, but I wasn’t ready to admit it. It was different with me…I drank scotch out of a coffee mug some mornings to hide my drinking. I would sneak drinks before dinners to appear like I was on pace with everyone else, when I was already multiple drinks into the night. I would drink until it was gone or I was gone. I would drink alone, and often preferred to do so, because no one would monitor the volume. Until I was ready to acknowledge my addiction, I wasn’t about to address it or seek to change. Thankfully, after a family intervention in 2005, I googled “How do you know if you’re an alcoholic?” and ended up “acing” the test that popped up from Alcoholics Anonymous.

In that moment, I didn’t feel sad, let down, disappointed, or ashamed…I felt relieved. It was as if I had this nagging, aching pain all of my life and finally a doctor told me I had cancer. There was shock and sadness that things would never be the same, but at least I knew the truth. “This finally makes sense,” I thought. Now, I could start addressing the illness and seek healing.

In reality, most of us don’t seek healing until we admit there is a problem. My hope today is that you’ll better understand your problem so that if you’re hurting…if you’re addicted…you can begin to seek help for healing.

Answer the following twelve questions and then we’ll talk next steps:

  1. Do your family and friends think you have a problem with _______? Yes or No
  2. Do you hide and lie about _____ to protect it and enjoy it although you know others wouldn’t approve? Yes or No
  3. Have you ever missed work or events because of _______? Yes or No
  4. Have you ever tried to stop _______ and find that you can’t go more than a week or two? Yes or No
  5. Has _______ caused relational, financial, marital, occupational, spiritual trouble in your life? Yes or No
  6. Do you find yourself daydreaming and planning your next use of _____? Yes or No
  7. Does _______ make you feel ashamed and yet you continue to do it? Yes or No
  8. Are you afraid that if someone knew the extent of your use of ______ it would be taken away? Yes or No
  9. Is ______ a main priority in your life (when you consider the amount of time/money/thought/energy spent on it)? Yes or No
  10. Is it hard to imagine your life without ________ in it? Yes or No
  11. Are other things in your life (relationships, work productivity, health) are starting to drop-off because _______ is getting more of your time/energy? Yes or No
  12. Do you engage in _______ alone so that no one will trouble you about it and you’d rather do it alone anyway? Yes or No

Now count up how many “YES” responses you gave.

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, our experience tells us that you may be struggling with addiction or close to becoming addicted. And, we often find that if people answer yes to one, they answer yes to many. Addiction creeps into every area of life.

BUT…THERE IS HOPE.

I didn’t know it back then, but alcohol wasn’t my problem…alcohol was my solution. It was my coping mechanism for the pains of life. I used it when I was lonely, tired, bored, angry, stressed…any reason really. It was my default; my go-to.

When I admitted I couldn’t get free on my own, that I was addicted to a poisonous solution, I cried out to God. I asked God to free me and give me a new life. I started walking daily with others who were trying to get free of their addictions. God became the person, the solution, that I went to when I was struggling with life. God responded to my request by flooding my life with peace, joy, purpose and freedom.

You don’t have to go through life addicted. Jesus came to set you free and give you a new life. Not a better or improved life; a new life. And who wouldn’t want that?!

Watch this video on Step 1 “Admit” to learn more about freedom!

-John E.

Do I Really Want To Get Well?

"Are you willing?" That seemed like an unnecessary question to ask; yet five weeks into recovery that was the homework topic. Initially, I just wanted to breeze through that day’s homework, but as I read the lesson I was reminded of a story about a lame man needing to be healed.  

The story of the lame man can be found in John 5:1-9. It says the man had been lame or paralyzed for thirty-eight years, which was most likely his entire life. He had been waiting by the pool of Bethesda along with a multitude of other invalids, all who were waiting to be healed. There was a superstition in that culture that getting in the pool would heal them. Can you imagine spending your whole life paralyzed, just waiting to be healed?  

Jesus sees the lame man and knew he had been waiting a long time, yet Jesus asks “Do you want to get well?” That seems like such an obvious question. He has been waiting most of his life to make it into the water to be healed! The question almost feels patronizing but I think there was a point to asking such an obvious question. Rather than answering with a simple “yes" the man responds with an excuse. He says he has no one to help him into the water and every time he tries to get in someone goes before him. It’s hard to imagine Jesus, the Son of God, asking if you want to be healed and responding with an excuse or complaint. Yet isn’t that what we do? 

I believe everyone wants to be healthy, happy, and whole, but for various reasons we allow ourselves to continue in unhealthy, destructive patterns rather than choosing to get well. For me, I like to be self-sufficient and I certainly don’t like being dependent. I instinctively look to my own ability to find a solution to my problems when I really need to surrender and look to Jesus. By holding on to self-sufficiency I don’t find healing. Instead, I become like the lame man who was looking for his own solution and find myself still sitting alone, paralyzed. 

  • Is there something in your life that is hindering your healing?
  • Are you holding on to self-sufficiency, unable to surrender?
  • Are you not yet ready to let go of your sin?
  • Are you afraid of change or working through a recovery program?
  • Do you believe that you are unique and that you are unable to get well?
  • Are you looking in other places for healing rather than turning to Jesus?

After the lame man complained to Jesus that he had no one to help and that he can’t make it to the water, Jesus commands him to get up and walk. At once the man was healed. He didn’t heal himself; he only had to trust Jesus and attempt to get up. Jesus is the one who enabled him to get up and walk. Are you willing to trust Jesus for change? Are you willing to attempt the next step and follow God’s path of healing? It may not be easy or immediate. Living in freedom requires much of you but God is faithful to carry you through healing if you are willing. 

Do you really want to get well? 

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. Psalm 103:2-5

 -Johnna S.

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.