Why can’t I stop drinking? Is alcohol really my problem?
Drinking. That was my problem. Every time I took a drink (and really, this time I was going to have just one), disaster occurred.
For starters, one drink turned into multiples. I “drunk dialed” people I knew. I “drunk dialed” people I didn’t know (think prominent Christian speaker Beth Moore, for one). I wrecked seven cars, ended up in treatment five times and jail twice. Everyone agreed. Drinking was my problem.
In spite of my countless efforts to “just stop it,” as plenty of friends and family recommended, I couldn’t “stay stopped.” And over time, I came to see the truth: drinking wasn’t really the problem. Oh, it looked like the problem. Outer manifestations of inner issues usually look like the problem. In fact, others around us are often so concerned with our actions that they say things like, “Shape up. Stop lying. Start smiling.” In other words, try harder.
Occasionally that worked for periods of time, but after repeated relapses, it became painfully clear that behavior modification merely deals with the visible symptom. At times a healthy chemical detox is necessary for those with chemical dependencies, but that is not where recovery stops. We’ve all got a spiritual hole, a soul sickness that compels us to seek temporary relief until we come face to face with the root cause. Until we know what that really is, we cannot fully repent and turn to go the other way. As long as I thought drinking was the problem, I could white knuckle it and turn from that. But the next layer – whether fear, insecurity or approval of man – would draw me right back to the familiar coping mechanism. I learned through pain (and equal amounts of humiliation) that treating the symptom only brings temporary relief.
What do you perceive as your greatest struggle right now? Are you willing to consider that what you think is your nemesis is but a symptom—that your real struggle may be a worship problem? Christ has the power to transform – not just remove the symptoms but to change you from the inside out.
While I haven’t had a drink in many years, those core issues are ones that I bring to the Savior daily. If I don’t come before Him with my fear, pride, and dishonesty, those old “band-aids” of coping could entice me once again.
Recovery is so very daily. And yet, as I surrender my regrets of the past and fears of the future, my heart changes. Exhaustion and failure are replaced by peace. And actions change too.
We get it backwards, attempting to change actions and hoping our heart will catch up. God changes us from the inside out.
When hearts change, actions follow.
Key Scripture: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)