H.O.W. to Find Freedom From All Addictions
Addiction is an average word, but a big problem. The definition of addiction is “a compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences, also thought of as a (dis – ease), a particular abnormal, pathological condition that affects part or all of an organism (people, places, things, idea, situations, and society).”
When you hear the word addiction, the first two things that may come to mind are drugs and/or alcohol. However, the word “addiction” means more than the use of a drug or a drink. It reaches everyone that has a compulsive habit that has caused him or her to lose sight of the welfare of others, including themselves. Let’s use work for example,. What can be wrong with work? Didn’t God say “a workman (laborer) is worthy of their hire” (Luke 10:7)? Of course, work is fine when practiced in moderation.
Conversely, those who work 80 plus hours a week with no time for rest, family or God and/or make excuses, are usually in the greatest denial (Don’t Even know I am Lying) about their addiction. Too much work can separate you from family as quick as a drug or drinking. Too much work can result in poor health, just as sure as drinking or drugging. A work addiction can mean that you miss or are late for many of life’s most important events. Missing family, friends, and life as a whole, brings us to the pain associated with an addiction, which travels in a cycle that seems to never end.
An addiction starts off good, fun, exciting, much like things did for Eve in the garden with the snake. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat, good to the taste, good to look upon.” (Gen3:6 ) The very thing that was to be a blessing and a comfort becomes a distraction. At first, addictions causes small losses, as in Eve’s case in the garden, but then lead to extensive losses, then death. Losses, in turn, lead us to guilt and shame.
When God called for Adam and Eve they hid themselves. The two ugly twins (guilt and shame) lead to pain, and we, like Adam and Eve, find the only relief is to pick up the very thing that brought us to agony, the thing we lust after day in and day out. Think about it. What is your distraction? What causes you to lose? Do you want out? What’s the remedy for an addiction?
First and foremost, you have to acknowledge that you have a problem. Whether the addiction is overeating, not eating, gambling, perfectionism, legalism, rage (fire within, which can bring about depression or destructive outward behavior), materialism (overspending, hoarding) , people pleasing (you cannot say “NO”), codependency (two or more sick people getting sicker) and/or anything you continue to do that has adverse consequences. You have to accept the truth about yourself and your condition. Acknowledge that you have an addiction. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 john 1:9). “ How can one deal with this dis-ease, the answer is with Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness (H.O.W.).
Honesty requires you to get real with yourself and see the harm, which this behavior contributes to your life and those around you. For instance, are your credit cards maxed out and you find yourself unable to pay your rent or mortgage? The healing process calls for rigorous honesty, the kind that Jesus asked the rich young ruler to have when Jesus asked him to give up his materialism. “And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? …Jesus said … Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother.
And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich” (18:18-34 KJV). He wanted to keep his addiction. As you can see, being honest is not enough; we also have to be Open-minded and Willing to make the change.
An Open-mind is the next step in changing whatever your addiction is. Without open -mindedness that accepts the truth, recovery is a far off. When we are not open- minded for the truth to come and make us free (John 8:32), we rationalize ourselves right back into to the bondage, the addiction. Let this mind be in you that is in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5) and say “yes” to God. This requires Willingness.
Willingness is the final step in finding freedom from the power of our addiction. One must be willing to accept the truth about one’s addiction. If not, we will be sorrowful as it was with the young ruler. We must be willing to do as Jesus did – when he went to the cross. He surrendered all. In the Garden of Gethsemane, though He did not want to go to the cross, was without the support and prayers of his friends – the sleeping disciples, and that he had to die to self, yet he willingly surrendered to God’s will, not his own. This is a daily task for us who have addictions. We have to die daily.
Now some of you are still not convinced you have an addiction, well the ultimate addiction is sin. For sin, taking occasion…deceived me, and by it slew me ….For the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do. O wretched man or woman that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? The answer is Jesus Christ. Roman 7.
Darcel Harris, PhD – ARMin Director at Westminster SDA Church in Maryland