I believe if people are truly to recover from their addiction, they must grow up – emotionally and spiritually. True recovery is the product of humility that emerges from living and practicing a life fashioned after the teachings of the Bible. In order to attain humility, we must be honest with ourselves. This is admonished in Hebrews 13:18 where the Bible says, “…in all things willing to live honestly.” This necessarily includes looking at the stupid things we do, today, in our recovery. I use the term stupid to indicate the things we do that are self-destructive and not in our best interest.
I would like to concentrate on the most commonly confronted and critical issues during the early stages of recovery. I would like to define early recovery as the first two years of recovery. The main issues that we confront during this time include breaking the bonds of addiction through the power of God, establishing a spiritual foundation for our recovery, learning from the Bible effective tools to deal with ourselves and our relationships, and dealing with the wreckage of our past.
As we journey through these topics please keep an open mind. It has been my experience that those who do best in recovery are those who are honest with themselves, open to new ideas and experiences, and willing to take direction.
I believe there are four possibilities to consider when assessing the causes of self-destructive behavior. They are:
#1 Our addiction
#2 Our ignorance
#3 Our unreasonable expectations
#4 Our self-hate
Let’s look at each one individually. When we identify what motivates or causes our stupid behavior, and submit it unto the Lord, we begin the process of change.
#1 Our Addiction:
If we are receiving our direction in life from our addiction we will ultimately end up in total destruction. Out in the world system it is estimated that over 80% of newcomers will relapse in their first year. The reason is that their addiction is still in control of their life instead of the Lord of glory!
It is imperative to begin recovery with surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. We first must receive Him as our Savior and then day by day, moment by moment we must make the conscious decision for Him to be the King of our life.
The solution to addiction begins with a paradox: victory is achieved through surrender, not in battle. When we totally and unconditionally surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ, He begins to build in our life a solid foundation for recovery. If we surrender, our addiction loses its control over our life as Jesus steps into the throne room of our life.
#2 Our Ignorance:
Self-destructive behavior may be the result of our ignorance. Hosea 4:6 states, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” Many of us need to look no further than our own ignorance to understand why we behave the way we do. We can only do what we have been taught to do. We don’t know what we don’t know. We can’t act on what we don’t know.
Let’s face a difficult and painful truth: most of us don’t know how to live an authentic, effective, healthy, and fulfilling Christian life. This fact is obvious, but we resist seeing it and facing it. We don’t want to see our limitations. We don’t want to face our shortcomings because that means we’ll have to do something about them. We’ll have to ask for help. Being ignorant doesn’t fit with our self-image, so we disown it. We become more concerned with “saving face rather than saving our lives.”
#3 Our Unreasonable Expectations:
The third consideration is our unreasonable expectations. When we rely on another person for validation, we become highly reactive to however he or she acts or to whatever he or she thinks. Unreasonable expectations make people too important. It allows another person to define our reality. It leads to total frustration. This is why God tells us that our “expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5
When our expectations go unchallenged or when we expect others to live up to our expectations, we set ourselves up for trouble and we set others up for failure. Unreasonable expectations are typically rationalized, which disguises their true and unreasonable nature. Once we have deceived ourselves into believing our behavior is justified, we have a license to act in destructive and tyrannical ways. Tyrannical behavior destroys love and alienates those close to us.
#4 Our Self-Hate:
This is one of the most frequently undiagnosed causes of self-destructive behavior. Self-hate begins when we don’t live up to being the person God has made us to be. When we don’t live up to the “should”, we end up despising ourselves. We hate ourselves for being less than what we “should” be.
I am convinced that self-hate is one of the primary causes of relapse. A person simply does not feel worthy of recovery, worthy of getting better, worthy of receiving help, worthy of joy, happiness, success, freedom, and love.
I believe each and every one of us in recovery struggles with each of these issues to some degree. We know have four different levels of analysis to assess and understand self-destructive behavior. Over the next several weeks I will discuss some stupid things people do that sabotages their recovery.
I pray that all of us will find ourselves walking in the Lord Jesus Christ today!!!