I’m sitting here, staring at my computer screen. where do i even start. addictions aren’t easy to address, because they are the things closest to us. The things that we love so much we devote our lives to them. The things that we’re painfully attracted to, and can’t seem to give up. They’re things that cause radical change in our lives, for good or for bad. They’re, well, addictive.
merriam-webster describes the word addict as: “to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.”
I’m gonna spring off the two words ‘habitually’ and ‘obsessively’ to try and share my view of addictions.
Obsessive Addiction- this one’s lighter, so we’ll address it first. ‘obsessively’ reminds me of children’s fads today. silly bands, pillow pets, hannah montana or justin beiber... things that are obsessed over. I know kids who live and breathe for their favorite music star. Their walls are covered in posters, they’ve memorized every word ever sung from the golden lips of their idol, maybe they even went to a concert and pushed and shoved their way to the front of a gaggle of screaming fans, just to “touch” so-and-so’s hand, or maybe even get a snap-shot together. An obsessive addiction is something that consumes your thoughts, dreams, and eventually your actions. It can be a spending addiction, a food addiction, a popularity addiction, a tv, gaming or *gasp* facebook addiction.
But what if you’ve chosen to obsess over children’s advocacy, or taking care of our planet. Am I going to criticize you for that? well, no. and yes. it depends.
As Christians, we should lead godly, well-balanced lives by giving proper attention to the different needs, likes and passions that God has given us to take care of. Working-out is good for the body, but how much is too much? The desire to be knowledgable in the things of the Bible is great, but when it consumes your life so that you neglect the people and responsibilities God has given you, I believe that can be an unhealthy addiction too.
I’m not going to offer a scale of balance for everything in life, i think it’s different for each person, and between them and the Lord. But I will encourage you to step back and review the things you devote your life to. Have you chosen things that bring the most glory to God? Are there “addictions” you should modify or completely release? I know I’ve got some.
Think about it.
Now we’ll take the next (and maybe a bit heavier) type of addiction-
Habitual Addiction- to me, ‘habit’ implies not necessarily having a great love for the object of addiction, but being “stuck” to it. Habitually taking another smoke, when you know it’s hurting your health. Habitually resorting to drugs or alcohol to handle fear or sorrow, knowing the sorrow will still be there when you shed the stupor. Habitually exposing yourself to media that tears down your own self, your relationship with God, relationships within the family, or the body of Christ. Habitually reacting harshly out of anger, when you want so badly to respond calmly.
These, and things like them are addictive habits that are formed by an inital exposure, and the lack of strength to say “no” when the temptation comes around again.
I have dealt with habitual addictions in a most heart-breaking way.
In the past, I’ve gotten into things I never should have done, or been exposed to. Once I did, I was caught in them. I couldn’t let them go no matter how much I willed myself to. The saddest part is that I took hold of them, and then couldn’t let them go because I believed, with all of my heart, some dreadful lies about who I am, who God is, and what the purpose of my life is. My focus was turned inward. I was trying to solve the problems using the tools I could offer, and they were not enough. So, I was doing things that hurt my life, my relationship with God and my relationships with others, because I was captive to habits that were destroying me. Thank God, He saved me from some of the worst and most destroying addictions, but still ~
EVERY DAY I struggle with habitual addictions. Things I know are wrong, but I still sometimes give into. Fighting or aruging with my siblings, or even parents, instead of being a peacemaker. Watching movies, listening to music, reading books or internet articles that promote ungodly or selfish behavior or thoughts. Looking to do things that best glorify me, or make me look good. In essence, putting myself above God. The addiction to be in control.
Saying this goes against all instinct to protect my reputation, to pretend i’ve got it all together. But I think it needs to be said, because I think someone needs to hear it. I think someone needs to see that they’re not alone. Trying to keep it together, but knowing they fail miserably, even when no one else knows. I am RIGHT. THERE. WITH. YOU.
And WE ARE NOT ALONE.
Ever since the moral fall of mankind, shortly after the creation of the world, every single human has struggled to keep their priorities where they belong: Living for God’s Glory.
Jesus laid it out pretty clear, the things that we’re supposed to do:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-39.
That’s what we’re supposed to be doing. That’s what our habitual addictions are keeping us from doing. That’s why we’ve GOT to get rid of these addictions.
Fact: Humans were made to be passionate. We were made with the ability to praise something. We were made with the need to serve something. It’s how we are, and we can’t change that.
Also Fact: We have an enemy. He will and DOES use EVERYTHING he can against us. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). If he sees a weakness, he’ll jump on it. he’ll rub it in our faces, he’ll rain it down all around us.
BUT another Fact: as believers, we have the Holy Spirit inside of us, revealing the truths and mysteries about God and His ways. We have the Scripture, to study, to learn from, to memorize, to apply.
Here’s something my friend Stephanie said, “Now I may not strike you as the type, but it is true, at times I struggle with addiction. Addiction to spending time with certain people (or people in general,) addiction to summer vacations, addiction to coffee. Not all addictions are bad, it's true. The one addiction for which I can feel no regret is the addiction to spend time with Jesus. I usually find that I crave the things I am accustomed to having. If I eat a lot of yogurt, I find myself craving yogurt. If I drink a lot of coffee, I crave coffee.And yes, eating chocolate makes me want more chocolate. When I spend my days conversing with my Savior, I crave to be in His presence. And when I fail to make the effort the symptoms of addiction begin to fade, and the desire to draw near diminishes. Feed the right addiction.Cling to what is good.Crave Jesus.”
I just love it! She’s saying that if we use what God has given us (Scripture, Prayer, the Holy Spirit), and feed the right things, the right addictions will be promoted. Simple as that!
If you’re not a believer in Jesus Christ, you don’t have the Holy Spirit living in you and guiding you. I’m sorry to say that, in your condition, there is NOthing that can help you completely escape from the bondage of any addiction. There are temporary “fixes” but all too often, you’ll fall right back into the addiction, or find a new one to replace it, because as I said before, we were made to be addicted. We were made to devote ourselves to something. And if the old/natural self (sin-nature) rules us and causes us to devote ourselves to harmful things, we cannot rise above it. We need something more. Something new. Through the power of Jesus Christ, we have recieved the gift of freedom from the bondage of sin. When we accept that, he gives us a helper, the Spirit of the Living God, INSIDE of us, helping us to make godly choices. (How cool is that?!?)
This world is suffering from a downward spiral in morals, productivity, health, everything. Last night, my friend Emka candidly called it, “the flushing toilet”. we’re going down. It’s entropy and it happens. (entropy- a process of degredation or running down or a trend to disorder. merriam-webster)
BUT when we put on the new self, we begin to “un-entropy”.
“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit [entropy], and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth [un-entropy].” Eph 4:22-24
“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry [entropy]. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator [un-entropy]. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” Col 3:5-11
I believe that un-entropy is only possible through an addiction. Some might call it a “passion” or a “way of life” instead of an “addiction” but what it is, is the COMPLETE devotion and surrendering of yourself to Jesus Christ. According to our dictionary definition, an addiction to God.
It’s admiting that you’re not enough and that He is. Believing that He loves you and He has the power to un-entropy your entropy-ing life. (yes, i'm creating words all over the place here...) It’s choosing to follow his examples and instructions with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength.
As we devote ourselves to becoming like Jesus, learning from His example throughout the scripture of how to love, trust, obey and serve, HE WILL BECOME OUR ADDICTION. OUR HABIT. OUR OBSESSION. OUR EVERYTHING.
And those habitual and obsessive addictions that once entangled and snared us will fall at the feet of our great desire and love for our God.
As a general rule they won’t disappear immediately, because God in His sovereignty decided we will remain among this churning and chaotic world after we believe in Him. But they CAN be overcome!
In Christ, it’s no longer futile to press towards freedom from the shackles of an addiction.
Every day, as I struggle with controlling my addictions, I must (and often) choose to believe that MY GOD is greater than any addiction. That He, and not the dirt of this world, deserves my devotion. That in Him I can triumph over any temptation my enemy presents to me (1 Cor 10:13).
And when I fail, I have to be strong enough to admit that I failed, and seek His forgiveness and help to do better next time.
Don’t give in. Don’t give up. These addictions we have, they ain’t got nothin’ on our God!
Desiring to be completely addicted to Him,
disclaimer: in no way is this exhaustive (i only spent 6 hours writing it) and it's only my opinion, to boot. yes, i made up some words too. but maybe it's something that you or someone you know needs to hear. so if it helps, praise God, if not, please don't hold anything against me :)