Trying to combat what a person is addicted to is one thing, perhaps more importantly tackling the reason, or reasons, why a person is addicted is another. Lack of self-worth, a fear of being seen as boring so they do what they think is exciting, or what other people may see as exciting and interesting; drinking too much, taking drugs or whatever else it is a person can be addicted to. Addiction might seem to be the antidote to a person’s empty life, but any addiction at worst can be empty and unfulfilling in itself.
If we are honest, an addiction, and even an obsession, with something is not normal behaviour. Being addicted to something will not make any other problem go away, it will just exacerbate that problem; you will still have the same problem, and now you might have an addiction as well. God has the answer for the addicted person. Someone might ask God: “Change me, and I’ll stop!”, and God might reply: “Stop, and I’ll change you!” Like with depression and any other serious illness, addiction can be healed by God, but I believe we must want to stop before we do stop. It’s that simple; and that hard. I don’t believe God wants anyone addicted to anything, but if we are we can certainly seek help from Him.
I had my own form of addiction; but I prayed for help, and I leant on God, and I was corrected by Him, until I learnt to change. It wasn’t an easy process, but I think I had to go through it to understand just how God does work with people who are afflicted by addiction.
Why are some days better than others? Why are some times in our lives happy, and others seemingly filled with worry and anxiety?
Saul, the Religious Zealot
We can even be addicted to religion, when I think as Christians we should be temperate and moderate in most everything we do, except in revering and loving God, having a genuine zeal for His purpose and of course caring about other people; that is vital in a fallen world. God has the knack of shaping us for better purposes, and can turn our lives around.
Saul was a religious zealot; he was so zealous in his wrongdoing, that we might say he seemed almost addicted to it. But he was ignorant of his wrong standing with God. Before I really turned the mess that was my life over to God, I can claim ignorance too; and I was a mess, a mess of contradictions. I think almost every Christian who gives themselves wholeheartedly over to God has lived in ignorance of God, whether that was just because they didn’t believe there was a loving God there, or because they were caught up so tightly in something that God to them was an irrelevance. Saul, the zealot and murderer, the religious ‘addict’, became Paul, the wise and chastened Christian, who moved into a new phase with God, and never looked back. As Saul, he was addicted to religion, as Paul, he became a Christian whose best expression was talking about Jesus, writing about Jesus and wholeheartedly serving Him for the rest of his life. Even the most chronic addict can learn to leave the addiction behind, and simply walk with God.
Boring? Yes, but Happy
Once upon a time, a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, I was a different person. I enjoyed drinking to excess, especially with my mates on a Friday and Saturday night, and not worrying about anything. I led the life that so many young people do, in fact. But, having a calling from God on my life quite simply meant that I was misbehaving, and not being obedient to Him. This disobedience led me to living a dissolute life, and not really being a Christian at all. That type of life, that lifestyle, does not last for ever; what we can readily take and put up with in our early 20’s, we can’t really take as we reach our 30’s. That’s how it was for me anyway. And then, for some reason, I also started to develop what I would later know to be depression. Living a fast life with no cares or worries, may seem exciting at first, but in the end I think it always catches up with you; it did for me.
After my riotous living, and as I ‘discovered’ God again in my early 30’s, I learnt to cut down my drinking, and tried, not always successfully, to see God’s point of view. In some ways, I have had a very bad relationship with God, frankly because I was such a fool and never seemed to learn anything! Looking back, I cringe at my mistakes but at least I try not to make the same mistakes again; that’s a start. As for addiction, well that’s a thing of the past. I have to work at my relationship with God, and like most everyone else I have other things I need to do, so I don’t have time for riotous living of any kind anymore. Boring? Perhaps, but definitely happy!
Feelings, Just Feelings
Anyone who has suffered with depression, anyone who has struggled with feelings of worthlessness, or felt that they weren’t particularly cared for and loved, will tell you that those feelings can be so powerful and overwhelming that they can, and will, affect your life to a very great degree. How we feel about ourselves can affect our whole outlook. With depression, this can be to an extreme level.
I now believe that most, if not all, people struggle with issues such as these but that with God’s grace, guidance and help, we can overcome the worst of troubles. When God enters our lives, however He does it, He will want to change us; from a sinner to a repentant Christian; from a sick person to a healed person; from someone without purpose to someone who has a divine purpose; from a loser into a winner, and from someone without help to having the best help in the universe. He will make a difference! He has taught me to live beyond my feelings; that just because I am down doesn’t mean it has to affect my life and not even my whole day. We all feel down at times, but instead of reaching for the bottle or wallowing in self-pity, we should reach out for God and His grace and help. It is tackling those emotional issues and coming to terms with them and asking God into that suffering, that might very well see an end to addiction and the reasons for addiction. We must learn to ask God for help in every area of our lives. In the end, some people might be addicted to something to shield them from the sometimes harsh reality of the world; I have found in my experience that God is all we need to face the world.