I’ve always thought there was so much to learn from those who are actively fighting against or have conquered their addictions. If you actually know me, you’re not surprised at all by this.
I suppose this has to do with the fact that, growing up, one of my favorite relatives fought an addiction. And while yes, you can learn from addictions themselves, my fascination at such a young age sparked from what there was to learn from the character of someone who walks or has walked that path.
Substance addictions are dark. I know this not from my own experience, but from experiencing it second hand. Addictions can destroy a family, relationships, friendships, and in the very worst scenarios, someone’s faith and hope–if you let it. I guess that is the reason why those who actually fight something that robust and powerful, those who conquer what causes a storm inside of them, those who prevail, those who own their problems, those who call it like it is, and those who help themselves– those strong people are who I am addicted to learning from.
Recently, I finished a summer course titled Drug Abuse. The final project of the class was to sit in on an Alcohols Anonymous meeting and write a two page reflection paper. At the end of my experience, I effortlessly could have written about ten pages.
I will say, I don’t think there was anything magical about the specific group of alcoholics joined together at that meeting; I would assume most groups are similar in the sense that they are like a family. And to no surprise, I learned so much about my own life from that little AA family–I wish I could spend time with them every week.
I’m not an alcoholic, but I am an addict. And you are, too. If each of us took an honest, vitreous look at ourselves, we’d be able to identify addictions in our life that aren’t so great for our well being. There are things that we do–every single day–that hurt us in the long run. Maybe your addiction isn’t a substance abuse like drugs or alcohol, but you still could probably find at least one. It may be a toxic relationship or toxic friendship, a constant sense of negativity or tendency to gossip, a binge eating disorder or an obsession with your body image– whatever it may be, odds are you do have an addiction.
“You know, we walk around wondering what God’s plan for us is in this life, and I have realized that I have no clue what God’s plan is for me…but that is okay, because I’ve got a whole pile of things in my life that I know are NOT God’s plan for me, and working on those things will keep me busy in the mean time.” -Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Is that not so true? I mean, God sees all sin as equal. My sin in worrying about passing a class and it affecting my future is the same as someone else’s sin in addiction to alcohol and getting drunk. Chapter one in First John talks about how if we claim to have no sin, we are only deceiving ourselves and calling God a liar. Well, the God I serve is no liar; so if we’ve all got sin, why don’t more people enduring similar battles join together? Why don’t we lean on our friends more often than we do? Why don’t we call out our sin and addiction by name and own it for what it is?
I’m not saying if we don’t reach perfection then we are all failures. Instead, we should at least adapt a daily strive that tries to work on what is not seen as positive in God’s eyes for our lives. We should strive to enter through the Narrow Gate.
“It isn’t about perfection. This group doesn’t look for perfection, but it looks for progress. We do not serve a God who seeks perfection, but a God who seeks progress.”
-Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
You don’t have to seek perfection because perfect isn’t what we’re aiming for. Rather, we should at the very least seek the process of progress (even when the process is never perfect).
There was something about this little AA family’s process of progress that was incredible: the way each person stood at the podium, with a happy smile on their face, boasting, “Hi, my name is ___ and I’m an alcoholic!!” It blew me away. And don’t let me paint a false picture here; their boasting wasn’t pride of struggling with an alcohol addiction, but rather they were proud of themselves for owning their problems, claiming them as their own, and readily awaiting being able to add into the encouragement and support that their group had to offer.
And let me tell you: they even had cake. At the end of the AA meeting was a “Happy Birthday” to celebrate one of their member’s first year of sobriety. The entire group sang the happy birthday song! How extraordinary is that? An entire year of someone’s life regained because they fought back at what was tearing their life apart.
What if society saw all addictions as big of a deal as it saw alcoholism? You know, the way God sees things. And what if we treated our issues the way recovering alcoholics treated theirs?
We know we’ve got problems (and if you think you don’t, refer back to 1 John 1:1-10) so why stop there? Why stop at acknowledgement? We see that other people have success stories, so why not strive to be better ourselves and have our own story? What if we joined together in helping one another with our sins and addictions more often than we already do–and had cake? Think about how much easier it would be to control all of the emotions that come with fighting what tears us apart!
“When emotion and intellect are at battle, emotion will always win. You can be as knowledgeable as you want, but if you can’t control your emotions, they are always, always, always, going to win.” -Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
We all have room to grow and better ourselves, so why not do it? Why not own our issues and strive to be more like Christ? Why not be like the alcoholics? Why not be proud of ourselves for repenting and turning our life around towards Jesus? Why not boast that we are big enough of a person to own our problems and help others who are facing similar ones?
“Hi, my name is ____, and I worry myself to death about my life, as if God isn’t already in control.”
“Hi, my name is ____, and I can’t seem to walk away from a relationship that tears me apart, as if God hasn’t planned someone perfect for me to have a fruitful relationship with.”
“Hi, my name is ____, and I gossip every single time I’m with my friends, as if God doesn’t cringe when I judge his beautiful creations.”
“Hi, my name is ____, and I hate the body I see in the mirror every day, as if God doesn’t say I am fearlessly and wonderfully made.”
I myself shouldn’t stop at this acknowledgement, and I myself would love to control my emotions, my addictions and my sins so that they don’t get the best of me. And I know that I am not all by myself. So why not join together–and why not celebrate with cake?!
I’m telling you, this experience became An Addicting Lesson in my life. And ironically, through my experience I have learned something I never had before. I found that while the fascination I gained at such a young age did come from someone who stood up and got help against a drug addiction, it wasn’t the fight against drugs that defined their character. In turn, I’ve learned it was the fight of taking back their life from the addiction itself that defined their character. And that character could come from someone like me, someone who has never even tried drugs, someone who has an entirely different kind of addiction. You see, society has identified addiction as strictly drugs or alcohol, but God sees all addictions as equal. So I too, can build such a character. We all can. And we all should! And the lessons we learn will be addicting!