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Friday, October 21, 2016

Replacing Addictions With True Acceptance

 As we've discussed before, self-acceptance is often an issue with people living behind the door. One aspect that we haven't touched on much is that one way such insecurities manifest themselves is through addictions. When people have a hard time valuing themselves and the life they've been blessed with, addictive behavior tends to be a common cover-up for the feelings of badness they are carrying. For some, it may be substance abuse such as drugs, alcohol, or smoking; for others, it may be physical abuse such as anorexia or even tendencies toward the suicidal; still others may find themselves struggling with pornography, overeating, gambling, or some other self-destruction. Whatever the means is through which these emotions become evident, it comes down to the simple truth than any or all of these are ways of filling the empty void  that is in all of us: a deep longing for a whole and meaningful life. If each one of us stopped long enough to ask ourselves what it is that we feel we are missing in life, what compels us to seek so hard after these things, we may be surprised at what an honest answer would reveal. Addictions are an escape, a way of hiding from our true selves. Addictions are a way of avoiding the real issues inside of us and of trying to trick ourselves into being something we were not meant to be. 
 Every addict you talk to knows they have a problem; they realize that what they struggle with is a bad habit. But many can't find the strength and the will-power to walk away from it because they have never gotten to the real heart-issue that is causing them such inner turmoil. They may have fits and starts at gaining ground back in their life, yet there are no lasting effects because the truth behind the addiction has never been revealed. Often, there is a bigger story than simply rebellion or a lack of self-control. Maybe the addict never forgave a parent who abandoned them when they were little, or maybe they've never recovered from a deeply traumatizing experience a few years back. Perhaps they are having an issue with approval and they feel that, by doing whatever those around them are doing, they will gain the acceptance they want. Sometimes, some people just can't live with themselves. For whatever reason, they feel uncomfortable with who they are and would rather run from dealing with themselves than face whatever pain might be involved. 
 Regardless of the reasons behind such behavior, the bottom line is that addictions try to fill the emptiness, to satisfy the longing, that only God can fill. Until we come to the realization that God created us to seek after Him, that our souls are uneasy unless we come to rest in Him, we will be on an aimless course that runs nowhere, trying to meet our own needs and continually falling short. 
 I'm still striving to understand and implement this thinking, since I struggled with some minor addictions during my years behind the door. I'm still in a phase of recovery, seeking to let go of my past and allow God to meet me where I am. For a long time, I tried to stop my destructive behavior. I was embarrassed about what others thought of me. I knew they could see my appearance. I didn't like what was there because one of my habits had to do with my physical looks. Time and again, I sought to quit my addictions but never with any long-term success. And yet, it eventually dawned on me that I shouldn't quit because others said I should; I should let go because I wanted to. My reason had to be me - I needed to value my life; I needed to desire God to help me accept who I was; I needed to want to live to my full potential, and these things were holding me back. I had to want to quit for me - not anyone else. This had to be my choice. And so, I set a goal to be free from the additions in one year. For the most part, I met my goal. Every once in a great while, I want to gravitate back toward these negative patterns of my past, but overall, I have made great strides in the right direction.
 Although there are many beneficial programs out there that can aid this life-style change for somebody with an addiction, God is the only ultimate answer. I have heard of so many people who battled serious addiction problems that became addiction-free very quickly upon surrendering to the Savior. Christ did not come to save us simply from sin - He came to save us from ourselves, oftentimes our worst enemy. 
 Killing the monster of addiction has to come with true acceptance - both from God and from ourselves. Until we understand love and our created value and purpose, we will continue to replace our emptiness with things that destroy.