By God’s grace, I am celebrating ten years of sobriety today. It’s good to mark these milestones. I hope you’ll indulge me a moment as I’d like to share something specifically for those in need of some milestones, some distance from their bondage.
If you are going to experience healing from addiction and other types of brokenness, you have to be willing to feel the pain. Just as the old fitness adage goes, No pain, no gain. It sounds trite and easy to say, but is so true.
We desperately want God to deliver us from our addiction to porn or our thirst for alcohol or our inability to be without a “romantic” relationship. We long to be free. We pray. We study. We might even fast. But we don’t experience that freedom. Why? I believe a lot of it has to do with our fleshly self-preservation instinct. We avoid the pain. We’re not willing to feel the pain. We simply want God to take the pain and addiction away and make us whole.
Do you know what? He can do that. He has that power. But I believe that He often doesn’t because we would learn nothing and the glory would most likely be misappropriated. In order to fully put our trust in God and surrender our addictions and hurts, we must set aside those things we are using to soothe ourselves. We must be willing to see our broken state unclouded by chemicals or other distractions. There’s some truth to the 12-step notion of “hitting rock bottom” before you can begin to heal. At that point, you are completely vulnerable and really seeing your life for what it is.
Now, I’d like to point out that the same holds true whether you have earned your addiction all on your own or if you’ve been wounded by others. It would be easy to excuse those who’ve been wounded, believing that they are entitled, at least to a certain extent, to some balm for their pain. Why should they have to re-live the pain to receive healing, right? But however we got where we are, God wants us to put our complete faith in Him. In order to do that, we must let go of our bottles, our remotes, our Blackberries—whatever is lulling us into a false sense of wholeness—and feel the pain. Then, with both hands open and outstretched to the One who knows our hurts like no other, we can receive the healing, the freedom, that we desperately need.