Yesterday, we finished discussing the five steps of the addiction cycle, which we learned about using the example of a fictional alcoholic named Joe. We talked about his drunken outburst, the shame he felt afterwards, his futile attempt to clean up his own act, which then prompted an emotional trigger that caused a major craving that compelled him to take part in a familiar ritual which offered temporary relief but ultimately led him right back to shame. We also touched on the truth that Joe’s only hope for healing in any of these stages was to receive the unconditional love of Jesus and know that he was loved the same as an alcoholic as he would be sober. Today, I want to wrap up our talk about Joe by offering an alternative scenario that may have led to a better outcome.
Had Joe not tried to white knuckle his way through his problem and get better by his own efforts, the cycle of addiction might have broken. Should he have internalized the powerful truth that he was loved the same whether sober or drunk, he might have been more vulnerable with his wife. You see, what she probably needed for him to say was, “I’m an alcoholic. I don’t have any control. I hate this thing about myself and I need support, because I can’t do it on my own.” Had he been that raw, he may have realized right then that he had help in her. Beyond that, his honesty would have given her a sense of security and enabled her to open her heart up to him. Although he believed he needed to be strong and invincible, he really needed to know that he was loved as an imperfect man. This is why groups like AA, although they don’t get everything right, always make a point of affirming the value of a person and never defining them according to their addiction. Had Joe attended a meeting and said, “Hi, I’m Joe and I’m an alcoholic,” the group’s response would have simply been, “Hi, Joe.”
Friend, you are not your struggle or addiction! Unfortunately, you may have gone to a church or been part of a religious group that unknowingly communicated that they wanted to fix you and then you would belong. If this happened to you, I am truly sorry. The truth is that you belong today, just as you are, even if you’re not ready to get better. God welcomes you at your best or at your worst. Whether drunk, addicted, high, broken, divorced, depressed, or anxious, the arms of Jesus are outstretched. He looks at you and sees beyond your hurt to your heart — the one He created, treasures, and loves dearly. Isn’t that an amazing thought?