Yesterday, I introduced you to the cycle of addiction and its five steps, which are shame, emotional triggers, cravings, ritual, and temporary relief. We also talked about the definition of shame and how it is at the root of all of our seemingly unbreakable, out-of-control behaviors. Today, I want to begin breaking down the steps of the addiction cycle by introducing you to Joe, who is a fictional alcoholic. We will journey with Joe for the next few days as we explore the patterns and rhythms of an addict and how the love of Jesus is the solution to all of them.
We’ve established that shame is at the beginning and end of the cycle of addiction. In the day-to-day life of our average addict, Joe, this is how it might play out. In many ways, Joe is a good man, but he drinks too much. One day, after having a few too many, his kids do something annoying and he turns around and screams at them, saying some cruel and horrible things. Then he goes to his room, slams the door, and after a couple of hours, he sobers up. At that point he realizes that what he did was not only unfair, but abusive, and sadly, it’s not the first time it’s happened. Enter shame. When Joe starts feeling bad about his actions towards his kids, he tells himself, “I’m a horrible dad,” and with that admission and further self-deprecation comes a newfound resolve. “I’m done drinking,” he says, and it starts going better…at least for a couple of weeks.
Friend, ascribing negative and self-defeating labels to yourself in the midst of an addiction or destructive behavior only makes things worse. While it was right for Joe to feel remorse over what he did to his children, he could have upset the cycle by confessing the righteousness of God over his life and asking for more of Jesus’ power. As strange as it sounds, by letting the love and light of the Lord into his mind and heart, the grip of shame could have been loosed. You see, the best time to affirm your position and power in Christ is after you have majorly messed up. Unlike the broken record playing in your mind, He will never condemn or shame you, but will speak peace, love, and power through His Holy Spirit. Welcome Jesus into your darkest moments and you will soon see light. Isn’t that an amazing truth?