My first class at Dallas Theological Seminary is on addictions and compulsive behavior. How interesting, right? Going to grad school is so much fun because you get to jump right in to the juicy stuff. No English 101 and 102 before you can get to the real literature classes. Nope. I get to start school off with the fun stuff.
But addiction isn’t fun, is it? Why does it feel like such an enthralling subject? Is it the intrigue of how a substance can grab hold of a person and steal their life? The tragic stories of how someone is willing to lose everything for a lifestyle of substance abuse? Is it the challenge of a journey to recovery?
It’s no secret on my blog that I’m a recovering love addict. I believe my interest in this topic comes from a strong desire to learn how to reach those who are suffering from addictions. My substance abuse of choice was relationships. I was in love addiction for at least 15 years before God brought me into a state of contemplation and real change. As I have been in recovery, I have experienced more freedom, joy, and clarity in my everyday life than I ever thought possible. In my misery, I didn’t even know what I was missing!
I think that’s how many addictions get started. It’s someone in misery looking for a spark in life. They’re looking for relief, escape, pleasure, purpose, etc. It’s a search for a fix or fulfillment of a need. In our misery, we don’t see that there is a God who is available to provide for every need and bring adventure and joy into our seemingly bleak lives. As we sink further into addiction and begin to experience consequences due to substance abuse, it can also begin to feel impossible that God would give grace to someone so lost. The downward spiral of addiction can be the very thing that holds us in the addiction. We can believe we’re too far gone to experience transformation.
The great thing about all this is that addiction is not too great for God. No matter where we are in our addiction, God can do something miraculous to change us. When I say miraculous, I don’t necessarily mean instant healing. I’m sure that happens sometimes… but for the majority of us, miraculous could mean the mere realization that something needs to change. It can be the enlightening knowledge that we have placed ourselves in a prison with no lock. We can step out at any time. It can be that first feeling of joy or engagement in the present that we thought we’d never have. That feeling of coming alive.
Recovery takes a lot of patience, compassion, and grace. There is no perfect route to breaking free from an addiction. It’s a messy road, but one worth taking. I have learned so many wonderful things about God, myself, and life through recovery. I wouldn’t change anything that has happened to me so far because it is what God has used to form me into who I am. My prayer is that as I learn to counsel others through their misery, that they will be able to experience the wonder of God and the beauty of recovery.
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to my summer tuition. Classes begin next week, but I am already learning so much as I prepare for class. If anyone is struggling with addiction, be encouraged. There is nothing wrong with small steps towards recovery. Start where you are and see where God leads!