Alcoholics and addicts are not polar opposites of what society calls “normal” people. We all have inside us conflicting desires that compete to see who is going to win. The crucial difference between those who are chemically addicted and those who are considered ordinary lies in the extreme persistence of the battle raging within.
Often times the use of an analogy will help me to better understand something that I am not fully wrapping my mind and, perhaps more importantly, my heart around. In this case, I will use the common New Year’s Resolution that so many people make year after year. Each year, a vast number of people around the world make vows and promises to be more: more organized, more disciplined, more loving…much more. At the Feet of Jesus devotional author, Joanna Weaver, always sets out on a new self-improvement program. She says it goes like this, “This year I’ll: get in shape…keep my house clean…send out birthday cards and on time…be the loving, forgiving, obedient woman of God I want to be instead of the willful, stubborn, disobedient Christian I sometimes see staring back at me in the mirror.” Why does she do this? She states the truth that she is much more at peace when her house is clean, and genuinely happy when she lives close to God and obeys Him. She laughingly states, “There’s a skinny woman inside me just struggling to get out! Unfortunately, I can usually sedate her with four or five cupcakes.” Each year, she tries again without her life having fallen apart even once from the multiple preceding years of resolutions that have failed to launch.
Not so with the addict and/or alcoholic on so many levels! Not just once a year but every day is a constant mantra of “You should: be more…do more…have more.” More is an elusive place; a destination that is always just one more ‘thing’ or ‘deed’ out of reach. Furthermore, when the destination is not reached and/or we become exhausted from the endless effort of our own steam to attain it, our lives crumble into the escape of quiet we find in a drink or drug. This action takes us further and further and further away from the place we dream of being. Finally, it is so far away we know longer even remember that we were trying to get somewhere or what the big deal was about getting there anyway. We drown in our bottles and more…much, much more!
I know what it is like to live with this battle constantly going on inside my head. I know exactly what it is like to never have enough while living in the midst of having more than I know what to do with. The only reason I am not there now is that I lost everything including and most importantly my own self! It took me coming to the end of me to find The Supplier of all my needs. I count gratitude among one of the greatest assets I now have. It keeps me humbly right-sized and satisfied with the provision God has for me instead of constantly seeking to acquire more. I like the following quote by GK Chesterton, “There are 2 ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” I have found that only through Christ am I able to quench that desire.
Today, I am blessed to work with others struggling with this constant battle. I am now uniquely qualified to help them begin to tear down the lies that perpetuate a cycle of destruction in their lives. By guiding them toward truth with compassion and gentleness, perhaps I will spark hope in them that will catch fire and become a vision of life that will abundantly satisfy.
By: Tina Cook
Director, Athens-Limestone County Family Resource Center