How I Lost Control | Dawn M Owens | Like Me or Not :Overcoming Approval Addiction

How I Lost Control – Caution: Sensitive Material Inside

This is the story of how I lost control.

It didn’t happen in just a day, or a week, or even a month. Slowly but surely, over time God started to show me how tight my grip was on the things happening in my life. I was strangling His plans and it was keeping me from my future.

I have learned over the years, I have a bit of a control issue. It’s important to me that things look a certain way. Which also means, sometimes, I want people to act a certain way. Because when they do, what I ask them to do, it affirms me. Let’s me know that they approve of me, appreciate me, love me.

But that is not healthy. In the end, I hold people to unfair standards, standards that I would not even be able to meet. The only way for a control freak like me to learn how to lose control is, well, to be forced to let go.

Unfortunately for me, this happened through a series of very hard events.

Our Big Plans

Let me start off by saying, prior to this point, and well, if I am honest, even after this point needing control has been an issue. I am a professed approval addict and well, I have people-pleasing and insecurity struggles, which is why control is also an issue for me. You see if I can control my situation, I can also control whether people approve of me or not. Well, at least try to.

But this was one time I couldn’t make the circumstances work in my favor. You see, this situation was bigger than me. It’s situations like these where God can remind us exactly who is in control, Him.

About three years after we got married, I started suggesting to my husband it was time for us to have a child. I wasn’t getting younger (already over 30 at this point) and being older than him, it was time for us to try and start a family. We went before the Lord in prayer, and both agreed it was time. It wasn’t long after I found out I was pregnant. We were ecstatic. That was on a Friday and by Monday, I had miscarried our first child.

We were devastated.

We Tried Again

It took a few months to get pregnant again, but we weren’t going to give up, even though this time it felt scarier. We were nervous that we might miscarry again. But this time we made it not only through the first weekend but up to week eight. This time I was on the job training clients in Georgia when the bleeding began. At the time I lived in Cincinnati and was a long way from home. I called my doctor to find out what I needed to do. After taking a pregnancy test and seeing the line show up only slightly faded, I knew what was happening. To say I was angry was an understatement.

Thankfully I had an amazing boss, and she had me hop on a plane home. As if it was that easy.

What transpired will be an experience I will never forget. In fact, every time I walk through the Atlanta airport it brings back the memories afresh. But it was there in the bathroom stall that I lost our second baby. I could barely speak to anyone. Talking was not an option because deep sobs hung in my throat.

Somehow I made it back to our home airport where my husband waited with a car. I cried all the way home curled up in the back seat. There was a tug of war of the pain between my broken heart and my cramps.

The next weeks are still a blur because I could barely breathe. It was hard to live. I numbed my pain with books, movies, and food. I wanted nothing to do with God because I was so angry at Him. It didn’t make sense. We prayed. We asked Him for the desires of our heart. The Bible says we are to procreate, that babies are a blessing. What did we do wrong?

Tragedy Struck

A few months later the church we were attending, Crossroads, had its annual Christmas Show. This isn’t a dress up the kids and coo over their costumes show, this was the real deal. Dancers, musicians, lights, snow falling from the ceiling. This show could be on Broadway and it would sell out every night.

This year they decided to take the show to a new level and have the Wise Men belay down from the ceiling. One of the performers missed their rung and fell to their death. My husband was on staff and watched the accident happen. He still can’t watch that scene or performances where the performers are hanging from ropes.

Our pastor was amazing. Instead of dealing with it quietly, even though the event made the national news, he brought the whole church together. All ten thousand of us to walk us through the grieving process. He was honest, raw, and real. In doing so, he reminded us of the story of Job.  A righteous man who had done no wrong in the eyes of God but was targeted by the Devil for his righteousness. When God turned him over to Satan, he lost everything. Cattle, sheep, and most importantly children. His response?

Blessed Be The Name of the Lord

He fell down and worshipped the Lord. The Bible captures him saying, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21, ESV) My pastor reminded us that we are not God. His plans are above our plans, His ways above our ways. He doesn’t need to answer to us and we may not understand everything that He does. But just like Job we need to strive to be people, that no matter what our circumstances that we can say “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.”

As sad as I was for the loss of the life of the performer, anger raged in me. I thought, “Why God? Why did you have to take both of our babies? I don’t understand. Why did the teenager who didn’t even want to be pregnant get to keep hers? The drug addict? The prostitute? Surely we were better than these.”

He then had us take the person we had lost, whether it as the performer who fell only a few nights before, or someone else we were grieving and hold them in our hand. When we were ready, we were to lift our hands up in surrender and let them go. God, in His sovereignty, is in control, we are not. Our surrender reminds us of that.

As we stood there, they played Matt Redman’s song “Blessed be the Name of the Lord”.

My hardened heart began to soften. Deep down inside I loved God. I also knew that He loved me. He wasn’t trying to make a fool out of me or withholding blessings from me. He had a plan, and though I didn’t understand it, I knew it was good. It took me a bit, but looking at my husband I realized the grace I had received. I was a sinner, an adulterer, and a divorcee, and yet my God gave me an amazing man to love me and be with me all of my days.

With tears streaming down my face, I lifted my hands to heaven and with each release let my babies go. In exchange, I experienced peace and freedom.

A New Story

That was mid-December and on New Year’s Eve, on a few weeks later, we were to go out with friends. I considered celebrating with a glass of wine but decided it may be a good idea to check to see if I was pregnant just in case. The screen went from blank to pink in a matter of seconds and I knew, we were pregnant again.

Eight months later, after a rough pregnancy including Braxton-hicks and pre-eclampsia, my sweet miracle child was born at 35 weeks. Sawyer James is our pride and joy. Now eight years old and keeping us on our toes.

I learned a huge lesson that night. Trying to control God, people’s responses to my pregnancy or lack thereof was not going to change our reality. It did not define me as a wife, a mom, or a woman. It wouldn’t determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.

It wouldn't determine our acceptance or affirmation of our friends and family nor would it determine the pleasure of God. I am who He says I am and my identity is not based on my ability to conceive.…

But instead letting go and allowing Him to guide our story instead of trying to write it ourselves, made way for the family we dreamed of and the life He desires us to live.

I have had two more miscarriages since then, losing three more babies. But what I do know now, is that God, in His sovereignty knew what my future would hold. I do not have physical children to hold, but since then He has birthed a vision of community transformation and now a book that holds this story and so many more.

Like Me or Not Overcoming Approval Addiction

God is In Control

Let it go. Those expectations you have of how your husband should respond to you. Let it go. Your children will find their way into His arms. Let it go. Your work will continue on without you. None of those things define you, they certainly do not own you, and cannot determine your identity. You are who God says you are. So let it go.

Question: What do you need to let go of so God can affirm the identity He has given to you?

Check out these other posts about approval addiction:
Why I am a Professed Approval Addict
How to Know If You Are Addicted to Approval
Feeling Insecure?

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How to Quit People-Pleasing In Three Easy Steps

How to Quit People-Pleasing in 3 Easy Steps

The struggle with wanting to be a people-pleaser is real. Most of us, struggle with it every day. But what if there was a way to quit trying to please others in just three easy steps?

Last week, we talked about five ways to know if you are an approval addict. If you haven’t read that post, go back and read that here. It’ll only take a few minutes because you can’t get help if you don’t know if you have a problem.

To help us understand these three easy steps let’s look at the difference between two guys and how they handled their need to please.

First up is a guy named Saul. You can find him in the Bible in 1 Samuel. He was tall, dark, and handsome and from the tribe of Benjamite (the least significant of all the tribes). He was sent on a donkey-hunting mission by his father and like most teenage boys wasn’t super-excited about his assignment.

What he didn’t know is that his mission would take him to the “God-man” a prophet named Samuel. Samuel had asked God to provide Israel with a king (cause they wanted to be like other nations) and God said, “If it’s a King they want, then it’s a King they will get.”

Spoiler alert: Saul is anointed as King by Samuel.

But Saul had a small problem that he struggled with and we see for about6 chapters of his story…people-pleasing. Nearly every decision he made he worried about the people and therefore, he did everything in his power to please them.

And it only took a few years before Samuel came back to Saul and told him that God had rejected him as King because he cared more about pleasing man that seeking the approval of God.

Which is where we come to our next guy…well, at the time he was a young boy, about 12-years old to be exact. His name was David. And just like Saul, also grew to be tall, dark and handsome. He was from the lowest of professions in Israel, a shepherd.

Samuel anointed him as king to replace Saul (which Saul could not stand), but unlike Saul who was completely insecure and unsure of himself, David knew who he was and whose He was. David responded out of his identity in God rather than how man defined him.

There are three steps we can take to learn from David. These three ways help us to know what we do grounded in God’s approval and not seeking the approval of man.

People Pleasing1_Pintrest.png

Step One: Trust God at His Word

When David was anointed as King, he stood on that word. David didn’t question it, rather he rested in it. He trusted God knew what was best for him. He didn’t waver, he wasn’t insecure and he responded to every challenge with this in mind.

Step Two: Remember God’s Mighty Works

When David came to the battlefield where the Israelites were at a standstill with the Philistines and he told King Saul he could take out the giant Goliath, he did so out of a belief in the mighty work of God. He had already seen God kill a bear and lion with his bare hands, he knew that if God could do that, then he could take down this giant with no problem. David pulled out his sling and secured his rock, remembering what God had already done. He had all the confidence in the world, God could do it again.

Step Three: Believe in God’s abilities more than the abilities of man

When King Saul suggested to David that he put in on his army, David had no faith in him. When he looked at the army sitting on the hill, he had no faith in them. David believed in what God could do far more than he believed in the men around him.

You Only Need God's Approval

Now I ask you to consider these for yourself:

1. Can YOU trust God at His word?

2. Have you considered the mighty works of God and all He has done?

3. Do you believe in God’s abilities more than the abilities of man?

There is no doubt in my mind that we all struggle and will continue to struggle to rest in knowing we are already fully accepted and approved by God. However, if we consider these three areas, we can begin to see how worthy of our trust our God is knowing that He already knows who we are.

Take a moment and consider those three steps and ask yourself, which one do you struggle with the most?

hope that is seen

Hope: How Badly Do You Want It?

Some things in life are just worth the fight. Hope is one of them. But what about when your circumstances dictate the exact opposite? Then what?

How badly do you want it? Would you go to battle to see the very thing you are hoping to come to fruition?

And if you are, what will you sacrifice to get there?

Sometimes, when, our future seems bleak, we need to choose to fight. We’ll need to be ready to get uncomfortable to face our fears, and then we need to dig in deep to decide we are not going to lose hope.

If only it were that easy.

Times when our beliefs and emotions vary, we need to find comfort in the tension. Enter hope.

Lori felt exactly like that when she went off to jail for the first time at age thirty-eight. She never thought her life would land up this way, but it did. All she had in front of her was a pile of her consequences.

Lor's Hope in Family
Lori (middle) with her daughter and husband.

Five years before this time, she had a wonderful husband, two children, and life was good. Despite being brought up by her grandparents as a toddler and then later, by two parents caught in the grips of alcoholism. Lori overcame the odds of what could have been in growing up in that environment, that was until her husband went to jail for a year, on a misdemeanor charge. While her husband sat in jail, Lori’s world turned upside down.

Instead of helping her while her husband was away, people took advantage of her. Within a year she was raped twice, and to numb her pain, she turned to drugs.

When her husband came home from prison he didn’t even recognize her. He said to her, “What happened to my wife?”

Her response was one born out of pain, “She died.”

This lifestyle then extended to her husband as life seemed to get worse and worse for them. As she sat in jail, with her future looking bleak, no family to support them, and little in the way of options. Her and her husband, also in jail at the time, decided that they would pray.

Sometimes when there seems to be no way out, the only place to look is up.

Romans 8:24, NIV says, “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”

Lori and her husband soon learned that God could provide a way out. In their desperation, they realized they could not go back to the same place they came from or back to the same friends. They needed hope, and it came in the form of rehab.

God provided through family members who had earlier given up hope, but through their prayers, God changed their hearts.

Now, both Lori and her husband are fighting for what their future in rehab. In the midst of what felt like a hopeless situation, Lori and her husband have learned to put their faith in what God could accomplish, not in what they could.

In doing so, their lives changed significantly.

Lori enrolled in a 9-month residential rehabilitation program through Restoring Women Outreach. She also enrolled in our Pure Joy Goods job-training program. In her job-training program, here at The Community Place, Lori uses her gifts and talents to create beautiful pallet art. She takes classes, attends recovery meetings, and is mentored by one of our staff.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick

You can support Lori on her journey to hope, by purchasing a piece of pallet art. For every $10 you spend, it is the equivalent of one hour of job-training and support services.

So how about you? Are you like Lori, recognizing hope exists in the unseen, not in what you currently perceive? Or will you allow your emotions to dictate what you believe your future will hold?

If you want to fight for hope you are going to have to do the following:

  1. Submit your will to God’s, just like Lori did in jail.
  2. You’ll have to believe beyond your circumstance that your future includes hope, and not focus on how today feels. Your emotions do not dictate what God has in store for you.
  3. Cling to the scriptures. You will need them to be armed against the attacks of the enemy as he seeks to deter your faith.

Someday, Lori’s family will be restored, all because she fights daily for the hope of what will be, not what it is today.

Everyone struggles when the situation looks bleak. But we have a choice. How will you arm yourself in battle to obtain the hope you seek? Comment below and let’s encourage each other in our battle for the things we do not see.

 

9 Ways to Love an Addict Even When It Hurts

Trying to love someone in active addiction is hard. Frustrating. It can be downright heart-wrenching.

In fact, apart from God, it is impossible. 

Because here’s the deal, the person you once knew (the sober person) they are gone. You are dealing with someone completely different. Someone who has now decided to partner with darkness and who is in bondage to an ugly, flesh-eating, family-destroying, brain deteriorating drug. That drug has now consumed them, every bit of them: mind, body, and soul. The only thing they now care about is getting their next high, their next fix, their next drunken stupor and who you are and what you meant to them no longer matters.

Trying to love someone in addiction feels about the same as picking a rose from a bush. You know there is beauty at the end of it, but your going to have to go through a whole lot of pain to get there.

As we discussed in last week’s post, you need to be emotionally and spiritually healthy…full of compassion, love, and forgiveness if you are going to have a chance at loving them well. The only way to do that is through the Spirit of God, because it is God who taught us to love in the first place.we-love-because-he-first-loved-usIn Galatians 5, Paul is sharing with the church in Galatia about their freedom and how through their freedom they can either choose to walk by the Spirit or by their flesh. In 5:13 14 he says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What does it mean to live by the flesh?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Now before we start judging those around us let’s take a look at some of these that related to us loving our neighbors in addiction. Last week we talked about forgiveness because we were angry at the people who are in addiction…that can easily be also viewed as hatred, discord, fits of rage, dissensions, or factions. We also may had to confess our anger with God for what has happened. When we put up anything before our worship of God, we are in the sin of idolatry. Idolizing “little gods” that we put in the place of our Almighty God is truly not hard to do. I know this because I do it. It is also why God made sure to make it second of the 10 Commandments.

So now that we can see that we all fall into one of these categories of walking in the flesh .(I didn’t even get into the other ones…that is another post in and of itself, just remember there are no rankings there. Witchcraft was right next to hatred, and factions came right before drunkenness and orgies. Hello!) Let’s be reminded why it is of utmost importance to have the Spirit of God as we seek to love those in addiction.

The very next verse explains it all:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)

Because the fruit we need to bear is from the Spirit of God there is no way to truly love someone unless His Spirit is in us.

In the Galatians 5:22 verse, it says “fruit of the Spirit,” not fruits of the Spirit.

One of the things I love about God is He is can be very mysterious.

When we think of a fruit we think of a singular item. But when He defines “fruit of the Spirit” He multiplies it. So instead of us bearing only one kind of fruit we bear nine.

Because of this I don’t believe the fruit of the Spirit has a specific order to them, one is not greater than another, they are all equal. However, for the purposes of this post, I am going to pull them out one-by-one in a way that will help us all learn how to love our neighbors in addiction.

FIRST FRUIT: SELF-CONTROL

If you are going to love, nah, scratch that, when you are loving someone in active addiction, you are going to have to learn the word, “No.”

So, let’s start there. Repeat after me, “No.” Good, say it again. “No.” One more time like you really mean it. “No.”

Yeah! High-five! How did that feel?

In order for you to love someone in active addiction you will have to set boundaries. And the best way for you to start that is realizing you will have to say, “No.”

Boundaries are good and healthy. God sets up boundaries for us in order to help us, guide us, and set us free. It is just like how we set up boundaries for our children…go to bed by 8, up by 6, don’t eat too much sugar, save your money, don’t touch the hot stove…these are all boundaries we set for our children to help them stay healthy and not endanger themselves…right? Most of the time it’s because Mom/Dad needs rest and a sugar-high kid can drive you nuts , and who needs more Legos to step on, and the stove just hurts, right? You get me? Ok, good.

Boundaries are a form of self-control. By setting up boundaries around us, we are telling others what they can and cannot do. By saying “no” to the person who has chosen alcohol/drugs over your relationship you are communicating to them, “Your destructive choices are not going to determine how I live my life.” When we respond this way we are exhibiting self-control. And in doing so, we are also loving them. We are loving them because we are also no longer enabling them by giving into their every need. When we enable an addict, we can basically start digging thelatishaeditedir grave. The last thing an addict needs is for you to give into everything they ask for because once they know you’ll give it to them, they’ll just keep coming back. if they know you’ll give them money, they will give you every excuse in the book to get more. if you will continuously get them out of jail, not only will you chance losing everything, they’ll continue to make the same poor choices, cause they know someone will always bail them out.

You want to know why addicts continue to cycle in and out of their addiction, in and out of homelessness, in and out of jail? Enabling is a big part of that equation. Exhibiting self-control on your part can help them to hit their rock bottom. From there they can start healing. That in essences, is one of the most loving things you can do.


Enabling = death. Boundaries =life.


SECOND FRUIT: GENTLENESS

How about gentleness?

The definition of gentleness is: Sensitivity of disposition and kindness of behavior, founded on strength and prompted by love.

When an addict is spinning out of control and they are angry at you and the world around them your response in gentleness can disarm them. It gives them less reason to keep responding to you in that manner. It can also restore them and keep them from continuing to sin.

Galatians 6:1 says, ” Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

And no one needs you too falling into temptation cause then things just go from bad to worse. In this case, you may not be tempted to use drugs or alcohol, but you may be tempted to get angry right back at them. You may want to use your own set of manipulative techniques to try and get them to stop using. Either way, responding with gentleness is yet another way you can show love to your neighbor in addiction.

THIRD FRUIT: PATIENCE

We live in a society of now. Of have it your way, when you want it, how you want it. And nothing will teach you patience like addiction, I can promise you that. I have driven in snowstorms that should have been a 30 minute trip that took 7 hours and honey, that is NOTHING compared to the patience you’ll need to love someone in active addiction. I can’t tell you anything more than the straight out truth…this is your reality. There are no silver bullets, there is no perfect prayer to pray, fasamberting will change you but I cannot promise it will do anything for them. The only healer I can point you to is Jesus and His timing on this is often way different than ours.

But to exhibit patience you will have to stop trying to control the person and the situation. Trying to control them may even make it worse. You have to let them go. As scary as I know that sounds you have to them let go because the only way for them to ever get clean is if they hit their rock bottom. You don’t know where that bottom is. I don’t know where that bottom is. Only God knows. We need to trust Him with their deliverance. Patience speaks love to an addict because they know loving them can be hard. But when you respond to them with patience, you are saying, “I love you even in the midst of what you are going through and being here for you is more important than what I want for you.”

FOURTH FRUIT: PEACE

Which is why you are also going to have to ask God to give you supernatural peace. A few weeks ago, I talked about how important it is to have peace and suggested how you can obtain it. But here is the gist of it…you don’t have peace because your worry, anxiety and fear are ruling you. And listen sweet Mama, I am talking to you again, with my tender eyes looking at yours, and my hand on your hand…I know why. I know why you worry. It’s because that is your baby and you still see that sweet baby insides the drug that has consumed your child.

But you must remember that sweet baby grew up and starting making their own decisions and forgot all the things you taught them. All they care about right now is them. So just as I explained in my last post that no matter who we are, we are going to have to forgive them, God and yourself, now we need to take care of our hearts and give over that anxiety, worry and fear to God.

 “Do not worry about anything but in everything with prayer and petition, give thanks to God. And the God of peace who surpasses all understanding will guard your heart in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Because when you are trying so hard to love someone who can no longer conceivably love you back, you need your heart guarded by the only one that can truly protect it. Can I get an Amen?

Guarding your heart with peace is yet another way to love a person in addiction because your peace overflows into their lives. When you are feeling peace, you speak peace into them, you pray peace over them, you respond to them with peace and in doing so, they will start to experience that peace and want it for their own life.

FIFTH FRUIT: FAITHFULNESS

Next up, is faithfulness. You be faithful to that person. You be faithful in prayer. And when you pray you pray for big things, believing big things knowing that you serve a God who is BIG. Ephesians 3:20 speaks so well to this…for He can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. Circle that person up in this scripture verse. You dream up who that person will become and you start speaking that over their life. You don’t focus on where they are now but rather where they will be when they are fully restored.

” For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 3:20)

I speak this to the girls we minster to in the jail whenever I get the chance to. You know why? It speaks hope. It reminds them that God already knows what their good works will be, He already prepared them. And I challenge them with this…

“Will you dare to walk in those good works you were already purposed for or will you continue in the lifestyle you are in? Will you choose to allow the devil to continue to steal, kill and destroy (as he has already done so well) or will you choose a life of abundance.”

patienceBut here’s the deal. I have said those words to hundreds of women. But only a few have actually take me up on it. The rest, I am still waiting on. Because being faithful means never giving up on them, it means loving them, even if its from a distance. Faithful means  believing God for their healing,  pursuing them letting them know you are there when they are ready, and most importantly praying for them daily.

Prayer is one of the most powerful tools you have. Do not downplay its effectiveness in this situation. I have pleaded on the behalf of women who relapsed that the Lord would spare her life and if she would not get clean, that she would be placed back in jail. I would beg God to keep her from the grave.

Jail may not be the place that you would want to be, but I can promise you this, when you are stuck in addiction and spiraling out of control, it can feel like the hand of God pulling you out of your pit and saving you from destruction.

We must choose to be faithful through the Spirit as it does not come naturally to us. And as we do, we will show those in active addiction our love for them.

SIXTH FRUIT: KINDNESS

Which brings me to kindness. The Bible says, it’s by His kindness that He calls us to repentance.

Job 6:14 says,  “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. We are to show kindness as He has shown us kindness.

Our kindness, when faced with adversity, draws people to God. Cause it begs the question, “Why?” Why would you show me kindness when I have done these things to you? You cannot show kindness to someone you are angry at. You can’t show kindness to the person who frustrates you. It’s only through the Spirit that you can show kindness to those who are difficult to love. Don’t forget that Job, the author of our verse above was being mocked by his friends for the trials he was going through. This is Job’s response in the midst of that. Can you show kindness in the midst of your trial? Is there someone you can show kindness to who is trying to overcome their addiction?

SEVENTH FRUIT: GOODNESS

And we must point them to the goodness of God. If all you ever do is remind them of His wrath, His discipline, of Hell, you mind as well say your final goodbyes. They will run to the hills and they may never look back. More than anything they need to know that they have a God who loves them regardless of what they have done. One of the ways they can know that is how you show them.

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EIGHTH FRUIT: JOY

Of all the fruit of the Spirit, this one may be the hardest one to exhibit when you are trying to love someone in active addiction. There is absolutely nothing joyful or joy-filled about this situation for anyone involved. In fact, its the exact opposite. It can be down-right heart wrenching to watch someone you love destroy themselves. So why in the world, would I even consider using the fruit of the Spirit with this included in it to explain how we can love people in addiction?

Because you can’t love someone in active addiction in your own strength. It is absolutely physically impossible. In our own strength we will become exhausted, frustrated, angry, depressed, bitter, enraged, lonely, or just completely complacent. I have heard people say that it feels like torture to not know whether or not their loved one is alive or dead.

That is why we need to rely on God. When we do He reveals to us how we are to respond to challenges such as these.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. (James 1:2-3, NIV)

Consider it pure joy?! Really?! Why in the world would we want to consider trials, such as trying to love our neighbors in addiction, as pure joy. Has James lost his mind? I actually think James actually learned a huge spiritual secret in how to live. It’s in the next few verses we see that not only can we learn perseverance (also known as patience…I think we talked about that one already) but James says that we can also become mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James knows something, we can all learn from and that is if we focus in on our situation we’ll find nothing but grief and despair. But if we look beyond it, realizing that it’s not going to change anytime soon, but instead we can change…well, then mayyoull-need-to-choose
be then there is something to this. You and I have to choose to go on, even as our neighbors stay stuck in their addictions. Even as they become more and more destructive. And with those choices, we can choose joy or we can choose sorrow or anger or defeat. But know this: your choice either way will not change their sobriety, but it will determine how you live and whether or not you are capable of truly loving them.

Consider it pure joy….because you will persevere, you will be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Including with it the ability to love.

NINTH FRUIT: LOVE

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I like to save the best things for last. And this piece of our fruit is most certainly the juiciest of all. I know, I know I am contradicting myself. But I can do that, it’s my blog. Here is the proof in the pudding. We cannot love our neighbors in addiction without the Spirit because the Spirit produces love. It’s plain as it can be.

And this love is the greek word “agape” which is a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love.

Paul could have used one of the other four versions of this word, but he chose the one that he knew spoke of the love of the Father. And that is exactly the kind of love we are to have as well.

Selfless.
Sacrificial.
Unconditional.

This means listening to them, taking time to hear their struggles and empathizing with them, offering them a shoulder to cry on, allowing them to share their hurts, apologizing even when you may not have done anything (not to encourage their behaviors but to let them know you see their pain), apologizing when you have done something.

What if you said, “I am so sorry i have been enabling you all this time, I didn’t realize how hurtful that has been for you to be able to heal and stop using. I am going to do my best to help you make your own decisions and not do things that you can do on your own.”

Loving is putting their emotions before yours, even when you are hurting. Loving is sacrificial in that you would choose to love, over choosing to judge. This does not mean sacrificing EVERYTHING you have to try and save them. Remember there is only ONE SAVIOR and His name is Jesus.

These are the nine fruit of the Spirit and it is with this fruit that we can fully, completely, selflessly, sacrificially, and unconditional love our neighbors in addiction as ourself.

Sometimes when you are too close to the situation, trying to love your neighbor in active addiction can feel like you are inflicting more pain on yourself. What do you do to self-care when loving them gets too hard?