Beware of turning to evil, which you seem to prefer to affliction. Job 36:21
Jan* was on her way home from the trip of a lifetime. She and her mother had just spent ten days in Tahiti, courtesy of Jan’s job with a major airline. As her mother snoozed in the seat beside her, Jan broke into desperate tears, realizing that she remembered astonishingly few details of the natural and cultural beauty of the island. Instead of reveling in her experiences, she had escaped the stress of being with her mother by living almost entirely in fantasies inside her head. For Jan, this moment of despair was the beginning of real change because she finally realized that she had an addiction.
What is it that draws you farther from God? For some of us it is a frantic schedule which keeps us moving from one urgent situation to the next. For others it is disappointment with our circumstances or our panicked attempts to change them. Perhaps it’s the negative voices which tell us we aren’t worth God’s time or that we haven’t yet racked up the necessary bonus points for an audience with the Most Holy. But for some of us, it is the allure of an addiction.
Addiction comes in many forms, some of them classic, and some of them much more subtle. In addition to the obvious culprits like drugs, alcohol, food and pornography, a person can be addicted to romance, to social media, to exercise and to a myriad of coping mechanisms which help us escape from stressors inside and out. Ask yourself right now, “When I am feeling really insecure, when the world around me seems to be attacking, what would I most like to go off by myself and do?” Then ask yourself how often you do that thing and whether it might not be drawing you away from God.
When you escape from pressure by using the same method over and over again, it becomes an automatic response which shuts out the rest of the world. Indeed, that is part of the appeal. When you shut out the world, is it to pursue God or to shut Him out, too? Do you rely on something other than His grace and goodness for your well-being? Please understand, I am not saying that reading a biography or watching a movie is cause for alarm. But if you read to replace real relationships or if you watch so many movies that you are short on sleep, then you might have a problem. Which would you rather give up – your prayer life or your soothing habit?
I’m writing this post to introduce a new handout called Do I Have an Addiction?, so if you are the least bit curious about the process of addition, please take a look. (If you are not aware, we have many other free handouts available on our Resources page.) This new handout will guide you through some diagnostic questions, explain the addiction cycle and give you a few suggestions if you find yourself where Jan was a few years ago. I’m happy to report that she is now a vibrant, happy woman who has not missed a day of her own life for a long time. And it all started with that one good cry.
* (Details disguised to protect confidentiality.)