The Chaos of Addiction
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you… Let not your hearts be troubled…
The life of addiction is one marked by chaos and turmoil, where peace is a complete stranger. Constant terror of discovery and obsession with the next high consumes the mind. The addict is torn with guilt, hating himself but unable (or unwilling) to choose change. Burdened with guilt and shame, the addict to lies to himself constantly. I’ll never do that again… This is the last time! Sleepless nights and misery are the hallmark of the one pursuing self to such destruction.
In this state, the addict longs for peace. It is not uncommon to hear this from the addict. I just wish I could find some peace. The only way the addict finds it though, is in the artificial serenity of the next high. He knows there is peace to be found in God and recovery but he is unwilling or unable to do what it takes to get there.
I was recently swimming in eight feet of water, trying to carry an anchor. I will not try to explain why. I will just say that it reminded me of my addiction. I would dive down, grab that anchor and then push violently off the bottom, getting my head just enough above the waves to gasp for a breath before gravity pulled me back beneath the surface.
I would then swim furiously towards shallower water, never getting far before I hit the bottom and again had to launch myself towards the surface, gasping for another breath. Anyone watching would have wondered at the chaos of it. Finally, exhausted and out of breath, I let go of the anchor and encountered the peace of swimming free of that cursed weight.
The problem is, in life, letting go of our anchor is not that simple. We all have something destructive to which we desperately cling. Jesus offers us peace, which we desire, but too often, we remain unwilling to do what it takes to experience that peace.
To enjoy the peace of Christ is to deny self and follow him. We want this with no sacrifice to self though. We long to know the peace of God while we enjoy the pursuits of self. We attempt to cling to our pride, lust, money, anger, chemicals, food or affirmation while enjoying God’s peace. We do not want to let go of our anchor as it is too painful to let go.
Letting go often means significant trauma to self. Letting go of my addiction meant leaving my job, going to treatment, confessing to my family and wrecking everything in my life. In the end, I did not have any choice. Nearly three years later, my life is infinitely more peaceful, but at the time, I could not choose the pain I knew it would take to get here. I could not let go of my anchor until drowning was my only other option.
Jesus freely gives us his peace when we follow him. Paradoxically though, this costs us something. We must let go of our anchor. We must do whatever it takes to turn from self and follow him.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.