The Brilliant Thinking of an Addict
1 Corinthians 1:18 The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Having found recovery and sobriety, it is oddly easy to forget my previous way of thinking. Having left active drug use, it is easy to become frustrated with those who are still living in addiction. Though I was there once, I now find it maddening when someone relapses or just plain refuses help. What is wrong with you? How can you be so stubborn and stupid? Why do you want to live like this? Why won’t you get help?
When I get too high and mighty, I only need to remind myself where I was three years ago. I need only remember how I too, refused help. I can easily recall, if I choose, the kind of thinking that kept me in my addiction. I’m not that bad. I can quit on my own. This time will be the last. I do not need to go to treatment. If I tell my wife and employer, I’ll lose both. I’ll just stop tomorrow…
I knew help was out there, but the cost was too high. Getting clean meant climbing a mountain of misery. I could not or would not see that the living death of my addiction was a far worse condition in which to remain. I could not see that though getting clean would be painful, at least I would come out the other side of it eventually. Looking back, this diseased thinking was insane, but at the time, it made perfect sense.
I still meet those daily, who just cannot pull the trigger on radical change. Though they know they need to alter everything about their lives, they remain unwilling as the cost of transformation is just too high. I would have to change my entire way of life. I would have to change jobs. No more drinks with friends. I’ll just try to cut back… Often, it is only when they ride the former way of life to massive disaster, do they finally realize they have no choice. Only when they make a such a mess of life as I did, are they actually willing to do what it takes to become something else.
Paul reminded us of this reality in today’s passage. He said that to those who are pursuing death and disaster, the road to life often seems ridiculous. Those who are living in destruction just cannot accept that Jesus Christ provides the answer. To accept that denying self and following God is the right path, is to embrace radical, painful change. Though life may be absolutely miserable to those living in self and destruction, they cannot accept the wisdom and life found in God. They remain unwilling to do what it takes to abandon self and follow Christ.
Paul said the world will always be this way. There will always be those who refuse to see their need for Christ. I need to understand this and I need to remember the futility of my old thinking. I need to be patient, as I was there once and in some ways, may still be guilty of diseased thinking.
As I am still living in this flesh, I am still prone to its broken thought processes. I must daily consider how I continue to pursue self, holding on to the old way of thinking. I must remain willing to see my need for change. Daily, I must deny self and follow Christ, even when it is painful.