1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
In my addiction, I thought and behaved as a child. If I wanted a thing, I did not concern myself with consequences, I just took it. I want it so I will have it. Brain imaging studies have shown how repeated use of a drug damages the negative feedback loop in the brain. I actually damaged the part of me that said I should not do a thing. In my addiction, I immatured and became more childlike.
When I hit treatment, my childlike status began to dawn on me. I went from doing whatever I wanted to restricted access to my snack bin when it was not snack bin time. I could not go outside without a chaperone. I got up, made my bed, ate and went to bed when instructed. I was treated as a child. This greatly offended me. I was an ER doctor after all (well, not anymore).
The truth was, I had acted like a child and as a child, I was about to get a giant time-out. I did not enjoy it, but I desperately needed it. In my addiction, I became enslaved to my own appetite and thus was completely incapable of maturity. Slavery to self always stunts my growth.
Unfortunately, many of us live in this state of arrested development. We remain unable to mature as we are paralyzed by our addiction to the defective desires of our flesh. Paul insisted that we are to discipline our flesh nature so that we control it, but many of us live an upside-down life, controlled by our appetites.
The problem is, we are usually blind to this perpetual immaturity. A child finds his way of thinking to be normal. Likewise, we have come to accept our slavery to self as ordinary. It may be natural to us, but Paul insisted that this is not God’s plan. Paul described the progression that is supposed to occur but unfortunately is not natural for us. For most of us, it is natural to continue in a state of self-absorbed childhood. Thus, we continue in our addiction to pornography, sex, money, power, status, toys, beauty, drugs and all things me.
We do not realize that our lives were meant to be pointed outward towards God and others. We are incapable of following Christ as disciples as we are incapable of denying self. We never truly follow God as we never grow past our self-addiction. If we ever want to know God and if we ever want to grow up, we desperately need to learn denial of self.
I did not enjoy my giant time-out, but it was necessary to reveal how desperately I needed to grow up. I do not live perfectly, but in my addiction, I came to understand my need for God. As I still have areas in which I am childlike, I must continually work at denying self and pursuing him. I must daily ask myself if I am growing or trapped in immaturity. I really do not want another time-out.