Misery Hates Being Alone

Misery Hates Being Alone

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:6

So, this happened again recently. After speaking at a chemical dependency treatment center, one of the patients approached me, informing me that I had seen him in the ER several years ago. I don’t remember it, but he does, because that was his first exposure to opioid pain medications, which was the reason he was currently in treatment. He had some justifiable injury at the time, but still, it’s hard for me not to feel some responsibility. I didn’t make him an addict, but I surely didn’t help either.

Looking back, if I’m honest, I have to at least ask what role I’ve played in contributing to addiction. I was trained in an era when we were taught to be liberal with pain medications. This worked for me. It made it easier for me to get my hands on my own pills and it decreased any associated stigma. If everyone else was taking pills too, I didn’t feel so unusual. I didn’t consciously contribute to anyone’s addiction, but my liberal attitude about prescribing was a convenient fit with my own problem.

Unfortunately, we’re often like this. If we struggle with something, we prefer not to be alone in the struggle. Misery hates loneliness, so it often – whether consciously or not – recruits others to the same condition. If we can’t stop overeating, we don’t want others to be successful in weight loss, so we bring donuts to work. If we can’t stop drinking, we make sure our friends have plenty to drink. No one likes being the only one with a problem.

Using our power and influence to drag other’s down though, is apparently, a particularly grievous offense in the eyes God. In today’s passage, Jesus says that it would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone necklace than to lead one of God’s children astray. The truth is, wherever we are, we exert some influence in pulling others in the same direction. If we’re living the life of addiction, we introduce destruction into the lives of those around us. In following God then, into recovery, we must do the same, doing whatever we can to bring others with us.

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