Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired
If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. John 7:37
Looking back, I can’t blame my old job for my poor life decisions, but I can recognize those stressors which triggered my addictive behavior. I once thought I liked working overnight, but I can now see how it progressively degraded my self-control. After working one night, I’d stop off at the nearest gas station and buy donuts for the drive home – something I wouldn’t normally do. After working a few nights, I’d find myself indulging in nicotine. In looking back at my drug use, every major relapse came after working a long run of nights.
As I said, I can’t blame my old job, but going forward, I’ve got to be honest, accepting that I probably shouldn’t ever work nights again. Thankfully, with my new job, I sleep in my own bed every night. Still, the same principle continues to apply to my behavior. When I get overly tired, my self-control falls apart.
In recovery, we use the anacronym HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired – to describe that place where we find ourselves empty and in need. In this condition, emotionally and physically bankrupt, we inherently reach out to find satisfaction in whatever comes most natural to us. For some of us, it’s the donut. For others, it’s nicotine, the bottle, lust, lashing out, or even shopping. Whatever our thing is, we all have some self-destructive way of dealing with hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. HALT is the trigger and our natural response is the addictive, self-destructive behavior with which we attempt to satiate our needs.
In today’s passage, Jesus claimed to be the answer to our life’s deepest needs. In it, he said, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Christ promised that when we learn to turn to him in our need, life will flow out of us like a river.
This then, is our daily challenge. We must continually choose to turn to God when we’re empty, instead of returning to our self-destructive behaviors. We must learn to recognize our triggers and we need to develop constructive habits before we’re neck-deep in stress. If we wait until the triggers come, we’ll just naturally respond the way we’ve always responded. If we want to know lasting, authentic life, then we must daily learn to turn, not to our self-destructive behaviors, but to the living water.