How to Relapse
What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? 1 Corinthians 4:7
It was my pride and self-reliance – doing whatever I wanted – that led me to drug addiction. In the disastrous consequences of my addiction, I began to learn to abandon my way and depend on God. As I suffered loss, I realized how much I’d taken for granted previously. As I recovered, initially, I was profoundly grateful. While life has come back together, it’s been natural to return to feelings of entitlement and pride once again. Look at how far I’ve come. Look at everything I’ve done. I deserve this success. It’s maddening, but success sometimes isn’t good for me, because in it, I forget how I became addicted, and I’m tempted to return to the toxic attitudes that led me there in the first place.
If our failure makes us desperate for God and if loss makes us realize what we had, then success often causes us to become self-reliant and ungrateful. In our trials, we seek God. In seeking, we find him. We’re grateful at first, but as we experience success, and as life returns to normal, the gratefulness fades and we once again come to believe that we’re responsible for our accomplishments. In our pride, we turn from God, returning to the thoughts and behaviors that caused our misery in the first place.
Paul must have seen this behavior in the Corinthians. In today’s passage, he reminded them that everything they had and everything they were, came from God. Boasting in their accomplishments was dishonest because they weren’t truly self-reliant. Paul reminded them that they owed everything to God and must live accordingly.
Continual gratitude is the antidote to the toxic pride and self-reliance that often corrupts us in our success. Daily, we must remind ourselves that everything we have and everything we are, ultimately comes from God. He created us and we exist only by his leave. When we believe we’re self-made, deserving of our success, we turn our backs on God, following ourselves. In this condition, we cannot seek God and we cannot practice faith because self-reliance is the opposite of faith. If we want to relapse, self-reliance is the surest way. If we want to walk by faith and live in recovery however, we must remain continually dependent on – and thankful to – the one who’s given us everything we have.