When My Addiction Makes the Whole Family Sick
If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:26
In my addiction, I told myself that I wasn’t hurting anyone else. I used in secret and for a long time, managed to keep my drug use hidden from everyone. My wife and kids couldn’t be hurt by what they didn’t know, right? As long as I could keep the rest of my life together, I could continue using. The problem of course, is that my addiction didn’t remain under control, and eventually, I couldn’t prevent it from spilling out into every area of my life. Like a cancer, it grew, consuming everything and everyone. My sickness made those around me sick. As my life erupted, my catastrophe hurt my loved ones the most.
Most of us have done something similar, even if it didn’t involve drugs. We indulge in some secret resentment, jealousy, hatred, lust, or chemical, telling ourselves that we’re not hurting anyone. If no one knows, they can’t be affected, right? We like to believe that we operate in a vacuum, independently of those around us. Unless we live a solitary life on a mountain top though, our thoughts and behaviors affect others – even if we think they’re a secret.
In today’s passage, Paul spoke of the family, or body, of the church. In it, he said that as followers of Christ, we’re all part of his body – his presence here on Earth. As part of the body, we don’t live independently of others. Our obedience, or disobedience, affects those around us and they in turn, affect us. No one lives in a vacuum. We’re all in this together and our thoughts and actions always impact the lives of our family, even if we try and hide our mess.
When we follow our own self-destructive appetites, we make ourselves sick. Our sickness eventually spills out of our lives into the lives of our families. Though they may have had no choice, our illness makes them sick and the closer anyone is to us, the more they suffer. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the children of addicts, who may endure lifelong hurt when a parent brings calamity into the home with their addiction.
Fortunately, the opposite is true as well. When we become who we were made to be, that also impacts the lives of those around us. If we want to have healthy families, then we must daily work at abandoning our self-destructive nature to follow Christ. Whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together.