Going to Treatment
Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:17
Seven years ago today, I was sitting in treatment for my addiction to opiate pain medications. Someone recently asking about the story suggested that it was likely a humbling experience. It was, of course, profoundly humbling. In the span of a week, I went from being a practicing physician to being unemployed, in treatment, surrounded by those whom I previously considered to be beneath me. I couldn’t go outside without permission. I went where I was told when I was told. I got one phone call that first week and I had access to my snack bin for 10 minutes every afternoon. Yes, it was more than a little humbling, but I needed that.
My addiction was only a symptom of a greater life problem. For years, I’d had this growing practice of simply following my way above all. My life was all about me. As a Christian, I claimed to live for God, but in my pride, I made my will out to be my god. So, yes, I needed to be humbled dramatically. I needed to realize that it was my way that put me in treatment, and I needed to understand that the only way to escape my downward spiral was to abandon my way for God’s way.
I accepted that humbling and, in my disaster, I learned to daily make a genuine effort to point my life at God instead of myself. I promised myself that I’d do that every day for the rest of my life.
Pride though, isn’t so easily killed. Seven years later, and I can say that I’ve done well. I’ve stayed sober. I write a blog and I’ve published a book. I’m pretty good at this. I’ve really got recovery figured out. I’m pretty amazing. As my pride is resurrected and I begin to congratulate myself, I’m tempted once again to make my life all about me.
In today’s passage, Paul warned against this. He said that we’re not to waste time boasting or congratulating ourselves. Rather, we’re to humbly direct our lives at God, recognizing that everything good that we have comes from him. We don’t find purpose and meaning in self-adulation, but rather, we find it in knowing that we’re living a manner that is pleasing to the heavenly father. Life isn’t all about us. Our value doesn’t come from what anyone else thinks of us, but rather, what God thinks of us. If we boast, we must boast in what he’s done for us.