The Burden of Loving the Addicted
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:7-10
For the most part, I work with those who struggle with addiction themselves, but this has inevitably led to interacting with those who live around the addicted. These are the loved ones and family members who live in constant worry, continually hoping for change and recovery. They can’t make their child or spouse find transformation, so they love, they pray, and they do whatever they can to point the way. Unsurprisingly, they often love to a fault, becoming overwhelmed by worry, allowing the destruction of the addicted to spill over into their lives. This isn’t surprising. They’d give absolutely anything to see their son, daughter, husband, or wife get sober.
This is the kind of love described by Paul in today’s passage. In it, he explained how God, in his immense love, has gone to great lengths, sacrificing of himself to provide forgiveness for our sins. He created us and he loves us. In his love, he provided us with the free will to love him in return or to go our own way. He longs for us to love him back, but we’ve all rebelled, living for ourselves, and suffering the consequence of separation from him. Now, he’s given radically of himself to provide us a way home. He’s done this because he longs for everyone to be restored to him, that we may experience the life for which we were created. He could force us, but he doesn’t. Instead, he waits like the loving father that he is, longing for us to come home.
As you read, you may be looking for the advice in how to reach the one in your life who wrestles with addiction. The lesson of today’s passage though, is that we are all like the one who struggles with addiction. We’ve all gone astray, wandering from God. It is for all of us that Christ died and it is we who must now return his love. The father’s burden is for us, and it is we who’ve received his lavish grace. Now, our only appropriate response is to daily abandon ourselves to come home – the only place where we may experience the life, joy, and peace for which we were made.