Who Am I?
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus . . . Philippians 1:1
It’s not uncommon for the one struggling with addiction to have a distorted self-image. Early on, to avoid his problem, he will dismiss it. I’m not an alcoholic, I just like to drink. Later, when he’s caused a spectacular amount of destruction, he’ll swing the other way. I’m worthless. Nothing good can ever come of me. Then, when he first finds recovery, he may be tempted to see himself as immediately transformed, even when others can see only the disaster. I’ve recovered. Everything is fine. Let’s go back to normal.
I’ve been there. Particularly, I can recall coming out of treatment, knowing that I was changed and desiring that everyone else recognize it. I wanted my marriage and my career back on track – right now. I knew I was a different person and I wanted credit for it. All everyone else could see though, was the obvious disaster that I’d created. What were they supposed to think?
This is common for those early in recovery who’ve found faith. In AA, they’re encouraged to admit that they’re an alcoholic. I’m ______, and I’m an alcoholic. In their exuberance for the new life though, they don’t want to admit that. They want to tell everyone of their transformation. I’m _____, and I’m a follower of Christ. This isn’t a bad thing, to identify with the new life, but often, it appears disingenuous to those watching. Has he really changed or is this just another example of his distorted self-perception?
The proof is in whatever follows. If the one claiming a new life goes on to actually live that new life, then those in observance will believe. If, however, he claims a new life but then goes right back to the old life, their suspicions will be confirmed. He’s a fraud.
In today’s passage, Paul introduced himself to the Philippians as a servant of Christ. This was a bold statement, to attach his name to the cause of Christ. It was true though, and anyone who knew Paul knew that it was true. Paul claimed to be a thing and his entire life backed up that claim.
I want to live in such a way that when I say I’ve found faith and recovery, everyone will know that it’s true. If I want it to be authentic, before I say it, I must live it. If I’m honest with myself, I must ask what my words and actions tell others about who I am. If I don’t like the answer, the solution isn’t simply to claim to be something different. The solution is to do whatever it takes to abandon the old life for the new one.