Follow the Successful
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
It’s often a tragic reality that those struggling with addiction do well in treatment, only to relapse as soon as they return to their old using friends. In a sober environment, they thrive. When they go back to a drug-infested environment, they don’t stand a chance. Being around others who’re using is profoundly unhealthy for the one seeking recovery. Alternatively though, spending time with those who’ve been addicted and who’ve found recovery is perhaps the best thing for that same individual. This is called peer support and it’s an integral part of recovery. Those who’ve been there and gotten out are often the most qualified to help the one who’s still struggling. No one understand the struggle like those who’ve been addicted. No one is better suited to help than those who’ve found recovery.
This makes sense of course. If we’re struggling with weight loss, it’s helpful to learn from those who’ve lost weight. Those who’re struggling and still failing simply aren’t going to be as much help as those who’ve found success. Spending time with those who are actively failing only encourages us to fail as well. Spending time with those who’re successful encourages us to succeed.
In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews pointed out that Jesus has walked in our shoes. He’s known our temptations and he’s experienced our weaknesses. He knows what it’s like to be us, yet he never failed. He is the ultimate in peer support because he’s been through it all and come out the other side with a perfect record. This is the kind of peer support we need.
The problem for us though, is that spending time with the successful is painful while we’re failing. If we’re struggling with overeating, those who’re eating healthy only make us feel worse. We’d rather reinforce our self-destructive behavior by spending time with those who do as we do. Likewise, with drug addiction, when we’re using, we don’t want to go to a recovery meeting. That shines a light in our darkness, which is painful.
Transformation is always uncomfortable though. Often, it’s only when we become tired enough of the misery of our failure that we’ll suffer the discomfort of change. When we’re ready for that, we must seek out those who’ve been successful. If we desire success, we must surround ourselves not with those who’re failing, but rather with those who’ve found faith and recovery. Daily, we must seek out those who’re going in the same direction we want our lives to go.