I Can’t Learn Anything New in Treatment
. . . They were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Hebrews 11:13-16
I often meet those who’ve relapsed despite having been to treatment several times previously. When I suggest they need to go back to treatment, most invariably say the same thing – I can’t learn anything new in treatment. I’ve heard it all before. No one wants to go to treatment. Most desperately desire to avoid it, and so, they construct false arguments against going. The truth is, they can’t stop using and they need time away from the drug, but treatment is disruptive and uncomfortable, so they simply don’t want to go.
At the heart of addiction is a compulsive need to do, not what’s right or healthy, but what I want right now. I can know that my life is a disaster and that I should go to treatment. I can even desperately desire recovery. What I can’t do, if I’m addicted, is see past right now. I can’t make healthy decisions that involve sacrifice and delayed gratification, because I constantly pursue immediate gratification.
This now-ism isn’t a problem only for those addicted to drugs or alcohol though. Most of us have some trouble living for the future instead of the now. We know we should exercise and eat well for our long-term good, but right now, we just want to eat junk food. We know we should get serious about our faith someday, but today we prefer to simply live for ourselves.
In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews described those faithful who’d lived a very different life because they knew that something better was coming in the afterlife. Through faith, they believed they were not of this world, but rather were created for a better one. They lived, not for now, but for eternity.
I struggle with this. In my addiction, I couldn’t see past the next pill. I certainly couldn’t live for tomorrow. In recovery now, I still struggle with being motivated by tomorrow, let alone eternity. Often, I’m still obsessed with what I want right now because that is the most tangible thing to my impulsive mind.
Living by faith is the opposite of now-ism. Faith means believing God wants something better for me. Faith means living out that belief by abandoning my way for his. Faith means making decisions based on what is right and wrong, living for the future, instead of what I want right now.