When I Did Just One Little Thing Wrong

When I Did Just One Little Thing Wrong

When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. Exodus 2:15

When my world came apart due to my opioid addiction, I felt as though my entire life was reduced to that one event. This seemed unfair. I knew it was a big deal to lose one’s job for diverting opioids, but I’d done a lot of good in my life and I thought people should take a step back and look at the good and the bad before rendering judgment. What I didn’t understand, was how defining an event like that truly is. When one’s name is in the paper for diverting opioids, that is a defining moment and to expect otherwise is unreasonable. In my mind, my addiction was just one small facet of me. My addiction though, exposed that I’d been hiding a secret life for years. This wasn’t an anomalous occurrence. This was a pattern of behavior that permeated my entire life. People were right to ask what else I might be lying about. At that point, I didn’t like it, but I was defined by my addiction.

Moses discovered something similar in today’s passage. In the story, he witnessed an Egyptian beating a fellow Israelite and, in his anger, he murdered the Egyptian. When word got out, Pharaoh sought to kill Moses. Moses had grown up in Pharaoh’s house and must have had some favor with him, but this one event changed all that. I’ve got to wonder if Moses felt it was unfair – to be defined by this one misstep. I’ve also got to wonder though, how Moses got to this point. Most of us have been angry, but few of us have committed murder. I’ve got to think that Moses had some deep-seated flaws that precipitated the killing. Yes, the murder was an isolated incident, but it revealed something terrible in Moses. This wasn’t just one little accident, but rather was years in the making.

Our behavior flows out of who we are, revealing our character. When we experience a spectacular failure, we may not like that it defines our lives, but it does. When a married man has an affair, he may point to years of faithfulness and feel it’s unfair to be defined by one indiscretion, but that one indiscretion reveals his true character, undoing years of “good behavior”. To expect otherwise is unreasonable. We may think this unfair, but there is good news. We get to choose the behavior that defines our lives and we can redefine ourselves.

In recovery now, I’m sure when people think of me, they remember my addiction, but I’m probably known more now for how I’ve responded to my addiction. I’m now defined more by the recovery than by the disaster, and that’s something for which I’m profoundly thankful. I didn’t get here by accident though. I got here by daily attempting to abandon my old life to follow God’s will for my life. I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what others think, but I’m also aware of public perception and I’d much rather be known for my recovery than for my addiction.

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