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Relapse in Progress

Relapse in Progress

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” Exodus 14:5

I vividly remember the thought process of my last relapse. I’d been experiencing some back pain. I’d been working nights and not sleeping well. And most importantly, I wasn’t putting any effort into my faith and recovery. I had access to pills, and I thought, Once won’t hurt. I could feel God telling me not to do it. Still, I did it. As the euphoria swept over my body, I remember that switch flipping in my brain – Why did I ever quit? This is so pleasant. I’m never going to stop. I missed the drug and despite all the misery it had caused, I still wanted it in my life. So, I relapsed, and a few months later, my life came apart.

This is what Pharaoh’s behavior reminded me of in today’s passage. In the story, he’d lost his firstborn child to the 10th plague and finally relented, letting God’s people go. Once they were gone though, and once he realized they weren’t coming back, he changed his mind. What have we done? Why did we let them go? The answer is obvious. He let them go because the consequences of refusing to let them go just kept getting worse until he lost his child. Still, Egypt was dependent on – addicted to – the slave labor of the Israelites. Even though keeping the Israelites was killing Egypt, Pharaoh wanted them back.

It’s easy to see the absurdity when it comes to my drug addiction or Pharaoh’s obsession with the Israelites. Most of us have been here though. We know pornography is killing our marriage, but still, we want it. We know our junk food is driving our diabetes and high blood pressure, but still, we crave the unhealthy. We know our screen time is distracting us from the important things in life, but still, we can’t put the phone down. Whatever it is, we promise not to do it again, but then, when we realize how much we miss it, we relapse into the same old behavior.

Recovery for me then, has meant daily recognizing where the relapse would take me. Where do I want my life to go? How do I get there? If I want the new life, then daily I must point my life at it and do whatever it takes to move in that direction. Daily, I must do what it takes to cut the old behavior out of my life. This will be difficult and painful, but it will never be as miserable as going back to the old life.

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