I Swear I’ll Never Use Again

I Swear I’ll Never Use Again

Or if anyone utters with his lips a rash oath to do evil or to do good, any sort of rash oath that people swear, and it is hidden from him, when he comes to know it, and he realizes his guilt in any of these . . .  Leviticus 5:4

I’ve been sober from opioids for almost 10 years now, but prior to that, I used on and off for 15 years, twice going to outpatient treatment. Each of those times, I vowed to my wife that I’d never use drugs again. And I meant it . . . or at least part of me really wanted to mean it. To repair our relationship, I wanted her to believe that I’d never again become addicted and that I’d never put her through the lying and betrayal again. I wanted to convince her of my change, before I’d actually changed. Still, I reserved the right to use opioids occasionally. I was foolish enough to believe that I could use and get away with it. I’ll be more careful next time. I won’t let myself become addicted.

So, when I relapsed for the third time, it shattered all trust as I’d once again broken my promises. In that calamity, my wife realized she could never trust me again and I knew I was unworthy of trust. That’s a tough thing to look forward to in a marriage. How do you go on in that condition? When I got home from treatment, I knew that I’d found a lasting recovery, but I also knew that I couldn’t promise her that I’d never use again. So, I didn’t. I simply set out to live a profoundly different life, pointing myself at God every day. My wife was skeptical. Who wouldn’t be? After a year or two though, of not swerving from my course, she began to believe things could be different. There was no vow I could make that would convince her of my transformation. The only thing that could convince her was seeing actual change, every day, for a long time.

Today’s passage explains that a rash oath is a sin. We may mean it at the time. I swear I’ll never do that again. But this is an inherent dishonesty as we’re trying to convince others of a transformation that’s not yet occurred. Still, we long for others to believe us, so we swear by heaven an Earth. This, God says, is evil because our subsequent actions will prove us to be liars. Instead of swearing to change, we must pour our effort into actually changing. Daily, we must do what it takes to abandon ourselves and follow God. Tomorrow, we must do the same . . . for the rest of our lives. In doing so, others will witness the transformation, and then they will believe.

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