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Living the Lie

Living the Lie

The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” Leviticus 13:45

I’m sure there are those who’re completely honest about their drug use, but most of us who’ve been addicted have lied repeatedly to protect our behavior. Drug addiction is just not something that’s socially or professionally acceptable, so we did anything to keep it hidden, telling any lie to prevent others from finding out. Living a lie is miserable of course. The dual life is its own curse, as we constantly worried about discovery, trying to remember what lies we told. Our conscience was constantly torn in two as we believed lying and drug use were wrong, yet we engaged in both constantly. We hated what we were doing, and we hated who we became, yet we couldn’t tell anyone because we couldn’t stop. It was a miserable life.

Living the lie. That’s what I thought of when I read today’s passage. In it, God instructed his people regarding leprosy. Because leprosy was a communicable disease, for the benefit of the community, anyone who was afflicted with it had to declare themselves unclean and remove themselves from society. This had to be a tremendous stressor to those who contracted leprosy. To have it was to become an outcast. I’m sure that not everyone who had it was honest about it. In fact, I’d bet that many of the Israelites tried to hide it so they could continue their normal life. They knew that if they were honest that their lives would be over. So, I’m sure they lied, desperately trying to keep others from finding out.

Living the lie is its own curse though. In my own addiction, I wasn’t just enslaved by the drug, but I was also enslaved by the lies I told. I was as sick as my secrets. Even when I first attempted to find recovery, I wanted to keep my addiction secret, for the sake of my own dignity. Then, I became enslaved by my pride, still hiding the fact that I’d struggled with drugs. Living in recovery now, it’s such a relief to look back, realizing I’m free from the ever-present stress of worrying if my wife or my boss will discover my secret life. Simply not having a secret life anymore is its own profound freedom.

Not everyone who struggles with addiction needs to write a public blog about it, but we do need to be able to be honest. Living a lie means being enslaved to that lie, which is a miserable existence. If we ever want to find freedom from the struggle, we need to have the courage to be honest about it.

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