Insatiable cravings. Nasty habits. Vices. Addictions. We’ve all got them. We all love something too much. We all want more. More pleasure. More love. More chocolate. More affirmation. More money.
Most of us know that an unquenchable desire for drugs, alcohol, nicotine, food, shoplifting, and gambling can destroy lives. However, multitudes of people are hooked on things that don’t fit the addiction stereotype: love, work, sports, people-pleasing, shopping, exercising, dieting, watching television, even pain and chaos. Add to the list: technology, religious activities, risk taking, celebrity worship, gaming, tattooing, tanning, even love for pets and children.
It has been said that to be alive is to be addicted; that life in America is so stressful that it is impossible not to become addicted to some object. One Christian psychiatrist suggests “we are all addicts in every sense of the word.”
We live in the great age of excess which breeds an unsatisfied yearning for more and more. You need. You deserve. You must have. Misplaced affections and insatiable cravings often become addictions. Completely unaware, we harbor an infestation of hidden dependencies because they have silently invaded our lives. And they don’t have to be grandiose or visibly evil to do great damage.
Behind every craving is a compelling urge to pursue pleasure—to feel terrific while avoiding pain, physically and emotionally. From the brain’s perspective, whatever we do to produce feelings of euphoria, is worth repeating. Ultimately, we end up mastered by those things.
Surely you’ve noticed that the number of television shows developed around the topic of addiction and compulsive behavior has increased. Today we’re restless, stressed, irritable, discontent, and obsessed. We distract ourselves and medicate our anxiety with activity, mood-altering substances, entertainment, and relationships, because we’re unable to simply be present with ourselves. We may love God, but deeply rooted habits take control. Our focus rests on our objects of attachment instead of on him.
The church culture is not immune either. Christians, as well, hide and deny their behaviors. Many believe the church propagates addiction. The church, however, is in the unique position of becoming its own recovery center.
As I reflect on my life there are three threads that run through every chapter and each season—shame, addiction, and the need to be in control. For two decades I lived a secret double life. By day I worked hard at making my outside sparkle, assuming others would think I had it completely together. I had the right job, wore the right clothes, and associated with the right people. Yet, behind the scenes I’d retreat into a dark, depressing dungeon where I fought the battles with my demons—with my hidden addictions. My specialty: trashing my own life. I held many secrets no one could know about: I was addicted to food, body image, men, alcohol, cigarettes, tanning, exercise, and collecting stuff.
Why do we feel bad in the very era where we have more than what we could ever ask for? We have got the latest and greatest of everything, yet we’re no nearer to discovering real meaning in life. A self-confessed nicotine addict, psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, offered his perspective in his lecture, “Addiction: The Sacred Disease.” Dr. Peck believes at birth humans become separated from God. Everyone is aware of this separation, but some people are more attuned to it than others. They report feeling empty, a longing, and refer to it as “a hole in the soul.” They sense something is missing, but don’t know what it is. At a point in their lives these sensitive souls stumble across an object which makes them feel better—a soul stuffer. Dr. Peck pointed out the alcoholic is really thirsty for the Holy Spirit.
Whether we realize it or not, deep inside we all feel “something” is missing. Our need to be filled up is God-given because God created us to be overfilled by him. We are designed to hold him as the object of our deepest affections. When we don’t, a hole in our soul is exposed. We can’t stand for the hole to be empty so we stuff it with all sorts of things. Those things become the Lord of our lives. Yet we are never satisfied because only God can fill us sufficiently. Eventually I stopped fighting God and turned to Jesus filled the hole in my soul with him.
I have a message of hope: We are not confined to or defined by our insatiable cravings and compulsive behaviors. God is genuinely interested in our problems. He is in the business of changing lives. Turning to him empowers healing and transformation. Unlike what the pop culture presents, the Bible always tells the truth.
Sometimes we must risk undoing who we’ve become in order to live the life God desires—a life of freedom and fulfillment. We can begin the process of transformation by:
- Maintaining the daily discipline of devotional and study time is essential. Set your alarm, or calendar, or smartphone reminder; whatever tool works. Set aside at least 20 minutes each day to focus on study and prayer. Turn off your phone or any other device that tends to distract you. If you have young ones, you may have to shut yourself in the bathroom!
- Prayer is vital. It is God’s invitation to have an intimate relationship with him. It is also our measure of willingness to relinquish control. Prayer is simply talking with God. The psalmist wrote, “I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” (Psalm 116:1-2, NLT). Don’t be afraid to share your intimate problems with God. When you begin to open up he will show you things about yourself you would never have discovered any other way.
- Begin to memorize and personalize verses. The psalmist stated, “Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble” (Psalm 119:165, NLT). As you look up Scripture, personalize it. Insert your name in place of the personal pronouns. Let God speak the verse to you.
Don’t say, “Tomorrow,” when God says, “Today!” You can do this. Take baby steps, but at least move forward. You will discover who you truly are: a significant and secure woman who cannot be enslaved; someone who has the potential to be a loving, giving, and confident person. God’s got your back: “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
This is an excerpt from "Something Happened On My Way to Hell."
Gerald May, Addiction & Grace, (New York: HarperOne, 1988), 3.
Stated on www.AddictionInfo.org: See http://www.addictioninfo.org/articles/4198/1/Is-Everyone-Addicted-To-Something/Page1.html; Accessed March 13, 2012.
Kimberly Davidson, Author ~ Become a Facebook fan Kimberly posts encouragement daily!