While it might be generally advised against, I’m going to begin today with an assumption. The speculation at hand is that if you are reading this it’s because you or someone you love struggles with addiction, compulsive behavior, or other life challenges. You are here seeking help for the same reason all of us are seeking help – our lives have become unmanageable.
Insecurity, fear, anxiety, depression, drugs, alcohol, divorce, hypochondria, abuse, procrastination, overworking, grief, perfectionism, codependency, lying, guilt, anger, rage, overspending, sexual addiction, overeating, being the adult child of an alcoholic – these obstacles and others are the underlying stumbling blocks many of us carry around as we fumble through this thing called life. We work together figuring out how to leave such unnecessary baggage on the carousel at the airport. But we must be willing to work. We must be willing to get dirty. We must be willing to relive our past in order to step into our future.
Together, we can and will deal with anything and everything that hinders our ability to grow and be in relationship with our Higher Power, Jesus Christ.
Before we can get to the point of reconciliation in any aspect of life, we have to make some choices, choices that nobody else can make for us.
I have to admit that I have a problem.
I have to seek help.
I have to make an effort to become better, to do things differently than I have before.
I also have to make room for, or allow for, the understanding that healing in recovery is a process. We live in a world of instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now. Unfortunately, that’s only been reinforced by the world around us.
We’re all guilty of it. Say there’s a lull in conversation, or we have to wait a few minutes for a table to open up at a restaurant. What do we do? Most of us pull out our smart phones. We scroll through Facebook or Instagram posts, catch up on emails, or play a game like Words with Friends, Battleship, or Clash of Clans. That same smart phone can also be the vehicle for gratification. With the push of a button I can order a pizza to have it delivered to my house or place a Starbucks order that’s ready to be picked up when I arrive at the coffeehouse. Sure, having a boarding pass on your phone makes the flying experience easier, but ultimately many of the conveniences in life just reinforce the feelings of pleasure we receive from getting what we want when we want it.
That is, after all, why so many of us became addicts in the first place. Whether we were addicted to people, pills, or pornography, the fix that we got – that lust hit – kept us going. The way the pleasure centers in our brains lit up that first time is the sensation we kept chasing for years. All we wanted was to feel that good again or to feel something for the first time in a long time or to, for once in our lives, just feel nothing.
When we turn that first corner…when we begin the program…when we walk into the rooms, we carry a lot of things with us, but the one thing so many of us fail to recognize as part of our baggage is an insatiable desire for instant gratification. For lots of folks the first wall we hit is right after making the decision to get into a treatment program. We’re hyped up. We call a treatment center. They don’t have an immediate opening. We’re devastated because we’re ready to go right now, but that’s not how the system works. That’s not how the world works. And that’s certainly not how God works.
Then we have a choice to make. It’s at this point that we must ask ourselves how dedicated we are to getting better. We must ask ourselves if we want to go on living the way we’ve been living – if we want to keep getting the same shoddy results we’ve seen for years or if we’re willing to stick it out and take the opportunities available to us when they arise.
The opposite of instant gratification is something that I don’t think we spend nearly enough time talking about. Delayed gratification is when we are able to set aside our desire for that quick fix opting instead for a much larger or longer lasting payoff at some future point. And friends, this is the kind of dedication that is required if we’re going to step out of our struggles into the future.
Look at it this way. How many days, weeks, months or years have you been chasing something or someone? And of those years of your life that were dedication to your addiction or compulsive behavior of choice, how many days or months were dedicated to active pursuit of that next moment where you felt whatever it was you wanted to feel? Look at all that time you poured into one pursuit. You know where it got you. You know all the harm it has done. But it was a time consuming process.
In our attempt to step into recovery we often fail to recognize that something we’ve dedicated years of our life to will not just slip away. There is no quick fix. There’s no pill or magic prayer or formula I can give you that will make everything better. The only things that will help you find your way from death to life are relationships – your relationship with God, your relationship with yourself, and your relationship with others.
And the thing about relationships – good, healthy relationships – is that they take time and effort to cultivate. So put aside the idea that 28 days of treatment or one meeting a week are going to cure you. This recovery thing is hard work. You spent years digging the hole that you’re standing in right now. You’re gonna have to spend years finding your way back out of that hole.
That’s why we recover slowly. One day at a time, one moment at a time. Slow and steady is the only way to win this race.
Make a phone call or two.
And don’t become discouraged when you don’t find freedom overnight.
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread. The godly always give generous loans to others, and their children are a blessing. Turn from evil and do good, and you will live in the land forever. For the Lord loves justice, and he will never abandon the godly. He will keep them safe forever, but the children of the wicked will die. The godly will possess the land and will live there forever. The godly offer good counsel; they teach right from wrong. They have made God’s law their own, so they will never slip from his path. The wicked wait in ambush for the godly, looking for an excuse to kill them. But the Lord will not let the wicked succeed or let the godly be condemned when they are put on trial. Put your hope in the Lord. Travel steadily along his path. He will honor you by giving you the land. You will see the wicked destroyed. I have seen wicked and ruthless people flourishing like a tree in its native soil. But when I looked again, they were gone! Though I searched for them, I could not find them! Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.
– Alex Walker