I often ask people struggling with substance use addiction what their active addiction has separated them from. The answers I receive are consistent regardless of to whom I am speaking: important relationships, jobs, careers, finances, health, and many more.
The most compelling response I hear is when someone identifies separation from themselves, meaning their values, morals, and ultimately, their destiny and God-given purpose in life; in essence, separation from what makes them the unique and special individual God created them to be. When I hear this it represents to me a foundational and necessary insight required to fight the battle of addiction.
That insight is necessary because when we identify the source of that separation, what begins to emerge is the promise and potential of reconnection. Reconnection with relationships, jobs, careers, health, and ultimately with ourselves. The source and path of that reconnection? Our spirituality, or our relationship with God.
Addiction has one ultimate goal – to define us, as a junkie, drunk, loser, hopeless, whatever it takes to drive us away from the one who has earned the right to define us; that is, the one who created us. The lightbulb did not tell Thomas Edison what its purpose was. The inventor of the lightbulb, Thomas Edison, determined its purpose. In the same way, God created us and determines our purpose. For what? For connection with Him. For intimate fellowship and relationship with us. That is why the Bible tells us that we are made in the image and after the likeness of Him, so we are perfectly and wonderfully created for relationship, in a way that no other creation on earth can enjoy or experience. That is our purpose and it defines us.
Everything in our lives should be strengthened and undergirded by our connection with God. It is the source of our wisdom, peace, strength, and everything that will enable us to lead joyous, victorious lives.
That is why evil works so hard to disconnect us, through abuse, hurt, sickness, disease, and yes, addiction. If we are disconnected and isolated as a result of our addiction, we are weak, vulnerable, and confused. We become determined to fix everything by ourselves because that connection to and with God seems so far away. As the Big Book says, being the director of our lives never produces the fruit God wants to give us.
The work that my wife Mimi does at RCA at Devon and that I do with RCA at Lighthouse and in our Christian Program is driven by one constant: God is openly inviting us to reconnect with Him. It is an invitation with no preconditions, forged in the fire of His love, energized by His passion to walk with us in every area of our lives, all day every day. How do we extend this invitation? By emphasizing to people that God is not mad at them, he is not disgusted with them, has not given up on them, and certainly has not abandoned them. The greatest obstacle to RSVPing to this invitation? The guilt and shame we feel due to our actions, the embarrassment, humiliation, and sentence we declare over ourselves: Guilty as charged of everything wrong. The problem with that sentence is it is not accurate in the eyes of God. His sentence is mercy and grace because loves compels Him to this verdict.
His mercy is extended to us because His Son died for us and paid the penalty for the mistakes we have made. As a result of this sacrifice, God is now free to judge us through the actions of His Son, not through our actions. That is why our significance is found at the foot of that sacrifice, not in our mistakes.
When people begin to receive a glimpse of His relentless love, they are faced with a decision. Do I even consider the possibility that I can turn my life and will over to God? Can I trust this love, or will I be ignored, abandoned, or rejected? That is why we are here, to gently encourage, to dare people to dream, to put themselves in the scary position of trusting someone other than themselves. How do we approach this? Through modeling His love to them and for them. By reminding them that we are gold diggers – searching for the gold God has placed within them. By reminding them that while they may struggle with substance use, that is not all they are. They are much more than that. They are recipients of a special invitation. Welcome to the party!
(Written by Lighthouse CEO and Christian Program Curriculum Co-Author David Dorschu, MS)