Monday, July 3, 2017

An Independence Issue


Summer represents freedom, doesn’t it? And, smack dab in the middle of the season, we celebrate our Independence Day.

Independence: it’s an interesting word.  The definition of it reads as follows: freedom from control: freedom from dependence on or control by another person, organization, or state; self-sufficiency, self-reliance, self-determination, freedom, autonomy, individualism.”

True. Yeah, that covers it. And it got me to thinking. Independence is also a factor in addiction- and not necessarily a healthy factor, either.

“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice: but what I hate, that I do.”

The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15

After all, in the 12 Step Program, what’s the first key step?

“We admitted we were powerless over a substance - that our lives had become unmanageable.”

And what’s included in the next steps?

“We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

“We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

“We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

“We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

“We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

There’s a theme here: God.

And likewise, there seems to be a theme about what got us into trouble in the first place: often, it’s our independent streak.

And that streak manifests in some powerful ways…

Independence: the need to eliminate pain:

We want to live a life independent of pain and trauma. So, we determine a substance or method to be our solution to that pain, handling it ourselves, independent of God.

And, thankfully, often, in spite of us, God still has His response to us…

“‘For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds…”

Jeremiah 30:17

Independence: the need to gain and maintain control:

We want to live a life in which we feel we’re calling the shots. So, we determine a substance or method to be our solution to that painful, out of control feeling, handling it ourselves, independent of God.

And then there’s God’s take on things…

“I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”

Jeremiah 10:23

We just don’t want to face the reality that we don’t have control of everything.

Independence: the need to escape:

We want to live a life independent of responsibility, pressure and obligation. So, we determine a substance or method to be our release valve, convincing ourselves our problems have gone away. Of course they haven’t. We’ve just coated them with some form of denial and altered state, telling us we’re free and clear, independent from them. And again, we choose to handle it ourselves, independent of God.

What’s God’s response to that attitude?

“…‘This is the resting place, let the weary rest’; and, ‘This is the place of repose--but they would not listen.’”

Isaiah 28:12

Listen? Why should we? We’re too independent for that, right?

Independence: the need to find answers:

We want life to make sense, to explain why things happened to us. So, we turn outward, seeking behaviors and substances which appear to give us meaning and even identity. They never do, however. They seem to have just the opposite effect, as they keep us from dealing with the real issues in our lives. The longer we avoid them, the less and less we seem to know our true selves. And again, we don’t go to God asking for His help and guidance, even though He is constantly offering it…

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand, and whenever turn to the left.’”

Isaiah 30:21

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”

Psalm 32:8

Instead, we only feel we’re left to fend for ourselves.

Independence: the need to live our lives as we desire:

We want to live the life of our dreams. So, we determine a substance or method to be our answer to that wish fulfillment of a “perfect” life, handling it ourselves, independent of God.

 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

But, what is God’s plan? Are we really that thoroughly convinced our plans are better? Nothing like delusion!

Independence: we desire to be loved and special:

The big point to it all: to be loved.

Perhaps, we’ve experienced abuse, neglect and trauma in our lives, convincing us of the lie we are unloved, unlovable and certainly not special. This unmet need, therefore, can often drive us to pursue such harmful outlets as addictions to not only drugs, alcohol and food, but also to such things as toxic relationships, sexual addictions and a myriad of self-destructive behaviors as well. We want that validation, anything that may remotely mimic what love and being valued feels like. We chose to seek out harmful substitutes instead of going to God, directly, Who loves and values us unconditionally.

Again, check out His response- to each of us…

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’ ”

Jeremiah 31:3

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.”

Isaiah 41:9

However, what happens when all this searching takes place, in the name of independence, without God? Pain, further complication and disappointments are just a few results which show us exactly what our independent streak, manifested through addictions and compulsions, actually brings us.

 Indeed, that independent streak was there from the start. Go back to the Garden of Eden.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying,’ Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’”

Genesis 2:16-17

In that paradise kind of setting, Adam and Eve were given guidance about how to live abundantly. Everything connected with God’s okay was fine and dandy. No problem with that, right?

But there was a problem; they (and we, let’s be real) still seem to fixate, wanting what we want- or what we think we want. Again, we see it acted out through Adam and Eve.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

Genesis 3:1-6

And, perhaps, isn’t that what temptation is all about? Just like the Garden of Eden, we think the object of our addictions and compulsions will be our answer. We want to believe the lie.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ And the woman said unto the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’ And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’”

Genesis 3:1-5

Through that particular lie, we’ll be wise, perfect, problem free, loved, in control and acceptable. So we try it- or go back to it. But it overpromised and under- delivered. And why? Because it was not of God; it was independent of God.

This Independence Day, let’s all do some soul searching about what we are doing- is it dependent upon something specific, independent of God?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

God can be trusted. Do we trust Him? He is not against our freedom; He is against us getting hurt. And, without God as our central guiding force in both our lives and our recovery processes, we are setting ourselves up to get hurt. And it need not be that way. Again…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Let’s celebrate this Independence Day, fully assured that our dependence upon God is, indeed, carving out an incredible and healthy life!

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse




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