Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over addiction—that our lives had become unmanageable.
The first step targets the fact that I am powerless to fix my defects and adequately manage my life on my own. My selfish brain wants what it wants when it wants it and if given the opportunity will go to any lengths to get it, inconsiderate of the costs. Not only is the brain selfish since the GO (excitatory) systems of the brain will override the STOP (inhibitory) systems of the brain, but until sound recovery principles are implemented into my life, the Bible points out that my biologically selfish brain—human nature—is especially disadvantaged by my sin nature; my character defect. This character defect drives a core belief of entitlement—what I believe I deserve—and is in fact the exact nature of my wrongs. Facing facts, I am physiologically and psychologically flawed.
ADMIT Identify and Understand the Problem
Entitlement: deserving to be right and in control
What does it all mean considering the historical events of my life; hoping to live up to each expectation of me? What does it all mean in the face of the lies I have come to believe about myself and my place in the world? How has endeavoring to eclipse unrealistic standards I cannot possibly live up to worked for me so far? How do my feelings about life experiences affect the neurological reality of how my brain works, impacting the lifestyle choices I make moving forward?
“When we are no longer able to change a situation we are challenged to change ourselves.”
—Viktor E. Frankl, Renowned Austrian Psychiatrist
“I can to some extent control my acts. I have no direct control over my temperament. If what we are matters even more than what we do—if indeed what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are—then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about.” —C.S. Lewis
When compulsive behavior becomes so a part of the fabric for “living” that even when one’s life situation improves, the compulsive behavior continues, generating a new set of problems and challenges. The obsessive thinking patterns and compulsive behavior (acting out) have grown into a kind of ritual that must be preformed throughout the day and week just to feel a sense of normal and balance. As obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior carry with it risk and cost, and attempting to reduce or extinguish the behavior becomes increasingly disruptive and painful, and deemed detrimental to stop it, it is called addiction.
“Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.” —Benjamin Franklin
The conscious effort to change the behavior is recovery. Recovery is incredibly challenging.
As we choose to submit to recovery God’s way, living according to His plan of blessing for us, it can be especially difficult to resist what we have believed we’ve needed to experience contentment. The draw of our irrational belief system can be painful. The loss of what we have believed for so long was precious and of primary importance, will leave us in mourning, grieving for that which we have lost. This ambivalence can jeopardize the sincerest attempt at honest recovery. We still need relief from the stress, both the original stress before recovery, and now the added stress (growing pains) while in recovery.
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18 (NIV)
Why do I want what I want?
Human biology forecasts that my brain is wired to seek pleasure (thrive) and avoid pain (survive). The Bible agrees with biological science and says that it is within my nature to be selfish (both to improve and preserve self) with the inclination to sin and sin some more, even against sound judgement to the contrary. Sin is the Bible’s three-letter word for the selfish ambition, envy and jealousy, lust, pride, anger and resentment, rage and revenge, gluttony, laziness, and my preoccupation with dissatisfaction, failure and fear, which altogether shape my values (beliefs) and motivate my behavioral response to losing the control that was never mine in the first place (see Galatians 5:19-21).
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14-15 (NKJV)
My addiction to sin is my addiction to me—MEdom. MEdom ranges from hoping and trying—even fighting—to survive, to being willing to risk all to gain all since I am, after all, entitled. I deserve it! Whether I am the victim or the villain, the injured or the injurer, compelled by a core belief of entitlement, I cannot help but be self-absorbed into something that I cannot manage on my own.
and that’s all I need…
The following is a humorous metaphor about attempting to manage wants and needs that one cannot altogether control. The Steve Martin character is living the dream of prosperity until his flawed invention cost him millions in a class action lawsuit. He went from having it all to losing it all. Loss changed everything and the character realized that he doesn’t need anything or anyone; except…
Adam and Eve had it all. God gave them everything. They had everything they could ever need or want. Every thing and animal was subject to them. Imagine ruling Hawaii. Pick your island; your country. You can’t die. You can’t even get hurt. Imagine that it’s all yours; everything in it, and everything about it… is yours. With one condition: See the the fruit on that tree over there? Do not eat it! Everything, and I mean everything else, is free game. (Notice I didn’t say ‘fair game’… it’s not even about what is fair, because it’s all free!) Now go love your life. Yet for Adam and Eve it still wasn’t enough. Why couldn’t they have that one thing? It must be something really special. Why would God keep it from them? Complete control was out of their grasp. They had everything else… everything! But it wouldn’t be enough.
What could they possibly be missing? Was it total control? They couldn’t be deceived into chasing something they didn’t actually want, could they? Adam and Eve would not be content until they were themselves God. When they surrendered to selfish temptation into sin, they lost out on what they could no longer be trusted with. They needed saving. They needed redemption. They needed recovery. But they didn’t know what they truly needed. All they knew was what they wanted. Their desire could not be satisfied.
Why did The Creator find it necessary to plant a poisonous fruit tree in the middle of everything perfect and beautiful? Honestly, I can guess, but I don’t pretend to know. Some say that God wanted for us to choose submission into relationship with Him. Why did God need or want that when He is God? Again, I don’t know. I’ll leave it up to the theology scholars to figure that one out. All I do know is that it created a problem for me and for you. A problem that can only be solved in relationship with God.
My motives rarely are pure when I seek God so it’s wise that I ask Him for help. The truth is that what I really need from God, and what God wants for and with me, is relationship. The truth is that I will not know contentment until I wake up and realize that true contentment is living in the best of what God wants and has for me. In relationship with me God wants to hear from me. For me, prayer needs to be a matter of daily discipline. I tend to be self-reliant and turn to prayer as a necessity when I feel control slipping away and prayer is necessary.
“The fool tries to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it (the truth).” —Henry Cloud
I may not articulate to my thoughts that I need to be in control but when things get out of order in my life it causes intense discomfort. It can be so unsettling when things slip from my grip. It’s like this: The more I pursue control in life, the more I feel the struggle to control what I have no control over. My life is a house and everything in my life it turns out is on fire, and no matter how hard I try I cannot seem to put the fire out. Flames are all around me, raging out of control.
The problem is that I tend to ignore the signals in my life that warn me that I am not invincible; that I might even be experiencing some trouble. If my life is a house and my selfish addiction is the fire that can burn my life to the ground, then how critical is it to my health that I recognize the signals that my selfish addiction has set my life on fire?
Why is it that I deceive myself into believing that I can save myself from these raging flames out of control bringing down the house that is my life? Why is it that when the fireman actually appears fully equipped to rescue me that I cling to all that I believe I can save… which, oh by the way, it’s all on fire… when I can’t even save myself? The fireman says, “Follow me!” and I say, “I appreciate that you can help me but I am better off on my own. I won’t burn, I’ve got this. I am all that I need.” On the other hand, if I recognize and then admit that I am utterly powerless in the flames of such adversity, when the fireman comes to my rescue I will certainly believe my odds improve greatly doing whatever it is he says to do. Believing, or at least hoping enough, I would commit to going with him since it has to be better than what I’ve got going on. So why the reluctance? Why resist?
Please consider that it is Christ-centered recovery and its faith-driven principles confronting the scientific reality of human experience that propels authentic recovery from addiction to self into the reality of a new life experience. Did you know that ‘recovery’ is a synonym of the word ‘salvation’? The evidence of the effectiveness of Christ-centered recovery from paralyzing fear, pain, and struggle lies in the testimony of thousands upon thousands of people living freely in the peace and joy of their personal experience of salvation into a transformed life.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12 (NASB)
“I read it, loved it… We often are not really facing how we have accepted a “status quo” Christian existence, plodding through our days not really alive to God… I liked your use of recovery as a synonym for salvation––that could be really helpful for people to take the religion out of the notions of salvation, and infuse the term with a restorative mentality. Good stuff.” —Pastor Fran Leeman, LifeSpring Community Church, Chicago, IL*
It’s all about me!
“I was so obsessed with me and the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn’t focus on other people… What I trace this to is a certain selfishness on my part.” —Barack Obama
Being obsessed with me and the reasons I might be dissatisfied is forged from a core belief of entitlement—I want it, believe I need it, therefore I deserve it. My core belief of entitlement demands that I be right and covets control. My entitled expectations’ appetite for control craves validation. Failed expectations, on the other hand, which spark disappointment, anger, and fear stem from the absence of control (as do emotions such as ambition, lust, boredom, intolerance, frustration, resentment, and jealousy). Vindication and vengeance fuel emotional responses also borne out of the absence of control. Feeling accepted, esteemed, even loved for that matter, contends unceasingly for advantage. It all hinges on buying into the illusion that control is even possible. To be without control is to feel anxious and distressed. Distress is unsettling and rather painful, toxic to my system, cues internal symptoms that trigger impulsive reactions, contributing to more (often severe) problems. Pain is inconvenient, adds to my stress, and is increasingly dissatisfying.
FREEdom from MEdom Project was developed to help you and your family experience reasonable steps to recovery from patterns of behavior that tend to recycle the deepening dissatisfaction of daily routines and experiences. The objective is to help you access the One who can and will light the way to freedom through recovery God’s way. He is the light in your darkness. He is the truth staring into the face of the lies you’ve come to believe about yourself and the world you live in.
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. John 8:32-34 (NKJV)
“That is your secret, contentment… I’ve never known it. I’m forever in pursuit and I don’t even know what I am chasing.” —Harold M. Abrahams, from the movie, Chariots of Fire
What are you chasing? Are you chasing after the “gifts”, perhaps desperately so, or might you seek to find contentment in relationship with the Giver of the gifts? Are you after the things of this life in the world, or might you consider the pursuing the Giver of life who created the world?
They exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the created rather than the Creator… Romans 1:25
“Steven… It is right on. You did a lot of work and your study was directed by God’s eternal truth from the Bible.” —Pastor Randal Ross, Calvary Church, Chicago, IL*
Please read the following to understand more clearly the human condition that we refer to as MEdom—my addiction to me: