Addiction is a common by-product of childhood trauma. In Fact, according to a study conducted by the NCBI, “This study reveals an extraordinarily high frequency of physical and sexual abuse among both women and men admitted for detoxification in an urban inpatient facility: 72% experienced interpersonal trauma and 75% of them first experienced it as children. The frequency of physical and sexual abuse is similar to that found in other studies of clients at methadone and detoxification programs” (Clark et al., 2001; Gil-Rivas et al., 1997; Hien & Scheier, 1996). Understanding the reason for my behavior helped me take the steps needed to change how I viewed myself, my relationships, and God. I decided to address three core issues of addiction: confession, by sharing my experience with confession, identity, and surrender. The first blog, Know the Truth describes the importance of confession to the healing process but also describes what might follow confession.
I sat nervously in the waiting area for my appointment with the Chaplin. I shook with fear at the thought of revealing the secrets listed on the tear-stained paper I held in my hand. My thoughts raced as I waited my turn. “I can’t tell him this. I’ll cross this one off. Nobody will know.” Before I could do that, the door opened and the Chaplin welcomed me into the “room of doom” at least that is what it felt like in that moment.
One hour later I emerged from the Chaplin’s office relieved that the ordeal was over. My heart was a little lighter, but I was not convinced that my confessions freed me from condemnation. After all, the Chaplin barely knew me. I would never see him again. I wasn’t sure I could trust him. In fact, my primary thought was, “this is great, but if ___- knew all of this they would not be so gracious.”
Over the next few weeks at The Meadows, a treatment center in Arizona, I learned that confession is only one step in the process of letting go of sin.
Examine, confess, forgive
After 6 weeks, I returned home. My heart was at peace, my mind calm and I believed I was healed to the very depths of my soul. However, within a few days, I was an emotional and spiritual mess. One month after my return home, I was admitted to the local psychiatric hospital. Once I was discharged from the inpatient program, I was admitted to the day program where I remained for 1 year. During that year, I healed emotionally and was eventually able to return to work. There was still something missing in my healing process, the final step would come slowly as I began to pray this prayer daily.
I will daily examine my ways and test them, and return to the Lord. (Lamentations 3:40) confessing that I have sinned and asking for prayer and I will pray for my sisters and brothers so that I too may be healed. (James 5:16). I rejoice that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus and that nothing can separate me from the love of God! (Romans 8:38-39) I humble myself before the Lord so that He may lift me up. (James 4:10)
This prayer, composed of several paraphrased scriptures, sums up what was missing. The truth is true freedom and total healing comes:
- Through a daily examination of my behaviors.
- Confessing those behaviors to someone
- Asking for forgiveness when needed
- Forgiving myself
- Accepting the forgiveness of Christ
More than Words
The prayer alone does not heal nor does it set you free. Rather it is a call to action. We are active participants in our healing. We must take responsibility for our part, which is to ask, to examine and to seek help from others (professional counseling if needed), and to believe that we are forgiven and to forgive others. (I will address forgiveness in more detail in another blog). The Truth that will set you free is realizing we are in a spiritual battle. Although the war is already won, the enemy will do all he can to convince us that we are not free. I do not fear the battle, but I do not take it for granted either. I know that I must connect with God daily and fill my mind with His truth daily, so that I am ready for the “fiery darts” the enemy may send my way.
Each day Lord I will put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, I will be able to stand my ground, and after I have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13) Keeping this in mind, I will be alert and always keep praying. (Ephesians 6:18b)
Sounds intense? Perhaps a simpler way to view this process is to think about the struggles you currently have. (Drugs, porn, food, sex, alcohol, working too much). For each of these struggles take a moment to honestly think how much time do you spend every day thinking about these struggles? You may not act on the thought, but the thought is there. What would happen if you spent that time getting to know God through Christ? There are so many ways to do that. Just sitting quietly, listening to music, walking, prayer, reading about Him and so many more. Recently, my daughter posed this question to a group of women in attendance at a women’s conference. “How much time do you invest in building your relationship with your spouse or your family?” She went on to ask, “What would happen if you only spent 10 ten minutes a day or 2 hours on Sunday with them?” How much richer will your relationship with God be if you spend the time you currently spend with your struggle with God?
Granted this is not easy, but it is simple. Like any new habit, we must practice, practice, and practice until the new behavior becomes the norm. Christ is there to walk beside you. Seek Him and you will find Him.