Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Addict Versus the Christian: Your Response

One of the hardest things I've ever had to do? Definitely, it's detaching from my mother's drinking and its consequences. Last night I received another angry email from a sibling--one who is deeply entrenched in enablement, and harshly judging me for my stance. Reading it sent my heart racing, and once again, I perceived that addiction is a gift that just keeps on giving--and not in a good way.

How one deals with an addicted person involves assessing what stage of denial they're in, and acting according to their readiness for recovery. If the denial is deep, and they refuse to admit they have a problem, there is little one can do, outside of detaching.

What is detachment, exactly? And why do I bother writing this post?

When I think back to my family life growing up, and how all of us behaved, I'm deeply saddened by the secrecy and denial. Addiction is shameful and ugly, but keeping it secret is even more shameful. If you deal with an addicted person in your life, I urge you to move away from secrecy and toward acknowledgement and transparency. Denial and secrecy are your enemies, and millions of families, including millions of innocent children, suffer needlessly not so much because of someone's addiction, but because of the secrecy and denial.

Reject your former response and move into the Light. Give your addicted friend or family member over to the care of our Almighty God, who is mighty to save. Any control you think you have over the situation is mere illusion.

Detachment is considered cruel by those who don't understand its value; you will be judged harshly. Lean on the Lord as you detach and gather your support where you can. Stand by your convictions, even if it means standing alone. Be gracious to those who won't understand, remembering that few of us understand what we haven't experienced.

Detachment, by definition, is removing yourself from the consequences of someone's addiction. It is crucial for recovery purposes that they take the consequences, fully. Any help from you in that regard just makes them get sicker--and you get sicker too, with your enabling and your refusal to move into the Light. Addiction is sin, and you want no role in it.

Is it also a disease? Probably, so ask God to provide what you need to forgive, to give you the compassion necessary to view your loved one as the Lord views her--as a sinner in need of Grace. Don't judge, but also, don't participate.

Think of detachment as being neither kind nor unkind. Don't bail your loved one out of jail, if it gets to that. Don't do any act, large or small, that makes the person more comfortable, outside of saving their life if you can. That said, if they commit suicide, don't take responsibility for it. Each person is accountable for their own life, and we don't "save" anyone. Addiction or not, God will judge the person by their actions, by their denial of Him, by their refusal to repent.

Romans 14:12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Romans 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds

Galatians 6:5 For each will have to bear his own load.

God saves, and any part we have in it is because he allowed us to have a part, for His glory. Don't believe that you can change anything, for that is controlling--part of the enabler's sickness. Yes, it's true. Enablers have a controlling streak. And what's worse, they're capable of pity only, not love, until they understand the difference between the two. Their self-esteem comes from rescuing people over and over. It gives them a false sense of power--an illusion of grand purpose. As such, their sickness is just as serious as the addict's.

I have a friend who recently lost a grandfather--a grandfather unsaved and negative toward God. The family deeply grieves his passing, which was more painful than most losses, due to his final destination. They tried to witness, to no avail. What she explained to me in her letter was one of the hardest things any of us has to process this side of heaven. Why doesn't God save everyone? She said they have to trust that God is just, and acts accordingly.

Why doesn't God save every addict? Why doesn't he soften every heart? Why doesn't he rescue every child stuck in an addictive home? All of it is mystery. Don't try to figure it out. Trust in the Lord fully and believe in His goodness. Give thanks that He saved you, and feel guilty not for those who perish unsaved, unless you never shared the Gospel. But even then, let the guilt go because God is sovereign, and he works through our sloppy or inadequate attempts. If we live unashamed of the Gospel, that is witness in itself. Don't hide your faith, don't water it down, don't keep it quiet to avoid offending. Live boldly and let God work through you.

And hold on tight, because the world will hate you because of your unveiled love for and allegiance to the Son. They will distort it all, claiming moral relativism and tolerance is the way to go, for in their minds, absolute Truth doesn't exist.

If someone you love is never saved, know that God is Love, regardless. Cling to Him and His goodness, which will only make you stronger for the work he has for us, as Christians.

The last thing I want to say, is to believe. Imagine what it will be like when your loved one meets the Redeemer. Hope. Because hope will keep you praying. Hope will strengthen you. Hope will be your endurance. Hope will help you run and finish the race well, for His glory.

Remember how Jesus was viewed by his own town members? They were blind to the divine in Him. They were too close to it all, in essence. I don't believe that family members are always the best Gospel deliverers, for the receivers are too caught up in the emotional responses ingrained in them toward that member.

And when you've been hurt by an addicted family member, it's even harder to "deliver" the Gospel well. Trust God here to bring in a neutral party to seal the deal. And remember, too, that your responses are not always going to be good ones. Be compassionate toward yourself, as well. It's easier to shower compassion on an addicted outsider, than it is on one who has hurt you. I read a pastor's account of this, in relation to his own functioning alcoholic father. He noticed that he showers compassion easily on the addicted (compassion not pity) who have hurt others with their addiction, rather than him.

As you pray for your loved one, pray someone neutral into their lives, who will deliver the Gospel and Love without prejudice, and be a sound and enduring witness.

This is where I'm at now. Fighting for hope. It appears my mother has rejected God for good, and other loved ones are being brought down with her. It's so hard to have hope, for I've prayed so long.

But God is at work in my heart, teaching me to hope. To hope in Him, for He is our only true Hope.


Anonymous said...

'Denial and secrecy are your enemies, and millions of families, including millions of innocent children, suffer needlessly not so much because of someone's addiction, but because of the secrecy and denial.'

Amen! This is also absolutely true about abuse too, I can testify to that. There are many things which I relate to in your writing, even if I have not experienced them directly.

As for Truth, I struggle - not struggle - I *wrestle* with this. There are many different, biblically-based opinions on various subjects. All I know is that I run and I run towards Jesus and I must not stop, not ever. I don't think this wrestling/running should ever stop. We must always wrestle. I often think of the debates that raged over slavery 150-200 years ago. There were many who, quite rightly, defended slavery as being biblically-endorsed, but their opponents were also right - and in the end it was love and tolerance that won. I don't know that there is such a thing as moral absolutism... or at least I believe that Jesus was the only One who could claim to know where it lies, not us. Sometimes I think that even people who vehemently disagree (speaking particularly about Christianity) are often motivated by the same reasons: each searches for truth, for righteousness, and for Love uncorrupted by the world. I pray for humility and for God to take away my pride, but to give me discernment. I try to act prayerfully and with compassion; I know no more than that.

Thank you for this very thought-provoking post. I always look forward to reading what you have to say. I know you are a very deep thinker, like me, and I respect that.
Happy New Year to all of you. May it be a blessed year from start to end!
Sandy xxx

Christine said...

Sandy, I was referring to absolute truth as the truth that Jesus taught in the Bible. Not moral truth, necessarily, other than that which is explicitly taught in the Bible--and a lot is covered there. But there are still issues that aren't covered there, that we have to seek the Holy Spirit on in prayer. Does that make it clearer, what I meant?

Christine said...

To the person who posted and asked me not to publish: I read it and deleted it and my heart aches for you. I am praying for you and yours, and loving you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Christine, absolutely. The trouble comes when faced with a family member who is outside of those things and seeking to love (but not be part of) their brokenness. Someone I love had an abortion. It was beyond heartbreaking. It was also so very difficult to know what the right thing for me to do was. Can't go into detail.
God bless you - praying for you and your family. You are a genuinely lovely woman of God and I often wish I could talk to you in person.
Gotta go, I have guests coming and I have just spent two hours writing a blog post myself!

Christine said...

That I know of, none of my acquaintances have ever had abortions. But if I did have knowledge of this, I would just love them, as I'm sure you are doing. They are swallowed by self-loathing, at least when they grow a bit and understand more what occurred. My hope is that all who do this would come to know Jesus asap, because life would be hell without the Holy Spirit afterwards. I think many Christian ministries for pregnant girls include loving them after this decision, as much as before it. They need to know the forgiveness of God so they can forgive themselves.

Enjoy your company! I know you won't see this until much later. Happy New Year!

Amber said...

It is very difficult to love and have to step back from someone making bad choices.
Unfortunately, we can not change what they do. Their choices and decision to change must come from within themselves. We can be supportive, even if only in prayer, and we can offer love and help if they ask. Otherwise, as hard as it is we must allow them to choose their own path.

With a few family members dealing with addictions and making poor choices, it's so hard to watch and have to step back and do nothing. AS I have tried many times, and always came away hurt and having not made any difference. I'm also having to protect my own children and family from situations and exposure that I will not out up with.

Everyone chooses their own path and in the end, their own destination.

I pray for healing for the addicted and for their family and friends.

Amber said...

Oh, and I wish you all a wonderful New Year.
Many blessing to you and your family.