I’ve had this post sitting in drafts for a couple of days. I haven’t wanted to post it, even though it was in my heart to write. Part of me didn’t want to post it because I didn’t want to admit where I’ve been. I thought about waiting for a while, letting it sit in drafts and just move on to something else until the time seemed right.
I’d like to try to explain why, because I feel like it’s important. Maybe there’s someone else who has felt this same way.
I hesitated when it came to posting it because I felt like no one would understand. I felt like I would be judged.I was afraid of what whoever might read this would think. Being honest, I am afraid.
I wanted to wait to post it so that, on the off chance someone finds my blog and reads from the first post in order, there would be enough posts leading up to this one that they wouldn’t think I was delusional, a fraud, a hypocrite, a fake. I was already formulating defenses in my head.
I didn’t want anyone to read this and think what Jesus has done for me is not real, that I have not been truly changed. I have changed. Not because of anything I’ve done…because of what He has done for me, to me, in me, and (I pray) through me.
I have had this struggle about this post over the last couple of days. I have struggled with wanting to wait to post this for a later date when it may appear that this stronghold was destroyed immediately after coming back to Jesus. But you know, that’s just not the truth. What follows is the raw truth and I pray that Jesus’s hand is all over it, that you, Reader, will see what He can do.
Here’s a touchy subject. Touchy for me, especially. But I have to be honest, with God, with myself, with whoever is reading this. What He has done for me can’t help someone else if I’m not transparent about it. You’ll never know you can find freedom in Him if you don’t know what He’s freed me from.
There are lots of things, but there’s one I’ll deal with today.
I have had a greater-than-10-year addiction to alcohol. You may have figured that out if you’ve read my post “More.”
I’m not going to touch on whether alcohol is prohibited for believers – you can do your own search of His word and allow Him to speak directly to your heart. Whether it is or it isn’t is not the problem. If it is, and you allow it to turn into an addiction…haven’t you set the freedom to have it above worshipping God? If it isn’t, and you indulge anyway, haven’t you rebelled against God’s word?
My courtship with alcohol didn’t start out as an addiction of course, but it sure turned into one. And it held me bound to it for years, even after I came back to Jesus. I heard one of my favorite speakers say we are to be living testimonies to the power of God. So what I want to tell you is what He has taught me, what He has done for me, and how He has set me free. Because, sister, I am FREE from it. And I praise His Holy Name.
First off, what is an addiction? Here’s what came up first on a Google search:
Dependency…craving…habit. I used different words but they mean the same thing. Jesus showed me early in my renewed walk with Him that the three aspects of my addiction were the need (dependency), the desire (craving), and the habit. I began praying, asking Him to deal with the need, the desire, and the habit.
The need developed out of a deep hole I had dug myself into. A hole that came from running to everything but God to fill the God-shaped place in my heart. I began drinking, small amounts at first, as just a way to relax. I was wound tight, you see. And I had someone telling me I just needed to loosen up. Having a drink was a quick way to loosen up. I can look back and wish it had stayed there, just a drink or two every now and then to relax. But that’s not the case.
As I stepped more and more into deliberate sin in other areas, the one or two drinks turned into three or four, and then more. In for a penny, in for a pound. And it helped dull the discomfort over the other sin.
Then there came a point in my life where I gave up trying to resist the evil that was pulling me. I was tired of fighting it, tired of not winning. I didn’t have any strength left, and I gave up. Gave in. I can point to that time and know that everything went downhill from there. I know where I was when I reached that point. I know how I was feeling. I even know how the weather was. It was a pivot point.
Nothing mattered anymore after that. I said “why not” to a lot of things after that point, including alcohol. Want a drink? Why not. Want another? Sure. It took a while to work up to the level I ended up at. Several years actually.
I didn’t realize (we rarely do) that I was building a cage around myself. I mentioned in my other post (“More”) that I got to the point where I would panic if I was going to be away from home in the evening and would calculate how many drinks I could have before I went to bed. See, I had gotten to where I couldn’t sleep without it. My brain wouldn’t shut off unless I had drunk to the point of almost passing out.
There was a part of me that realized that I had become dependent on it. But I ignored that part of me. I didn’t want to think about that. I had justified everything very neatly to myself. I didn’t drink during the day when I was supposed to be working. I didn’t have any problem getting up and going hours without a drink. It was just what I did in the evening to relax, unwind. So what if I could knock out a 6-pack in one evening. I just wouldn’t drink that much tomorrow. And maybe I didn’t the next day, but I did the following.
Weekends were a different story. I would usually start drinking around 9:30 or 10 a.m. and steadily drink most of the day. Wouldn’t even get a buzz after a while because I was so used to it. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said things I shouldn’t have while drinking, or done things I shouldn’t have. I used to pride myself on the fact that I wouldn’t do anything while I was drunk that I wouldn’t do sober. I was fooling myself.
I was fooling myself on a lot of things.
This was my life for a period of time. Drinking to forget things, drinking because I was lonely, or hurt, or bored. Drinking to have fun. Drinking because I was sad. Drinking because that’s just what I did. It was my habit.
Things got steadily worse in other areas of my life, and of course I drank to deal with it. I had another pivot point in my life, where things had gotten just about as bad as I could stand and I made a change. The alcohol was how I dealt with needing the change, and how I dealt with the change once it came.
Then Jesus got ahold of me.
I have to tell you that He didn’t address my addiction to alcohol right off the bat. He has His way of doing things, and I didn’t question Him. I actually said to someone that so far He hadn’t told me to stop drinking, so I was just going to assume that it was okay with Him. In reality, He was addressing the most pertinent needs first. Kind of like a triage patient. Someone comes in from a car accident with every injury under the sun, and the medical team deals with the most life-threatening injuries first. Sometimes the broken bone has to wait.
He eventually brought it to my attention, and I was going to have to deal with it. I was reluctant to put it mildly. I kept thinking of every rationalization I could, set up all these rules and boundaries (I will only have X number of drinks…I will only drink on these days…). Negotiations.
God does not negotiate.
He is patient, though. And yet again, He knew what the end of this dance would be. He knew He had already secured the victory for me by His work on the cross. And He knew the very day I would walk in it.
The desire for alcohol came in concert with the need. The desire was centered around two things: the effects and the taste. I needed the effects of it but I enjoyed the taste too. The habit was just that…a habit. It was what I did.
When I began praying for Jesus to satisfy the need, do away with the desire, and break the habit, He began working. Sometimes we (or at least I) want Him to finish immediately. You know, the Old Testament kind of work…part the Red Sea, ignite the wet wood, drop the walls with a shout. Sometimes He still does, but most of the time He works in smaller, more subtle ways.
He did EXACTLY what I asked Him to do.
He took care of the need first. He filled the hole in me with Himself. More and more and more I began to look to Him first. He drew me closer and closer to Himself. I found that I no longer needed to get drunk, and more than that I didn’t want to. I wanted a clear head to be able to commune and converse with Him. He began to heal areas of my heart that had been scarred all my life. He began to bind up the wounds caused by my own sin, by the sins of others, by living among flawed humans and being a flawed human myself.
The desire for the effect of alcohol went by the wayside when the need disappeared. The desire for the taste was slower. But it occurred to me at one point that I really didn’t want it at all anymore. I could still drink, but I didn’t crave the taste anymore.
He had answered two of the three. The last was the habit. And, believe it or not, He took care of that without me even being aware of it. First by filling my life with more and more people and activities that centered on Him, then by drawing me into more and more personal study of His word. I realized one day that I had finished work, come downstairs and sat down on the couch (as was my habit), started listening to one of my favorite bible teachers, and somehow hours had passed before I realized it. Whereas in the past, I would have grabbed a drink before I even sat down, I didn’t realize the passage of time. I hadn’t even thought about getting a drink.
I wasn’t free yet though. Not because He hadn’t done the work, but because I hadn’t chosen to walk in His victory. He had broken the habit, but I hadn’t let go of it yet. You see, when I realized that hours had passed and I hadn’t grabbed a drink yet, I got up and grabbed one. Because that was one of the days that I allowed myself to have one. It wouldn’t do not to take advantage of that, of course. It hadn’t occurred to me yet that just because I was “allowed” to, didn’t mean I had to.
Then the day came that He asked for a commitment. He had preceded that day by showing me that I wasn’t walking in His victory. That I hadn’t fully trusted Him with everything, every part of me. I was holding that part back. It didn’t click with me right then. But, when He did ask me for a commitment, He only asked for that day. That’s all He wanted me to give Him. So I did.
It was several days before I was willing to admit that He had freed me from it. Because I was scared. I was scared that I wasn’t strong enough. But I didn’t have to be. He already was. He had already done all the hard work.
He has freed me. I know as sure as I know my name that I don’t have to worry about that problem any more. Denying that, holding on to the fear, is denying the work He has done. He has set me free.
Alcohol was a stronghold in my life. Jesus has rescued me and set me free from it. I don’t have to wait 30 days to know it. Just like when you’ve been sick and you’re “on the mend”, there comes a day when you know you’ve turned the corner and you’re better. I’m better. I’m free. And who the Son sets free, he is free indeed.
Whatever your addiction is, however long you have had it, He can set you free. There are many forms of addictions – it’s not all substances. The same steps apply: the need, the desire, the habit. He can break them. He will break them, if you will let Him.