I love that I get to be both Jesus- follower and addictions counselor. Not that they are at all exclusive, and I don’t see that they’re contradictory, but they do approach a prevalent problem each in their own way. Being a part of both traditions, I can incorporate them both into any discussion about addiction, compulsion or otherwise problem behaviors.
From following Jesus, I know to consider ideas of love and worship and mastery and purpose and even idolatry.
Addictions bring up questions of love. What do we love the most? A substance? A behavior? A lifestyle, healthy or not? A person? God?
Mastery is similar. Who or what really controls us? A substance or behavior? Our own discipline or will? The Spirit of God?
Purpose is important in any area of life, but particularly addictions. Having purpose is having direction and meaning and a place and a function. Similar to mastery, this idea says that you are not your own and have more to live for than just quick comfort and pleasure.
Idolatry is a funny sounding word to our post-modern sensibilities and not one we use very often. Together with the worship concept, these words built on the ideas of love and mastery. Who do we love? Who do we serve? Who do we let control us?
These are the concepts that ultimately must be in place in order for recovery to be thorough and sustainable.
In many cases, though, even being in a stable head space where a person can think about, understand, and begin to practice concepts like love and worship takes quite a bit of work. This is where addictions therapy concepts come in. The wonderful thing about addictions counseling concepts is the way they address practical needs and tangible solutions in common moment to moment challenges.
The addictions counselor will look not just at the “Relapse” but will try to understand why the relapse happened. What were the events and stressors leading up to it? How can a similar relapse of “backsliding moment” be prevented next time a similar situation arises? Counseling of all sorts works to develop self-awareness. Not that the Human soul is an infallible or ultimate source of revelation. Rather cultivating self-awareness helps us realize where we’re strong and where we’re weak. The self-aware person knows when they are vulnerable and when they need extra help. If they are paying attention, they can map out their feelings, depressions, stresses and discover their motivations for just about anything.
If you’re aware of a problem you can begin to understand it. If you understand a problem, you can begin to change it, at least a little. If you love God more than anything and have good people around you, then you have the strength and tools necessary for growth. What we call positive changes in the clinical world and what we might call redemption and healing in the church.
I love the work I get to do because I get to see both sides. I see people in both traditions, what works well for them and where their shortcomings are. I get to integrate the best strengths from both Christian theology and all the counseling traditions, which leaves me with a really full tool kit. Most of all, I get to see all the many wonderful modes of healing God can use.
Last night was another occasion of missing having a show to watch in the evening. Instead of caving to the craving, though, we played Scrabble with our housemate in English and Spanish.(You can do this by finding an extra set of tiles and drawing a “enya” squiggle above a couple extra ‘n’s.) So much fun! We laugh more lately, and create more inside jokes.
“Like” this post if you like board games and/or good ol’ fashioned “spendin’ time together” fun!!
Bless the Lord for He is good
He has provided for His people
Bless the Lord for His persistent generosity
He has given freely of Himself
Bless the Lord our protector
In Him our lives are safe
We will not be destroyed