Being Patient With God Through a Loved One's Addiction
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do...” -Luke 23:34 (KJV)
If you’ve ever had to suffer the wrath of the anger of an addict, you know the significance of this verse.
There are times that we take the brunt of the anger. We are the punching bag. Verbally beaten down, ridiculed and mocked. We become the enemy of the one we love.
And for what? Because we refused to give up on them? Refused to let them destroy themselves in their sinful squalor? No matter how much they hate us, we push on because we refuse to stop loving them until we simply cannot take one more verbal beating- and then, we break.
Though we may feel weak, loving an addict is for the strong.
However, God promises to be our strength when we are weak. In fact, He says His glory shines the greatest when we are in our weakness [Click to open in a new window: God Gave Us a Spirit of Power, Love and Sound Mind (So, why am I freaking out?!)].
He is also a God of restoration.
"I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust ate, the young locust, the destroying locust, and the devouring locust- my great army that I sent against you."
-Joel 2:25 (CSB)
Our Father is good and he loves to give us good things. It brings Him joy to bless us because our joy also makes Him happy. Have you ever thought about that? That it makes God happy to see you happy? He loves you!
Too often, and I’m not saying there aren’t appropriate times to leave, we leave our loved ones to their addiction because it is difficult. Not because our boundaries have been crossed or because we have preemptively made a decision to leave for the sake of our health but because we're overwhelmed and say, “Nope! I’m out”.
"Ain't nobody got time for that..."
Again, each situation is different [do you feel like you need to leave but cannot seem to do it? Read one woman's story of escaping abuse in, "The Day the Lord Set Me Free from My Marriage"], but in my case, I felt my marriage was my cross to bear so I made the decision to "take up my cross" and follow what God told me to do, no matter how difficult. Jesus did it for me. I would do it for Him.
Short term struggle for long-term eternal gain [read more about how I manage the chaos my daily life in last week’s post, “Hygge, Minimalism and the Art of Letting Go”].
But the question we really need to ask ourselves is, "Am I willing to do this if it isn't a short-term struggle?".
The decision to stay should never be made with the expectation that it's going to feel good. We stay when God tells us to stay. We make the choice to honour God in obedience and remind ourselves that there is a powerful ministry that can only come from complete brokenness.
And sometimes, we stay because we understand that we are broken too. God has used my situation to refine my character and I learn daily how many more kinks there is that He wants to work out of my life.
“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use. Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?"
-Matthew 7:1-3 (CSB)
It's so easy to put all the blame on our loved one when their sins and flaws are so out in the open but at the end of the day, we are going to be accountable for our own behaviour. How did we handle what God gave us? Did we do it with grace?
I don't remember reading the passage in the Bible where God said, "Hey, it's okay for you to lose your temper and swear like a sailor at them, they totally had it coming!".
Which leads me to the next question we need to ask ourselves, "What does God want me to learn from this?".
"Come, let us return to the Lord. for he has torn us, and he will heal us; he has wounded us, and he will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day he will raise us up so we can live in his presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land."
-Hosea 6:1-3 (CSB)
In my opinion, the best way to handle a crisis is by tapping into our inner strength by humbling ourselves before God. There is power in being calm and getting to an emotional place where we can say, “Listen, God, I have NO IDEA how you’re going to fix this but I know you can and I choose to trust you".
Sometimes, God will answer our prayers in radical ways with life-changing results. More often, God steps back and says, “I’ve got this but you need to be patient and let me work it out”.
Be patient while our lives are falling apart?
Be patient when we don’t know how we will pay the rent?
Be patient with an angry person frequent to mood swings?
Be patient when there is no resolution in sight and it seems all hope has been lost?
If God has told us to carry this cross, we need to learn how to do it faithfully.
And while we are in the waiting, we must also remember that our marriage, relationship, son or daughter- well, they may never be "perfect". It may never be "normal". And sadly, the story may end in tragedy.
There are no guarantees a loved one will fully recover.
There is total freedom awaiting our loved ones in a relationship with Christ but they are the only ones who can choose to accept it. And if they do accept it, it will be their responsibility to develop the relationship and maintain it forever.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!"
-2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSB)
The reality of that is, they can also always choose to return to their old ways. Or maybe, even worse because it doesn't incite change, plateau and stay in a place of lukewarm faith. But that is their responsibility and they are the ones who will have to face God and run the risk of being "spit out" (Revelation 3:16).
If God tells us to stay, we carry them daily to the feet of Jesus in prayer. That's our job.
In this situation, it isn't a question of, "When is God going to heal them?" but rather, "God, can you please bring healing to my heart and fulfill my life?".
"A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance."
-John 10:10 (CSB)
When I was studying with my mentor, Grandma Pearl [read more about her here] she had me do a thirty-day covenant with God that basically said I wasn't going to complain about my situation anymore.
She said (she's right) that the Israelites walked around the desert for forty years because they were always grumbling and complaining. So in order to get out of our proverbial "desert", we have to stop complaining (even if we have reason to!).