You Ain’t Gotta Make Your Mind Up (Right Now)
Don’t rush, no pressure.
Everyone who knows me well, knows I love Justin Bieber. I’m sorry if you just lost all respect for me but I'm Canadian so I’m going to claim ignorance.
The Biebs has gotten wiser in his trials and there’s some real nuggets of wisdom in his songs (albeit grammatical errors but wisdom nonetheless). One of my favourites is, “You ain’t gotta make your mind up right now, don’t rush, no pressure”.
Our society has really gravitated away from taking time to make decisions because life moves so quickly. However, there’s still something to be said for slowing down and taking time to “make up our minds”. This is especially true when it comes to “what to do” when someone in our life is struggling with addiction.
I Know About Making Tough Decisions
I say it all the time but being married to an addict is harder than it sounds.
I’m sure the same feeling goes for mothers, daughters, sisters or anyone else who knows what it’s like to try and withstand the disastrous effects of addiction.
If you can image a home standing strong under the weight of a tsunami, that’s us vs. addiction. We are the homes, protecting our families and holding everything dear to us safe, in the middle of a natural disaster.
We can’t put all the blame on our loved ones because statistics and experience tell us that they likely began in a storm of their own. The studies are all over the place (this type of data is hard to collect) but through my own studies I've generalized that most experts estimate somewhere between 60-80% of people who struggle with addiction have experienced some type of childhood trauma [Source].
Each person's story is unique but it's inevitable that for most, there will come a day that their addiction will become too big for them to handle. When it does, the waves of destruction will come crashing down like a tsunami, desecrating everything in it’s path- including us.
As the mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and friends, we become a refuge in a storm. This means, we are also at risk of being destroyed by it. Trying to figure out, "What to do" in such disaster is no small responsibility!
Gee thanks Leah, so encouraging today... I know, I know.
Let me ask you this: If you were in the eye of a hurricane, would you demand the hurricane stop? Ask it to back off and rage over someone else’s home? Or would you get down on your hands and knees and cry out to God to save you and your family?
When it gets to the point where the addict has lost control, there’s no amount of reasonability that will fix it. We must go to God in prayer and ask He fills us with strength and the knowledge of His will so that His purpose for our loved ones can come to pass. There will be a point, if you're not there already, it'll becomes a matter of salvation or death.
Being married to an addict is harder than it sounds because there’s more to it than what meets the eye. Addiction steals our identity and the person struggling with addiction is not the monster the addiction created. They’re beautiful people like you and I, whom God created to love and be loved by (Oh man, it even rhymes!).
But wait, what do I DO?
The only way to "calm the storm" is to trust God to do it. We have no control. Even though we’re not the ones with an addiction, we struggle with it. I’m sure there was many days I thought about addiction (and the consequences of it) more than my husband ever did. It clouds our judgement and if we allow it, addiction will steal our identity too.
We need to partner up with God, not our loved ones, if we want to win this battle.
Don't Allow The Enemy to Consume Your Thoughts
When our minds are going a hundred miles an hour it’s easy to start thinking in either “disaster mode” or “decision mode”. Satan loves this because if we're constantly worrying, he's successfully stealing our joy. The first thing we need to do is to be aware of what's happening in our thoughts.
This is all the “what if’s”. What if they overdose? What if they crash my car? What if they get arrested? What if they get angry? What if they leave? What if they commit suicide while I’m at the grocery store? What if they cheat? What if they’re also addicted to prostitutes? What if I get a sexually transmitted disease? These thoughts can literally make us sick with worry.
If we can step back and look at the situation realistically, we’re worrying (with good reason!) about things that haven’t happened “yet”. As in, maybe it happened in the past or maybe it even happened yesterday. God's reality is that every new day is a new opportunity for healing. If we want to believe for a breakthrough, then why not believe it could be today?
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"
I realize I’m asking a lot.
Again, this isn’t something we can do by our own strength and the same grace applies to us... Yesterday was a bad day, we yelled, we lot our cool, we worried all day... but today... TODAY! Is a new opportunity to wake up filled with hope.
Maybe it's been so hard that we’ve forgotten what hope feels like but if we’re believing for a breakthrough, why not have a breakthrough today?
This is the, “What am I going to do?”. If they go on a bender again, I’m going to move out. If they try to come home high, I'm locking the doors. If they steal from me again I’m going to take everything out of their room and sell it. If I find drugs I’m going to call the police. If they drain our bank account again I’m going to go on a shopping spree with all their credit cards (and not care about the consequences!). If they cheat on me again, I'm gong to divorce them.
It's absolutely necessary for every loved one of an addict, that includes all friends and all family members, to write out very clear boundaries and have them in writing. If you haven’t done that yet, I encourage you to speak to a professional who can help you lay them out or, if that’s not feasible for you, please join the, “Live, Love, Hope” Community and we will help you!
A Note About Boundaries
It’s literally a plan to save our sanity. It has little to do with our loved ones because the boundaries are all about us. What we want. What we need. What our breaking point is. What we can and will live with. I’m in the process of writing a small book about it for you. Please stay tuned!
Once our boundaries are made, we can stop thinking about what our role is. It's freedom to stop fretting about things and the perfect time to put our loved ones in God's hands for healing and recovery. Remember, “You ain’t gotta make your mind up right now…”.
Things take time. Desperate situations feel urgent but give it time. Addiction is a long road.
I know it sounds cliche but instead of worrying, spend as much time as possible reading and studying the Bible. Don’t understand something you read? No problem! Lot’s of time to Google it, now that you’re not worrying anymore. [Want some help to walk you through it? Check out my Bible study created just for women in crisis, The Be Still Series]
None of this is easy but practicing peace and exercising patience will get easier to do over time. While we do that, it’s up to God to take care of the conviction, healing and recovery.
"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."
Healing takes time but it does happen. God delivered my husband from his addiction and gave him freedom from shame through grace. I'm so thankful God gave me strength to stay. Now, please don't misunderstand me, my husband isn't perfect and we do have a long road ahead but it's one I'm going to walk with my Father in Heaven (And a pocketful of patience!).