None of us ever plan to have an addicted loved-one. We don’t go into friendships/relationships/marriages/having children thinking “I better be prepared in case this person ends up with some bad habits.” So, when we find ourselves in just that position, it’s normal that we don’t know what to do. When we add in the spiritual element, the very real fact that we have an enemy who wants to see our loved ones (and us) destroyed, chaos and confusion can take hold in our lives. So many of us have tried to help, wanted to help, even been desperate to help, only to see our best efforts fall flat (at best) or enable (at worst). Here are 4 of the biggest lies that I believed while my husband was in his addiction and recovery:
1. I’m not the one who needs help
“What should I do at the meeting?” I asked awkwardly, “I mean, since I’ve never struggled with being addicted drugs or alcohol?” With kindness, and a little pity, the woman sitting across from me simply said, “Ask God to show you where your own hang-ups are.” Still feeling frustrated and nervous I attended my first group meeting. Not yet understanding co-dependency, and knowing that God was calling us to work with people who struggle with addictions, I sat down in a circle of women who wanted to recover from chemical dependency. Terrified that I would be found out as a “fake” I tried hard to avoid pointed questions and over-sharing. What I learned from being in that group has forever changed me. I got to see the human side of addiction; see moms desperate to be reunited with their kids, women who were willing to put in the hard work to become who God said they were, ladies who loved and laughed and cried and cared about each other. I did ask God to reveal to me where I needed to recover, and he used this group meeting to teach me about trusting him with the people I care about.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
He taught me that He is the one who works in their lives, it’s not my job to fix them or change them.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
He taught me that I wasn’t in control, and what a sweet blessing that really is!
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
It’s easy to think we don’t need help, but that’s a lie that will keep us from healing and learning what to do.
2. What I say doesn’t matter
Anger, tears, apathy, manipulation, begging, and belittling are a few of the ways that we try to talk our loved ones out of their struggle. Words are a big deal to me. I say a lot of them, write a lot of them, and I take the words of others to heart (any other “Words of Affirmation” love-language people out there?). I love using good words to communicate my exact thoughts and feelings. When my boyfriend (now husband) started admitting little things to be about his new habits, I was often at a loss for words. What should I say to encourage him to stop? What if my words push him away? How can I convey my concern and change his heart, but not lose him? Fast-forward several years, we are newly weds and I’m coming home to find him high-as-a-kite more often than not. Concern had turned to desperation. Sometimes anger spurred mean words and accusations. Sometimes hurt poured out tears and I would beg him to stop. I tried threats, I tried shame, I tried anything I could think of to pierce his heart. It wasn’t until I decided to turn it over to God, to really trust Him, that I began to see any change. I know the power of words well, so I turned my efforts to being firm, but kind. I took the words I poured onto my husband and started to pour them out to God in prayer. Instead of begging my husband to stop, I started begging God to move. Instead of crying to get my way, I was crying to my Heavenly Father, who loves me and holds me.
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
Instead of anger and belittling, I started treating my husband with respect. Not because he was worthy of it on his own merits, but because God calls me to do it out of my love for Him.
“Respect each other out of your reverence for Christ. For wives, this means respect your husbands as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:21-22 (NLT)
Prayer made all the difference. How I spoke to my husband and to the Lord changed everything.
3. I can’t tell anyone else
“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” Ecclesiastes 1:9
One of the most common lies I’ve seen believed is that we can’t share with anyone because “they won’t understand.” This verse from Ecclesiastes states that nothing we are going through is new, other people have gone through them too! The enemy wants us to feel all alone, isolated, and secretive. He wants us to believe that our loved-one will never forgive us. He knows that if we reach out, if we tell someone whats going on, then we might hear the two best words we can hear – “Me too.” God created us, in His image, to be relational. We were never supposed to walk through life without support and accountability. When we find a person we can trust, and we share what we are going through, we have an ally in the fight. We have someone to pray for us, check in on us, ask about things, and keep us accountable for how we are handle them.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)
We need to seek out people we trust, who love God and who will support you, and to share with them whats going on.
4. It’s hopeless
The biggest, and perhaps worst, lie that Satan tells us is that our loved-one’s situation, that our situation, is hopeless. When we believe that things are hopeless, we give up. We stop praying, stop caring, stop seeking help. We may write them off, we may block them out, we may detach, all in an effort to stop our pain. We may feel depressed or anxious, always expecting the next big disaster. When we started visiting St Kitts to prepare for our move here, we would share with people we met why God was sending us to their country. We would talk about starting recovery programs to help people with addictions. Multiple times we were responded to with, “Oh, don’t bother to help the adults here. The adults here are hopeless.” You can see how the hopelessness has effected the culture. There were no recovery programs, no help for anyone beyond detoxing in the hospital. If you believe something is hopeless, then you don’t believe that thing with ever change. Thats why having HOPE means everything in this journey. The best way to find our hope for our loved-ones is by having faith that God can do anything, even change them.
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
” I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NLT)
This list does not include every single lie that we hear while we are walking on this journey. Many of the things we think come from lies that we have believed most of our lives, how we have learned to cope with our pain, or what the world around us tries to sell as truth. The best way to defeat the lies is by knowing what God says, what the real truth is. If you are in the midst of loving someone who is in addiction, then get into the Word of God. Open your bible every day and ask God to speak His truth to you. Just like light drives out the darkness, the truth of God will drive out the lies.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)
If you or a loved one needs help, please contact us for support and guidance.