ADDICTION- You Can’t Just Pray that Shit Away
There is a lot of secrecy and shame in the Church around the issue of addiction. Many followers of Jesus are led to believe that when we make a commitment to “live a Christian life” — Jesus will just swoop in and fix everything that is wrong with us.
We should just be able to “pray it away”.
Sometimes this message is spoken, sometimes it is unspoken. Either way, it causes many new believers a ton of confusion, anger and shame. Especially if they become leaders in the church. Then it is almost impossible to admit publicly that there is a struggle with addiction in your life.
This is part of the reason that it took me so long to get sober.
I knew that in order to achieve any kind of long term, healthy sobriety, I would need to join some type of recovery program and that would necessitate me “going public” with my problem. The problem that I was not able to overcome, no matter how much I prayed.
The idea of walking into a room of strangers and declaring out loud that I was an alcoholic was abhorrent to me. The idea of walking into a room full of strangers and admitting that I was a seminary student pursuing ordained ministry and couldn’t figure out how to stop drinking was impossible.
I knew myself well enough to know that if I truly was going to do this, come out publicly and tell anyone else that I was an alcoholic, that I would not be able to turn back. Once the toothpaste was out of the tube there would be NO WAY of putting it back in.
Instead, I chose to suffer in silence, in a prison of my own making.
I knew, from the beginning, that my drinking was not “normal”. I started drinking in my junior year of high school, usually at parties, which I now realize was in order to mask a great discomfort that I had in large groups of people, especially at parties. What better way to “come out of my shell” than to drink an entire bottle of Bacardi rum and pass out on my friend Shelly’s diving board? The next day, when my friends would share the “funny” stories of all of the ridiculous things I had said and done while drunk, there was this strange mixture of shame and pleasure. On the one hand, it was truly embarrassing to be told that you were sitting at the table eating a…