Jun 7, 2012

Can YOU Just Say No?

They triumphed over him (the enemy) by the blood of the Lamb 
and by the word of their testimony.
Revelation 12:11

Saying it's easy to stop drinking alcohol for an alcoholic or to stop doing drugs for a drug addict is like saying it's easy to stop drinking coke and coffee or to put down the donuts forever.

Ungodly addictions are counterproductive. Instead of helping the person adapt to situations or overcome problems, it tends to undermine these abilities.

For example, a gambler might wish he had more money - yet gambling is more likely to drain his financial resources. A heavy drinker might want to cheer herself up - yet alcohol use contributes to the development of her depression. A sex addict may crave intimacy - yet the focus on sexual acts may prevent real closeness from developing. When someone is addicted, they will continue to engage in the addictive behavior, despite it causing them trouble.

I was what they call ‘a functioning drunk and drug addict’. I thought I didn’t have a drinking or drug problem because, despite drinking from the time I got up in the morning till the time I went to bed at night, popping pills, smoking weed laced with other drugs, and smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, I thought I was ok because I otherwise held a ‘normal’ life holding a good job and appearing to be ok. I’d go out every single night and get up and go to work every single morning. I had drank and done drugs for as long as I can remember. It started early in my school years. There used to be a 7-eleven by my old school and I’d go by a bottle of wine or beer or something like that and a can sprite or coke, down what I could of the alcohol and pour the rest in the can and bring it right into the classroom with me and I’d slide it in my desk when I wasn't gulping it away. Chewing a lot of gum helped disguise the smell. Harmless, huh? Nope. It led to a more and more destructive lifestyle as the years went on. Why do it? Probably because I was subconsciously trying to numb the pain of the child inside me that had been hurt over and over and had no one to share or go to (in part cause as a child my parents were a big part of the problem) and from shame and guilt. The traumatic events that have happened to me and around me over the course of the years just seemed to 'cement' my love for alcohol and drugs. I hid things pretty well from those who loved me, didn't let anyone see everything I was doing. I didn't feel safe sharing my secrets with anyone. The addictions were my escape and my crutch, though they failed me miserably.

A lot of people portray addicts as hopeless, unhappy people whose lives are falling apart. Many people with addictions do not believe they are addicted as long as they are enjoying themselves, and they are holding their lives together. I personally LOVED the lifestyle and couldn’t get enough. I couldn't see all the harm it was causing in the beginning, either that or I did and just didn't care. Had it not been for Jesus, I’d still be doing the same thing now, because at the time it was so hard for me to lay those things down and I fought laying them down tooth and nail.

Near death combinations of drugs and alcohol has taken a toll on my health. That's definitely been a factor in stopping the old lifestyle. It's really not all it's cracked up to be. It's really not that glamorous. In an effort to help me stop traveling the road of destruction I was on, the Lord slowly began taking away desires of the lifestyle I had. There'd be times I'd try so hard to get high or a buzz and couldn't. I'd start feeling empty when I would be out, like it was amplified that there was a hole in me that needed to be filled a different way (with Him). I experienced hangovers and migraines from the alcohol. I developed asthma from long term chemical exposure at a state job I had, dumb me would still try to smoke when I couldn't even breath. I'd mix so many drugs and alcohol, and oh yes, the doctors said anti-depressants would fix everything so I was taking them all at the same time. There were times I'd pass out at the wheel, times I wouldn't know the function to eat or go to the bathroom, or I'd be hungry and know I was supposed to eat, but would forget how to eat, how to even hold a fork. All these things that were 'supposed' to help weren't making things better.

My dad’s an alcoholic. Still. After all these years, he thinks he’s ok and not drinking too much. Ok, whatever. They say the genes that can predispose you to things like alcoholism and other addictions can be passed down. I don’t know if that's true or whether I got anything like that from him or not, but I do know that even if I did I still can make a choice to do better, seek help, and say no.

You know, the lure of the things of the world can be so very strong and seducing. It’ll just suck you right up in there if you let it. Before you even know what's happening. We have to get to a point where we make a decision, whether we want to take a stand, do the right thing, and just say no. We have a choice to make, and the one we make affects those around us, not just us. Choose carefully.

Things aren't always as easy as you think they'd be. If you haven't been there, how would you know? It takes lots of Christ's love and grace to say no to some things of this world. People need those who love and support to walk along side of them, judgers DO NOT aid in the healing process.

God wouldn't ask us to do something (like staying sober and being watchful) without empowering us to accomplish it. Each step of obedience that we take is a victory. Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit.

Let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6

When I first got saved, the Lord lead me to read Romans 8 every day for a month. I still read it every chance I get. It touches on so many aspects and the Lord has brought me so much healing through it. It tells us there's no condemnation (no guilt) if we're in Christ, that we are accepted by Him and God is our Father and how much God loves us and that we can NEVER be separated from His love.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through him who loved us. Romans 8:35-37

Paul said in the Word, I die daily. And that’s what I’ve had to do in my walk to be a better person and please the Lord, say no to the flesh daily, and when I fail (which is all too often) repent and keep stepping (instead of receiving guilt and going back to old ways.). Some days are better than other days. Some days I just plain blow it. Thank God for a loving Father who forgives when I come to Him in repentance, who loves ME not my ACTIONS, and who’s always there for me. I’ll never have to walk this road alone, and neither will you if you ask for help. God’s love has helped win me out. If you stay in God’s presence long enough, you can’t help but change. The more of Him we have in us, the less room for the things of this world. We’re works in progress.

Am I totally fixed, cured? Of course not. But I’m a long ways down the road closer to being whole in Christ than I used to be. I’m a work in progress. I’m on my way.

Things may look bleak, but rest assured that your hope and trust in Jesus as your great escape GUARANTEES you a way out. For whatever you're going thru know that JESUS is aware, HE understands and HE's somehow gonna help you.

Drinking, doing drugs, smoking ARE NOT the way to fit in or make friends. If you have people in your life trying to force you to do those things, get away from them. You don't need those things and you don't need the people. Don't give in to peer pressure.

DO NOT think that being a Christian makes you immune to struggles like those I have described here. What being a Christian DOES DO is give us a helper and teacher, the Holy Spirit.

Submit your life to the Lord. Ask Him for deliverance from what has you bound. Cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Trust. Relinquish control of your life, your emotions, your actions and feelings to the Lord. Ungodly addictions WILL NOT fix you or your situation. Stop reaching for the wrong things to help you. Don't be discouraged by set backs. Forming new habits to replace old ones takes time.

And just say … no.

Father God, help us to make right choices. Take away the desire for ungodly addictions from us. Fill the voids. Heal our hearts and love on us. Help us to stand strong. Send godly people in our lives who can make the road to wholeness a little easier. In Jesus' name, amen.