Contributor: Sara Newhard, LMFT, LCPC Therapist, Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center
Timberline Knolls (www.timberlineknolls.com) is a leading treatment center for women and girls who are struggling with eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and other co-occurring disorders.
Our multidisciplinary team of medical and clinical experts provides our clients with a safe and nurturing environment as they start on their journey to recovery.
Our tranquil setting allows those who come to us for help to receive individualized care that allows them to successfully restore their authentic selves, free from the pain of past struggles, and walking towards a hopeful future.
Addictions hijack our lives. We often don’t realize the bondage we are in as a substance, a process, or a behavior ever so slowly and subtly overtakes our thoughts, emotions, actions, relationships, and time. An addiction of any kind robs us of freedom, fullness, and simply the joy of being ourselves and living in the moment.
This hijacking by an addiction can last months, years, decades. The process of giving up control and surrendering to God is simultaneously both one of the hardest things to do and one of the most life changing and freeing acts we can do. This can be true for anyone, though perhaps especially true for someone who struggles with an addiction.
Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Process
The twelve steps are a trusted model for addiction recovery. They appreciate the need to surrender to something beyond ourselves, God, and allowing Him and His power to radically change our lives. The result is that we can live without the power of an addiction.
But it’s not until we reach the point of admitting that we are powerless, and that our lives are unmanageable, that we can find true healing and recovery.
Until we fully recognize our powerless state, we are not in a position to believe we need help; put another way, that our choices aren’t ultimately achieving for us what our souls long for.
However, if we simply stop at the truth “we are powerless over our addictions,” each one of us would be left in despair and hopelessness. That is exactly why we need a hope based on something more powerful than our addiction and ourselves.
That’s why the next step is crucial: believing that God – whose power is greater than ourselves – can restore us and change our lives. This action and belief can be a frightening step because belief necessitates action.
Being Honest in Addiction Recovery
Often in our lives, if we are honest, we are in the middle of “sort of” believing that God can change us and restore our lives to sanity, freedom, and fullness of life. But the other part of us struggles to believe that He can do anything at all.
This honest wrestling of “I believe; help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) is a crucial part of the process. This journey often entails inviting God along with trustworthy individuals into the struggle as we make speakable our fears and reservations.
These steps of belief manifest in decisions to surrender to Him and turn our desires, our will, and our lives over to Him. Frequently, these actions come as small steps towards faith as we acknowledge what we had been doing wasn’t working for us anyway. These steps of letting go and trusting God can be scary because we can’t see the future.
You Never Walk Alone
The path of walking hand in hand with God through recovery is unique for each individual and we ultimately aren’t in control of what the future holds.
As humans we like control and we know that various addictions can form as an attempt to regain control; therefore, this is a difficult reality and a striking irony as we recognize that the very thing we are striving for (control) is the very thing we have to give up in order to find it.
This reminds me of a similarly paradoxical statement in the New Testament (Luke 17:33), “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” This process of choosing to believe and choosing to turn our will and our life over to a power greater than ourselves is a daily journey, a lifelong journey.
At any given moment, our human nature and the pull of addictive patterns can seek to take back control and make choices that won’t ultimately achieve what our souls are aching for.
The good news is that in those daily moments of struggle, we can experience the grace and love of God and know Him as a just and loving parent who longs for His child to make wise and healthy decisions.
Furthermore, the shame that often crushes lives and can drive an addict back into destructive habits is confronted with the open arms of a good Father’s love and grace. Through the process of belief and surrender to God, the chains of bondage can be loosened and freedom from an addiction can be tasted.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
How has your faith helped you in your addiction recovery?