Understanding Identity in Addiction Recovery: Who Told you That?

Woman on the shore

As a pastor I get the holy and sacred privilege of talking with people at their most vulnerable moments in life. I’ve been with grown men who have wept at the bitter reality of life crumbling all around them and inside them. I have been with women who have dealt with relational pain and abuse that would make anyone sane person weak in the knees and wet in the eyeballs. The reality is that life is painful, understanding your identity in addiction recovery can help you walk through some of life’s pain.

Life is full of joy but don’t believe for a moment that the joy swallows the sorrows. One of the truest promises of Jesus comes from the gospel of John in which he says; “In this world you will have trouble.” Trouble is coming, Jesus guaranteed it.

Forming Your Identity in Addiction Recovery

When life and pain happen where do you go for identity, purpose, meaning and clarity? For many of the addicts that I’ve had the privilege and joy of working with before the addiction ever becomes purely chemical it is almost always first and foremost relational. “What are you talking about?” you might ask. Well, let me explain:

In the beginning when God created Adam and Eve and they chose the decision to rebel against God and “follow their heart” (instead of guarding their heart, see Proverbs 4:23) the consequences had a devastating effect. Adam and Eve hide from God and have an inward bent of shame, guilt and embarrassment that they were never intended (nor designed) to carry.

When they interact with God about what had happened they do something VERY INTERESTING! Adam describes both he and Eve as “naked” (the direct quote is; “we were naked”) and God follows that statement up with an equally important question. God asks; “Who told you, you were naked?” In other words God is interested in where they are hearing a new narrative about themselves. Who is responsible for you poisoning a healthy view of yourself?

Understanding Who God Says You Are

So many addicts that I’ve pastored have told me that they hear voices. Voices like; “You’re not loved by anyone”, or “You’re a failure” or “The world would be better off without you”. My question to them is simply this; “Who told you that?” Is that the voice of God or is that the voice of devil or the cruel world that wants to destroy you?

man on beachJesus summarized the cosmic battle of good and evil in John 10:10 when he said;

“The thief has only come to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you might have life and have it to the full”.

No matter what you’ve been told by anyone the other voice that matters is the voice of God and that voice tenderly and kindly whispers; “Regardless of what you’ve done, that doesn’t determine who you are. I love you and my love can transform you from the inside out”.

Community Discussion – Share Your Thoughts Here!

How have you learned to combat negative thoughts that challenge your identity in Christ?

Pastor Ryan Moffet family photoAbout the Author:

Ryan Moffat is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, OR and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR

Ryan received his BS in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students, families and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. He’s been married to his beautiful wife Michelle for 13 years and they enjoy raising four crazy, unique and special kids together.



The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on November 16, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.