I am not addicted to anything illegal or even things considered sinful. But this behavior is running my life and crowding out every good thing.
Chris calls this a “functional savior” but I am more familiar with the term “stronghold.” I’ve been trying to fight it with willpower for years and I have not made much progress.
After another wasted weekend, I started doing some research. How do people break free of addictions like this? It’s not a sin until taken to extremes. Really, it’s not a behavior I could live long without; there needs to be balance.
The below theory is based on my research about the practical “how” of freedom. This assumes I have already (1) recognized the behavior as an addiction and (2) decided I want to change. Having already checked both of these boxes, I set out on a quest to learn the next step.
At the end of the day, there will be an element of self-discipline required to overcome this stronghold. I must choose to change my behavior. But I learned that there are three relationships that can that can help create an environment to make that decision easier.
- I must develop an authentic relationship with myself.
I was raised thinking pride is when I think too well of myself and humility was to see myself as worthless. This year I have learned that pride is actually when I think about myself too much. Believing I do not have value only encourages destructive behavior because “I don’t matter anyway” so there isn’t a reason to stop the excess.
One of the keys I found to overcoming this kind of addiction is to learn to see myself as valuable (think better of myself) but simultaneously to think of myself less. Likewise, I needed to see people in a balanced way, thinking of them more but not putting them on a pedestal above me.
(I know that’s confusing, so I made a pretty picture for you.) It’s about coming into balance, bringing others and myself into the center.
- I must develop an authentic relationship with God.
God is big and awesome. He made the whole world and billions of stars bow down to worship Him. But to limit my view of God to His bigness makes him impersonal.
God is a great, powerful, righteous judge. He cannot tolerate my worship of anything other than Him. But to limit my view of God to His righteousness makes Him unapproachable.
God is the Great Shepherd who lays down His life for me and washes away my sin. He loves me and forgives me despite anything I do. But to limit my view of God to only His compassion makes Him soft and disinterested in my sanctification.
I realized that my “god” had been reduced to a pocket savior that I could pull out to ask forgiveness and then fold back up into my pocket until I needed him again. True freedom for me comes with embracing all the attributes of God. I must learn to embrace His compassion and grace without losing sight of His Awe-inspiring Bigness.
- I must develop an authentic relationship with others.
I love you guys. I appreciate the encouraging responses to my posts and the comments I have gotten from y’all as we run into each other. But this is NOT authentic. This is NOT community.
Honestly, as much as I have enjoyed the meet-ups we have done as a community group, that’s not it either. It’s fun and starting to feel like family. But it’s too big of a group to really unpack my personal battles.
Forge is going to be an awesome weekend. It will allow me to continue developing relationships and to further integrate into the community of young adults at our church. This mountain-top experience will re-invigorate my passion for Christ and further encourage my decision to get free. But no 3-day weekend will, in and of itself, change my life. A few days after we return, the emotions will subside and real life will again be nipping at my heels.
That’s why I am building on these decisions to take the most important, and most frightening, step of all: I am joining a D-Group.
A discipleship group (D-Group) is 3-4 believers, of the same gender, who meet weekly to study the Bible together. More than that, this subset of a community group is the circle where I really can deal with my personal struggles and help others with theirs. The women who join me in this group will ask me hard questions and push me to really tear down the strongholds in my life. And I will do the same for them.
I love how our church encourages D-Groups to come out of our Community Groups. It’s like the family of four inside of an extended family. I also really like that we separate by gender, so that I will be meeting with just women. This will make it more comfortable to talk about the difficult topics we discuss.
Honestly, D-Groups are the most terrifying and most vital part of community. It’s not just about meeting weekly to study the Bible and pray. It’s about having someone to call when temptation feels overwhelming; someone to join me in prayer and hold me accountable.
From my research, freedom from any addiction looks like this stool:
At the end of the day, I alone can make the choice to sin or not to sin. Self Discipline is vital. But that is the “seat” on a 3-leg stool supported by these three vital relationships. Keeping these relationships authentic and healthy creates stability in my life from which I am empowered to make those better choices.
As I was working on this post, I realized that the beauty of Discipleship is that it is the one place where I can actually work on all three of those relationships. In community, I will be challenged to adjust my view of myself and God while building those relationships with others that will help me stay on the right path.
My self-analysis found all three legs of this stool were weak. After years of trying to “white knuckle” my way to freedom, my stool looked like rotted out driftwood. No wonder I keep falling off! This year I am choosing to work on my stool.
What about you? Are there strongholds in your life? Do you see a “leg” on your stool that needs attention? You probably aren’t as bad off as me, but you may have some areas for improvement. I pray that this post encourages you to take steps toward freedom by investing in these three vital relationships.
I love you guys!