“Where does it hurt?” I knelt before a pensive five-year-old, trying to discover the source of his pain. As a substitute Kindergarten teacher, I was unfamiliar with the child’s history. He couldn’t find words to describe the hurt, but his little face spoke volumes. I sent him to the school nurse. After she hooked him up with a frozen sponge in a baggie, he was again able to happily participate in class activities. If only it were that easy to fix our inner boo-boos!
I am that child – at times unable to function in life because something hurts, and I cannot find the words to describe my pain. I need something that no substitute can give. I need to go to the Great Healer so that He can hook me up with His treatment plan for my life.
In my last post, “Yoga Pants, You Are Not My BFF” (https://julietvanheerden.wordpress.com/2014/10/01/yoga-pants-you-are-not-my-bff/), I mentioned that symptoms of DENIAL can be rooted in the abuse or neglect we’ve suffered, or in our own sin. I shared that I was “sinning in my yoga pants.” Let me explain: I’ve historically used food both to celebrate life and to numb or comfort myself from the pain of life. I don’t know how or when that habit began, probably sometime during childhood. All I know is that when something is hurting me, ice cream makes me feel better. If I’m stressed, chocolate is my friend. If I’m nervous or scared, I tend to find myself standing in front of the fridge. What is that?
What it is, is sin. Why? Because I’m turning to something other than Jesus, expecting it to bring peace, comfort, and order to the chaos of life. It’s idol worship. Ouch. Yeah, I said that.
So, here’s what happened over the past two years as I wore my yoga pants to “work” every day. (Well, not every day, but most days.) Writing a book is hard work. Especially when it’s a book that bares your soul to the world and exposes the inner turmoil of living with a chemically dependent person. In order to write well, one must place one’s self in the scene. Basically, I re-lived several hells as I wrote the story of how God redeemed the things I once thought were lost in my life.
When I lived my story the first time, I often numbed my pain with food. As I wrote my story, reliving those losses, I found myself reverting to the old patterns of running to the cupboard in search of something to relieve the emotional turmoil of remembering the accidents, the poor choices, the betrayals and the darkness of dealing with addiction. In essence, I numbed myself from the pain of the consequences of addiction with addiction.
Often, just like the Kindergartener, I couldn’t even name the pain. I just knew that something hurt. Rather than run to the kitchen, I needed to run to Jesus. He could have helped me figure it out.
Jeremiah 6:14 reads this way in The Living Bible: “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!” God knows what He’s talking about. If we’ll just own the issue, He’ll give us so much more than a sponge in a baggie. He’ll give us the inner healing that we need. He will help us recover from the cycle of addiction.
The Addiction Cycle:
- Pain, distress, boredom
- Reaching out to an addictive agent, such as work, food, sex, alcohol, or dependent relationships to salve our pain
- Temporary anesthesia
- Negative consequences
- Shame and guilt, which result in more pain or low self-esteem, starting the cycle all over again
Admitting powerlessness is absolutely essential to breaking the addiction cycle. We have to take Step 1 if we want to get off the crazy merry-go-round.
Step 1: “We admitted we were powerless over our compulsions, obsessions and addictions, and that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Where is your life unmanageable? Where are you compulsive, obsessed or addicted? Own it. Name it. Take it to the Great Physician. Don’t wait another minute. Get on with your abundant life!
Father, forgive me for allowing myself to revert to old coping patterns. I admit my powerlessness over using food to numb or reward myself. I ask for Your power and Your Spirit to give me self-control and the ability to run to You when something is hurting and I cannot name it. I choose to trust You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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