“I just want to be free!”
I heard this every Thursday for 3 years. In one form or another, the clients I counseled wanted their addiction to be kicked out and recovery kicked up a notch. As they approached the time to re-enter society, I would ask them about their plans. I could almost always guess the ones who would succeed and those who would not. It is so easy to get side-tracked. Whether you are in outpatient care or inpatient care life offers us a plethora of distractions. For many, the reason behind their addiction was not what they proposed. The reason for any addiction is following a path that seems right to you.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 16:25
It is critical that an understanding of terms be reached before continuing. Having a bad habit is just a nice way to say you have an addiction. Your habit may not be illegal, but it can threaten your family, your finances, and ultimately your future. We, especially in the Christian community, like to minimize our sin and maximize others sin. We have bad habit. They have addictions. Let’s be clear, anything that is distracts you from your relationship with God is a sin.
“How do I break free?” This question has arisen many times and you may be asking it as well. Satan grips our mind with fear and our hearts with guilt and shame. In order to break free of your habit/addiction/sin, we must embrace the forgiveness of God as a reality, not rationale. Living forgiven is not a series of convincing statements that we chant every day. Living forgiven is about having faith in the sinlessness of Christ and the statement of the cross and empty tomb. Please do not misunderstand, becoming a follower of Christ does not automatically release the grip of Satan. What this decision of salvation does is provide the power and opportunity for those chains to be broken and for you to walk out of your prison. God provides the power. God provides the pathway. God provides. Yet, you have to get up and walk.
Jesus asked the man at the pool if he wanted to get well. The man began giving excuses of why he could not. Jesus looked at him and said to get up and walk. In that moment, he was completely healed. His legs had strength. His arms had strength. However, until he chose to get up and walk he would lie on that mat. In Christ, you have been healed of your issues. But to walk free is your choice to make. The sad reality is people refuse to believe in the power of Christ and remain in the grips of Satan through fear, shame, and guilt. God has wiped all of that away. When will you walk?
As you prepare to get up and walk here are a few things to help steady your feet.
1. Avoid your triggers. What is it that makes you consider engaging your habit? Is it certain places? Is it certain smells? Is it certain people? Is it certain situations? In order to walk in forgiveness, these must be avoided. For those who believe they can handle it, you can’t. Avoid the triggers. Change your job. Change your routine. Change your sleep schedule. Change begins with you engaging the power of God provided through Jesus Christ.
2. Make new friends. I have heard it said that you are the average of your 5 closest friends. With that being said, develop new friendships that drive you closer to Christ. Releasing an old set of friends affords you the opportunity for personal growth and more probable success in this endeavor.
3. Realize your limitations. Believing you can handle your habits/sins/addictions is the first step to failure. If you could have handled it on your own you wouldn’t be in this mess now. Coming before God and agreeing on your dependency to Him is vital. Our strength is limited but God’s is limitless. We fail but God never does. We sin but God never has. Why not embrace God? Pride arrives and then a fall.
Living forgiven is not about being flippant about your past. It is about embracing the offer of God in Christ and engaging the power of the Holy Spirit. The probability of sin remains high as long as we are in this life but it does not have to be the habit you had yesterday. Live free. Live forgiven.