Thursday, November 11, 2010

Step One

For some time now I have been slowly reading Don Williams' book, Jesus and Addiction.  I have reached the point in the book where Pastor Williams discusses the 12 Steps of recovery.  My personal exposure to the 12 Steps comes exclusively through Celebrate Recovery and so I am deeply interested in another perspective.  In Jesus and Addiction, Pastor Williams is making the case that the church is by and large an addiction machine and that changes will be necessary in order for a church to become a place where individuals find freedom from addiction.  For example, rather than teaching people to serve out of their wholeness, churches often encourage service in order to find some sense of personal fulfillment--I now know that such a motive is called codependency and is anything but healthy.

Step One:  We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

This first step, "painfully confesses that addictions, whether to substances, processes, or relationships, are no longer working and that we have to release them.  We have been pretending that we are in control, but in actuality, we are out of control."

"Giving up the illusion of control means abandoning the last defenses of our independent egos.  It means that false selves are now exposed for what they are.  Since destruction precedes reconstruction, these false selves must die."

"This admission of impotence only comes through crisis.  The crises of admitting that we are powerless over our lives comes as we hit bottom--sometimes with a bounce, sometimes with a crash."

"God will break the hard hearts of the self-righteously religious who come to Step One.  He will strip 'elder brothers' of performances, righteous works, presumptions, judgments, and secret rage.  As those elder brothers, we will give up the law and the spiritual pride that goes with it.  Where will that leave us?  We will be on our faces, mumbling that we are powerless and that our lives, yes, even our religious lives, have become unmanageable.  We will be on our faces, admitting that our codependent service to the church, our workaholism, and our continual rescue of others, hide the emptiness inside.  We will be on our faces admitting that our attachments to money, food, sex, relationships, and our own self-images are idolatrous.  This is the first step on the path of healing, and we must take it with guts and grace."

"I have admitted my own powerlessness more than once.  My first crisis was during my conversion.  I realized how much Jesus loved me and how I shared responsibility for his death.  My heart was broken; I knew in that moment that I could no longer manage my own life.  Another crisis came when my wife Kathryn and I, in deep emotional pain, admitted that we were powerless over our relationship.  Years later, I was broken once again when I was fired as a pastor. I then knew that I was powerless over the church.  I became separated from my 'drug of choice' and all of my codependent relationships.  Numb, depressed, and empty, I retreated into myself.  All my plans, hopes, and dreams lay shattered at my feet.  This was God's severe mercy and my first step to healing.  All of us will go through this crisis more than once as God brings down our idols, setting us free to love him.  Acknowledging that we are out of control is the first step to becoming like the fearless Jesus."

--Don Williams, Jesus and Addiction.

1 comment:

moonberrie said...

Thank you so much Dave for such an honest blog! I connected with your blog, as my mother suffered with codependency, and still is seeking help with it, all my life. She and I both are an avid believer in Jesus Christ, but she became codependent, thinking what God wanted was for her to give herself to other people and leave nothing for herself. Her relationships, and happiness was destroyed and lived only for her children and husband. It is a guilt I still carry on today, but to read your blog, and to know you still believe is so heartwarming and beautiful. I wish you the best of luck, and thank you for such a wonderful piece. :)