“Addiction: Compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
This definition, of course, is meant for those with a real problem. Someone who can’t stop doing the thing that harms them. Like it states, it describes drug and alcohol abusers.
And it describes you.
Think about your day. Your routine. What gets you through it and helps you destress once you’re home?
While we may not use drugs or immediately reach for the bottle (hopefully) at the end of the day, we all have compulsive needs for things other than Jesus. Paul says it perfectly, albeit confusingly, in Romans 7:15-20. He states he does the things he knows he shouldn’t do, and his sin nature keeps him from doing the things he knows are good.
Your normal drug
What’s your drug? The thing you use to go numb? We all have something, some way of turning off our brain to get away from it all. A few normal drugs are TV, the internet, sex, food and sleep. No, it’s not a sin to enjoy our lives, but when we use things meant for good as a way of escape, they distract us from our Savior.
Addictions start slowly. At first, you’re doing it because you want to. The times you aren’t “using,” you begin to think about it more and more, excited for the next time. It begins to become more of a regular thing, but again, you tell yourself it’s only because you want to. You could stop, it’s not a problem. It’s just part of ordinary life.
Pretty soon, you need it to unwind and disconnect from reality. It’s part of your routine, and you’ve convinced yourself it’s OK because it’s not crazy. You’re not actually on drugs or addicted to alcohol. There are way worse things out there than (fill in your drug: eating fast food every day, going to Target multiple times a week, working out each night instead of eating dinner with the family).
The trap of normal
Seeing your addiction can prove difficult, especially when it’s a normal, American way of doing things. We like feeling good, so it’s hard to shatter the glass of an addiction. We don’t want reality to show us we actually aren’t feeling good. We actually aren’t satisfied.
Every time that TV show ends or you close Instagram, the seconds following the massive amount of junk food you consumed, or the moment you end your workout, do you feel whole? Do you feel content? Joyful? You might have had a good time, but if you’re honest with yourself, you don’t feel better.
That’s how an addiction works. You’re distracted while using, but there’s a let down when you come back to reality. Why? Because your soul hungers for more than this earth. You say you want an escape from the difficulties and the routine? Then why do you turn to things produced by the very reality you long to hide from at the end of the day?
As with any addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Despite how “normal” your addiction is, you need to admit to yourself that you lean on it. You desire it to make you feel better. You really don’t want to go a day without it, and if you do, then you’re frustrated. Ask yourself if there’s any part of your day that fits into these categories.
Choose God. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Remember when you first committed yourself to Him? The overwhelming feeling of wanting everything about your life to focus on Jesus, your Savior. Why do we get away from that? What takes place in our lives and hearts that pulls us away from this desire to please and serve God with all our hearts?
Each time you feel drawn to your addiction, think of Jeremiah 2:13, where God says, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
This is the truth of our addictions. They are things we have built in replace of God. Broken things. And we think they will refresh and satisfy us. God looks at us going to our addictions instead of Him, forsaking Him for something broken.
Desire God more than your addiction. God is better. He’s better than all the earthly things you use to check out or numb your brain. He’s better than sleeping in late every chance you get. He’s better than scrolling through your news feed. He’s better than anything you choose over Him.
When we stop and think of the God of the universe desiring our attention and our hearts, nothing will compare. We will see our addictions as broken cisterns, not holding even a drop of water. We will then turn to our Creator, leaning on Him and allowing Him to fill our souls to overflowing.
Let’s Talk About It: How can you actively desire God over your addiction?