Yesterday afternoon God allowed me to have a conversation essentially with myself. I sat across from a woman whose outer circumstances looked only slightly differently than my own, but whose heart is just the same as mine.
So much of this woman’s story was difficult to digest. She’d been abandoned at age 7. She’d felt unwanted all her life and was estranged from her family. As a teenager, she started using, and today at age 34, she’s caught in the cycle of addiction.
Over the course of our conversation, she explained that her addiction had cost her everything. Her youngest child had been born exposed, and as a result was taken from her. She is currently homeless and living in an abandoned building. She said she was tired of running from the cops & wants to get things together.
I fully believe her.
Yet despite cataloging countless reasons she wants to get clean- her children, her health, her fiancé, to restore relationships with people she’d hurt- she said something I have said myself 1000 times over. In one breath she was able to consciously recognize that her addiction had destroyed so much of her life. But in the next breath, she said: “But I’m not ready to give it up.”
She didn’t feel ready to give up her addiction.
I asked her if she knew what it would take for her to feel ready. She stared back at me and said, “I don’t know. But I hope I can give it up sooner rather than later.”
It was such a weighty moment. Not only because her story was difficult to hear, but because in so many ways, her addiction is no different than mine.
Logically, she knows that giving herself over to this addiction means exchanging her family, her health, and her dreams. She knows it. But that very same addiction has convinced her that it is worth the trade. This is me. Maybe this is you, too.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been in this very position. The position of knowing full well the consequences that could and would come from my actions yet deciding to pursue something wrong anyway. Knowing that I was willingly trading something worthy for something that would inevitably hurt me. Knowing that what I was choosing was only a temporary high that would leave me craving more later.
But even still- not feeling ready to give it up.
Clinging to what was hurting me & simply hoping something would change that would somehow catapult me to a place of being willing to walk away from an addiction. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt ready to choose something other than what I’ve wanted. Because I want it. & I’m really good at rationalizing why I should continue to pursue what I want even when logic and sense are pointing me in the opposite direction.
Our addictions may not come in the form of literal drugs.
But more than I care to admit, I am substituting a different high in place of Jesus.
My addictions may not mean literal life or death for me.
But they’re hardening my heart and numbing the soul God has given me.
They’re stealing my freedom.
I say all of this because I’m asking myself today- what do I feel unready to give up? What’s got a grip on me? What am I clutching onto that is taking me down?
Even if we know better- what do we feel unready to give up?