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Turn addictive behaviors, life over to care of God

By: Pastor Trish Ellis-Lewis, Auburn Community Church of God
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Addiction is running rampant within our society and it comes in all types. Addictive forces are those persons or things on which a person forms an excessive dependency, and the dependency controls and, eventually, does great damage to health, family, job, and education. The most obvious are alcohol, drugs, gambling, and food. The not so obvious are approval dependency, hypochondria, exercise and physical conditioning, shopping, plastic surgery, academic pursuits, and many more conditions. Many have found solace and recovery from a 12-step program such as Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Overeaters Anonymous, to name a few. The original 12- Step program, Alcoholic Anonymous, was established in the mid-1930s through the work of Bill Wilson and the Oxford Group, an evangelistic movement in the 1900s. The Oxford principles of surrender, restitution, and sharing were incorporated into the 12-step program. This program placed great emphasis on the complete deflation of false pride, dependence and guidance from a higher power (God), moral inventory, confession, restitution, and continued work with other suffering persons. Through personal and professional experiences, the 12-step program concept does work and can continue to work the rest of the addict’s life, providing that the most important step, step 3, is taken seriously and is embraced wholeheartedly. Step 3 reads: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the care of God as we understood Him.” This step is the pinnacle of the first three steps: step 1, in which the addict admits life is out of control and powerless to change; and step 2 in which the addict acknowledges belief that God could restore sanity in his or her life. Each step of this program builds on each other. If step 3 is not taken seriously, that God must take control of the person’s life, then the remaining steps will not work. This is the crucial point of an addicts failure or success in recovery. Not only must the addict turn over to God the obvious addictive behaviors, but also he or she must turn over every other aspect of life. This includes every frustration life deals out, such as how to handle the children, how to get the bills paid, or dealing with congested traffic. Addictive personalities are often very willful and egocentric, which are more times than not a disguise for a deep sense of insecurity. The addict tends to become more self-centered, self-absorbed, and self-preoccupied to relieve the pain felt. Unfortunately, this only enhances the addictive behavior and, causing more pain, loneliness, and isolation. Addictions and compulsions are used to meet one’s most basic physical, emotional, and spiritual hungers. With the acceptance of a God and with the searching of his will, the person with addictive behaviors can find conventional ways of satisfying them. Those with addictive behaviors do suffer much in their disease. If they can bow down before God, as step 3 says, God’s healing love will take over and, for the first time, they will experience true rest and peace. This brings to mind Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus says that we no longer have to try to pull the plow or our burdens by ourselves. He is the yoke with us and we will be his disciples, learning from him. The burden of his yoke as the person with addiction walks with God will be light as compared with the heavy, unbearable, and painful burdens carried before they laid them at his feet. Trish Ellis-Lewis is pastor of the Auburn Community Church of God.