Saturday, September 28, 2013

Managing Circus Animals and Addiction

I was thinking of addiction in relation to circus animals. There can be the illusion of them being tamed and under control but they will always be wild and unpredictable. If you let down your guard, destruction is inevitable.

Addiction: Does that make you think of someone else or yourself? Does it make you think of a drug addict? Are you honest enough or broken enough to admit that you are addicted to something or maybe many things? Does that question cause you to bristle?

Think of these examples: The arrest of former Arapahoe County Sheriff Pat Sullivan is one. He was busted for trading Meth for sex.  And what about Pastor Ted Haggard and his involvement with Meth and a gay prostitute. Both guys were successful professionals in important positions. The fall of both is a shock to the public and those close to them.

You may feel sorry for these guys or you may feel they are low-life scumbags. What we need to do is see ourselves in them. Most likely what we see will be different but probably no less dangerous.

I have been around long enough to see that every one of us has a cage somewhere with some animals in it. At times we put on grandiose glasses and imagine we run the greatest show on earth. There we are with our hat and tails, whip and chair in hand. We imagine we are in control.

What is it? Sex, gambling, porn, drugs and alcohol are some we recognize. One of mine is food. I'm also addicted to complaining and tearing other people down. That addiction does incredible damage in my family.

We don't want to think of ourselves as addicts. Maybe we call it by another name like compulsion or bad habits. As Christians we want to think we are free from these things, that in Christ we can master and not be mastered.

We can be free when we remember that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from Him we have no life or power. And just because we are Christians doesn't mean all is rosy.

We can be free when we let Jesus run the show. We have to admit we can't tame the animals and learn what surrender really means. The surrender we normally practice is one full of conditions and usually keeps our hands on the whip and chair. We don't really want to admit the seriousness of the mess we are in. What we think is with a little help from God we can get this thing under control. Another illusion is that the thing we keep having a problem with isn't such a big deal. At least it's not like... The truth is that if we keep having a problem with something then it's obvious we are not the master we thought we were.

There are times in addiction where we get caught or are confronted in some way. If we reject those opportunities for freedom we get ensnared a little more. I would bet that both Pat Sullivan and Ted Haggard had many "close calls" before their spectacular falls.

Let me give an example: a guy gets caught looking at porn by his wife. Big commotion ensues, assurances are given, etc. Usually the last thing he wants is for anyone else to know. But that might be the only hope for long-term change. In community we find strength; isolation keeps us in the cage with the animals. The initial exposure gives him the merciful opportunity for real help. The fantasy of managing it on your own just sets you up for further trouble.

Exposure is the best hope for becoming free from your addiction. That can be voluntary or not. When we hide things they usually build to a point where something spectacular happens and at that point the snare might be so tight that the chance of freedom fades.

So here is the point: don’t hide when the little exposure happens. See it as a chance to lay your life bare with some people who can really help. For guys, a safe place to be real is the Samson Society. It’s an environment that is rare in Christian circles and is an amazing tool for a life of freedom.