Ben Hur and relapse

I went to see the latest version of Ben Hur at the theater down the street. It’s nice to have a theater within walking distance. I guess distance is relative when someone else is pushing your wheelchair. As an added bonus, tickets are $5 before 6 pm.

I really enjoyed the movie. I have never seen the classic 1959 version starring Charlton Heston, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. The friend I saw it with, who is a total movie buff, said it was good but not as good as the classic. I guess this version showed more of Jesus than the previous five versions combined.

WARNING FROM THE EDITOR: If you haven’t seen any of the movies yet, you may wish to see the movie first before going any farther.

If you don’t already know, the movie is basically about a well to do Jewish man, Judah Ben Hur, who becomes a slave for five years. He was made a slave because he took the blame for something he didn’t do in order to save his family from crucifixion. He blames his brother and after he escapes slavery he vows to get revenge. And of course,  his brother feels betrayed and is just as angry as Judah.

There are many things I could write about from the movie, but I’ll keep it to just a few. Some of my quotes might not be exact. At 41 my memory isn’t quite as sharp as it once was. I’m sure some of you can relate.

Judah was supposed to be a slave until he died. So there came a point where he resigned himself to his fate. He was a rower on a Roman warship. In one scene he was about to attack a guard who was beating a fellow slave but he stopped himself. He said to himself:

“Don’t care. Just survive”.

960Oh boy. How many times in my life have I thought or said the same? More times than I would like to remember. This could apply to any situation where we feel trapped or helpless to change our circumstances, being abused for example.

But for me, this reminds me of addiction and relapse. A lot of, if not all, addiction is a means of escape, a way to survive emotionally. That’s what my addiction provided for me. With relapse, a person begins to believe that their addiction is stronger than them. They feel trapped, so they basically say to themselves,  I don’t care or I can’t fight this, so I may as well go back to survival mode and back to my addiction.

A scene or two later the ship gets rammed, killing the guards in the process. The ship was quickly taking on water. All of the slaves were frantic except Judah, who managed to keep his head despite his fear. He was able to get the cooperation of enough of the slaves to keep the boat moving. He knew the best chance of survival was to get out of the heat of battle. He says to his fellow slaves:

“If we keep moving and don’t stay idle, we live”.

benhur2016movie-wideWhen dealing with addiction it’s smart to stay out of the heat of battle by avoiding the places and things that you know will trigger you. If you’re an alcoholic, stop going to bars. If you are sex or porn addict, stop going to strip clubs.

Also, don’t be idle. I don’t mean you should do things non-stop. That can lead to exhaustion which can lead to a relapse. But you should find healthy things to do instead of feeding your addiction. For me, I have to read the Bible or listen to a sermon or read something about addiction at least several times a week. I aim for every day, doesn’t end up that way most weeks.

The boat eventually sinks but Judah washes up on shore and is saved by a gambler who bets on the chariot races. In exchange for healing the man’s horse, Judah is allowed to race the man’s horse’s in the circus. Judah’s motivation is to beat his brother and kill him if he gets the chance. Judah tells the old man about what his brother did to him, in order to justify his anger. The old man replies,

“Your suffering isn’t unique. You aren’t unique”.

Gee. That sounds familiar.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

bekmambetov-benhur-s650This doesn’t only apply to addicts. People who want to justify their bad behavior, especially addicts, will whine about how hard they’ve had it and how nobody understands, wa wa wa. The bible says what we go through happens to everyone. If you’ve gone through something so has someone else. Even Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. If anyone knows about suffering, He sure does.

There is a scene in the movie where Judah is carrying some sort of heavy yoke as he was being taken away to be a slave. Judah falls under the weight of it. Jesus comes over to him and gives him a drink of water. Jesus says to him:

“Judah get up”.

This is what we need to do when we fall or relapse. Get back up!

The fall isn’t what matters. What we do next does. We all will make mistakes and fall short but God still loves us.

Get back up!

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