Last week, I started talking about a journey that Helen Keller, Paul from the bible, and I have in common. A journey from darkness into light. In one way or another, we all have the journey.
I was reading The Story of My Life by Helen Keller, and I was drawn into the story of her going from a world of isolation to one of joy and love. She described the illness that caused her to become deaf and blind, and how she became accustomed to it. She said,
“Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different until she came—my teacher—who was to set my spirit free.” ~ Helen Keller
This seems to be what happens with addiction. A person becomes so accustomed to his or her dysfunctional behavior that it is normal to them. This is how my own addiction developed.
It started as what seemed to be harmless curiosity and slowly developed into an obsession that consumed much of my time and energy. I would go so far as to say that it consumed my heart and soul. It wasn’t until I found Christ that I realized that what I was doing is wrong.
Just as Anne Sullivan came to set Helen’s “spirit free”, Jesus came to set my spirit free. It wasn’t an instantaneous transformation for either one of us. It is and was a long and difficult path.
Helen was very frustrated when Mrs. Sullivan first started working with her. She would have fits of anger. But Mrs. Sullivan was patient and just as stubborn as Helen. Helen just couldn’t make the connection between the signs Mrs. Sullivan made in Helen’s hand and the objects they represented.
Then one day something clicked and she made the connection. When she was finally able to make the connection between language and objects, a whole new world was opened up to her. She was freer but as new challenges came up she would at times revert to frustrated outbursts.
In my case, I wanted to change but I had all sorts of bad programming in my brain that needed changing. In the beginning, the battle was constant. Then one day I realized that I wasn’t struggling nearly as much because my brain was reprogramming itself and in turn, my attitude was changing.
Then one day, as with Helen, something clicked and I made a connection. There was a connection between my spiritual life and the behaviors that I was engaged in. Getting closer to God made me freer, but I have to admit that things have been more of a struggle lately, causing frustration.
So what do I do? I get back on track. I get back to doing the things required to make my recovery work. I need to be disciplined in order to work on my recovery, especially when I am feeling good and doing good.
I need to keep my eye on the prize. My sobriety and my relationship with Jesus.
I want to be like Paul the Apostle, who said:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” ~2 Timothy 4: 7-8
In the same way, it took consistent repetition for Helen to continue learning and growing, I need to be consistent in order to keep growing.
Having said all of this, I think this applies to all of us. We don’t have to be an addict or overcome a physical adversity to apply this. It is true of any of us who want to make a positive change in our lives.
If you are a Christian, you may have had times in your life where you weren’t doing life God’s way. Or where you have distanced yourself from God because of past hurts. You too may have gotten used to the darkness to the point that it became normal.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. ~ Hebrews 12:1
If God can change the heart of a murderer who was hell bent on the destruction of the church, like the Apostle Paul, He can change the heart, mind, life and attitude of any of us.
If God can find the right teacher to open up Helen’s world…
If God can change a porn addicted, guy in a wheelchair like me….
I am praying that my Holy Teacher will guide me so that even though I get complacent and stubborn, people will see Jesus through the cracks of an imperfect me.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6