Not A Prisoner!

I am reading a young adult novel entitled Incarceron. It is about a prison and some young people trying to escape. The prison was created by scientists who thought that if the prisoners were given just the right conditions they would live at peace and their prison would be a utopia.

It didn’t take long before conditions started to deteriorate and people started fighting amongst themselves and eventually broke off into factions that were at war with each other. Greed and selfishness created the hoarding of resources and stealing from each other.

Does this sound like real life to anyone?

As a Christian, I know that any plan by man to create peace is doomed to fail. Selfishness and greed, not to mention wanting to rule over others, is part of our sinful nature.

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. – Romans 1:29-31

But I want to talk about a quote from the book.

“You live in a prison but you think it’s the whole world.”

The people trying to escape are descendants of the original inhabitants of the prison. It has been so long that they don’t know if the legend of the outside is true. For all they know the prison is all there is.

I think this can apply to anyone of us. Your prison could be an addiction, low self-esteem, obsession, an unhealthy or abusive relationship, or any number of unhealthy behaviors and thinking. It is all some of us have ever known, it’s normal to us. We don’t know there is a better way to live.

When I first read that in the book I immediately thought of all the lost time and lost opportunities to get to know and appreciate others. When I think back it makes me remember that it was no life at all. I had made a prison of my own making at the expense of a whole world of joyful experiences and the love of others. More importantly feeling the love of God.

I would spend at least half of my day feeding my addiction. Too many times it was my whole day. My addiction became my soul focus, it became my world. A very small world.

This is a common experience for a lot of addicts. I didn’t happen over night but my world became smaller and smaller. How many people have gone down the path of sexual addiction thinking they will find freedom. What is usually found is a world of emotional and sometimes physical pain. Broken relationships and hearts.

This is true for any addiction or other unhealthy behavior. Before you know it you can’t see your way out of the prison. Sometimes you don’t want to even try to stop. The known pain is easier than the unknown path out.

There is hope though. That hope is Jesus.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. “

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” – Luke 14:18-21

Jesus quotes Isaiah in reference to himself. He came to set us free, to open our eyes. He came to give us the power to overcome our sins, our addictions.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. – Romans 6:6-7

We are no longer controlled by our sinful nature. This doesn’t mean that our addiction will simply disappear, even though in some rare cases it is that simple. But, God gives us the power to overcome our addictions.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

It is still a process though. There are times it will seem you are taking one step forward and two steps back. This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or you don’t have enough faith. We have been in our addictions so long that it takes time to change our thinking. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin and he had amazing faith.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. – Romans 7:18-20

We are no longer slaves to sin but our sinful nature is still alive in us. Not only that but addiction changes our brains. As an addict, I have to reprogram my brain. I have to change the way I think so I can choose the freedom of sobriety over the prison of my addiction. I do this through the support of others, bible reading, prayer, meditation and recovery literature.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Overcoming addiction or any other harmful behavior won’t be easy but it is definitely worth it. If you take the steps necessary to overcome then you will experience a freedom that you never imagined. I never thought my life would be as full of joy as it is now.

I used to stay to myself and hardly say two words, now I blog my thoughts and I reach out to people on a regular basis. I used to feel unworthy of love, now I freely accept the love of God and others. I used to not care about others or be able to be happy for their successes and happiness, now I truly feel for others. I used to feel lonely and trapped, now I feel free and connected with the rest of the world around me.

I am no longer a prisoner!

I wish the same for anyone who is struggling with addiction.

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Gratitude

I am back to 100% after having some health problems off and on for a few weeks. The problem I was having resolved the Friday before Palm Sunday. However, I was so exhausted it took me nearly another week before I regained my energy. It probably would have been quicker if I didn’t push things by going to church the first day I started to recover. Either way I survived.

Thank you all for your prayers and concern. I really appreciate it.

Being sick can sometimes be an eye opening experience. You can learn about yourself and others. For instance, I was reminded that people actually do care. Even though my mind always knows this fact it seems to get buried when I spend most of the week in the house.

I had recently joined a second recovery group online. The guys in the group and I have only known each other for maybe 2 months. Even though we had only known each other for a short while one of the guys noticed I hadn’t been online for a few days and checked on me. When he didn’t hear back (I hadn’t checked my messages), he posted in the Facebook group we met in to see if anyone else knew how to get in touch with me. Even the guy who does a recovery podcast we all listen to tried to contact me.

I didn’t see any of these messages until a few days after the fact. I was feeling pretty miserable and isolated so when I saw them I was in tears knowing so many cared. I was grateful. I wish I could say that I’m as quick to check in on others. I am by no means selfish, but I’m not the best at staying in touch. This made me realize just how important it is to do so. It may be what someone needs to get through the day or week.

The Apostle Paul commanded the church in Philippi to:

“Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3b-4 NIV).

And Hebrews 6:10 (NLT) says:

“For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.”

When we care about and for others God sees it as if we are doing it for him. It shows love to Him when we look out for others. I am very blessed to have friends around me who really get this and put it into practice. I strive to be more like them.

I learned about myself that I need to be more grateful, especially in the little things. So often I take things for granted and I know I’m not alone in this. It is so easy to be so comfortable in our daily routine of life that we don’t notice the world around us or realize how good we have things.

After feeling well again, I was grateful to have a wheelchair to get into again, people with disabilities in third world countries don’t have that luxury. I was grateful to be able to get out of the house, I have friends who hardly have the energy to do that. I was grateful to have the ability to live with my family, too many disabled people have no choice but to live in a nursing home. I was grateful to have nurses to help me otherwise I would not have as much freedom or such a full life. Who else would clean up someone several times in a day without a word of compliant. Some people wouldn’t do that for a family member.

We are commanded throughout the Psalms to give thanks.

We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; a people tell of your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 75:1

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. – Psalm 107:1

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1-3

And in the New Testament:

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

Being thankful is good for our health. We feel peace when we are thankful. I know when I have moments of truly deep gratitude I sure am more relaxed and at peace.

I am truly grateful for all that God has done in my life but I need to be intentional about seeing the reasons to be grateful, especially in the hard times.

I am grateful to you for taking the time to read my blog. Thank you.

Yes, I am here.

Still on the mend.

To keep things polite, I have been having “digestive” problems for the last two weeks.  I have only been able to stay in my chair for short bits of time.

Most of the time, I am “on the mend” in bed.

I don’t know what is worse.  Feeling dehydrated.  Feeling sick.  Or not being able to be at my computer.

Laying in my bed, not being able to do anything, is the absolute worst for me.  Without being able to go  online to talk, I am alone with my thoughts.  I am sure that you have the same problem when you are laying in bed alone at night.  Satan really tries to do a number in the dark.  My mind rushes in a thousand directions, nine hundred and ninety nine are not good.

It reminds me what my accountability partner, Bob, told me over a year ago.  “Bedtime is the worst time.  That is when your mind goes into hyper drive.”  Boy, was he right!  And particularly now, that bedtime is for days, not hours, Satan is working overtime to get into my head.

I thank God for my iPod.  Loaded with scripture, sermons, and teachings,  audible books dealing with my sobriety, and praise music,  lots of praise music.  I keep trying to get closer and closer to God.

Although, I am getting better, I still need your prayers.

Thanks!

Speaking of prayers, I would like to thank everyone for their continued prayers.  I particularly would like to thank the people who tried to get in contact with me when they didn’t see me online.  Their love and concern for me really spoke to my heart.

It wasn’t too far ago that I was convinced that if people found out my dirty little secret, people would want to have nothing to do with me.  These couple weeks have proven to me that nothing is further from the truth.  I have received messages that have actually brought me to tears.  You really don’t know how much I love you guys, and value you.

I’ll be back!

Maybe I won’t bounce back as fast as Arnold Schwarzenegger, but with the best love and wishes, and prayers from my friends, (Thanks!), I should be up and running shortly.

Be talking to you all soon.