What Masters You?
There is a great verse in the bible we should all be aware of. It is found in
I Corinthians 6:12. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me but I will not be mastered by anything. Paul is speaking here of Christ’s work on the cross freeing us from being judged by the law. The encouragement here is to choose what is profitable which I cannot do if something has mastery over me. Addictions, always get to the point of having mastery over us. The addiction controls us no matter how we may tell ourselves this isn’t so.
Compulsion is the word often used to describe this behavior. It means:
A FORCE that makes somebody do something.
COMPELLING…an act of compelling or the state of being compelled.
PSYCHOLOGICAL FORCE, usually an irrational force that makes somebody do something, even when it is against better judgement.
Do you have mastery over your behavior, or does it have mastery over you? Do you tell yourself, I’m not going to do such and such only to give in with rationalizations later?
Why are we compulsive? Because, addictions relieve stress and distract us from difficult emotions. If we stop the addictive behavior, negative feelings surface and drive us toward finding relief. To get relief we turn to our addiction.
If you have an addiction it is meeting some need. What is that need? What is it that you don’t want to face, don’t want to deal with? What feelings are you medicating?
I work in a prison ministry and have he opportunity to meet with a group of ladies who are incarcerated. Many of them are in there for some sort of addictive behavior and they have been caught one too many times. They see the destructive costs. They have poor health and many have lost their children and relationships due to their addictions. Almost all vow to change and not let these addictions rule them any longer. I have one over-riding thing I lovingly try to drum into their heads over and over least they forget it. This is what I say:
“UNTIL YOU KNOW THE NEED YOUR ADDICTION MEETS AND GET THAT NEED MET THROUGH HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOD AND OTHERS YOU WILL GO BACK TO YOUR ADDICTION.”
This is why Milan and I make such a big deal about learning to get comfort and relief from relationships. If you are a parent, the best way you can prevent your kids from becoming addicts is to comfort them and teach them how to deal with difficult emotions. As adults they will more likely turn to people rather than things when they need relief.
If you don’t know how to get relief from people you are very vulnerable to addictive behaviors because addictions do what God intended relationships to do. They are a cheap substitute for the real thing. Do you have an addiction you long to be free of? Here is the first step to freedom. Determine what feeling you are trying to get rid of when you turn to your addictive behavior. Are you lonely? Bored? Overwhelmed? Depressed? Sad? Ashamed? Insecure? Inadequate? Anxious? What is the feeling that stresses you and prompts you to turn toward additive behavior? Then ask yourself one more question. Is that a feeling you often felt in childhood? If the answer is “Yes”, then you need to understand the pain you are avoiding is about the present and the past. Next week we will talk about what to do next.