Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help. (Psalm 107:10-12)
Last night, Dr. Drew Pinsky was talking about the death of Amy Winehouse on Headline News. When I tuned in, he was talking with his guests (three recovering addicts and a clinical psychologist) about how addicts become imprisoned by their lies. They lie to cover up their use. They lie to manipulate their friends and family. They lie to continue to cover up all the other lies. The road to recovery requires brutal, complete honesty.
Sunday my recovery group had the pleasure of welcoming a brother from sister church where he leads their recovery ministry. Our meetings are safe havens, so I'm not going to spill the details of his life. But he wouldn't care if I did. Honesty is required for recovery, but we treat the truth as very valuable. Yet his attitude is that the truth is what God has done in his life. And that, he will shout from the rooftops. But I'll leave that for him.
One thing I will share that stuck with me, was his description of his stint in prison. He described how it was easier to be a Christian and recovering addict in prison than it is to be faithful and sober out in the world. That makes sense. In prison, the environment is strictly controlled. You are surrounded by sin, but you can choose to lock yourself away and avoid what you can. But the world is uncontrolled and unpredictable. Sin is plentiful and freely available. So in order to stay strong in the world, you need to be honest with yourself- your weaknesses, your temptations, your struggles. You cannot think you can overcome the temptations of the world on your own.
Honesty. It not only frees you from the prison we build ourselves with our lies, but it also strengthens us for the daily struggles we face. As addicts we need to be honest with ourselves, our partners in the fight, and our God who knows our inmost thoughts and grants us the grace of sobriety. Without such honesty, we might as well lock ourselves up in chains.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron. (vs 13-16)