Make no mistake about it, addictions steal lives. They rip families apart, preying upon the deepest yearning you have for belonging and your deep need to love and be loved in return. They steal fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters. They leave in their quake a battlefield of isolation, shame and guilt. Lives that were meant to be filled with joy, hope and love are now hijacked when the initial allure of addiction presents itself. It’s time to overcome addictions and reclaim your birthright as God’s beloved child. In this post I will reveal to you the false power of addictions and the pathway into the love your heart desires.
ADDICTIONS – FALSE PROMISES
At first the addiction is subtle, briefly flashing before your heart, revealing what your heart deeply yearns for in an attempt to garner a second look. A promise to belong, a promise of escape, or a promise of love are all offered. Addictions come in many forms; alcohol, drugs, pornography, power, fame, pride, control, and worldly goods or success are all faces of addiction. There are more. Addiction knows what your heart desires, and it knows how to entice and seduce it. However, addiction must work hard and fast in order to confuse your heart and convince it to accept its false promises.
Like the thief who comes in the night seeking only to steal, kill and destroy, addiction must enter under the cover of darkness (sin) to gain entry into your heart. It enters in through sin – my sin, your sin, the sins of all humanity ever since the Fall. It must cover the sinister falsities and lies that are found at its core because to reveal them would cause you to flee. You were created in the image of the Holy Trinity – you were created to love and be loved in return. Your heart knows this and your heart seeks God. However, addiction also knows this and it seeks to divert your heart and lead it along a pathway of isolation and pain.
At addiction’s core you will find a fearful energy propelled into motion out of a deep hatred of love itself. This dark energy drives addiction to maneuver as it attempts to rob you of true happiness. Addiction offers false promises of love, life and light, when all the while it secretly desires to destroy these very things. Addiction, being propelled by the angel of light, the fallen archangel – the devil himself, knows that love is powerful and it uses your desire for love against you and all of humanity. You see, addiction seeks nothing more than to steal your birthright and rightful inheritance as God’s child. However, you have a shepherd protecting your birthright and his voice will be heard.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.- John 10: 14-15 (NABRE)
Your human heart holds infinite value and its currency is love. Addiction does not authentically hold love because love is a gift God freely gives you. Addiction only steals, it must lie and steal in order to deceive your heart. Given addiction’s disordered nature, it steals your heart’s currency and, in return, it falsely promises love. Addiction knows your dream of a better life, a happier life, a life of peace and love and it offers the promise of fulfillment. Once the relationship with addiction is consummated you unknowingly surrender love at addiction’s feet. Instead of seeking true love, you turn to addiction as a source of respite.
Now, your heart is held in bondage, it begins to harden to protect itself from the pain addiction inflicts. Your heart begins to believe it is unable to experience love to its fullest. Perhaps, you settle for less – falsely believing life cannot offer more. These are all lies fed by the addiction and fueled by the evil one. Your heart is created to love and it can love to the fullest. Love has greater power and it cannot be suppressed by the false lies addiction offers. Your heart can heal.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. – Ezekiel 36:26 (NABRE)
Love is powerful, beautiful, and it is what your heart craves, yet, addiction hijacks love and leaves you in a constant state of searching. Just one more hit, one more drink, one more look, one more “win” and I’ll be happy… It is true, nothing compares to pure love, yet addiction appears to have supervened love in the hearts of hundreds of millions of people across the world. How can this be? How can humanity believe that anything other than love can fill the space in a heart that only love can fill? The answer lies in the depth of humanity’s wounds.
THE CHILDHOOD NEED FOR LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE
Your need for love runs deep and the pain that interrupts it most profoundly can be found in your relationship with your family members and your church. These are the two places where you most deeply experience your need for protection, provision, comfort and nurture. When these childhood needs are left unmet, or worse, when a child experiences the pain of abuse or neglect in their family or church the child is left vulnerable to the false promises of addiction. Addiction is cruel and evil… often it begins to attack you when you are little, weakened and most vulnerable. Teen addictions testify to the pain caused by addiction’s attack on children.
Sexual abuse is profoundly damaging to your soul because it strikes at the very place God intended our human expression of love to blossom and say yes to life – sexual intimacy and romantic love. Sexual intimacy and romantic love are woven into the foundation of the family and held together by the perfect love of God. This is a sacred space designed by God to allow love to flourish. However, instead of allowing God’s love into this relationship, sexual abuse opens the door to shame, anger, betrayal, and self-hatred or self-loathing. Walls blocking true love are built around your heart. Not knowing where to turn to for this sacred love the victim, living in a milieu of shame, fear, defenselessness, disgust, and often self-hatred can now fall prey to the lies of addiction. Addiction now serves to provide both an escape and evidence that you are flawed.
When we see that the power of love overcomes the spirit of evil, it fills our hearts with comfort and joy. – Julian of Norwich (1)
THE ALLURE OF ADDICTION
For those left vulnerable to addiction’s allure it promises much, and delivers only thievery in return. Promises of escape and companionship are offered. Addiction also promises to become the needed wall of protection, leaving you with the false belief that it provides a safe harbor from the pain inflicted by potential perpetrators. “I won’t feel the pain, my addiction will cover it for me.” Addiction can also become the justification needed when you falsely believe you are inherently bad, a belief many victims of abuse carry. Addiction serves as the perfect self-sabotage necessary to prove to the world that you are unworthy of love. Unfortunately, our world today is all too willing to participate in this falsity. Again, it’s all a lie. You are worthy of love, God created you for love. Don’t let the evil one steal your birthright from you.
And God saw everything that he had made. And they were very good. And it became evening and morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31 (NABRE)
If you experienced childhood abuse then your need for protection, provision, nurture, and/or comfort was thwarted. Yet, God created the family so that you could live out the plan he has for you, a plan filled with love and happiness safely rooted within the bonds of family love. Your yearning for family runs deep and the evil one knows this. Parents battling addictions leave wounds in their children, wounds that all too often are handed down through the generations. Sometimes these wounds run very deep, leaving the child vulnerable to the allure of addiction itself. Love becomes thwarted – addictions steal…
Addiction can serve as an escape when you need to deny or minimize the pain of childhood abuse. Looking at a parent, the person you deeply seek love from, and accepting their role as perpetrator is too much for your soul to accept – escape or denial seem the only options. Looking towards your childhood church only to see God interwoven with abuse all too often demands a denial of and turning away from God – the only one who can truly heal your pain. Addiction is so cruel… Evil attacks your need for family and God in an attempt to separate you from true love. Your unmet need for parental and Godly love runs deep, it can remain in your heart and soul throughout your life if it is not brought to God for healing. Often years of repressed pain leaves the victim with a hardened heart, a walled off heart.
“Without warning,” he (Jesus) said, “I will take away all your pain, all your sickness, your anxiety, and your sorrow. You shall come up to me, and you shall have me as your reward, You will be filled with love, running over with bliss, and you will never again suffer pain or illness, or any other kind of displeasure or lack of inspiration. Instead, you will have joy without end. – Julian of Norwich (2)
EXCLUSION AND ADDICTIONS
However, not all victims of childhood abuse become addicts and not all victims of addiction suffered the pains of childhood abuse. Sometimes the pain of exclusion opens the door for addiction’s entry. The truth is, God placed you in a family and you belong to this family. You share their DNA and you desire their love. Addiction can slither into the individual excluded from the family or the family member who pains the loss of the excluded family member. I have experienced the pain of both in my family.
Often a child attempts to pay a debt, the pain of the loss of love an excluded sibling, parent, aunt, uncle, or grand-parent experiences. Exclusion in the family leaves a dark void, an emptiness that is created when love is withheld. This emptiness calls to be filled, filled with love and who better to offer love than an innocent child. They love their family members and they desire to share love with them. While they don’t understand their pain, they do understand their need for love. So they love and when they do they find themselves caught in the middle of something they didn’t create.
The child, seeking to ally with the excluded family member, may not allow themselves the experience of full happiness. “I will sacrifice my life so that you can live. It is not fair that I am loved so much when you are left without love.” We may witness a child take on some of the same personality traits, addictions, lifestyle measures and illnesses of the excluded family member in a subconscious attempt to align with them and offer love and support. This is where evil again reveals itself for the ugly truth it is. Evil seeks to kill, destroy and steal what God has for his children. Preying upon the innocent love of a child for their family member leaves an undercurrent of pain that only love can heal.
Sometimes the weight is too great for the child to bear and they succumb to physical, emotional and/or spiritual pain. After all, the child did not create the void of love and therefore they do not have the power to restore the lost love. Unfortunately, it is all too common that they end up succumbing to the false comforts of addiction when they, time after time, fail at restoring love for the excluded family member. Exclusion in the family is the work of the enemy and, unfortunately, family exclusion is rampant today. We can look towards a child to see where love needs to be restored. Who do they miss?
Once the block to love is identified love can be invited back to heal as only love can by utilizing forgiveness and acceptance. A young child, after all, only seeks to love and be loved in return. They do not see the many reasons, fears, and justifications a family holds onto that results in exclusion. They see through the eyes of love. An astute adult would be wise to listen to a voice of a child if they want to restore love in the family.
You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger. Psalm 8:2 (NABRE)
Of course this does not call you invite back into your family an abuser or a perpetrator; however, your heart yearns to find peace through forgiveness and acceptance. Holding onto anger and unforgiveness only serves to further separate you from love. Just as sin cannot coexist with divine love, your human heart cannot hold both anger and love simultaneously. Your heart will either hold anger, or it will hold love. The pathway into freedom is laid with prayers offered on behalf of people who have harmed us.
I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. – Matthew 5:44-45 (NABRE)
I believe the root of addiction is found in your need to love and be loved in return. After all, you are created in the image of the Holy Trinity – the communal relationship where love begins and continues through all time. For a moment I invite you to visualize a father and mother lovingly gazing upon their sleeping child. Their hearts overflow with love for their child, this child who is part of both of them. As they gaze upon their child they further enjoy the bond of marital love God extends to them as husband and wife – as father and mother to this child. The perfect family, parents enjoying ever expanding marital love and children thriving under this protection and comfort. Each member feels safe, secure, nurtured, and loved.
The Holy Trinity gives life and love to the family. Father and mother, mirroring the First and Second Person of the Trinity (Father and Son) gaze upon their child with love. This love is a living expression of the Holy Spirit moving through their hearts. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit living in the family. You are this child, you are adored by God the Father and God the Son and you are continually immersed in the love of God the Holy Spirit. It’s time to reclaim your birthright.
You are worthy of love, love is your birthright as God’s child. Through perfect love you will experience freedom from all addictions and brokenness. However, in order to receive this birthright you have to participate in the healing God offers. It’s not always easy… You have to overcome the wounds that have been passed down through the generations – the wounds that limited your parent’s ability (and others) to love you as God designed. Human beings can only give what they have received…
HEALING THE FAMILY
In order to bring healing in your family it is necessary to understand where humanity’s pain originated. Looking at the Book of Genesis we read two creation narratives. For me, the first easily flows into and with the second. In Chapter One God creates everything from his spoken Word and on the sixth day “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (cF. Gen. 1:27). In the second creation narrative God forms man out of the “dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (cF. Gen. 2:7) Now we have man created from dust in the image of the Trinity. God then plants a garden in Eden and places man in it. Then God transforms man into man and woman. Like the Holy Trinity opens to infinite love, man begins to open to greater love. “So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman.” (cF. Gen. 2:21-22) Now man has become two – man and woman. The original Hebrew language suggests woman and husband means wife and husband. They still exist in union as one, living in love. There is something beautiful between them. Together they are a splendid creation full of perfect love – all the protection, provision, comfort, and nurture they could ever desire is found within them because they are created in the image of the Holy Trinity – their dearest friend. God dwells within them and all around them.
Then is happened, the narrative twist. The Fall. The man and woman were together in the garden enjoying a little couple time and the snake appears. Before we know it they have both eaten from the forbidden fruit – death (sin) entered into the narrative. The snake did speak some truth here…”God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like (emphasis mine) gods, who know good and evil.” (cF. Gen 3:4-5). They knew good, and they will certainly know evil now. The couple is set on The Path of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yet, they are not gods. There is only one God and God is spirit. The man and the woman are human beings, they live a physical, emotional, and spiritual experience. They will now experience both good and evil in their body, heart, and soul. Seeking to be like gods they can choose to idolize, and align with, things that are not of God. Shame enters in and, for the first time, they experience the pain evil inflicts in the human person. Sadly, they cover themselves, shielding their hearts from God’s friendship. Their path is open to misdirection, leaving space for addictions to enter in. Life and death are both set before them.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live. – Deuteronomy 30:19 (NABRE)
The bond of love that the man and woman enjoyed now takes another painful turn. After admonishing the snake, God speaks to the woman. Childbearing will be painful and the orientation of her relationship with her husband will be disordered – opening the door for pain and heartache in the family. God then speaks to the man. Life and work will be hard because the ground is now cursed. After receiving their “life sentences” the man names his wife Eve – he sees her as “other”. Division between man and woman has been set into motion. God then covers them with skin, further revealing their separate nature. They must now leave Eden and begin a life where they will indeed experience both good and evil. There is no evil in Eden. God had to practice “tough love”.
ENTERING INTO THE UNKNOWN
Now living as separate creatures, husband and wife venture out into the unknown. Eve must have felt abandoned and unprotected by Adam, after all, she was left vulnerable and unprotected from the snake. Adam, who must have found Eve’s beauty irresistible, had surely lost trust in the comfort she offered him. Did they yearn to return to the former time when they enjoyed their perfect union in the garden? They must have. Yet, now they are set on The Path of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Journeying together while experiencing separation and isolation they are rendered unable to be fully present for each other. A wall between the couple has been erected. How many spouses live with this painful yearning, internally desiring each other, while allowing walls of hurt to keep them separated? Too many… Adam and Eve’s heartache continues. Their first born son Cain will kill their second born son Abel. Yes, childbirth would be painful and the ground is cursed. Death (sin) continues its attack.
At first blush this seems like a very mean God! After all, what kind of a parent leaves their child alone with a snake? Why didn’t God protect the man and woman? The answer is simple, God wants a very deep relationship with us. The garden was beautiful indeed. However, God has more for humanity than the garden. Zion awaits us. God desires a true friendship with us, he wants us to choose his friendship. This is why God gave the man and woman free will to follow his guidance, or not… He loves you enough to allow you to grow through your sufferings, he loves you enough to allow you to experience both life and death in your physical, emotional, and spiritual body. Like a loving parent, God is always there for you, waiting for you to choose life.
God created the human soul as his throne and his dwelling place… When we fall into sorrow and suffering, we leave no space for God. We are not prepared to offer such a noble placement. And so our kind Beloved, wishing no other dwelling place than our own souls, sits on the ground and waits, since human nature is mixed with earth. The time will come when God’s beloved so will, through his own harsh labor and God’s abundant grace, restore the Father to his rightful place of beauty.” – Julian of Norwich (3)
Looking around the world we witness broken, fractured, and shattered families. Why? Why does God continue to allow all this pain? The answer remains the same – God loves us so much that he invites us to choose him while still allowing us to choose sin. God didn’t create the pain. Humanity’s pain is the result of our choosing evil over good – choosing death (sin) over life. Together, man and woman ate the forbidden fruit. You can still choose your path today. God wants you to choose life and the freedom that follows. God does not desire subjugation, he desires friendship. Your journey into life includes healing in your family – healing between man and woman. You, and the generations who came before you, have suffered enough. It’s time to turn this thing around! Now, the question is – what are you going to do about it? Are you going to choose life?
THE TRUE ETERNAL PROMISE
There is one pathway into freedom from addictions and into the life your soul years for. You must choose life as you journey on The Path of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Deep within your heart you know the way to journey. Jesus Christ is the way. God, the Holy Trinity, loves you so much that he gave his Son. Jesus became man so he could walk with you as you experience life in your body, heart, and soul. Being human Jesus shares in your humanity and as the Second Person of the Trinity he shares in the Godhead. Fully human and fully God Jesus became your gateway back home to the Holy Trinity – back to God. He took on your sufferings in his passion and he continually illuminates your pathway into life. Yet, you need to choose him if you want to see. You need to unite your sufferings with his passion. God provides a complete restoration beyond human measure. He is indeed a very generous God.
“Behold my beloved servant. See what damage and distress he has endured in my service, for love of me, yes, and by his own goodwill, Isn’t it reasonable that I should reward him for his fear and dread, his injuries and suffering? Not only that, but isn’t it my responsibility to give him a gift that far surpasses what the goodness of his former health and well-being would have been? I would be ungracious otherwise.” – Julian of Norwich (4)
Yes, it will take effort on your part. You need to forgive and love as you strive to become Christ like. This begins by addressing the wounds in your heart experienced in your family relationships and in your church. Through Christ all healing is manifested. Through him his wounded bride, the church, will be adorned and made wholly beautiful. Think of your addictions as red lights on the dashboard of your car telling you to pay attention, something that needs to be fixed. Pull out God’s toolbox and use his tools. His tools include forgiveness, love, and hope – they can be found in your heart.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away. – Revelation 21:3-10 (NABRE)
If you would like to schedule a session with Carolyn or inquire about inviting her to speak at an upcoming event or retreat of yours we invite you to click here: Carolyn Berghuis, MS, ND, CTN
1 Julian. The Showings of Julian of Norwich: A New Translation, ed. trans. by Mirabai Starr. (Charlottesville: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2013) Ch. 13, p. 35.
2 Ibid., Ch. 64, p. 176.
3 Ibid., Ch. 51 (Parable of the Master and Servant), p. 134-135.
4 Ibid., Ch. 51 (Parable of the Master and Servant), p. 131.