Abstinence has been a workable strategy for many people in AA for many years. Why shouldn’t abstinence be a workable/helpful strategy for me, in dealing with my idolatry, another word for addiction? Helpful for getting me out of the trap of addiction: A.K.A. the trap of proving myself worthy. My idols really are less strong than they used to be, as folks have been praying, but I’m like an alcoholic down to six drinks a day, from twelve. I’m sick of being on the pathway of worthiness-proving, and want to walk on the pathway of Jesus-worthiness. Ahhh.
An addict to alcohol is weak as water, flowing down a hill, taking the path of least resistance. Only the presumptuous/confident alcohol abuser feels like s/he can handle alcohol in moderation. The recovering alcoholic, however, has come to realize he is powerless over his addiction. Abstinence seems wise for the weak who know they are weak. Abstinence is very humbling. Too weak to drink alcohol. Need to abstain. The presumptuous imagine otherwise.
Two paths are before me: the pathway to worthiness-proving, and the pathway to Jesus. The problem with the pathway to worthiness-proving is that it’s a horrible trap: the same things that give me life, also give me death, when things go south. And death-avoidance is addictive, thereby weirding my life. I am so much happier when I don’t obsess about death-avoidance, failure-avoidance. I’m sick of that kind of lifestyle. I feel too weak to place myself in harm’s way on the pathway to worthiness-proving. While a strong person might not be devastated by death, a weak person, dysfunctional person, is so traumatized and re-traumatized by death, that he becomes obsessive about death-avoidance, and it ruins his life, ruins his health, undermines his relationship with Jesus, others and himself, as a control-freak perfectionis t. He hates himself when he fails, and when you hate yourself, it’s impossible to love Jesus and others, to even care.
If a man is weak and knows he is weak, he is no fool to take extraordinary measures to avoid temptation. So. I’m contemplating a bold lifestyle change. Abstaining from idolatry, another word for addiction: areas of my life where I obsess, am self-absorbed and self-contemptful when I fail. Here’s what I’m thinking about changing:
Check ministry reports once a month, instead of many times/day. Check investment report once a month, instead of many times/day. Stop reading articles about improving my dysfunctional health. Sell my cool, fast, hard-cornering car, and my fast motorcycle, and buy a used VW Golf: not sexy, not fast, not tempting to drive in such a way as to prove myself worthy. Stop obsessing over bargains, researching purchasing decisions: just pick a supplier and pay whatever the price. Stop helping others find good used cars. Stop following my favorite sports teams on TV and online: no Eagles, Phillies, US Open, OU football, Messiah soccer, because with sports I’m vicariously proving myself. Addicted to winning. Suppressing my pain when losing.
Maybe some day, maybe next week, I can return to these activities w/o being obsessive, trying to use them to prove myself worthy, but for today, I’m thinking I’m too weak, too vulnerable, to face the onslaught of such temptation. Think of a recovering-alcoholic of a few hours, and unemployed, being offered a good-paying job as a bartender with free drinks as a perk. Unwise to say yes. That’s how weak I feel. Maybe in a month, year, decade, I can return to activity, or more-frequent-activity, in these areas, sell the Golf and buy a cooler, faster car, but I have no clue how long it may take, and I may decide I can never go back to life as it was before Sept 11, 2012. I’m not abstaining from alcohol, BTW, because I don’t abuse it. And maybe I’ll decide I can handle these temptations without abstinence, after all. I just need your prayers.
Since I journaled the above, I decided to check ministry and investment reports once a day instead of once a month, and I decided to watch a Messiah soccer match: our son is the coach, the match was video webcast, and I hoped it might be a good experiment. It was. I felt like an addict-wanting-a-drink-at-a-cocktail-party as I watched, and that awareness enabled me to have a much-healthier indifference than ever before, watching Messiah soccer. I’ve not sold my car, but there too, when I’ve driven it, I’ve noticed more awareness than before, of trying to prove myself cool, worthy, and noticed more awareness of my critical/judgmental spirit toward others, and it’s actually frightened me: trying to feel good about myself by going down the worthiness-proving pathway, because it’s a trap by the forces of evil that sucks me in, leads to death, not life. Unconscious self-hatred. So helpful to have the mindset of a recovering addict, doing something very dangerous. Driving my car is very dangerous, because it strokes my addiction, though I’ve never seen it that way before, and the same with TV-sports, ministry, bargains, investments, judging others, etc. Feels like a game-changer. Dunno what tomorrow will bring.
–WeakDave, thankful for the prayers of many (please keep praying and please pray now)
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