I have been working in addiction counseling for more than 10 years. I watch people of all ages and walks of life come into the office, usually against their will, justifying why their circumstance is different and why they are some unusual example of addiction. Thus justifying why they will need some unusual type of treatment to “cure” them of their problem. They are normally quite resistant when they find out that their treatment is going to look pretty similar to the thousands of recovery addicts that have come before them.
A disease by definition is just something that causes you a lack of ease. Addiction, thus, becomes defined as a disease. What makes it so? Is it biological? Mental? Emotional? Perhaps, but it is definitely spiritual. As I listened to conference this morning, there was a term used by Donald L. Hallstrom that struck my mind, “Spiritual Withdrawal.”
Knowing the minimal part about addiction that we know, and relating it to spirituality, how does all of this fit together? Besides the physical signs of withdrawal, such as tremors and vomiting, let’s focus on the psychological ones: craving, anxiety, insomnia, vivid dreams, agitation, irritability, loss of appetite, and headache. This pretty much sums up not living a wholesome life. We become all of these things. Right down to when we begin to crave more but “can’t figure out what’s missing.” We blame these symptoms on those around us or the everyday stress of life or whatever excuse we come up with. Either way, we sound just like an addict justifying why their unhappiness is the result of uncontrollable circumstances and not the consequences of a sequence of poorly thought out decisions.
I wish I could say I was addiction free. However, I am not. I slack off on my scripture study, say prayers that often times are returned because they bounced off the ceiling with insincerity or repetition, and all to often overlook the promptings of the Spirit as merely insignificant moments. I have found myself in the past months needing to seek out others like myself. You could say, I am looking for a type of Spiritual AA group. For me, I have the comments that people leave on my blog as a means of relating to others. I wonder what others do? I know that church helps us find this Spiritual need on Sunday but how are we doing during the week? Where could my faith use a little boost?
Quickly, I am learning how spiritual this cancer is for me. It is teaching me how proud I am, how little I listen to others, and all the areas I can improve on as a mother, wife, sister and friend. I should probably be more upset with my situation but I just have gratitude. I see those around me so differently. My irritability is becoming tolerance. My anxiety is becoming excitement. I see the kindness in people everyday as something new happens to help our little family. How can I not see this as the greatest thing ever. I think Henry B. Erying said it best, “my faith is being tested by precious blessing delayed.” It’s not so much a trial anymore as blessings I have to wait for. As long as I am working toward a Spiritual goal, the lack of ease tends to let up. I pray that remain worthy of such blessings and the angelic hands that deliver them.