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What Are You Reacting To?

Once you are aware of your dependency on something, and once you are living in the truth of your weakness and in the light of the Lord’s strength, you need to take a good, hard look at the reason for your addiction. It’s not going to be easy, but finding the source of your pain is essential to the healing process. You can treat the symptoms all you want, but even if you eliminate one addictive measure for avoiding your pain, there will be many more waiting to take its place unless you deal with the root of it all.

This is going to require that you let yourself feel your pain long enough and deep enough to understand it. This will require trusting God to let you hurt, and it will take a lot of courage. It can often take the helping hand of a counselor or trusted friend, as well.

Most of the time, addictions are not of themselves traceable to past trauma, but are rather the ongoing response to recurring painful experiences such as loneliness, negative stress, or insecurity (to name only a few). Now, these feelings can often be traced back to something deeper (such as insecurity that is rooted in demeaning verbal abuse from your father), but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Start with the basic feelings. How do you feel before you reach for that drink? What’s going on inside when the craving hits you to light up or shoot up or whatever other kind of “up” people do these days? What circumstances lead up to you looking at pornography or finding your next sexual fix? What void is satisfied by using people in relationships like you do?
 
Whatever it is you’re facing, figure out why you do it. Are you lonely? Are you worried? Are you stressed? Do you feel inadequate? Do you feel like a failure? Do you feel insecure? Do you feel numb and just want some stimulation to know that you can still feel something? Are you avoiding something you should be doing? Are you afraid of something? Or is there just an underlying pain that you can’t quite pinpoint, but that you don’t want to deal with?
 
The fact is, we turn to our addictions to take the place of something that’s missing (or perceived missing) in our lives. If we’re lonely, we seek companionship. If we’re stressed, we seek peace. If we’re insecure, we seek confidence and validation. If we feel pain, we seek to feel better through our addictions, but it’s just a temporary illusion.
 
God is our only true source. Remember the woman at the well (John 4)? She was looking for love in all the wrong places. She had five husbands, and the one she was living with when she met Jesus was not her husband. We don’t know exactly what she was looking for in those relationships, but whatever it was, her “GPS” kept taking her back to the well again and again to find another “drink” that would satisfy her. 

Her thirst was more than those other lovers could fill, and so she went from one to another, searching, trying to find the one who would satisfy the longing in her soul. Then Jesus walked on the scene and told her that she’d been drinking from the wrong well the whole time. But she’d never heard anything like that before.
 
“Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” she asked (verse 12). “Are you really able to satisfy? Can you really quench my thirst once and for all?” 

And Jesus said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water” (her other lovers, that is) “will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (verses 13-14)

God is the only true source for all our needs. He is the only one who can satisfy our longings, who can fill the emptiness inside, who can heal and restore the broken places, and who can take away our pain. And when we come to Him with our dissatisfaction, He not only gives us a drink, but He causes “a fountain” to spring up within us, an overflowing source of comfort and strength and new life.
 
When we come to Jesus with our loneliness, our inadequacy, and our pain, we don’t have to look any further. We don’t have to keep looking to things outside of ourselves for an answer, because Jesus becomes that answer within our very souls.
 
So what’s really driving your addictions? What are you looking for in all the wrong places? What is it you’re thirsting for? What is the longing that Jesus wants to quench in you today?
 
And we know that it’s not as easy as it may sound. It's hard learning how to trust God with the hurt places in your heart. But remember, it’s a journey—not a destination— and it will take time. It will take little steps here and there. It will take falling off the horse and having to get back on it again and again. It will take a lot of work, and it will mean that you have to feel some of the pain you’ve been avoiding for so long. But every step you take toward trusting God to be your source is a step closer to your freedom.

Continue to A Practical Step ->
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