Step 3: We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
[I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.]
Applying step 3 to our particular addiction (the addiction to self-reliance), feels a little bit like comedian Steve Martin’s simple process for becoming a millionaire…Step 1: go and get a million dollars.
For those of us who are addicted to self-reliance and independence, “turning your life over to God” has always been a bit of a troublesome concept. Oh, it’s easy enough to say…and it was easy enough to do when we were 7 years old at children’s camp and our “life” consisted of a bike, a broken G.I. Joe and an annoying little brother, all of which we would gladly “turn over to God” in exchange for Heaven. Moreover, even the concept of turning our “will” over to God seemed like a small price to pay at the time, given the reward of spending eternity in Heaven with all the donuts and sports we could ever want (what? you didn’t get that promise in your package?).
But it didn’t take long to start growing up and watching our “stuff” and our wills expand to cover a great deal more territory. Then, the desire for the applause of men and the insecurities which were beginning to haunt us caused us to turn more and more inward and to take more short-cuts and to work harder to control the environment around us in order to survive. The more we strove to control our environment, the harder it became and the deeper …
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7
I am using these Tuesday Re-mixes for a few weeks to think (again) about addiction to self-reliance and how that addiction is one of the biggest challenges to genuine community which we face in the American church culture.
One of the ways I know I am not yet ready for even the first step of recovery (“STEP 1: Admit that you are powerless over your addiction…that your life has become unmanageable”) is that I am still looking for ways to fix my own addiction. The “fixer” in me says, “If I can trace my addiction back to its inception and therefore know how it started, then I can stop it.” Do you see how insidious addiction is? Even my own attempts to heal myself betray me. I will never be able to admit that I am powerless over my addiction to self-reliance as long as I keep telling myself that I can fix it! And so I am asking your indulgence. Sit back and have yourself a good laugh as I delve into my past to try to figure out where this addiction to self-reliance all started.
For me, I think it started when I was just a child going to Sunday School. We would bring our offering in these little pink envelopes that the church printed for us. They had our names on them. On the front of them, they also had a little checklist of things a “good” Christian does. I could check off the ones I had …
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:15-25 (selections)
“My name is Blake. And I am an anonymity addict.”
I am thinking further about the notion that the American culture has become addicted to anonymity and that the church must choose whether it will “enable” that addiction or be a place of healing from it. This healing, I believe, is an important objective for the church today.
The “addiction” manifests itself in me every time I find myself in trouble or in pain and the little voice inside me tells me to just keep it to myself, do not show anyone this weakness, do not trouble anyone with my problem, and definitely do not let anyone see my flaws or my brokenness. All those words and phrases like “be a man” and “buck up” and “don’t be a whiner” rattle through my thoughts. I take it to the Lord in prayer and I decide He and I can deal with it by ourselves. But my theology betrays me, because other words and phrases also haunt me: “We were created for community” and “there are no lone ranger Christians” and “confess your sins one to another” and “carry one another’s burdens”. And so this tension inside remains and, alas, I usually decide against …