I lead a ministry called Christian Recovery Houses (CRH), which is a discipleship ministry for people recovering from addiction. So I have a front row seat to see people walk with God as they recover from addiction. Some of what I’ve observed in them has been both interesting and surprising. Although every person who’s been enslaved by the chains of addiction has known a darkness many others haven’t, their recovery journey requires of them certain necessary priorities that serve them advantageously, many times over their brothers and sisters in Christ who aren’t recovering from addiction. These observed advantages are too good not to share with the non-recovery community. Perhaps we can take advantage of them and gain a new appreciation for our siblings in Christ who are also in recovery as we consider – and, hopefully, adopt for ourselves – these seven advantages:
- They realize honesty is critical.
The healthy recoverer is keenly sensitive to any hint of dishonesty in their own heart. They’ve learned that deception is always the forerunner of using, so wise recoverers keep a vigilant check on their heart for that
- They submit to accountability.
Among the most dangerous enemies to the recoverer are secrets, casting shadows wherein one can hide and find the privacy to which the enemy longs to lure them in hopes of tempting and ensnaring them. Light is the recoverer’s friend, and light often shines from the lamp of others in the recovery community who hold one another accountable.
- They have a healthy respect for relapse.
Having been, often recently, in the throes of addiction, recoverers remember all too freshly the pain and loss of active addiction. They know that one step in the direction of their drug of choice (DOC) could lead to maxed out credit cards, destroyed families, sitting in jail, intense damage to their health, or even accidental death, all in a matter of hours, With indelible memories of such terrible consequences, someone walking the path of recovery keeps a healthy distance from anything in the vicinity of their DOC.
One of our key verses at CRH is Proverbs 5:8. The context is a warning to men about the trap of the adulterous woman. And verse 8 warns to stop well in advance of the woman’s bed, or bedroom. Its prudent warning is: “Do not go near her door.” Of course, the adulterous woman serves as the stand-in for any luring, destructive bait of Satan.
- They embrace humility.
Once you’ve owned your loss, come to terms with your failure being placed on public display, and accepted that you’re nothing without God, and can do nothing without His help, shame is no longer your master. Free from shame, but aware of your weakness, now you’re correctly positioned for God’s work of restoration. Such is the positioning of a recoverer with the right perspective. As long as we remain humble, God can pour into us the seed of His life-giving Word. 1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” What an inspiration to see recoverers walk up the mountain of restoration in step with God, letting Him set the pace, and reach the summit of life and freedom.
- They’re growth minded.
Speaking of being exalted, recoverers are hungry for higher altitudes. When you really hit rock bottom, you can only go up. Recoverers find themselves having hit that bottom, and desperately rising from the ashes of their incinerated life. They have a renewed sense of vertical direction, a growing hatred for the low, and a humble longing for a high like they’ve never known before. Ever present in them is a deep desire for personal growth.
- They’re service minded.
Inherent in addiction recovery programs, including ours at CRH, is a responsibility to serve. Recoverers need sponsors. Since each recoverer benefitted from their sponsor, they want to be a benefit to another recoverer. Not only that, but there’s an awareness of the personal benefit of living a life of giving, helping, pouring oneself out for the benefit of others. And as long as a person focuses on serving others, and serving God, that person won’t be consumed with their own problems.
You see what I mean? These people society looks down on so often, these recovery people, they’re really doing better than the rest of us in a lot of ways, aren’t they? My charge to the readers and this writer is twofold: 1) Let’s adopt these advantageous traits for ourselves; 2) Let’s support the recoverers we know with our prayers and with our encouraging words and actions.