I have this theory that most of us are addicted to something – if not the stereotypical things (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc) then the socially acceptable ones (money, power, status, achievement, busyness, acceptance, affirmation, food/sugar/caffeine, entertainment, experience, etc).
We have this special place reserved for people we call “addicts.” We look on them with pity or judgement. We think, “What a shame. I hope they get help.” I find that incredibly hypocritical.
The life of an addict is simply this: always eating but never satisfied; always drinking but never quenched. That’s the life of most Americans. That’s the life of most of us. What’s abnormal is meeting someone who’s totally content without feeding the More Monster.
So what do we do when we realize we might have a problem? What does our culture tell us to do? Well, we start treating the symptom instead of the disease. We think if we can just stop the behavior, that will somehow stop the addiction. And sometimes we can stop the behavior. But it usually just gets replaced by another addiction. Because the real issue with addiction isn’t our actions, it’s our hearts.
Stay with me here. The sex addict is really seeking control, affirmation, love. The drug addict is really seeking escape and experience. The shopping addict is really seeking happiness and acceptance. The food addict is really seeking comfort.
And on and on we go.
Addiction isn’t about the behavior. It’s about the disease. And the disease is in all of us.
We are all seeking life, meaning, fulfillment, purpose. We all want to be happy. We all want to feel loved.
Saint Augustine wrote,
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
I find that so beautiful and so true.
The prophet Isaiah once wrote down these words of the Lord,
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink – even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk – it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.”
I know from experience what it’s like to pursue meaning and life apart from God. It always results in emptiness. It’s the classic cycle of addiction:
- Hunger – We desire something that we think will satisfy us.
- Pursuit – We go to various lengths and extremes to get it.
- Obtainment – We get that thing, and then…
- Emptiness – We find it didn’t fill the void. We’re hungry again. And so we repeat the process.
The lies we tell ourselves include:
- If I just had more of “that” I’d be happy.
- Something new will satisfy me.
- Others are doing it so it must be okay.
- I “deserve” this.
- This next fix will be my last fix.
The truth is that the only real and lasting “fix” for deepest longings comes through a personal, ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ. He alluded to this when he said,
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirty.”
It’s paradoxical, but these longings we have don’t get met through things; they get met through a person – our creator who loves us, knows us, pursues us, forgives us, and wants the very best for us. He is the cure for our addictions and the source of our life.