Forgiveness of Others, Revenge

Married to an Unbelieving AlcoholicPremium Content

Ask Angie: My husband is an alcoholic. Although I have committed to staying with him, I can't help but regard him with disgust even AFTER he's been drinking. Thanks to the biblical principles you teach, I'm learning how to detach when he's drinking, but in the days following a drinking binge I don't feel any affection for him. In the early days of our marriage (we've been married 20 years), I was able to warm up to him once the drinking passed. Now I am just filled with disgust. Please give me some advice. Thank you.

Marriage Guidance: We commend you for your commitment to your marriage. This shows your love for God and your willingness to please Him and do His will. You are an inspiration for others who are living with an alcoholic spouse.

Your feelings are understandable seeing that some alcoholics can be sloppy in behavior and unclean in appearance and habits. The behaviors and appearance of the alcoholic can cause much resentment build up, which is what’s happening with you. You are just now learning to detach and part of detachment is separating the alcoholic behaviors and sickness from the person you met, loved and married. When we allow the alcoholic behaviors to overtake our own thoughts we will become disgusted and resentful over the alcoholic, even during bouts of sobriety.

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Emotions in Recovery: AngerPremium Content

Beyond the emotionally tumultuous days of the first few weeks of sobriety, people in addiction recovery then move into a second phase of early recovery. As their mind and body begin to function on a more normal basis, a new crop of emotions begin to surface. Once of the first, and most important of these is anger.

A. Emotions are not moral

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Anger: A Different ResponsePremium Content

Proverbs 17:14 NRSV
The beginning of strife is like letting out water;
so stop before the quarrel breaks out.


Ever punch a hole in a container full of water? This proverb is absolutely true. You can put all manner of things against the hole, but it's almost impossible to stop the water from seeping (or pouring) out!

There are many things in our lives that, once begun, are difficult to stop. Anger and fighting is one of them. I grew up in the generation that said that when you're angry, you need to "talk it out" in order to dissipate the emotions. Newer studies are showing that talking, when you're angry, can lead to escalation, rather than de-escalation.

"I thought it was healthy to express my anger." For the last 50 years the world has been saying:
"Express yourself."
"Let 'it out."
"It's good for you to express your feelings."
"It's bad for you to repress your feelings."

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Do You Want to Be Righteous or Right?Premium Content

Do we want to be righteous... or do we want to be right? It seems, these days, that many people have difficulties taking constructive criticism. The fact is, our egos are so sensitive (so self-centered) that we want everyone to approve of us all the time, rather than accepting the kind of sacrificial love that comes from a friend who wants us to be right with God. And, oh my goodness, what turmoil wells up inside us when we are rebuked! We take it as a personal offense, rather than quietly wondering if perhaps it's really true and we should do something about it.

    A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.Proverbs 17:10 NRSV

Friends don't let friends sin. That's the simple fact about Christianity. If we are true to our faith, we understand that everything here is temporal and our focus should be on the eternal. And the eternal is concerned with pleasing God.

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Learning How to Forgive and ForgetPremium Content

Proverbs 17:9 NRSV
One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.

Do we forgive?

Likely, the answer will be "yes," but for many of us, the truth is actually closer to "no." Rather, we hold grudges, withhold our trust, and generally are fairly unforgiving. In fact, for some of us, we cling to our offenses like comfort blankets, consoling ourselves with the idea that somehow withholding our friendship from someone who has hurt us actually deals that person a fatal blow. In reality, unforgiveness hurts us a lot more than it hurts the person at whom we are angry.

The problem, I think, is that we have forgotten how to repent. We teach our children the easy "sorry;" we use it ourselves. It no longer has any meaning. And forgiveness and repentance go hand in hand. In fact, we are so absorbed with the idea of tolerance (rather than repentance) that we are even reluctant to admit to another person that they have hurt us, have offended us. So rather than dealing with that issue and forgiving them, we hang onto our hurt. It's a vicious circle.

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Lies Adult Children of Alcoholics BelievePremium Content

1. That I can control my emotions.
2. That I can control someone else's emotions or actions or thoughts.
3. That I deserve:

  • to get something good.
  • to get something bad.
  • to be punished for mistakes.
  • to be rewarded for perfection.
  • to be rewarded for good behavior, intentions, thoughts, feelings, whatever.

4. That I can "make" sense out of anything. ("Making" sense is not the same as "discovering" sense.)
5. That I am responsible for

  • for outcomes.
  • for other people's feelings, thoughts or actions.

6. That I am not responsible for my own actions - that it is all someone else's fault.

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Twelve Steps to FreedomPremium Content

The Twelve Steps originated with Alcoholics Anonymous in the mid 1930's. Besides being used to help alcoholics and drug addicts, the Twelve Steps have been used in support groups for family members, over-eaters, compulsive gamblers, and even for those desiring to escape from sexual addiction. These Steps formed the basis of treatment and counseling activities at New Creation Center where I served as Executive Director for ten years in the 1980's.

In the past few years, a movement recognizing the power of the Twelve Steps has sprung up among evangelical Christians concerned with those struggling with various addictions. Some believers worry that they bring secular concepts to the Christian counseling field.

From where do these Twelve Steps derive their power? The answer is very simple; from the Bible! Although following the Steps does not always bring an alcoholic (or other sufferer) into a saving relationship with Christ, they do work in overcoming addictions. This is shown by the millions of people who have found sobriety since AA's beginning. In some ways, it is very much like the businessman who succeeds financially when he makes spiritual principles the basis of his business practices.

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When Loved Ones Resent Your RecoveryPremium Content

It is not uncommon for those who start a new life in recovery to encounter resentment from their spouses, loved ones and/or friends. If this is the case, you will be put to the test by those who care for you most. This can be confusing because those who should be encouraging you in recovery are actually making it more difficult.

Your spouse may become resentful because you are spending more time at recovery meetings and less time with them. Stand strong and lovingly explain to your spouse that you need to take time for yourself in order to get your life back on track. Suggest that they come with you to open meetings where the loved ones are welcome so they can better understand your recovery process.

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When You Want Revenge

1 Corinthians 13:6 RSV
[Love] does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.

Ever want revenge against someone else? I think that one of the innate human emotions is the desire for one's persecutor to suffer as much as they have caused suffering (or more). I think that many of us, at one time or another, fantasied about that horrible person being humiliated or hurt like they humiliated or hurt us.

It's simple human nature.

But Paul tells us that we, as Christians, deny ourselves, deny our nature and choose love. We refuse to rejoice at wrong, even the suffering of our enemy, are rejoice in right. That we have a higher calling: to trust God in everything.

More Than a Feeling

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind;

Paul has just concluded the introduction to this section with the words "...have not love, I gain nothing." In fact, he uses Jewish parallelism to make his point:

    If I speak . . . but have not love, I am just a sound.
    If I have . . . but have not love, I am nothing.
    If I give . . . but have not love, I gain nothing.

I think (and this is simply my own thoughts, not the Word of God) that Paul is trying to say this: Without love, the Christian simply... isn't a Christian. There is no Christian without love.

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