Shame

What is Addiction?Premium Content

The term "addiction" is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive physical dependence or psychological dependence, such as: drug addiction, video games, crime, alcoholism, compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, pornography, compulsive shopping, workaholism, over exercising, etc.

Addiction severely impacts not only the addicted or dysfunctional person but also everyone who comes in contact with them (loved ones, friends, family, children, co-workers, neighbors, associates, etc.).

Addiction may involve having a dependence on a substance (i.e., alcohol, marijuana, food, prescription or nonprescription drugs) or an activity (i.e., shopping, gambling, hoarding, self-injury, etc.). It can be either a physical (as in the case of most drugs) or psychological (as in the case of most activities) compulsion to use the substance of activity as a way to cope with everyday life, problems and/or circumstances. The dysfunctional person will often have deep seated feelings of guilt and shame which they try to cover up.

Addiction is a habitual behavior that is extremely difficult to control and leads to activities that are designed solely to continue or cover up the addiction itself (e.g., an alcoholic hiding bottles around their home, the drug addict embezzling to support their habit, lashing out in anger blaming others for their own behaviors or consequences of those behaviors).

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Have You Forgiven Yourself?Premium Content

I remember the first time I forgave myself. It was about four years ago.

I had sinned greatly. Repented deeply. Did everything God called me to here. But I couldn't escape the torment. The weight of the sin was crushing me. I didn't know if I would survive. I didn't understand why.

I went to a dear Christian girlfriend to confess. She listened carefully, prayerfully, and said, "You haven't forgiven yourself."

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Self Deceit is Rarely ObviousPremium Content

Unlike the deceit of others, self-deceit is almost never deliberate and intentional.

The act of deceiving ourselves is rarely that obvious. Without realizing it, we mask our behaviors in ways that are more acceptable, rewarding, and socially beneficial. In fact, we try very hard to look good in front of others and the mirror. Sometimes we try so hard to look perfect that we nearly convince ourselves that it’s true. Then, when someone tells us, or when we see the light on our own, we remember who and what we really are – human.

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God Expects You To Be Better By Now (Resistance to Recovery)Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 2

(The third in a three part series on resistance to recovery.)

In the first of this series of articles I emphasized that the most difficult form of resistance to recovery is our own resistance. Recovery is not easy. It is a difficult process. Telling the truth, acknowledging our need, accepting help, making amends - these are some of the difficult tasks of recovery. It is understandable that we resist such a difficult process. In addition, recovery involves change. We have spent many years practicing our dysfunctional ways of living. The path of least resistance for us is to keep doing the same old things. Change is difficult and it is understandable that we resist it. In the second in this series of articles, I emphasized that in addition to our own internal resistance to recovery, recovery also often takes place in a hostile environment. For a variety of reasons, not everyone in our lives will welcome the changes which recovery brings.


Many of us, unfortunately, have experienced some distinctively Christian forms of resistance to recovery and it is this kind of resistance which I would like begin to discuss in this article.

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 2Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 3

In a previous article I discussed the most insensitive, intransigent and personally painful kind of resistance to recovery - our own resistance. We tend to be our own worst critics. We resist the changes most tenaciously. In most cases we fight it, reject it, hate it - probably more than anyone else.

It is often true, however, that the recovery journey takes us through territory that is either ambivalent towards or downright hostile to recovery. Recovering codependents, for example, may find that some people prefer the 'good old days' when they were more compliant and self-sacrificing. Unpleasant emotions, once medicated with addictive substances or processes, may be experienced as threats to relationships that have adapted over the years to the insanity of addiction. Some people in recovery experience hostility when they start telling the truth in social systems which have been committed to silence for generations. Other people experience shame and rejection when people are skeptical about or merely uncomfortable with the changes that recovery brings.

Recovery is about change and most of us will encounter resistance when change produces new and unfamiliar behaviors. It is not reasonable to expect that all of the changes which take place during recovery will be received with rejoicing as if they were 'answers to prayer'.

Resistance and Rejection
Most of the resistance we encounter in recovery will be personal and painful. Even when resistance comes in the form of intellectualized 'arguments' against recovery, it may feel like personal assault rather than dispassionate analysis. For example, suppose someone says: "You can't change the past, so you should focus on the positive." This may make some intellectual sense to you. It may 'ring true.' It might, indeed, be good advice at this particular stage of your recovery. But for many people it may also feel like a profound dismissal of their struggle towards sanity. The key to sorting out confusing stuff like this is not the truth or falsehood of "you should focus on the positive". What is critically important is the tone of voice in which you hear "you should focus on the positive". Is the tone practical and understanding? Or is it shaming and dismissing? Do I feel rejected as a person when I hear this?

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What Do You Think Jesus Wants You to Do?Premium Content

"My Yoke Is Easy."

What do you think Jesus wants you to do?

I'm not thinking of specific choices like whether to have pizza or turkey for lunch (I don't think He cares). But in terms of overall life choices and directions, what do you think He wants? There are probably a lot of answers to that question, but I'm thinking of one right now that I'll bet nobody else mentioned.

I think He wants me to quit. (It's okay if you're surprised.)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

The scripture above is one of the most well-known passages in the bible. It's a source of comfort to folks who are buried under the weight of illness, despair, and impossible expectations. But it's even more comforting when we understand the historical context.

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Are You Experiencing True Guilt or False Guilt?Premium Content

We must differentiate between true guilt, and false guilt. Listen to how Paul differentiates between the two:

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness; to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.2 Corinthians 7:10-11


Before we investigate these types of guilt, I would like to give you an overview.

  • 1. True guilt. Corinthians calls this Godly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow that is according to the will of God in the NASB.
  • 2. False guilt. Corinthians calls this worldly sorrow in the NIV, or sorrow of the world in the NASB.
    Within false guilt I see two categories:
      a. Deliberate pretended guilt.
      b. Imposed guilt. This is guilt that we, the world, and other people impose upon ourselves.
  • Let's explore.

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    Who Needs Recovery?Premium Content

    Recovery involves the entire person: spiritual, physical, emotional and mental. You can recover from abuse, addiction, eating disorders, anxiety, shame, guilt, anger, alcoholism, codependency, suffering, grief, depression and more!

    You probably need to consider seeking help if:

  • The last thing in the world you want to do is talk about your possible areas of "stuckness".
  • Your life is getting to be a repeat of one disaster after another.
  • You are finding you feel less and less in control over problems you once thought were under control.
  • You have noticed an increase in the frequency of the behaviors that you believe are a problem (lying, stealing, drinking, eating, gambling, etc.)
  • You have family members that have begun to show concern about problem areas in your life.
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    Asking for Support: Getting the Help You Need - Part 2Premium Content

    by Dale & Juanita Ryan | see: Part 1

    We resist getting help

    In spite of the abundance of God's love and grace and the many ways in which love and grace are available to us, we do not easily reach out for the help we need. Even when we have acknowledged our need for help, we may find ourselves hesitating, finding excuses, resisting. Resistance to getting help is often the result of a mixture of fear and despair and shame.

    Fear

    It can be frightening to get help. In the process we feel vulnerable and exposed. Jim's Dad had made cutting remarks about him all his life. Jim was so accustomed to hearing that he was lazy and stupid and irresponsible that every time he shared in his support group, he expected to hear these same hurtful comments in response. Even though people didn't respond this way, Jim imagined that everyone must be privately thinking these things about him. As a result, he would sometimes begin to share only to freeze with fear and find himself unable to talk.

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    Asking for Support: Getting the Help You Need - Part 1Premium Content

    by Dale & Juanita Ryan
    See: Part 2 | Part 3

    The God of the Bible is a God who saves and heals. The Bible is clear about this: He will deliver the needy who cry out, he will rescue them from oppression and violence. Psalm 72: 12,14) When we see our need, acknowledge our inability to save ourselves, and cry out, God delivers us. God rescues us from oppression and violence. Whether it is the oppression and violence of our compulsions and addictions or the oppression and violence of abuse and neglect, God delivers us and heals us. God is powerful enough and loving enough to deliver us from all of the oppression and violence we face.

    This is the good news proclaimed in Scripture. And it is the basis for our hope on the recovery journey. We cannot save ourselves. Or heal ourselves. But God can. And God will.

    Sound simple? It turns out to be anything but simple. There are several reasons for this. First, we find it hard to believe that God is

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