Addiction: Hope, Anger & Courage

St. Augustine once uttered this powerful statement:

“Hope has two beautiful daughters: anger, at the way things are and courage, to work for change.”

Upon reading it, my mind went first to the Serenity Prayer and then to how hope plays its role in addiction and recovery.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

Indeed, hope is not a neutral word. We have feelings about it, be they negative or positive.

And, maybe, that is the first stumbling block. Perhaps we get tangled not in this word and theory, but rather in its opposite representative: hopelessness.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick… Proverbs 13:12

For many of us, that is all we see concerning our addictions and our issues. And it spotlights a larger spiritual challenge: we believe our own skewed perception, rather than trusting in a higher authority. We entertain vain imaginations (2 Corinthians 10:5), erecting them as more powerful than the Most High’s Divine Nature (Jeremiah 32:27).

Proverbs 26:12 nails it; we are conceited.

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit?
There is more hope of a fool than of him.

Still, eventually, life comes a-calling, requiring we rouse ourselves from the complacency and the self-defeating attitudes we possess concerning hope.

St. Augustine’s quote may not directly manifest verbatim. More often, a direct revelation slaps us instead:

“We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Maybe we are literally lying in a pool of our own sick. Maybe we’ve lost a passion for life. Maybe we’ve had hard destruction show us just how much addiction steals and kills.

But, part of Divine Providence’s great love for us involves the startling, uncomfortable wakeup call. And there is no longer any snooze button to press concerning ourselves. We are forced to admit…

For what I am doing, I do not understand… Romans 7:15

The hope daughters, often nestled within the Serenity Prayer, show us we need to approach a number of things, including our attitude toward hope itself, differently.

First, we need to make the decision.

The crux of much of this component’s complexity involves the word, “grant.”

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”

“Grant” conveys we have picked a perspective; it is a call to action. Only, here, in the prayer’s context, we are asking for Divine guidance to take the lead.

When we ask “grant” in the Most High’s direction, it conveys we are decided His way is better than ours and much-needed. Therefore, hope’s two daughters solidify our commitment to change and health instead of same-old, same old dysfunction and disease.

All well and good, unless we interrupt that with our disordered, stubborn selves and insist on taking the decision back and sabotaging that single-minded decision.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

And come on, as addicts, this is natural and easy to do. For, whether or not we know it, many of us are still fixated on the hopelessness.

One can argue, I suppose, we are ADDICTED TO that hopelessness.

If things are bleak, why even try? If things are only doom and gloom, why not slide into oblivion with our beloved addiction? Nothing- and no one- else matters.

And it takes conscious, deliberate, unpleasant work to confront and replace that.

If we insist on remaining selfish, then, inevitably, we are here…

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. James 3: 16

At first glance, we may delude ourselves into thinking we are living the life. Yes, things are exactly how we want them. Drunken stupors, binges, spending sprees, reckless behaviors and irresponsibility may be fun for AWHILE, but there is a price tag attached. And life is quite a collection agent. Sooner or later…

…when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:15

Death often gets our attention. It doesn’t need to be the death of a person either. Death can happen to anything, including potential, relationships, career, good health and peace.

And, when this death comes, the hopelessness, again, rears its ugly head, attempting to convince us, of all things, Elohim is responsible, not us.
Pretty audacious, huh?

We all arrive at this misguided conclusion. Because it’s easier than being accountable for our hearts, minds and subsequent decisions and actions.

Yet none of that attitude will prevent spiritual truth. We are smacked with 1 Corinthians 14:33’s meaning.

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…

However, many of us, especially if we are struggling with addiction, can tend to view this scripture as this…

“For God is not the author of difficult, painful solutions, but of easy, pain and change-free peace…”

We want a different book, author and reality; we want our passive indulgence. We’re not interested in, again, doing the work of hope.

But, until we hang out with the two daughters, our lives will continue to slide into further mess.

And, just like life, where we don’t have to like every person, we don’t even have to LIKE these two hope daughters. We don’t have to like “anger, at the way things are and courage, to work for change.”

But, if we are “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” then, we’re going to have to embrace this conclusion…

We have to DO something differently concerning what we both accept and change:
“…courage to change the things I can…”

Addiction is not courage; it’s fear. Addiction cowers from challenging life circumstances in attempt to avoid the unpleasant truth. It hides, lies and denies.

Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live:
and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
Psalm 119:116

We, as addicts, need not be ashamed of that fear. But we are not exempt from facing it. Courage is a skill.

We need to decide and act upon Divine hope’s two daughters in our lives; and that takes courage.

We are not left alone in that pursuit.

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand, and whenever turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

As far as “the way” is concerned, it’s not as mystical as we’d believe it to be. Rather, it is often the practical, unglamorous and unpleasant.

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: Isaiah 28:10

It is such things as a Twelve Step program, an accountability-oriented sponsor mentoring our choices, unflinching therapy to address past trauma and, underscoring any and all education and help avenues, our honest willingness to participate in those “ways.”

Indeed, when we “stop fighting our help,” an unexpected result often occurs: hope-filled joy.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth:
my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Psalm 16:9

Yes, rest happens. The burden is lightened, as our unhealthy addictive behavior changes enough to remove its destruction. Our Creator’s desired plans for us now have more room in which to flourish.

But, again, here is a tricky thing concerning even that rest: there is a work there. There is a decision and an effort we need to execute.

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, Ephesians 1:18

And so, we need to piggyback on Ephesians’ instruction.

We realize we are not the only factor in the equation (cue Divine Wisdom):

“… and wisdom to know the difference.”

All roads lead back to our Source.

O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

The Almighty comes from a place of hope and infinite possibility. For us, this is often easier said than it is lived.

Nevertheless, hope’s two daughters challenge us with action, change, the unfamiliar and the dreaded “p” word: patience.

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Romans 8:25

Motivational anger and its wisdom show us there is more to who and where we are now.

“…anger, at the way things are…”

Divine discontent keeps us growing toward the fuller human beings we are created to be. Addiction stunts that process. And, of course, Elohim is not about stagnation.

Therefore, our Creator, wanting our ultimate good, will work with- and in spite of- imperfect circumstances.

“… and courage, to work for change.”

He will specifically create learning labs which work to improve our lives and enhance the blessing He wants to give to us individually.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.” Psalm 32:8

We all need to challenge and change our associations with and approaches to hope.

What many of us already believe about it is an effortless, passive reality. We don’t connect the dots between hope and decided effort on our part.

We just, somehow, hope that hope will manifest automatically, easily and magically fix things.

But this is unrealistic. Yes, hope is a wonderful blessing. But it is not far removed from a scripture most of us never consider:

“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.” Exodus 20:9

It’s not to promote rigid legalism. Rather, we need to remember hope, recovery and healthy attitudes and choices are ALL daily habits. They don’t just arrive on their own. We need to do our part in the process.

If we choose to engage in this process, it is simply a matter of time before we realize St. Augustine was spot on about hope’s two daughters: they are, indeed, beautiful.