Recently, on social media, I saw a brain teaser trending. It was an image that, at first glance, looked like a face. It stated, “Share when you see a word,” asking us to look beyond this face value.
And, upon doing so, at a certain angle, one can see a dotted “I” where the nose/nostril is, along with an “a” for the mouth and an “r” creating the chin and neck. And starting the entire face, there is an elaborate “L,” making up the two eyes.
So, when we spell the face, what word do we get?
The face of addiction, right there, ladies and gentlemen.
The old joke asks:
How do you tell if an addict is lying?
Answer: His/her lips are moving.
That’s some punchline truth, isn’t it?
Yes, if you and I look at any form of our addictions, we inevitably encounter the role our deception plays in their proliferation and their destruction of all we hold dear.
Scripture has much to say about truth versus lies, offering warnings and consequences about the paths we choose. And we can see those spiritual principles in the twelve steps. There’s incredible benefit in applying them should we choose to do so.
The first step confronts our powerlessness.
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
That usually shows up as a chaotic life, also known as trouble.
He whose tongue is deceitful falls into trouble.” Proverbs 17:20
If the disease is our addiction, then one of the first glaring symptoms we experience is any kind of problem: relational, marital, financial, physical or legal are a few examples of reality showcasing how unmanageable our lives have become.
Therefore, cue step number two…
2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
As we’re sorting through our individual representations of trouble, we hit a reality wall of needing God. In short, we have to tell the truth to and about ourselves.
And that’s no easy feat. For, to operate in addiction, deception has become our “go-to,” rescuing us from confrontation, responsibility, failure and uncomfortable situations.
You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth. Psalm 52:3
But, before we fall in love with our lying ways all over again, we need to remind ourselves that our rock bottoms were all too painfully real.
We need to remember our lies got us into the mess; God and His Truth, therefore, will need to help extricate us from our various disasters.
So, we are in a moment like no other. We need to decide what to do with our addictions and our God. We need to answer a question. Will we accept or reject His intervention in our lives?
This is called a decision. It’s also called the next step. Do we take it?
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
God, by His very Nature, cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). Therefore, if we expect to bring lies and excuses instead of brutal truth before Him, we are not going to get the results we desire or need. And whatever results we DO obtain, will not be sustained.
Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Proverbs 12:19
Again, we see the protection which comes from being in the truth…
The truth shall set you free. John 8:32
But that truth does not promise to be easy or painless. Often, facing truth is the hardest thing we will ever do.
This, therefore, is the work of steps four through nine…
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
These steps are focused on changed behavior. They exchange a destructive one for a healthier one. These steps exchange lies for truth, evasiveness for transparency. The reasons for these exchanges involve the relational, human experience and our need to repair whatever damage we have caused.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25
Scripture, again, brings it home: “we are all members of one body.”
And this friendly reminder sets the stage for the purpose of the remaining steps, ten through twelve…
10. We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
We started in a place of confronting and accepting ugly truth; then, we accepted God’s help with it. Next, we needed to face and change behavior in the relational context, accepting how our addiction caused pain and destruction. Those are all important. But there’s still more work to do.
The “more” of that work refers to its ongoing nature. We need to keep doing it. What is the recovery adage?
“It works if you work it.”
Scripture, the twelve steps and truth all act as guardrails, hedging us in safely. And that is a key point to remember as we choose truth over deception. It’s more than just being a good, honest person; it is also about being a healthy, honest person.
The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3
In recovery, the expression goes, “You’re as sick as your secrets.”
And, for most of us, those secrets are some version of a lie- and some form of impending destruction.
Therefore, as we deal with our addictions and recovery from them, we need to do more than just work the steps and the reading of some Bible verses. We need to truly examine how both truth and deception operate in our lives- even to this day. Like the image brain teaser, when we study what we think we already see, is there, in fact, something quite different there?
And then, what are we going to do with that optical illusion’s actual truth?