In dealing with those individuals from addiction,
codependency, and other dysfunctional behaviors, a common thread runs through each story I
hear. These people give up and give in. This behavior eventually leads to loss of personal
dignity. Each person performs and puts on an act, while hiding and wearing an assortment
of masks. They continue to hope that no one will find out how they deal with life and
reality, their lives become a struggle. Loosing ones dignity is not an over night
quest. Year after year, they practice until this loss of dignity occurs. The result is
simple; loss of respect joined with a low self-worth. When we focus our attention of
actions, thoughts, and feelings of another human being, we are positioning ourselves to
receive Gods punishment for disobedience. In looking at the book of Leviticus, we
see how the book of laws has a distinctive meaning to those people that have chose to turn
their back on God.
God has promised to strip us of our dignity if we
are not obedient. Lev. 26:16, then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden
terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life.
You will plant seen in vain, because your enemies will eat it (NIV). These are the
types of people that I meet on a daily basis. Spiritually bankrupt, homeless, addicted to
alcohol or drugs, their lives are out of control. They are blinded by self will run riot
and there is no meaning to their lives. The choices they had made to turn disobedient and
allow substances and other people to control their lives led them to annihilation. How do
you deal with a person who by their own decisions has ruined their life and the lives of
those who love them? The answer is simple: become obedient and He will restore your
This simple solution becomes perplexing when someone
has spent a lifetime of self-control and their own sense of willpower to suddenly come to
the realization that Gods will and His grace are the way out. The majority adopts
this process, but it only lasts for a few days until some self-conscious feelings leave,
and suddenly, the person is back in control and heading towards discouragement. The person
quickly overlooks the pain, suffering, and devastation that occurred just a few days
before the relief was sent from God. Titus 1:15-16, To the pure, all things are pure,
but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their
minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions, they
deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good
this person heads back down the path they just left, what can we do as believers to change
their course and provide structure in their lives? We model the things they lack, and keep
modeling them until they realize what it is they need to do to recover.
1 Peter 2:1-3 says, therefore, rid yourselves of
all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn
babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow in your salvation, now that
you have tasted that the Lord is good (NIV). People in recovery are just like newborn
babies. They have to learn to walk, talk, and behave appropriately just like a child.
Addiction and dysfunctional behaviors stunt emotional growth. I see grown men and women
acting as if they were still in teenager years. Working a program of recovery such as
suggested by 12-step models helps restore dignity while providing a method to enhance
emotional stability. Corinthians 4:1-2, therefore, since through Gods mercy we
have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful
ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by
setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every mans conscience in the
sight of God (NIV). For some of us with major issues suppressed by our addiction and
loss of control, lack of dignity plays a significant role in our lives. Not being able to
look at ourselves in the mirror or having someone look in your eyes with no one looking
back is the definition of loss of dignity. God helps us restore that dignity from the
inside out. It is a tearing down of walls and denial that allows the dignity to return to
the lost soul.
May I suggest that if you know someone or have a
problem with addiction or other dysfunctional behaviors, it may be worth your efforts to
look into a 12-step recovery program. The only requirement for membership is a desire to
stop the loss of dignity that someone or you may have suffered. *Currently we have
eleven meetings, seven day a week, located at the church*. My ministry includes those
who have serious and sometimes life threatening problems. The hours are long; the rewards
are few and far between. It is the miracles that keep me focused on my own purpose.
Watching someone grow from a newborn to a mature adult is one of Gods miracles that
I experience on a daily basis.
Over the past ten years, I have devoted my life to
recovery. My philosophy is simple: I do not look down on anyone unless I am going to help
him or her up. When I made a decision to change my life and started my search, I was
grateful that someone was there for me. This person told me that I had lost my dignity and
he knew a way that it could be restored. I listened, I believed, I found it! I found out
the hard way that through God all things are possible.
John G. Banks, C.A.S.
*Currently we only have two meetings per week as
we have changed locations and group focus.