CCEF tweeted a quote from David Powlison-“Self-pity is then a most delicious narcotic: it feels so good to feel so bad, because it all about me.”
When I was in the darkest places of addiction, I lived that quote. I have often thought of that dark place and wondered what it was that kept me there. There’s no short answer to that question. When I read the above quote, my mind was immediately drawn to the original “Red Dawn” movie (yes I grew up in the 80’s). There is a scene where a young fighter is carving notches on his rifle stock to represent those he killed that day. Another character says to him, “All that hate’s gonna burn you up kid.”. He replies, “It keeps me warm.”
Why was it so warm in that miserable place? Somewhere down deep, I knew I belonged to God and that I could only run for so long. I had the keys in my hand the whole time. I knew I had the ability to fall to my knees at any time and turn from my rebellion and be restored. Instead, I chose to be curled up on the couch, shades drawn, doors locked, lights out, with just a remote control, a half-empty bottle of misery, and a pistol…un-showered, broken, hopeless, sleepless, isolated, separated…yet comfortable right where I was at. I was unwilling to let go of that bottle, scared out of my mind to be without my last remaining friend who mocked me with every swallow. Why?
For me, I think I felt somehow in control in that place and afraid of what any other life would look like. I knew what this looked like, felt like, smelled like. I knew what each day would bring. Each day was a new attempt to manipulate the world into believing that I had it all together and that it was all of “them” who were nuts. Here, I had power. I would pat myself on the back for my cunning, not realizing that they all knew who I really was. I was only lying to myself and even that created reality was slowly slipping through my fingers. Yet I stood firm. Defiant, disobedient, warm, powerful yet powerless…waiting for God to cut my legs from beneath me…and I knew he would…yet I stood.
I wallowed in self-pity, perceived persecution, self-righteous indulgence and justification of a life lived for self. This was just who I was. I was playing the cards I was dealt. I cared not for family, responsibility, duty, commitment or anything that would hinder my ability to live free and “be me”. What does that even mean anyway? Listen, “being me” is just code for doing what I want regardless of the consequences to myself or the price that others pay on my behalf. It just means that I am happy right here, living in addiction with no other goal than getting my next drink and not having anyone bother me about it. It’s a lie straight from hell that is almost as dangerous as “I deserve”.
If you are living in that place my friend, let me tell you that there is another way. There is a place that feels better, warmer, safer. Whether it be addiction, unforgiveness, anger or any other destructive thing, you have to let go of it. Release your grip; let go of your perceived control; fall to your knees and rest. Aren’t you tired of the battle? Put down your arms and lift your hands. The struggle can be over. Bring all of your brokenness to God and you will find what you have been looking for the whole time. It’s time to come home.