The philosophy of tough love is based on the conviction that no effective recovery can be initiated until a man admits that he is powerless over alcohol and that his life has become unmanageable. The alternative to confronting the truth is always some form of self-destruction. For Max there were three options: eventual insanity, premature death, or sobriety. In order to free the captive, one must name the captivity. Max’s denial had to be identified through merciless interaction with his peers. His self-deception had to be unmasked in its absurdity.
~Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.
~ Jesus, The Alive-Forever King of The Universe, in Acts 9
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
~ King David in Psalm 139
Oh beloved, it is true. We are people who must be connected to something. We were never designed to live alone. Something must flow into us to give us life. And with this, there is a problem. “All humans, if they do not serve God in Christ, are addicted to something in the creation. The problem with all addictions is that they absorb the heart’s entire capacity for attachment, and there is no room left to love God or neighbor.” ~Albert Greene
And many of us are apart from Christ, or live in such a way that this is functionally true, regardless of the position we are in, in Him. We rage around the room, looking out at the failings and falterings of others, while we try to stuff the holes that bleed our pain with something:
a suppressed memory
a double standard
a defense mechanism
Oh, it is not that we even are trying to hurt anyone else. But the pain and pride and fear and bitterness and rage and self that boils in us, makes it nearly (actually fully) impossible for us to break free. We look out on our current situation, and it is impossible for us to see that we have brought our own selves to the very point in time we now inhabit.
Without intervention, we are doomed; and not just the chemically dependent either. Actually, those of us blessed with more overt addictions are probably the lucky ones. Our lives are more black and white when it came to our failure. It is easier to see a man tottering towards a precipice of alcoholism, than it is to identify a person dying of a destructive emotional coping mechanism.
But an addict will die, no matter what the poison he or she is allowing to pump into his or her body, soul and spirit.
Thankfully, G_d is real. And this same G_d will use any number of tools at His disposal to bring each of us to a place where we really do have to choose whether we are going to live on the only Life that will work. Anything other than Him and His Spirit dooms us. And often the tools are more weapons than anything else.
the Love of friend
the destruction of our happiness
the boundaries set by a spouse
the loss of a job or relationship
the abandonment of hope
the running out of options
the failing of our health
the hitting of bottom
Can we see it? All of what He is doing in our lives is serving two purposes. He is working within us, through friends, lovers and Himself to break us of the illusion that we can live on anything besides Him and His Great Love. And sometimes He has to get us backed up against a wall, or flat on our back on the ground before we find the humility to let Him be The Way and The Truth and The Life He is in our lives.
So beloved, are you running out of breath, struggling through the process of being humbled by Him right now? Rejoice! Lie down and surrender now. He will lift you up as He connects to a Source of power and Life that will work if you will but allow it to continue working in you and through you. We are being conformed to His image, and this will happen. But we can greatly accelerate the process by yielding to the work He is doing.
Tonight is your night beloved. Time to connect with the only One who will satisfy. Let Him come into you.
Lord Jesus, you died to help me die. Take my life.
I draw no protective line around anything that needs to go.
~François Fénelon (1651-1715)