Tangible Steps to Freedom
“Motivation is what gets you to start, and habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun
These words summarize the path I’ve taken to healing from my addictions: alcohol, promiscuity, and living a generally hedonistic lifestyle. I remember what first led me to my addictions–pain, boredom, sometimes just an empty feeling that brings you to a place of wanting to seek out any type of stimulation. Wanting a distraction from whatever you’re feeling. The reality is after you’ve attained that high, the drop to reality often leaves you feeling worse than before.
Learning to draw strength from God is what eventually led me to overcome my addictions. In my strength, I couldn’t find lasting freedom from any of the troubles that tormented me. Co-dependent relationships always crashed and burned. Counseling and Psychiatric medication did little to provide real healing. I remembered reading what the Bible says about healing, peace, forgiveness, and I decided to take that first step of faith by believing God would do what His word says He will do. These are some of the steps I took to become free from the power of sin.
1. Dwell on good things.
Think about what you’re thinking about. Our thoughts dictate the course our lives go, so it’s crucial to gain mastery of our minds. With prayer and earnest effort, we can start to think and live differently. In Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce Meyer says: “One of the greatest revelations of my life is: I can choose my thoughts and think things on purpose. In other words, I don’t have to just think about whatever falls into my mind.”
2. Refuse to stay in a place of defeat.
Be determined to get healed. When you hear the testimonies of other overcomers, determine in your heart that this will be your testimony. My kryptonite was alcohol, and I struggled with really giving it up for a few years after I was saved. I think we can truly love to some extent, something that’s not good for us. We can associate a lousy habit with feelings of joy, and that clouds our judgment. I was saved at a church that was made up of addicts, founded by an ex-addict. For a lot of us, Jesus was the only way we could find freedom from what felt like a life-sentence of addiction. Just know that overcoming your addiction is possible, and God will encourage you every step of the way.
3. Worship your way out.
At the beginning of my walk with God, I absorbed as much of the Bible as possible; I downloaded Bible apps, signed up for daily devotional emails, and found pastors I admired to follow on social media. The reminders throughout the day helped sustain me when I was still vulnerable and not yet accustomed to living differently. I listened to Christian music, though initially, it wasn’t the type of music I enjoyed. But experiencing the presence of God that comes through listening to Praise/Worship music is life-changing, and you’ll be hard-pressed to get that experience from any other genre. In the same way, secular music, TV shows, and movies can draw you away from God. I had to let go of a lot of my old viewing habits after scenes with substance abuse, and sex left me craving things I had already been delivered from. Media can be a strong influence, and we should consider that when attempting to walk purely.
4. Don’t let anyone condemn or shame you.
If God does not condemn you, do not freely take that weight upon yourself. Try to be kind to yourself too. Practicing self-love might be foreign to you like it was for me, but with time and practice, it becomes your new normal. Tupac Shakur said it correctly, “Only God can judge me.”
Sin leads to ruin; I waited until hitting a rock-bottom low before finally trying to live God’s way. For me, rock-bottom was in a jail cell facing Felony charges; I pray that you would seek Him before coming to a place of needing a wake-up call. God delights in giving mercy, and there is great joy in heaven when a sinner repents. Seek Him in the moments you feel weak. Just the way mistakes can lead to further spiraling down, moments of progress and overcoming can give you the encouragement you need to keep going.
Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.