Tuesday, October 25, 2011
“Courage, Liam thought to himself, wasn’t a hot, blistering emotion held only in the hands of men who joined the special forces and jumped out of airplanes and scaled unnamed mountains. It was a quiet thing, ice-cold more often than not; the last tiny piece you found when you thought that everything was gone. It was facing your children at a time like this, holding their hands and brushing their tears away when you were certain you hadn’t the strength to do it. It was swallowing your own grief and going on, one shallow, bitter breath at a time.” From Angel Falls by Kristin Hannah
For months Liam’s wife, Mikayla, lay in a coma. For the sake of their children, despite his own paralyzing grief, Liam carried on—“one shallow, bitter breath at a time.”
Though this story is fiction, the author expressed some real-life truths. Sometimes circumstances force us to continue despite the pain. Sometimes we need courage to carry on and make good choices for our own sake or perhaps for the sake of others.
A divorce, cancer, an addiction—all can demand choices beyond our own strength to make them. In my opinion, addictions may take the most courage of all. From some scenarios, such as cancer or a coma, there is no way out but through. But giving up an addiction means giving up what feels like the answer to our problems.
In the midst of an addiction, we usually can’t see how it multiplies negative consequences—no matter how obvious they may be to others. Yet, sometimes the results become serious enough that the choice must be made to give up that supposed refuge or at least be set free from its hold. For a shopper, debt might become overwhelming. The same can be true for a gambler. For the obsessed video-game player, techie, bookworm, problems may be more subtle. Time spent avoiding relationships certainly doesn’t cultivate them.
A few days ago, a man spoke to me about the courage it’s taken to give up his romance addiction—the hope that the right person will ease his loneliness and bring him peace and lifelong happiness. He’d recently reconnected with a high school sweetheart and the strong attraction was still there. Yet different belief systems gave him the courage to put out that flame. Even so, making the choice to give up what he desired most was a tough one.
The biblical worldview calls the things we’re addicted to, idols. Choosing to give them up takes courage. It also requires truth. Though something may offer temporary relief, it can also lead to long-term problems. For lasting peace and satisfaction, it's far better to place our hope and trust in the One who created us. Turning to the Fountainhead who says: “I will never leave you nor forsake you; I will give you peace” can give us the courage to escape our addictions, or at the very least lessen their hold on us, especially when life’s turmoil causes us pain.
More on the “Giver of peace” next time.