Relapse and recovery (or, how to get back up when you fall)

Recovery is characterized by relapse.

I wish someone had told me this a long time ago, before I lost patience with people who desperately need my patience. Relapse is what happens when people give up a powerfully magnetic addiction only to find themselves at some point giving into the temptation to try it again.

It happens.

Relapse doesn’t mean a person has failed at recovery, that recovery isn’t happening or that recovery has failed. It means that person is human, still recovering, and learning from both successes and failures how to be whole.

What it means is that we are sunk without grace.

Think of it this way: You’re one of twenty people racing around a track. The gun goes off and allrecovery-and-relapse2 twenty of you set off running. Somewhere around the turn, you fall down. Do the usual rules of a race demand that you go back to the beginning and start over because you fell? Nope. You don’t limp off the track and quit, either. To the contrary, the unofficial rule for any competitive runner is that whatever else happens you finish the race. You stand up, shake it off and start running again even if it looks as if you’ll finish dead last.

Falling down isn’t the point; finishing is. And one day you’ll find you can make it around the track without falling at all.

Paul talks about spiritual relapse in his letter to the Romans. He writes (Romans 7:15-20), “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate … I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

This is the language of relapse and the anatomy of human nature. Inside every person, there are two sides that war with each other, and sometimes the side that works against our design wins a battle and we do things we don’t mean to do. God gets that. He gets that sometimes we’re going to relapse and do the things we hate and promise ourselves we’ll never do the thing again. We tell God, “Never again,” and then something happens and there we are, doing the very thing we hate … again. Because we fear death or fear pain or fear failure or fear being seen as a failure …

Paul teaches us that we are all in recovery, all of us recovering from “self addiction.” We are all struggling to conquer a weak nature. We are all prone to wander and we all have triggers that set off the war within.

So what is that thing for you? What is it that you battle against, that turns your head and keeps you from confidently moving forward? Is it lying or lust? Food or alcohol? Some other substance? Is it the way you treat people? Do you have anger issues, or childhood wounds that have created adult dysfunctions you can’t seem to shake?

For Abraham it was the habit of self-protective lying. He told Pharaoh that his wife was his sister in order to protect himself. It wasn’t exactly a lie (his wife was his father’s child), but it wasn’t exactly the truth either. His motive was purely selfish. Abraham allowed fear to make his decisions for him, not once but twice (he said the same thing to Abimelech, and it didn’t go well then, either).

Abraham’s lie morphed from an event to a habit. His habit compromised his influence. His lack of integrity destroyed trust.

And that is the problem with our addiction, whatever it is:

  • The practice of it makes a habit.
  • The habit of it ruins your influence.
  • The persistence of it destroys trust.

And it all begins with letting fear make our decisions for us.

So … where are you allowing fear (a self-defensive posture) to breed an addiction or send you backward into spiritual relapse? Or physical relapse?

If yesterday was the day you fell apart, don’t limp off the track and quit. Make today the day you stand back up again and finish the race.

Read More

The day Jesus showed up dressed as a cop

Heather Glover is our Director of Community Life at Mosaic. Today, I share her story as a Heather-glovertestament to the power of Jesus to make all things new:

Healing. Whether we seek it for ourselves or for someone we love, the truths of healing are the same.

And this is what I know about healing: Sometimes it comes quickly, even in an instant, like the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s garment. We encounter Jesus and our affliction leaves our bodies as if it was never there.

Other times, healing is a process that seems to be as painful as the very thing from which we suffer. In the process of healing we will struggle and wrestle against the disease, the emotional brokenness, the spiritual blindness, and the confusion and anger that our suffering brings.

Sometimes we will wrestle so long that we begin to wonder if healing will ever come.
I am here to tell you, it will come! Never, ever give up believing God for the healing you seek.

Healing is not a matter of if, but when.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. — Psalm 27:14

I know the truth about healing because I have experienced it for myself. I’ve received the healing that comes quickly, and I have been in the process of healing for years.

I am a recovering addict. I spent nearly two decades addicted to drugs. I did not walk away from that kind of lifestyle unbroken or unscathed. It marked me. It marked me with guilt and shame and left me with a long list of consequences to work through.

In fact, my heart was so damaged, my life so destroyed, that there is no way I could be here today serving my church as a ministry leader had Jesus not done some amazing things in my life.

I am a living testimony to the healing power of Jesus.

When the Lord came for me, I was in the middle of the darkest year of my life. My life as an addict left me broken and feeling lost and abandoned. I found myself homeless and living in hotels. I felt as if the whole world had left me for dead and I had all but lost hope of ever making it out alive.

As a last resort, I prayed.

I asked Jesus to intervene and He did. He sent the police to my door and they carried me out on my mat and placed me at the feet of Jesus.

Meaning, they took me to jail and that’s where I met the Lord.

In that moment, it didn’t matter to me what it looked like. I remembered my prayer and I knew in my heart that it was God’s intervention.

It was while I was in prison that the Lord began his healing work in me. During that time, I spent a great portion of my day in prayer and in the Word, getting to know my Lord and building a relationship with him. I experienced a great deal of forgiveness and I learned how to forgive.

I am convinced that all great works of healing begin with forgiveness.

The result of the forgiveness I received brought on a landslide of emotional healing. By the time I was released, I was well on my way to becoming a healthy, committed follower of

Jesus. And five years into journey, I am still being made new.

That isn’t the end of the story, though. Even though the Lord healed me from a great deal of emotional and spiritual damage, I was still left with the physical — the disease, my addiction — and it wasn’t long after I was released from prison that I relapsed. I can’t even explain how it happened. It seems a mystery to me now.

But it happened.

Through that relapse, I realized that my need for healing remained. I was still suffering. I asked the Lord for direction and he urged me to confess it to my people, so I asked Carolyn for a meeting with her and with Roy, who was my small group leader at the time. I came in and confessed it to them, then went to my group and confessed it there as well. And in the spirit and pattern described in James chapter five, my people received my confession, gathered around me, anointed my head with oil, laid hands on me, and prayed for my healing.

“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of the faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” — James 5:13-16

I was undoubtedly healed that day. I felt it happen. I felt a heat move through my body.
I woke up the next the morning bracing myself for the urge to use drugs, prepared to fight it but it never came. I had no desire for it. No craving was in me anymore. God just took it! That was two years ago, and today I am twenty-six months free of drugs and alcohol.

Believe me when I say that no matter which way the healing comes, it always, ALWAYS comes! And when it does, it is always complete. And it brings relief, leaving us with a joy as deep as our pain once was. We need only to receive it and walk in it.

Thanks for letting me share. — Heather Glover, Director of Community Life, Mosaic Church

Read More