by Laurie Gudim
Most everybody struggles psychologically, and often with issues that seem so dark that normalcy (whatever that is) seems a laughable pipe dream. Addiction plagues more and more of us. And these days the substances from which we wrestle to free ourselves are so powerful and so insidious – and so readily available – that we despair of ever reaching the sketchy, distant shore of sobriety. And that’s if we even want to. The need to compete, to look fabulous, to get the work done on time and the kids to their various meetings and lessons can mean that we intentionally decide to use dangerous substances – after careful consideration, of course, and in moderation – until suddenly our use isn’t under our control any more – and we realize that maybe it never was.
Each of us, honestly taking stock of what is really going on in our lives has to admit that we cannot do it alone. We cannot do our lives alone. We need community – a bunch of people to whom we can freely admit our fears and the impossible challenges involved in just getting through our days. People who are on the same journey help a lot – people who can say, “Here’s what I have tried,” and, “Don’t forget to take it one moment at a time.”
Most importantly we need God. We need to come to recognize our dependence on a force that permeates us and nourishes us – that is, in fact, if we can but experience its more subtle workings, the true answer to any addiction, it’s true healing.
“Abide in me as I abide in you,” says Jesus in today’s passage from John’s Gospel. “Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” We cannot be the healthy, creative, loving beings we were meant to be unless we are attached to Christ as a living branch is to the trunk and root of the plant of which it is a part. Without our participation in God, we are half-formed, dry and lifeless. All our achievements, our success, our power and our wealth are dead, distorted things.
The yearning that leaves us vulnerable to addiction has its true fulfillment in a singular, living relationship with the Holy. This is not something we just fall into; it takes intentional effort. We must find and practice a prayer discipline that works for us. We must spend the time and effort we would in any relationship, getting to know our partner.
And it helps to have a supportive faith community and a venue in which to challenge our beliefs and to mature in our faith. Again, a loving community in which we can be ourselves fully helps us to live into wholeness and freedom, into who we most deeply are.
It is worth the effort. Most everybody struggles psychologically, and when we abide in Christ we are able to win free.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: Photo by Laurie Gudim