Addiction in a family system looks like somber heaviness. Family interactions are intense, reactive, hurtful, and blaming. Even after sobriety is reached, the relational dynamic of heaviness can linger. Family members tend to get stuck in obsessive reflection along with critical and negative thinking. Joy isn’t around. Fun feels foolish or irrelevant.
This heaviness comes from the cumulative weariness of ungrieved losses and battles for control. But what if letting go, just for this day, looks like trusting God enough to relax, even in the middle of trouble in our family? What if one person in the family could begin to put as much energy into letting go of the need to fix, as they once put into taking it on?
Recently, I found myself stuck at an impasse with someone I love. I fought to get them to see my perspective of the problem. Neither of us was willing to move. A dear friend suggested that, since I have the freedom to live one day at a time, I could choose to put my pain and my opinion on a shelf for a few hours while I tried out being content and grateful for what is. If I needed to I still had the freedom to take my pain off the shelf, but my friend saw that my soul badly needed to set it down for a little while. She was right. We tend to hold our perceptions and our pain tightly, but we can afford to surrender them to God.
To enter back into living and take care of yourself by doing small things that bring joy or peace will initially cause fear. But the belief that we can hold it all up is an illusion. Maybe stepping away to rest, laugh and play, even while the storm is raging, is the biggest act of childlike trust in a good God that we’ll ever make. God created us to live with a heart of flesh to feel, hope, dream and laugh.
No matter how far away you feel from this childlike trust, you can get back there. Just for today, you don’t have to be so concerned with getting it right. You don’t have to cover yourself with rules, anxiety or shame. Set it down for an hour or two. Respond to His invitation and live fully in the trust that He’ll cover you.
If this topic has piqued your interest we’re offering a seminar in September called “Unlocking Addiction” that you may be interested in. Simply click here to find out more.
Meredith joined The Barnabas Center on staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University. Meredith counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. Meredith, her husband Jon, and daughter Charlotte live in Rock Hill, SC.