“It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. But go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners.” Matthew 9: 12-13
Why do I work in addictions? I am often asked this question. The literal truth is that I needed a job and an addictions facility hired me. Then they trained me, sent me to over 180 hours of addiction education, and supported my eventual licensure. After 5 years, I had a specialty that I had more or less stumbled into. But the deeper answer to why I work with addiction is this: people who are broken by addiction and seeking recovery have a knowledge and experience of faith that constantly leaves me in amazement.
Those in recovery tend to understand God’s love and his plan better than many who have never been exposed to recovery ideals. The first three steps of most recovery programs state in essence: I can’t do it on my own, God can, and I’m going to let him. Recovery does not continue without the daily reminder and building block of “I am utterly dependent on God for everything and life without him equals death.” How many of us wake up every day saying, “Today I need God to remain alive?” All too often I go to God as my last resort instead of my first step. People desiring to remain sober have no choice but to start with God.
Also, an addicted individual carries a real sense of brokenness. I was once asked how I point out sin to my clients struggling with addiction. In some respects, I feel that I don’t need to. The consequences of their sin are laid out in front of them for everyone to see in forms such as disease, homelessness and broken families. People struggling with addiction know they are sick, and are often well-versed in asking for mercy. They rarely consider themselves righteous, and readily hold their hands up as sinners. How many of us consider ourselves sinners first, asking for mercy?
Finally, people working the steps also know that they can’t do it alone. They need frequent meetings and a sponsor to be successful. How many of us are acutely aware that we need community to live? How many of us have someone in our life whom we have invited and given authority to confront us in our own sins? When is the last time you asked someone to speak into your life with such deep honesty?
Every day, I am amazed by the obstacles my clients overcome, their humility, and their commitment to let God lead their lives. That’s why I work in addictions.
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.
Tiffany Shores joined the Barnabas Center in August 2012 as a resident counselor. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from George Mason University and her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Marymount University. Tiffany’s experience ranges from grief and depression to marital concerns and relational brokenness. She is passionate about helping people become free from whatever is holding them back and follow where God leads them. Tiffany is married to Skott, and they have two boys who keep her busy and teach her new things every day.
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