When I look back at how one particularly bad habit that plagued me for many years started it’s quite obvious there was an underlying symptom /cause. The bad habit I’m talking about is cigarettes.
I smoked my first cigarette in the school toilets at the age of twelve.
Because I wanted to be one of the lads. Knowing what I know now, if I could go back to that time I would happily choose not to be one of the lads. Isn’t it interesting that many of our bad habits / negative addictions began as a result of wanting to be a part of something?!
The underlying route of it all is Self Esteem. The truth is it’s very difficult to persuade someone with a high self-esteem to do something that’s clearly not good (for that person).
Most of us want to be a part of something – to belong and not feel left out. The underlying reason for this is an overwhelming desire to fill a vacuum that can only be filled with the security and joy of God’s Unconditional Love.
The same goes for relationships. Many constantly find themselves in the wrong kind of relationships – be-it dating people that are emotionally or physically cruel to them, or forever lured to married men / women. For most there’s a deep underlying feeling of either not believing they deserve anything /anyone better, thinking they can’t do any better, or even simply being in an environment (group of friends) wherein it’s the norm.
Many of our bad habits / addictions are as a result of wrong programming. In other words because we don’t feel we’re good enough we latch on to a prop – be-it drugs, alcohol, sex, blatantly wrong relationship choices or even cigarettes; believing they cover our insecurities / inadequacies.
Guess what?! You already belong to something far greater than you could possibly imagine.
“For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of the son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1 vs 13
No matter what you’ve done, what you’re going through, or how you feel, the truth is through Jesus Christ you belong to the kingdom of God. You reside, operate, and dwell in the kingdom of God; and nothing – neither bad habits or addictions, or wrong life/relationship choices can ever take that away.
The day I started to recognise the depth of God’s Unconditional Love for me is the day the desire of my many vices (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, fornication) began to dissipate. Not to say I didn’t fall again. But over time, through the knowledge of God’s Unconditional Love for me I began to see myself differently. Whereas before, as a result of focusing on the law and my ‘works’, and hence constantly falling way short over and over and over again, I believed I was hopeless and wretched. But the more I embraced God’s Unfailing and Unconditional Love for me, the more I started to see myself the way God sees me – Holy, Blameless, and so Dearly ‘Beloved’.
One of the biggest obstacles to overcoming addictions is a warped belief that one is useless, wretched, and deserves nothing better.
But you do deserve better. Yes your addiction may be a direct result of dire foolishness, as was the case with me, but the fact that you’re reading this means you want to stop. So long as there’s remorse there’s hope. The real danger is when there’s no remorse at all. But don’t allow the devil to turn your remorse into guilt and self-condemnation. For that’s what he thrives at – making you feel you’re not only the world’s most wretched person, but also one with no hope or future.
You are a ‘Beloved’ Child of a God who loves you so much that He asked His Son to die for you.
John 3 vs 16
You are a ‘Beloved’ Child of a God who says that “as far as the east is from the west, that is how far I have removed your transgressions.”
Psalm 103 vs 12
You are the Beloved Child of a God who says that you belong to His family.
Colossians 1 vs 13
Focus not on your addictions and failings, but fully on how much you’re Unconditionally Loved by your father in heaven. Trust me – He will do the rest.