“There is nothing I can say to make you feel better.”
These words were a jolt to my heart.
I was pleading with someone dear to me about the poor choices she was making, telling her I wished she’d get help, how much she’s hurting those around her, how terribly my own heart breaks for her.
Shock came at the thought that perhaps she was telling me she had no intention of stopping her self-destructive behavior, which left me despairing and absorbed in my own pain.
Welcome to FREEDOM FRIDAY – A devotional, emotional, spiritual and sometimes hysterical series that I will be sharing on occasional Fridays, in addition to my regular Old Things New posts. Why? Because though once bound in chains Christ has set me free – FREE to live, to love, to dance, to sing, to be who God created me to be!
Today I’m taking a mental shift away from how her actions make me feel. While this loved one’s current state concerns all who love her, what she’s going through really isn’t all about me or anyone else. It is all about her. There is nothing I can say to change her. Nothing I can offer as a bribe. No threat I can make to wake her up to her need for God’s help.
Perhaps you have someone in your life who is caught up in self-destructive or addictive behaviors. Maybe it’s you! Self-destruction can take many forms, drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, pornography, promiscuity. Those are some of the “big” ones. Self destruction can also result from things more “acceptable” like perfectionism, workaholism, or people pleasing. Anything that we use as an escape from pain, past or present, can become a debilitating addiction.
So today, turning from dwelling on how I hurt, this is what I want to say to one who is broken and crushed in spirit:
I am so sorry for placing expectations on you that you feel helpless to fulfill. You are absolutely right. There is nothing you can say that will make me feel better. I can wrestle and wrangle promises from you all day long, in order to relieve my own anxious thoughts, but what good will it do when you are unable to keep even your most sincere promises to me.
The addiction is stronger. It overwhelms. It lies. It tells you that you need to feed it one more time to get over the hump. After that you will surely quit. Then along comes another situation that causes you to feel like you need to turn to the thing that’s killing you, “just one more time.”
This is what I want to say to you. I know that you feel like a failure. You feel embarrassed and ashamed. You may even feel dirty and unworthy of receiving help. The GOOD news is that THAT is a very good place to be.
Did you know that God is especially attracted to those who are broken? It’s true! He even says so His word,
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. - Psalm 34:18 NLT Click To Tweet
The word “brokenhearted,” nishbar lev in the original Hebrew, means those who are crushed in spirit and in great need of deliverance. The. word “near”, or karov, means close enough to touch.
What this means is that you are never (no, not ever) too broken for God to reach out to you. He is never afraid of placing His hands on that which you might consider too shameful or dirty. In fact, some of God’s greatest works are performed through the people who are the most broken. This I know. When we come to a place of admitting that we are too shattered to put ourselves back together and simply say, “I trust my life and my will to You God,” we have taken the step that releases God to begin the miracle of restoration in our lives.
The point I’m trying to make to you loved one, is that even though the hurt I feel for you seems unbearable at times, this really isn’t all about me. I can surrender my feelings to my One and Only, Jesus Christ, and He promises to draw near and offer comfort to my own broken heart. It is from this place of strength that I pray that God would fill you with His hope.
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Jen Lawrence says
Sorry someone close to you is going through this. I like your approach. At some point, everyone has to walk their path. And the miracle does indeed happen in the breaking. xo
Thank you Jen. Waiting for the miracle!
Jessica W says
As I have been sober for quite some time now, I look at your words and they are so true. Well intentions on both sides of addiction. The promises addicts make with sincerity because they know their life is unmanageable and know in their heart and soul they are doing wrong but feel helpless and hopeless and want to be a better person. The helpless family member or friend, tough love, enable what can I do to fix the addict. For me, something greater than myself which I call God gave me the relief of obsession of alcohol and the faith I need to get through life without a drink. I have lost relationships with family and friends because of my selfish ways and it pains me to this day. I pray that in time they will find it in their hearts to forgive me and the possibility of some kind of relationship will be had. However, I reap what I sow, I hurt these people, my choices my actions, I am responsible. I have done my part by being sober and making amends to the best of my ability and now it is in God’s hands. One of the prayers I live by, God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can and the WISDOM to know the difference. (short version of the Serenity Prayer) I am a proud member of Alcoholics Anonymous and encourage anyone with an alcohol problem to sit for an hour and listen in a meeting. A higher power can do for you for what you cannot do for yourself. Thank you for your post and God bless.
Thank you for sharing Jessica. My husband celebrated 17 years of sobriety this month and I always say I’d rather be married to someone who has been faithful to work a program like AA than to be married to a “normal” person. We are better together for what we’ve both been through and so thankful that we can’t help but share our experience, strength, and hope with others.
I’m so happy for your sobriety and that you are one of those working the program. I pray with you that those you’ve lost through addiction will find it in their hearts to forgive you and that relationships will be restored. Until then, keep doing the next right thing. Huge blessings sent your way!!!
Michele Morin says
I love the way you said this -> “Did you know that God is especially attracted to those who are broken?”
Not only is it true, but it’s also precious. He has such words of hope for us when we bring our brokenness to Him and then wait for Him to heal and work through us.
Yes He does Michele, and I am so thankful.
This is written so well! You certainly have a gift and have put your finger on the problem. My husband quit drinking 5 years ago. The first 3 years were horrible!! He treated me so badly. But I made the choice to be a loving wife no matter how he treated me. Thanks be to God, we are now living in a beautiful loving marriage. But God also put his finger on my own deficiency when He told me if I wanted to have a Christian ministry I had to love everyone He loves. Oh boy! That was/is a huge challenge. But God is faithful to help.
Your words, “my own deficiency,” are striking. Long after my husband was sober (17 years now) I was a mess. It took a lot of healing work to realize my own character defects and work on ME, instead of always trying to work on HIM. It is a lifelong process I believe. The good news is that hubby and I can also say that our marriage is strong and we are able to be used by God to offer share our hope with others. Blessings to you in your own ministry!
Mary Geisen says
We are a messy and broken bunch of people but we have God who loves nothing more than to put us back together again. When you stopped and realized that there is nothing you can say to make it better, I imagine your heart was in your stomach. God is a God of second, third, fourth and so on chances. Praying for you Patti.
We are such a mess Mary, and I am so grateful that God loves us even in the mess! Thank you so much for your prayers. You are a faithful and amazing friend and I’m so blessed to have you in my life.
Sarah Koontz says
This is so encouraging. Thank you.
Thank YOU Sarah!
I am so thankful that God cares about the broken. He reminds me every day that He’s still with me.
Me too Barbie! We are all broken but we are being transformed daily . . . from glory to glory!
Simply beautiful, Patti! I’ve got a friend who has a step-daughter who she and her husband were just recently able to get into inpatient addiction treatment. It’s been such a painful and long road for her and her husband (the father of this young girl). So I’m going to be sharing this post with them and encouraging them to begin following you here. Thanks for being so real and redemptive as well, my friend!
Thank you SO much Beth. I write about a lot of different things on my Freedom Friday posts but addiction and recovery is something my husband and I know about from personal experience. We are blessed to share our experience, strength, and hope with others.
Sorry about your loved one going through this… I have someone very close too and I keep praying for him. God will answer us if we persist. God will open their hearts to see the misery they are in and call out to him for help.
Thanks for this encouragement, do have a super blessed day!
Amen Ugochi! God will answer our persistent prayers. He has always been faithful to me. Thank you for taking the time to write a comment on my post.
Susan Shipe says
Excellent. Wish I had had this ten years ago…but GRACE did come and she’s been set free!
I’m so happy and encouraged by that sweet friend. God is good!
I think you summed it up beautifully Patti. I am blessed by your conclusion that it really isn’t about anyone else but the person addicted. It is so easy to bring in ourselves too much into the most intimate, personal battles of another. Thank you’
Yes, Gretchen, we think that we can fix it but only God can. Remembering that helps one to step away from the situation, at least a little bit! Thanks for writing.
Anita Ojeda says
We’ve gone through some rough times with our youngest daughter after she went away to college. We couldn’t tell if her eating disorder had flared again; if she was rebelling (she seemed a little old); or if something else was going on. She started drinking and using drugs (which also seemed odd that she would start these behaviors as an almost-21-year old. We did everything we could (and when your child is over 18, there’s only so much you can do) to find her the appropriate help. She was severely depressed and expressed sucidial ideation. She came home to live with us. After 18 months of misery (for both her and our family), and almost losing her (she had no money and had purchased a one-way ticket to London), we discovered that she had an undiagnosed mental illness (bi-polar disorder). During this time she did all sorts of things that took her far away from God. Praise God she is still alive today and still working through some of the things she did. I pray every day that God will continue to draw her to him–and I know that he will keep working in her life (and I have to be ok with HIM doing the work–I’m not the Holy Spirit 😉 ). Thank you for the reminder that we can never do anything that will seperate us from God’s love and forgiveness!
Oh Anita, I’m so sorry for all you’ve had to go through, but glad that some light was shed on the problem. I pray with you that your daughter will turn back to God and realize that He is the only One who can fill the emptiness within. She is deeply loved by Him and He never gives up on His own.
Blessings dear one.
Sarah Donegan says
What a beautiful letter! I love when you said God is close enough to touch. We all forget that sometimes!
We do don’t we? The original Greek and Hebrew makes Scripture so much more meaningful. Thanks for writing.