"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36."Addiction at its worse is akin to Stockholm Syndrome. You're like a hostage who has developed an irrational affection for your captor. They can abuse you, torture you, even threaten to kill you, and you'll remain inexplicably and disturbingly loyal." Anne Clendening. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do." Romans 7:15. (Apostle Paul). "It's not that some people have will power and some don't. It's that some people are ready to change and others are not." Anonymous
Addiction: a. Exhibiting a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior or activity. b. Strongly inclined to do, use or indulge in something repeatedly. Typically, when we think about addiction, drug abuse, alcohol, gambling, smoking, etc., come to mind. Yes, individuals can be addicted to these things. But there are many other strongholds (anything/anyone that has a strong hold on you) that hold you captive; rendering you stuck, unable to live a full, productive life. Negative thinking, procrastination, laziness, over indulgence in social media, failure to plan, etc., to name a few. The list goes on and on.
When I think of addiction, I too, think of the common garden variety of things that hold us back or going in circles. But, as I live and learn I understand that addiction is much broader than what we typically think of. I know this because of some people I know (myself included at times) are struggling to move forward but are hindered, and it has nothing to do with the typical addictions that one might expect to be the issue. Usually, I do self reflection to try and understand what gives. "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging." Will Rogers. This means to stop doing what you are doing and think about why you are stagnate. What is the cause? One thing is certain, if you keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, you are not only stuck, but you have to accept that this is "insanity." I did not write the definition, but that is what is written. So, if you are not insane (and I am sure you are not), you are stuck. Examine your behavior to get unstuck and to move on. Whether it is inactivity or excessive activity, if it is keeping you from being productive in your life, it is worth addressing.
In the scripture noted above (Romans 7:15) we see that even the great apostle Paul had to be on guard against the possibility of practicing sin daily. And yes, sin can be a stronghold. Human nature is prone to doing some things that lead us away from doing what is right, productive, and hold us captive. We all can experience strongholds in just everyday living. In Dr. Charles Stanley's sermon, "Breaking Through Strongholds," he advises that there is an underlying cause for each behavior (stronghold). What one has to consider are the consequences for each behavior. He says that there is a battle for self-control, but it is possible to break strongholds in our lives; not in our own strength, but in God's strength. "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." Psalm 34:17. Dr. Stanley begs the question, "Is your life under control?" He uses as a gauge, Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such thing there is no law."
Dr. Stanley says that thinking before you act and considering the possibilities leads to self-control. He says that when you exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in your life, you are showing self-control. He further says that "you should trust God, turn to Him, he will deliver you. Fight your battles on your knees; you win every time."
Dr. Tony Evans says, "addiction emanates from a common source. We need to get to the source." Why do we allow ourselves to be subjected to certain behaviors that become an addiction? That is for you to answer. He advises that you cannot help someone who wants to stay stuck in their addiction. But, if you want to be delivered, God has provided a way. "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But, when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Pastor Gregory Dickow says that a stronghold is something that has a "strong hold on you." (Makes sense). He further states that a wrong thinking pattern becomes a mindset. If you have the mindset that you always fail, then everything will rise to the level of your mindset, and you will experience failure. If you set your mind to God's word and believe, then God will deliver you." "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7. "True successful living, starts with successful thinking." Pastor Gregory Dickow. Your heart and your head has to be right or you are not going to get the results that you want. All day, every day, we have random thoughts, and I do not need to tell you that they are not always great or even good. Our thoughts can be filled with fears, what ifs, regrets, thoughts contrary to God's word, etc. We need to harness our thoughts and bring them to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5.
Strongholds have to be dissolved or removed or broken. In our society what seems normal are very serious strongholds which I dare say have manifested into addictions. Because we are all doing it, does not make it any less of a problem. e.g., the inability to leave our homes without our cell phones. What did we do before there were cell phones. We shutter to think. I digress. I am not suggesting that you leave your cell phone at home. This might be a problem for many people as many need it for work, etc. But, what I am suggesting is that you take notice if it becomes like an appendage and you cannot exist without it and you cannot put it down even if you are having dinner with your family or you are in a church service. Think about it. Are you willingly submitting to bondage? Are you giving up your freedom without knowing it? I do not believe that given the history of being enslaved, we would sign up for further captivity. Think about it.
What are you allowing to enslave you? To be transparent, I will cop to procrastination. Believe me, it is not as simple as saying, "I am going to stop." It takes a lot of praying and planning to get beyond this stronghold. I share this because I want people to understand that there are many things, big and small, that can be a stronghold, and that we should not be ashamed or embarrassed that we still struggle with that which keeps us stuck. Also, you and I are not alone; there is hope.
Hold up a mirror and do some self talk. Ask yourself, "Am I okay? How do I know that? If you are not okay, ask yourself, "What am I going to do about it?" Answer yourself honestly. Write down your responses. Then, consider the following:
Decide to be free: Ask yourself; What non-productive thoughts or actions am I addicted to; that I find hard to let go? The first step in making a change is to acknowledge that change is necessary. We can and in many instances have been fooling ourselves. But, to what end? Look in the mirror, look at your life. Are you where you want to be? Have you done all that you can to get there? Have you decided that you want drop the behavior (addiction) that is keeping you stuck? You do know that nothing will change until you decide to change and take the steps to change.
Do the work: "Faith without works is dead." James 2:17. It is an uphill climb to get to where you want to go. But, you have to climb the hill. No one can do this for you. Faith is the impetus that will sustain you as you begin your journey to change your life. You have to get and keep moving; you are not alone. It is when we believe that we have all the power in our hands is when we begin to flounder and sometimes quit. The end result of doing the work will be worth it. Think about a time when you actually pursued a particular goal in your life. How did it feel when you accomplished it? I know for me I wanted to earn an MFA (Master of Fine Arts Degree). I had to go to school at night because I had to work during the day. Receiving that degree on graduation day made it all worthwhile. When you get unstuck by doing the work, it will be time to celebrate breaking a stronghold and living your best/blessed life.
Do not be afraid of setbacks: Someone once said "setbacks are a setup for a great comeback." I will co-sign on this so long as you do not give up. I may have mentioned this before (forgive me), but it bears repeating. I remember serving in an administrative position at a school. When it came time for the official appointment, it was given to someone else. I thought I was a shoe-in, but I was wrong. And, yes, I was devastated. But, this is where my faith kicked in: What God has for me, belongs to me. Obviously, that position was not mine. I will spare you the details. But, within three days I was offered a position (the same time title) at a brand new school for which I was a shoe-on. As they say, "Won't God do it." Note this, I had the credentials for the job, and I had worked to the best my ability at the school where I did not get the position. I had done the work. So, the setback was awful, but because I had done the work I was able to step into a better circumstance. Do not sweat the setbacks.
Get an accountability partner: When we are trying to make a change in our lives, we (most of us) can sometimes be trusted to be completely honest and completely committed (focused). This is not a judgment, but some of us need an accountability partner. It helps some of us to stay on track if we have to report our progress to someone who cares about us and who wants us to succeed. Find someone like that and enlist their ear and support. I have an accountability partner, and she listens as I tell my struggles with procrastination. She has helped me set goals, make plans and checks in with me on follow through. As the saying goes, "I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be." Her input has helped me tremendously to stay on track. Even, when I fall off, her encouragement and support guide me back. Thanks, Doc Jay.
Pray to break strongholds: Prayer changes things. Always be willing to tap into the ultimate source of power. God knows where you are and He sees what you are going through. Seek His guidance in all things; He loves us and wants us to all be okay. "Cast your cares on the Lord because He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7. Know that God is always listening and He is there with outstretched arms. He gave us permission in His word to come to Him for answers. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7. What are you waiting for?
There are many things that can hold us back, but I submit that we do not have to surrender to them. It may require some or even a lot of effort on our part break the chains of strongholds. But, it can be done. "How badly do you want it?" Pray about it, trust God and get to work!
Wishing you much success. Godspeed!
Thank you for your continued support. I remain truly grateful. You can comment at: email@example.com