There are things in life that will break you. You may not realize this yet. But it will happen. I spent most of my life trying to avoid being broken – never understanding the power it holds to set things right.
I thought I was stronger than the storm. I thought that with stubborn willpower, sheer determination and the power of prayer I could do anything. It turned out to be quite a shock to my silly human ego that I was not, after all, superhuman.
You see, all the prayers in the world cannot change another person.
If you have ever lived with or loved an addict you know this is true. There is nothing you wouldn’t do, say, pay for – to help free them. Every avenue, every potential solution, every glimmer of a new idea that worked for someone else – all of these bring a messed up sense that we somehow can control and change the other person. We just need to keep trying, keep praying.
I hate to put it this bluntly, but this is simply a sweet smelling form of bullshit – we can love them, but that’s it. We cannot fight their demon for them. They are the ones who have to face it, and beat it.
Sure, we can play back-up, we can encourage, we can assist… but until they pick up the weapon and enter the ring…there will be no real change. They have to own their fight.
This was a heartbreaking realization for me and I know it is for so many good-intentioned codependent family members of loved ones who are living toxic and unhealthy lives. We want to free them! I would constantly pray healing and wholeness over the addicts in my life. I wore out my copy of Power of a Praying Wife. In fact I led a prayer group for our husbands. I just knew that if I prayed long and hard enough…he would become loving and kind towards me. Things would get better. He would be happy and healed.
So when I began having suicidal thoughts and slipping into a despondent depression, I had no idea what could be wrong. I was shocked at my own situation. I had two beautiful little boys, friends who loved me – why did I want to die? Why was I experiencing debilitating anxiety? Where was this breakdown coming from?
Turns out I was human after all.
Living with an angry, master manipulator did affect me more than I wanted to admit. I was cracking under the pressure. The change I was praying for wasn’t coming, and I was breaking.
Since I am writing this today, you may have guessed that I did not in fact end my life in the literal sense – but in a metaphorical sense I did. I ended the life of ignorance. I ended my life of living with my head buried in the sand.
See I had gotten used to a little pattern that I allowed to go on for years in my life. Every so often I would come crashing out of the deep, gasping for air, looking around and saying – this HAS to change, I am drowning! I would be met by appeasements, bullshit reassurances of intentions to change, to make it better, or explanations why I was the one who needed meds, counseling…but the assurance of change was in the wind, so I would stop making waves and slowly I would allow myself to sink back under the water into oblivious, blind belief. I wanted to believe.
Then 3, 6 or 10 weeks later I would reemerge, again gasping for air and realizing I was in the same deep water, still drowning, and nothing had changed…
Does this sound familiar? I tread water like this for years until my breaking point. But breaking out of this type of pattern turned out to be my salvation – not my undoing.
Going on antidepressants and seeing counselors helped me to begin processing the reality of my situation. People spoke truth into my life. Things stuck, and awakened my curiosity. They scared me, but rang true. Finally I could no longer believe that my situation was all my fault, nor did I believe it was healthy.
It is at the breaking point – when we admit that things are falling apart and they are so much suckier than we dared to admit, so much more painful than we thought we could handle, so much messier than we know how to deal with…it is at that point that we finally have a hope of changing things. The end of ourselves is where we find the power of God.
And the good news is that while He will not force someone to change – He can absolutely change those who are willing.
And in my desperate state, I finally became willing. Crazy isn’t it? Turns out I was the one who needed to change – I was so focused on “saving” my husband, I never realized that God was working to save me from my demons. It was time for me to enter the ring of my own fight for freedom.
Broken doesn’t mean damaged – it means ready for a new use. It means I get put back together the way He intended. It means the constricting, suffocating mold of lies I was shoving myself into had been shattered and I was free to become ME.
Stop looking at the addict, the person you want to change, the one who so obviously is ensnared with their bad choices. You also are living in bondage! Find your own enemy – the one who is destroying you, and face him. Fight your own battle! Because when we think their battle is ours to fight – that delusion right there – shows that we have not yet even found our own battle ground. How can we get free? We may distract ourselves and delude ourselves because it feels safer – but I promise you that living FREE surpasses all of the happy delusions we could feed our minds. Allow the brokenness that already exists to be manifest. Allow it to break you free.
Be blessed and be free!