Winning the Battle Within

Over the years your brain has become programmed to RUN to the addiction or other coping method whenever you’re feeling “off balance”— whether those unsettled feelings come from anxiety, fear, boredom or loneliness. To attempt to do anything else brings feelings of impending doom. Your addictive impulses can be so strong that you wonder whether you’ll be able to survive if you don’t act on them. Inner panic sometimes sets in. It may actually feel like you are facing a life and death situation.

And . . . ultimately, you are. The problem is somewhere along the way, wires have gotten crossed. What now feels like certain destruction is really the path to life and the thing that calms us down and makes us feel normal is actually the thing that will destroy us. Getting those wires straightened out again is hard work that requires great courage and perseverance.

Years ago, I had a boss that was a true mountain man. He loved to spend his free time in the foothills and mountains of the Pacific Northwest. He knew the lay of that vast wilderness land as well as he knew the streets of the small community that he lived in. But, he said there were many times over the years that he got confused. Everything in him told him he should go one direction and his compass told him he should go in the exact opposite. He knew that he had always been able to trust his compass in the past . . . that following it had always gotten him out of the woods before . . . but his mind was screaming, “No, there’s something wrong with this compass. There must be a magnetic field here. Go with your gut.”

He said it took sheer willpower to follow that compass. His whole being told him he was in danger. He was sure that this was the end. But, every time, trusting that compass got him back to the safety of his home.

Early addiction recovery creates a very similar scenario. Our cognitive mind is beginning to understand the way that we need to go. It tells us we need to reach out to God and others. It tells us we must be honest. It reminds us that God is bigger than our struggle. It tells us not to isolate. It tells us we are loved and valuable. But . . . the limbic survival brain tries to convince us that to trust those thoughts would surely bring our demise. It says “You must go with your gut.” With the help of the enemy’s whisperings, it prods us to return to the “safety” of our addictive behaviors. It is exactly wrong.

What is your trusted compass today? God’s word? Others who have overcome this struggle before you? That still small voice within you? Whatever it is, as long as it is steeped in God’s truth, determine to follow it, no matter what you are feeling. It WILL feel like death at first. Guaranteed. But, ask God for the courage and perseverance to keep trusting it, because it WILL, eventually, lead you to the freedom and abundant life you seek.

“… I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him.”  — Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NIV)

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