I’m a little over midway through my first semester at Dallas Theological Seminary right now and thought it was about time I gave an update. I’m a little worried that I’ve taken my favorite class first! I don’t know what I’ll do with myself for the next three to four years!
The class I’m currently taking is “Addictive and Compulsive Behaviors”. Since I’ve been in codependency recovery for the past three and a half years, this class has really struck home for me. I am a byproduct of a family with a history of addiction and dysfunction. I didn’t grow up in a home with an active alcoholic or drug addict, thankfully, but many of the struggles I hear from recovering addicts are relatable to me. They grew up in dysfunction and developed poor coping mechanisms to protect themselves… and so did I. Mine formed into love addiction, love avoidance, and an overall codependency… theirs took the form of alcoholism and drug addiction.
I’ve learned so much about addiction and how it affects a person’s whole being, but I’ll save that for another time. My main focus for this post is a confession: I believe the church, as I know it, is sick.
When you go to church, do you attend knowing that if you don’t, you might not make it through the rest of your day a sane person? Do you go to church like you need it… or does it need you? When you attend church, do you engage joyfully in the worship like you’ve been saved from death? Do you listen to the sermon and understand that the truths being spoken are needed like water in a desert? When you leave church, do you feel encouraged, supported, and motivated to tackle life? Do you serve others throughout the week? Do you feel so excited about the gospel that you can’t help but talk about God with the next person you see?
But I’m starting to get it. I’m beginning to understand that I must have that attitude, because if I don’t… how great is my God? How impactful is the gospel? Just how close to condemnation was I before Jesus saved me?
Do you know when I can answer “yes” to all those questions about church? After an AA meeting.
As I’ve been visiting AA, NA, and Al-Anon meetings for class assignments, I have left inspired, full of joy, and wishing… YES, WISHING, that I could be a part of their group! But I can’t because, hey, I’m not an alcoholic or a drug addict. I know if any of the people in those groups heard me ever say that I wished I was an addict, they would say I’m absolutely crazy. I don’t want to downplay the hardship that comes with walking the path of a destructive addiction and starting the long road of recovery. I really don’t. I’m just being honest about the thoughts and feelings that popped in my head as I observed a world so different than mine.
But my question amidst all the reflection is this: Why on earth am I jealous of groups that support each other for a specific addiction when my group should be supporting each other because we were all once dead! And now we’re ALIVE. What is worse than being an addict? Being dead. If you’re dead, you’re not alive. It’s that simple. I was dead before Jesus came into my life. Now I have life.
So why on a Sunday (at any given church) do I look around and see routine? That neutral face of just being present because that’s what we do. As Christians, we attend church because it’s a good thing to do. Well how lovely is that?
I don’t want this post to turn into a session where I just vent, whine, and complain about “the church today”. I think what I want out of all this is… change. And I’m going to start with myself.
When I began codependency recovery three and a half years ago, I had no idea what kind of freedom, clarity, and joy awaited me. I believe that many recovering addicts can say the same thing. There’s a saying in the 12 step program that, “My worst day in sobriety is better than my best day drunk.” How true that should be for any of us who have come to believe in Jesus Christ! Even on our worst day… it’s still our best because we are saved from eternal separation from God. Wow! It’s just unbelievably awesome.
I want to see that awesomeness in the faces of my fellow church attendees… and I want it to just radiate off of me. I want us to be so thankful for our freedom in Christ that we go out looking for hurting people that need to hear the truth of the gospel. They’re out there and we need to go get them!… but we have to believe what we’re preaching. If we don’t, why should they?
I have so many fun ideas that I’d like to implement in the way church works… but I don’t know what role I have in all this stuff I’m learning. So, I’m being patient and waiting on God to show me what’s next. I’m an impulsive person and have to remind myself to slow down and pray. Let me tell you though, the wheels are turning and I am completely inspired.
To everyone that has supported me and made it possible for me to take this class: thank you! You are an answer to prayer and I pray that God uses me however He wills with the training I am receiving.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic of the church. I’m not sure if other people feel the same way I do and would be interested in your opinions.
Thanks for reading!