Introduction to “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Bible Study
About the Author – Joshua Staton
The hardest battle I fight when writing is determining what to say and what not to say. I sit at this table, engaging in the perpetual war of words and how they combine together to form thoughts. In the midst of this current literary struggle, I am reminded of a time not too long ago when I found myself fighting a battle, whose outcome would result in either suicide or redemption. I was not a Christ follower the first 32 years of my life. In fact, I was proud to call myself an atheist. In my early teens I began self-medicating with alcohol to numb the pain of life, which began a destructive progression into various other drugs and lifestyles that required pain killers in the morning and pharmaceutical methamphetamines throughout the day just to maintain. This cycle repeated almost every day for over 18 years.
Getting sober and establishing priorities was not easy and the first year was brutal, especially when you have alienated your closest friends and family. But I believe that is where God wanted me; with nowhere to turn but to Him. Since I myself lacked support, I began to form the opinion that support groups were created for weak willed people. That, if you were serious about getting clean you would commit to it, regardless if you had someone cheering you on or not. As I said, these were my opinions; faulty and prideful. And like everything else in life, I did it the hard way.
About 3 years into my recovery, a friend of my wife mentioned that a ministry she had been volunteering with needed guys to be mentors for their substance abuse program. Not knowing any better I said yes. Fast forward a few months and the man that founded that ministry asked if I would be interested in teaching a class. I sat at this very table over Christmas break researching and designing what I thought would be a support group that even I would want to go to.
On the Subject of Addiction
I am not what people would call a compassionate person. A classically trained teacher I am not, nor do I feel properly equipped to be a leader or even a motivational speaker. I am not an expert, nor do I have plaques hanging on the wall telling of my accomplishments. I am however an observer and a writer. Truth be told, I am probably the least qualified person in this regard to write about addiction and treatment. Sadly, that does not make me any less responsible. Because unfortunately in my world, if you are aware of a piece of knowledge, you are then responsible with what you do or don’t do with that knowledge.
What I can offer are observations and analysis on life and confess where self-centered worldly logic and common sense have failed me. Not every situation or outcome is going to make sense in life. In fact, much of life doesn’t make sense. We must face the truth that we live in a fallen world corrupted by sins that we all have contributed to. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. The hardworking folks of one generation get passed over for recognition, while others who back stab and do the very least always seem to get the big promotion. Still, there are children who have everything handed to them just to throw it away while other kids come from broken homes and only want someone to love and invest in them. And at the same time people win the lottery and blow it all on frivolous things while people in tiny villages die every day from diseases that could have been treated but weren’t able to because of money. Do not confuse what I am saying, I am not a socialist nor do I identify with any left or right, north or south, red or blue. My statements are not politically motivated. They are of a nature of something a little more important, they are spiritually motivated.
If you are an addict, you are going to devote your life to something. We are not like other people. I believe when properly directed, the mind of an addict has far more potential than other minds. I do not believe it is by coincidence that God has given you that potential and urge to dive in. We want to re-focus that urge. We are investments. Invested with a soul, talents and desires to realize our potential and bring glory to our Creator. But for most of us, we go our entire life without understanding what we have been given, nor what we should do with it. Without direction we soon end up lost, navigating life with faulty information and guidance from a fallen world. Tragically, we get distracted and discouraged by things that seem important or bring us temporary relief. We eventually look for anything to fill the desolation, for something to heal our pain, except that which can truly heal. Soon, everything we are using to fill our emptiness only makes the void that much larger and harder to satisfy.
While I do not know your story specifically, I do understand the human story and the stage with which it takes place on. If you are looking for things on earth to make sense or fulfill you, you are going to be disappointed. You are not the only one to experience this revelation of hopelessness. The revelation that begins with a sinking feeling you may have felt in childhood, in your teen years, in your adult years that all your hopes and dreams may not come true. That you may not be able to reconcile with that family member, that you may never get the apology you feel you deserve, that you won’t get recognized for all your hard work, that the never-ending fights with your spouse may never end, that if one more thing goes wrong you’ll be out on the street, that you are going to have to raise this kid all by yourself, that no matter how hard you try things will never get any better, that you will always carry a label, that all of the investment, the hopes, the expectations, the hard work has been for nothing, that it is better to just give up and live in the lie of hopelessness the world wants to sell you.
You are not alone.
The problem is we are looking for earthly solutions to satisfy a spiritual problem that revolves around a deficiency within our soul. Unfortunately, the longer we hold tight to the lie that the distractions will fix our deficiency, it will eventually give way to needing more and more, allowing things to get worse and worse. Complications then arise when we are unable to fathom the thought of having to do without our distractions. The mind recoils in horror at the mere mention of having to find something else that works. We take ownership of our solution but in reality, our solution now owns us. We want to believe the lie that we can find happiness and meaning on this earth in things, rather than a relationship with our Creator and Savior.
We are a hurting people. We hurt each other and we hurt ourselves. This series isn’t meant to make you feel good about bad choices, nor give you a get out of jail free card for the past. There is nothing that I can say or write that will change your mind or convince you that you may need to re-evaluate life and choices. I can speculate and try to cover as many bases as possible, but the fact of the matter is I will never be able to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong or why. We are a messy, complicated species.
What I can do is give you an understanding of what this blog series is and is not. It is not about “10 Ways to Find Happiness in Life”, or “Top 5 Life Hacks”, nor even “3 Fool-Proof Methods for Change”. It is not self-help literature or even a feel-good coming of age tale about a girl and a boy. This is about the spiritual trenches we find ourselves fighting in, day in and day out, the exhausting grind we resort to and why we have to come to the understanding that we were not created to live life by seeking to fill the deep spiritual void within ourselves by any means necessary. This only leads to the void growing into a confusing headache when it comes time to sort it all out. We have to learn how to fight in this trench by replacing the all too familiar and destructive reactions with a biblical response. We have to switch weapons.
This series is intended to confront any addictive sin that has destroyed your life or that you are on the path to destruction with. You see, you don’t always have to be in the throes of an addiction to understand that it is a sin. It is another thing that we allow and even encourage to take God’s place in our lives. That’s what sin does. This can be done with alcohol and gambling, lust and methamphetamines, anger and jealousy; anything that can create an upheaval in your life and send you down the wrong paths, leading to cataclysmic disintegration. Make no mistake, you are in a war. You will fight battles at times on this journey but, rejoice and rest in the fact that you do not have to fight alone.
We strive to educate you about reactions, encourage you to respond by engaging actively in your sobriety and walk with Christ. Because at the end of the day, we are commanded to love others and make disciples. We love others where they are, but, love them enough to not just leave them there.
Jesus called his disciples from where they were, fishing and collecting taxes. He didn’t set up “Jerusalem’s Got Talent” to find the best, brightest and most polished. Why? Because it’s not about us and what we can do, it’s about Him and what He does, which is everything. He is in the business of redeeming and re-purposing. We may have been addicts, but He has called us to a greater purpose. You see, it’s not just about getting you clean or sober, it’s not just passing a drug test, it’s not just about fire insurance, it’s about transformation.
When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”Matthew 12:43-45
If you are seeking recovery or sobriety without the Lord, you may find it. But I am a firm believer that if you are seeking Jesus, you will find recovery.
Overcome Addiction Recovery Bible Study – Origin and Present Day
The premise for Overcome is rather simple: addiction as a side effect of a much larger issue. Usually a lot of hidden issues that act as motivations for addiction, which we address in 18 topical sessions. There was no way I could be all inclusive with the motivations, if I was, the class would go on and on and on. Regardless, from research and examples in my own life, I began to see trends in emotional reactions I had resulting from circumstances and strings of situations that could have turned out much differently had I exhibited a few mature thoughts and what the bible calls wisdom and discretion. I have, however, realized I am always going to have the need to pour myself into something. Good or bad. I could choose to fight that personality flaw and live an exhausting existence mired down by restraint or give it to God and let Him transform it into something better.
The creation of the Overcome Addiction Recovery Bible study curriculum and the requirements that it needed to meet was not as simple as I would have liked. The individuals coming to this substance abuse ministry meant that there would be some that were “un-churched”, some that may not make it to every meeting, others that would come into the schedule half-way through and still others that were “tourists”. Some were catholic, while others atheist. Some fresh out of rehab, and others high, walking in off the street. As much as I would have liked to sit down and built this as a progressing class, I was not able to. Each session had to stand on its own and be flexible enough that newcomers wouldn’t be lost walking in halfway through the semester. However, in maintaining sobriety, as well as your relationship with Christ, there is one key principle: Consistently Strive, regardless of the circumstances. If you fall, get back up.
The table is a little more worn now. There is nothing particularly fancy about it. If memory serves, we bought it at a thrift store for $10 a long time ago. It is rickety and creaks when you put weight on it. The varnish has faded and there are chunks of mac and cheese that need to be chiseled off because the kids have poor aim. It has seen its fair share of use since the first battle, but the table still serves its intended purpose. I believe that everything serves a purpose, but sometimes we have to be instructed in the proper way to use it. Sometimes we use faulty methods in life just to get by instead of using correct ones to actually live by.
Until next time…
Did you miss the other lessons? Click to see the entire Overcome: Addiction Recovery Bible Study.
For more information or to purchase “The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader through the Beatitudes by Josh Staton (on Amazon) to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit:
Click to see the entire The Resistance: Becoming a Servant Leader through the Beatitudes Biblical Leadership Series.
If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, join us for an addiction recovery class. Click for more information on attending a First Contact Ministries support group for individuals or families struggling with addiction issues.