If you’re coming out of recovery following addiction, it’s understandable to do so with a heavy heart. Most of us struggle with social stigma, guilt, and misinformation built up around drug and alcohol abuse. This is especially so for those of us who are Christians. It can feel as though we’ve let our congregations, and God down. To an extent, we have. A past version of us has fallen from the path of God and strayed away from his teachings. For many of us, that past involves shameful acts, mistreating friends and family, and living in ways that do not align with the teachings of God.
At the same time, if you’re looking for help, you are in recovery. You are overcoming the temptation which God put in your path and you are becoming a better person. It’s easy to allow guilt and shame to prevent you from going back to church, from talking to God, and from engaging with your community, but these are acts of giving up. God will forgive you; your community will forgive you, and getting help is the very first step in a long road to rebuilding and creating a new and better life for yourself in God’s light.
God is all-knowing, omnipotent, and all-seeing. There is no temptation and no action which He did not envision for you, in full knowledge you would overcome it. In fact, 19.7 million Americans struggle with substance abuse. This is part of His plan. It is a difficult path, but it is one that you will overcome.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – Corinthians 10:13
Your path is to recover, to rebuild your life and your life in your community with the knowledge of what addiction and recovery has taught you. Even if you actively turned your back on God in addiction, there is a path back to Him. He will never present a temptation or a struggle which is too difficult for you to overcome, and therefore, He will never present a temptation or struggle from which there is no way back to Him.
You are repentant and God is all forgiving. If you weren’t’, you wouldn’t be reading this. Being honest with ourselves, honest to God, and finding Grace in asking forgiveness is an important step in recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the largest self-help groups in the country, relies on using reliance on a higher power and surrender to that higher power (God) to find peace and recovery. God promises to forgive us our sins so long as we repent, confess, and surrender to God’s plan for us.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
You can make this confession in private or in public, but likely, it should be an ongoing, daily conversation between yourself and God. Set aside a few minutes every morning to talk to Him, do so again every night before you go to bed. Be honest, be candid, be self-critical, and celebrate your success and your failures. No one becomes a new person overnight.
Forgiveness from God should align with forgiveness from yourself and that will often mean making amends where you have done wrong. 12-Step groups often introduce steps of apologizing, writing letters, and offering to resolve or make amends for wrongs done to family, friends, and acquaintances. This may be an important part of your journey to self-forgiveness and therefore in finding forgiveness in God as you truly repent and recognize the error of your previous ways.
Throughout the Bible, the Word of God is very clear. Anyone who is repentant and who rejoins the Flock in prayer, in body, mind, and spirit, will be forgiven. Jesus’s followers were not just pristine souls but also repentant thieves, usurers, prostitutes, and even murderers. God’s most faithful Apostle was converted on the road to Damascus as a sinner, and he repented and was forgiven, and gave his life to God. You do not have to come to God with no stains on your soul.
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:15-16
When you rejoin your congregation and pray, confess your sins, and are truly repentant, God will forgive you. He promises to do so, both with His Word and with the Blood of His only Son. You may have sinned, but we all have.
Job was a righteous man who became more righteous following his tribulations. Experiencing hardship and suffering gives many of us a better basis to understand, respect, and celebrate the life which God has given us. It also gives us a better window into human suffering, building empathy, moral character, and the drive to help others.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Thousands of recovering addicts go on to help their fellows, either through self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, through volunteering, or through learning and working in recovery situations. This doesn’t, of course, mean that you should immediately go volunteer to help people with addictions. The newer your recovery, the more fragile it is, and the more you need to focus on helping yourself to recover, grow, and flourish.
Substance use disorders are heavily stigmatized. Using and abusing drugs and alcohol are wrong according to the law and by the word of God. If you have strayed, you know this. And if you are on the path of recovery, you are already doing everything in your power to recover and to move forward. That is your path to forgiveness, from your community, from yourself, and from God.
And the God of all Grace, who called you to His eternal Glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast – 1 Peter 5:10
If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, please contact Christians Drug Rehab to learn more about our program. Our dedicated team can help you break the cycle of addiction and manage any co-occurring mental health condition that may accompany you or your loved one’s disorder.