by Sarah Van Diest
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23.
Recently, because “recently” sounds so much better than “yesterday,” I dove so deeply into a pool of feelings that I was completely blind to them. (That’s what happens in addictions, you know.)
There is so much emotion here. It’s saturated with feeling. The rut in my mind running from the place where it plays back memories to the place where emotions respond and react is worn smooth. Those memories, imaginings or voices that trigger the feelings I want are the ones I replay. I am an addict hooked on the sensations that fill me and transport me.
You may suppose I’m only talking about things that make me feel good. I’m not. I’m just as addicted to the painful feelings, if not more so.
My husband and two of our sons were working outside. One of our summer projects this year is to finish the driveway area of our house. We live on 5 acres of Christmas trees and since so much of the year’s outdoor labor is spent on some form of tree work, this project of finishing the driveway had waited for 3 years.
David (my husband) was driving some big piece of machinery moving boulders around while the boys, Caleb and Colin, were cutting back overgrown bushes and shoveling bark dust. I couldn’t resist getting involved. I donned my gloves and ugly work shoes and out I went. I was going to be helpful.
Around lunchtime, the boys asked if they could stop. I figured I would be done in a minute too, so I sent them inside. But I didn’t stop. David kept going on the machine and I kept shoveling and raking out bark. The sun was intense and the cool of the morning was long past. It was now in the 90’s and after several hours of sweaty labor, it hit me. I was exhausted. I had failed to drink water and take breaks. Leaning on my rake the thought flew through my mind that I desperately needed water. Like angels sent from heaven, Colin was suddenly standing in front of me with a glass of water and Caleb had made pb&j’s for us all. What a blessing!
How had I gotten to this place? How had I gone from wanting to help to demanding of myself that I work until I could hardly stand? The rest of the day I had a throbbing headache and dizziness; classic signs of dehydration and overexertion. I know myself well enough to know it wasn’t just about forgetting to drink water. I was, once again, stuck in that deep rut in my mind searching to fill a void.
And that’s where I show you my addiction. The voice, that almost silent, yet penetrating voice, calling out its rules and bullying its way through my mind, is what controls me at times like this. It tells me that my sole worth is found in my performance of the task at hand. It screams at me, though the logic center of my brain can’t make out its words. The part of me so frantic for a declaration of value overrides all other thoughts, rational understandings and sensible perspectives. The thirst for worth overtakes the thirst for water and so I wilt; willing to kill myself if need be to achieve the desired goal of finally feeling significant.
That is an addiction.
If this had been my first experience of succumbing to that voice I might not have realized it so quickly, but I’ve been here hundreds of times before. And yes, it was yesterday. Today my face is slightly swollen and my head still pounds; the sad consequences of my addiction. I never achieved that value I was hoping for by raking out bark, sweating and tweaking my back, and I never do. This is an empty and vain pursuit. And today, sitting in my chair, writing my confession, I know it. Just like I knew it last time.
So what do we do, my friend? Because I know I’m not the only one. How do we stop ourselves from being slaves to merciless, relentless desires, whatever they may be? Those voices that point out our insufficiencies and our lack? You know the truth and so do I. It seems to me that most, if not all, of my efforts to achieve, or my desires to transport myself to another reality, are all based in my longing to be of worth and value, and yet I know the only true sense of significance is found in my Father’s eyes. I am precious to Him. We are precious to Him. There is nothing we can do to increase or decrease His love for us. So how can we get that truth to infiltrate our minds at the basest of levels?
Obviously I haven’t fully figured this one out. All I know is what Scripture tells us: to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and that through His word, and by His Spirit, we are made new; and that the truth will set us free.
My faith is not a perfected thing. It is a growing thing. I am in constant need of grace and reminders of truth from the Holy Spirit. I am dependent on my Father to walk this life in faith. And you know what? That’s exactly where we are supposed to be. That is where we find rest and peace and hope and strength. It’s not in my ability to do this life well, in my striving, pushing, gritting it up the next hill; it’s in my sense of need and reliance on my Father where I find what I seek. It is a beautiful irony. My need is His avenue through which He communicates how much He values me. If I stand perfected in my own strength, what need do I have of the Father? But when I come to Him lacking the strength to turn from my addiction, He looks at me with love, pulls me close, and reminds me of my worth to Him. In that moment, when I am remembering, accepting and embracing the truth, I am strong because I know the Creator of the universe loves me!
In my weakness, He is strong.
Be weak today, my friend. See your “failures” for the blessings they are. They tie us, bind us and entwine our hearts in unity with our Father, declaring our need for Him and His faithfulness to us.
“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” 1 Corinthians 10:13.
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?” Romans 3:3.
Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.