We need to experience loving relationships in order to heal and grow. In loving relationships we experience the safety that allows us to face the truth. In loving relationships we experience the support we need to begin to change. And in loving relationships we learn that we are lovable and valuable.
Because we have been wounded in relationships, our instinct is often to run from relationships. We don't want to be hurt again. This leaves an enormous void in our souls. And it is this void which we desperately try to fill with addictions and compulsions of various kinds. This text focuses on two manifestations of religious addiction (compulsive altruism and religiously motivated self-abuse) and sums up the result: I gain nothing. The same could be said of all of our addictions. "I deliver my body to be burned" and "I gain nothing" are an accurate description not only of a particular kind of religious addiction but also of chemial addiction, work addiction, sexual addiction and relationship addiction, as well as many self-abusive compulsions.
We gain nothing for all the time and effort we spend on trying to numb the pain. It does not achieve the desired result. The void remains.
Although loving fellowship may be frightening for us, it is the path to recovery. The vulnerabilities of intimacy may remind us of earlier times of terror in life, but there is no way to recover in isolation. The net result of compulsions and addictions is "I gain nothing." But the net result of recovery is very different. There is something to be gained by all the hard work that recovery requires. Recovery builds in us a capacity to receive love and a capacity to give love to others. And that is a real gain.
May God grant you the courage you need today to pursue loving fellowship.
Lord, you see my guarded heart.
You see the fears that make me run from love.
What I fear is what I want most.
I want to love and to be loved.
Give me courage to open my heart to love today.
Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan
National Association for Christian Recovery