This is difficult for me to write.
Almost nightly, I binge. Hours are wasted as I try to forget and cope the way I find easiest. Indulging in my addiction.
The title of this post is a little misleading. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m underage. And I realize saying that means nothing in today’s society, but I also don’t desire to drink. I’ve had an accidental taste of alcohol before and found it disgusting to my taste buds. Not to mention the smell makes me ill. I have nothing against the occasional alcoholic drink; it’s just not in my preference.
But last night, as I started my binge, I realized I wasn’t much different from an alcoholic. Really, I’m no better – as if one sin was worse or better than another…
People generally categorize things as addictions when they’re an intake of something damaging, whether it be drugs, porn, alcohol, etc. Merriam-Webster defines it this way:
a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)
an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something
Recently, there have been theories about addiction to the internet as well, but it’s typically dismissed and joked about. You’ll hear people say, “I’m so addicted to the internet!” Or perhaps you’ve seen the quizzes on sites like Buzzfeed asking, “Are you addicted to the internet?” (Actually, scratch that – Buzzfeed’s latest quiz assumes that you know you’re addicted, but helps you categorize what kind of addict you are. Take the quiz yourself here.)
But I don’t think this is something to joke about.
Addictions are dangerous, whatever the object of indulgence is. And I would even dare to go further and speculate that at the heart of most (if not all) addictions, there is a hole trying to be filled or something trying to be forgotten, even if it’s just temporarily. What’s so dangerous about that? Well, the hole that’s trying to be filled or the pain trying to be forgotten isn’t directly addressed, so the addiction is revisited again and again because it doesn’t take long before the problem resurfaces.
But beyond that, it helps to escape from the true source of healing: God.
Here’s my story.
At night, it’s easy for thoughts to embrace the dark as daylight fades and for spirits to sink with the sun. Energy wavers. I get lonelier as old memories and present pains sharpen to a crystal clarity.
My attitude worsens. I’m on edge. I claim the couch in the living room, turn on the TV, and direct it to Netflix. I pick a show that will either bring hilarity or intensity, find an episode I haven’t seen in the last couple weeks, and press play. I begin to forget. It’s nearing 9:00pm.
Suddenly it’s almost 11:00. Or even midnight, or 1:00am. I need sleep. I get up in a little over 6 hours. So I go to my bed and slip under the covers, and I toss and turn as what I had forgotten moments before resurges. Guilt overcomes me as I know that, once again, I wasted my time on what I know doesn’t help. I sometimes weep, hugging my pillow, until I fall asleep.
And this has become a habit, almost on a nightly basis.
Some of you might be offended at this point because you’ve seen firsthand how damaging alcoholism is and think I’m taking it lightly. I mean no offense. I have been in the company of an alcoholic so I know how serious it can be.
However, when it comes to addictions, the ones that are hidden like mine are just as serious as those that show. My dependence on Netflix is my equivalent of alcoholism. The drink is just coming from a different bottle.
How can I say something like this?
Because whatever the addiction, it is damaging to the soul. The bottom line is, any addictive “ism” is dangerous when it becomes a routine distraction from Jesus.
And between the body and the soul… which is more valuable? The one that expires after 80 short years or the one that lasts through eternity?
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
Instead of sitting on the couch indulging in another God-less show, I could be in my room and on my knees, sitting in the presence of the God of the universe. The One who satisfies and heals and promises good things and has always been faithful when I…?
When I have chosen useless, unedifying entertainment over Him more times than I can count.
I am so ashamed. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions…” (Psalm 51) When I claim my Lord is Christ, I serve another… “Against You, You only have I sinned…”
How I need forgiveness…
Do you have an alcohol? A drug that draws you away from the fullness of the Lord? An object of affection that you glorify and spend time with to forget? To patch up your messy wounds while they continue to fester, when the Healer is there, with the perfect, lasting remedy?
He has the power to release you and start your life anew.
Even a saved sinner like myself needs a restart.
And that’s what His forgiveness provides. Moment-by-moment chances to restart.
It’s not going to be instant. Release from our nature to seek satisfaction elsewhere will take time and effort. But isn’t anything worth having worth giving effort for?
Just don’t wait anymore. Because there is new life when the old self dies.
So for me? It’s time to stop.
Tonight, the cycle ends. Tonight, I’m sitting in the presence of my King.