For those of us in recovery, the loudest voice of negativity we hear on our journey almost always comes from ourselves. There is no one who speaks more harshly to me than me.
Can you relate? I have spoken with enough men to assume you probably can.
I know myself best.
The fact is, nobody knows me better than I do. I have had people express their profound disappointment with my addiction. They didn’t mince words by any stretch, but they still didn’t come close to the hateful things I have said to myself. I’m aware of EVERY poor thought and EVERY bad decision that I have ever made, and I didn’t let myself forget any one of them.
I believe that God has forgiven me. I believe others have forgiven me. For a very long time, however, I did not forgive myself and that may have been the biggest obstacle to my healing.
The Fruit of the Spirit
I was recently speaking with a brother who said something very powerful to me. He shared that a major key to his recovery was learning that he had to show himself the same grace that God showed him. He continued, “How can I possibly not love what God loved with His own Son’s life? When I fail, I need to be gentle with myself and while not ignoring what I have done, I cannot condemn myself either.”
Not long after I had that conversation, I was having my quiet time when the Holy Spirit sent a thought into my mind that gave me chills. I immediately flipped to Galatians and began reading the passage on the fruit of the Spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law.” Galatians 5:22
When we are in true communion with God, we will find that we are in the right relationship in all three areas of life.
First, we will be in the right relationship with God. LOVE, JOY, PEACE. We are to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. When we do, joy and peace will follow. In our own humanity… and even sometimes as a result of living out our addiction… we can find a form of happiness and tranquility, but true joy and peace can only come from God. So, the first three pieces of the fruit of the Spirit are about our relationship with God.
The second three are about our relationships with others. We certainly need PATIENCE as we deal with other people, don’t we? And when we allow the Spirit of God to overflow that patience with others, we are then able to show them the KINDNESS and GOODNESS that testifies to the character of God.
Finally, the last three parts of the fruit are the main point of this message. How are we to deal with ourselves? The first piece is to live by FAITHFULNESS. We must be true to ourselves by being faithful to God. The best thing we can do for our healing is to be true to the Great Physician. Then, as my friend shared with me earlier, we must show GENTLENESS to ourselves as God Himself does. We must not beat ourselves up and keep ourselves in a prison of guilt, shame, and regret. Then as we show ourselves that grace, we will find ourselves living with that most elusive discipline of SELF-CONTROL.
Meditate on this. It’s a beautiful thing. Glory to God!