Okay, so if Spirituality is crucial to recovery, where does religion fit in?
Well, the program says that in recovery we might find meaning in our original religions traditions or we might find a new tradition that speaks to where we are. As for me, I have gone back to my roots as a Christian. I have always loved Jesus and know of the power of His blood to save me. Yet, years ago, at the beginning of my healing journey, I was pouring through the scriptures, sick as a dog, praying for God to heal me and it didn’t happen until I got into recovery. So it is very confusing sometimes when as a Christian I hear derogatory messages about recovery from the pulpit. Are you as confused about some of these things as I am? Well, let’s explore soome of the issues together then.
Let’s take the topic of codependency for example. Despite the fact that codependency recovery has been around for almost 20 years, I still hear the church at times almost sanctioning it. I’m not sure that most people in the church even know what codependency is. Do you hear the message that we need to love ourselves in church? I don’t think we hear it enough. They might say it occasionally, but it’s almost like the powers that be in church still think loving ourselves is a sin.
Just today I saw a poor woman, suffering from deteriorating health who said she had never as a Christian thought of loving and forgiving herself. She had always been taught that the prescription for JOY was Jesus first, Others Second and Yourself last. For some of us this just doesn’t work….I thought church was for setting the captives free.
It is unfortunate, but the church is rampant with addictions, i.e. addiction to image, money, work, food, sex, etc. Sadly, I see many, many people from the church who are codependent caretakers, enablers and full-blown love addicts. Love addiction is deadly and destructive. Sufferers often leave one relationship that is unhealthy, only to form another one and another one spiraling down into a deadly cycle. And none of these “dis-eases” ever seem to get addressed in church.
To their credit, many churches have formed Christian recovery groups which try to address codependency & addiction. Trying to get some Christians to enter in to recovery can often be a daunting if not impossible task. I understand it… Clients often complain that in regular non-Christian recovery groups, people use the disease concept as an excuse not to get well at times. Others substitute going to meetings for the transformational work that comes with working the 12
steps. And stay stuck in the “put the plug in the jug” phase – never growing beyond it. No wonder Christians are leery…..
And don’t even get me started on what’s wrong with therapists and therapy. Much of my profession, sadly worship their intellect rather than a power greater than themselves. Some have not worked on their own issues and unfortunately are working their stuff out on their clients. That is why we therapists sometimes have earned the not altogether untrue reputation that we are unethical, dishonest and keep people stuck coming to therapy for longer than needed for our own monetary gain.
And Psychiatrists do tend to overprescribe, but I still hear from the pulpit the message that taking psychiatric medication is bad. Do they tell diabetics that? Of course not…..Yet that is exactly what I hear…This makes sharing the fact that one takes an antidepessant or psychiatric medication a very shameful fact for some Christians. However, I, like most other workers in the mental health field have seen dramatic improvements with the use of medications in proper combination with therapy and treatment. Some folks just flat out don’t get better if they don’t take medication. Their systems quite likely have been altered due to stress, drug or alcohol abuse or genetic predisposition. It’s not shameful to take medication! Sometimes it does save lives! Yet I see severely depressed Christians deny themselves the proper treatment because they don’t think they should rely on medications instead of God. It is true that medication without the work of therapy can be just a crutch…..however…….
What’s a Christian to do??? Find out next blog………