Breaking Chains

      Most of us have an area in life where we are wrapped in chains.  Whether you call it a bad habit, signature sin, weakness or maybe even an addiction, the struggle is real.  It could be with a particular emotion, such as anger or a substance (legal or illegal), or with a toxic relationship.  How do we move forward?  How do we grow into the thriving person that God intends for us to be?
     First, face the truth.  Is this behavior sinful?  If it is call it what it is, rebellion against the God who made us and wants what is best for us.  Is this relationship toxic?  If it is, isn’t it time to change it or exit it?  Most of us have a remarkable ability to minimize our problem areas.  Get honest. The Bible encourages authentic confession. 
     Second, focus on the stunning love of God.  People rarely grow in the emotional soil of shame.  For several years my wife and I fostered children.  Honestly, there were times their behavior was horrible.  But we learned that an environment of love was a powerful, foundational gift we could give them.  As long as they were comfortable with it, we would hug them first thing in the morning and tell them we loved them.  In the security of a loving environment eventually their behavior changed for the better.  All of us have behaviors that make us less lovable; start with God’s love.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  Yet He paid for every bit of our brokenness and sin on the cross of Christ.  From that position of secure, loving attachment each of us is more likely to grow in a positive direction.
     Third, limit temptation.  If alcohol addiction is your struggle, stay away from places and people that will tempt you in that direction.  If internet pornography is your Achilles heel, an internet filter or even removing regular internet access can make a real difference.  Make the holy decision as easy as possible and doing the wrong action as inconvenient as you can. 
      Fourth, pray regularly.  Bring this area of struggle before the Lord.  In the Scripture the Holy Spirit is called the Helper.  He will help us if we invite Him into our personal battles.  Ask others who are trustworthy with confidences to pray for you regularly.
     Fifth, find or establish a community of accountability.  Working with a therapist could be helpful.  Finding a mentor who is willing to invest in your growth could be transformative.  Stepping into a recovery community or accountability group could be life changing.  Whatever your struggle, you are not alone.  Support groups are the secret sauce of the recovery movement for a reason.  I have read and been told many times that growth happens in circles.  I do not know who said it first, but I think it’s true.  Find or invite some fellow strugglers into your life; ideally a few should be further down the road of wholeness.
     Sixth, commit.  No one can make you change.  At some point YOU must decide on a new direction.  Author Mark Batterson says, “one good decision can totally change the trajectory of our lives” (All In, 152).  Make today when you say ENOUGH! Then with great tenacity, begin a new day, a new habit, a new journey.  Isn’t it time we break some chains?

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church