“Hello, my name is Mickey, and I am a firm believer in Jesus Christ. I especially love His children who struggle with addictions of every kind…”
Life just doesn’t turn out like we expect. Sooner or later, we all must accept that truth. It may happen when you stop to catch your breath before walking into the police station, having just transferred money from your savings account to be able to get your daughter out of jail following an arrest for driving under the influence.
It may come when the phone rings in the middle of the night requesting you come to the local emergency room, where your son has been dropped off by his friends in the throes of a drug overdose. It may just be a feeling deep in your gut that something is not quite right. Then the pill bottle falls out of an open purse, or the beer bottle rolls out from under the seat of the car, and you know: addiction has come to your house, and nothing will ever be the same.It was not that you didn’t love them enough, or that you loved them too much. . . . It is a choice—their choice, not yours. Click To Tweet
It is not because of anything you did or did not do. It was not that you didn’t love them enough, or that you loved them too much. It was not that you didn’t discipline them enough, or that you were too strict. It is a choice—their choice, not yours. That choice turns your world upside down. It fills you with worry and dread. Ultimately, you do what you’ve been doing, only now with a renewed desperation: you pray.
It was sometime in 2002 when the presence of addiction made itself known in the Lumpkin family. Because his rehab eligibility depended on him attending a specific number of meetings per week in order to be granted a weekend pass to visit us in Alexandria, my nephew had to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting while he was here. I took him to the meeting. When we got there, he asked me to go in with him.
I realized there was hope and help and acceptance in that room full of people whose broken lives were filled with hurt and ravaged by substance abuse and addictions.
Thank God it wasn’t a closed meeting. It was my first experience in this setting, and it proved to be an eye-opening, life-changing God moment for me. I realized there was hope and help and acceptance in that room full of people whose broken lives were filled with hurt and ravaged by substance abuse and addictions.
If addiction has taken up residence in someone you love, or if it’s in your own body and mind, my first advice to you is the first step of the twelve-step program: admit you are powerless over your addiction. Admit that your life is unmanageable.
The addict (whether you or a loved one) must be the one to seek help. No one else can make this decision. God knows that as parents, grandparents, spouses, and children, if we had the power to break the chains of their addiction, we would do it. However, until addicts realize they are powerless and are willing to seek help, there’s nothing those of us on the outside can do but watch, pray, and trust God.
If you are active in your addiction and want help, it usually comes in one of two ways. We serve an all-powerful God who may, in answer to your sincere cry for help, respond by instantly delivering you from your desire for your drug of choice. However, I must also tell you that sometimes God in His wisdom, knowing us better than we even know ourselves, chooses to require that we do the work of overcoming while He walks with us every step of the way.
Step one: [A]dmit you are powerless over your addiction. Admit that your life is unmanageable.
Please be aware that, for some addictions, medical intervention is the only safe way to detox. See a doctor or a counselor in your area who can help you find the right placement. Programs are available—some are covered by insurance and for others the cost is based on income. Because of work or other obligations, a twenty-eight-day in-patient program may not be the best fit for you. If so, there are also daily out-patient programs available. Do what you need to do to get the professional help you need.
Whether you are in a small town or a big city, my strongest advice is to find a Christ-centered recovery program that includes and incorporates a twelve-step program. Whether you are a parent or a spouse who may inadvertently have taken on the role of enabler, or if you are the addict, participating in group sessions in a program like Celebrate Recovery can be highly beneficial. Always remember, it’s never “one and done.” As you work through the twelve steps, you will find yourself needing to work one or more steps again.
[W]e do the work of overcoming while He walks with us every step of the way.
It’s okay: that’s how it works. The steps are backed by the Word of God, and they are effective.
SEVEN is what we call our ministry for addicts and their families at the Pentecostals of Alexandria. We are in our thirteenth year of bringing help and hope to our community through this support group ministry. We have seen great victories, mourned some losses, and stood right back up to win another battle. We believe in the power of God, and the power of individuals working diligently at a twelve-step program that brings hope and help to whomever and wherever you are.
Mickey Mangun is a gifted singer, songwriter, and musician with the heart and soul of a worshiper. She is a worship leader at the Pentecostals of Alexandria, a church of more than three thousand led by her husband, Anthony Mangun. She lives out her commitment to individuals with hurts, habits, and hang-ups through SEVEN, a ministry for those whose lives have been touched by addiction. She also is a mother and grandmother who enjoys running, driving, and eating Mexican food.
(A version of this content originally appeared in the Family Ministry newsletter.)
Resources for Families in Crisis
Lifeline: A Pastor’s Resource for Families in Crisis Volume 1
As a pastor, have you ever experienced the frustration of not knowing what to say when working with a family going through a divorce or someone with a substance abuse problem? These Lifeline lessons can help. Other topics include money problems, anger management, and depression.