Today I think I’m going to be finished with recovery! Then tomorrow I’ll begin again. Sometimes I think that way when I feel like I’ve really had enough. Surely there has to be an easier way…right?
- Aren’t you done with therapy yet?
- When will you be finished?
- Are you getting any better?
- It’s time to move on with life!
- When will you know when you get to the end?
At the heart of this week’s crazy maker is the question…one day I’ll be finished with recovery and will be able to have a real life. Sounds good…so what’s the problem.
Here’s a little something from page 80…“People who assume this idea think that spiritual growth is like changing a burned-out light bulb. Take the bad one out, pop the new on in. problem solved. Life goes on. They think emotional struggles should be treated the same. Fix a depression. Cure a compulsive spending problem. Repair and anxiety attack. In any case, the process has a clear endpoint.” So, what’s wrong with that? I’m really all good with the approach:)
Why Growth Doesn’t Have to Stop
It’s true…there are things in life that should have an end point.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 say “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven”
A changing life is the mark of a maturing Christian. We should expect to see results when you pray, study the Bible, join a support group…whatever it is. It’s a sign of God’s work in us. But I think the point of this week’s crazy maker is that there will come a day when we will be finished. And the point here is that we’ll never be finished. This sanctification process continues throughout out life.
- Let’s look more at this sanctification process. What does it mean exactly?
- How does god’s work of sanctification fit with the healing work He does through therapy and support groups? (page 82)
1. Recovery & Spiritual Growth Are Split Apart
On page 82 it ways this: “The word recovery implies finding or retrieving what was lost. It’s an aggressive word full of action. In a nutshell…recovery means taking back character traits that were robbed of.
- What are you trying to “take back” by means of you own healing journey?
- What character traits do you feel like you’ve lost in past injuries?
- Why can’t you separate emotional growth and spiritual growth? (page 83)
2. We Are Forced Into Completing a Task
When we look at the “One day…” option we get focused on completing a task rather than fully engaging in the work that Christ has set before us. It becomes about the time line rather than the journey.
A few years ago my family…yep all 5 of us in a van…decided to take a family vacation to Savannah. All in all it was a wonderful trip and along the way we made intentional decisions to stop at as many places along the way as we could. It kind of reminded me of “The Goofy Movie” where they stopped at the Biggest Ball of Yarn. It was just as much about the journey as it was getting there. And let it be said that we sure were glad when we got there…because that just opened up more of the journey ahead of us. Maybe there is something that God has to say to us about this example.
- When has reaching a goal become so important that you stopped learning from and enjoying the journey toward the goal?
We engage in the recovery process to learn to love the journey for everything that it is and everything that it isn’t!
3. We Lose Forgiveness
We are to pay attention to the direction that our life is headed. And it’s natural from time to time that we’ll get off track and need to make adjustments to get back to where we want to be. That’s what our spiritual growth is like. There will be times where we make mistakes, where we’ll learn from our actions, and the next time we’ll make a better decision. And this is where forgiveness comes into play. If we were expected to do everything right the first time out that would be too much of a standard to live up to.
- How does forgiveness help our spiritual growth?
- How does the inability to accept our own missteps interfere with our spiritual growth?
4. We Become Proud
When we think that we’ve arrived at the ultimate spiritual place that we have no more to learn or do…we become proud. After all…look at how great I am. I’ve memorized 25 Biblical verses just this week and certainly no one can hold a candle to the amount of time I spend in prayer. I’m just about all that and then a little more! No one thinks this way? Really?
On page 89 it says this…“The goal of spiritual and emotional growth isn’t becoming perfect. The goal is a deepening awareness of ourselves, our weaknesses, our sins, and our needs.
- What does the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:10-14) say about this?
When we think we’ve arrived spiritually we’ll no longer be repentant, hungry and needs. We will stop asking for help and when we stop asking for help we’ll stop growing.
5. We Despair
Let’s just face the facts…we’re never going to be perfect. But if we think that someday we’ll be finished with recovery and then we spend the next part of our life getting better only to be followed by declining then matched with getting a little better again, we’ll soon have our hopes dashed. All I really want is to reach the end…and when the end never quite get here…well…it’s a little disturbing.
- How do you define regression? (Page 90 & 91)
- What is a healthy response, intellectually and emotionally, to regression?
- What people in the Bible help you understand that failure and regression are normal?
So…Is There A Goal?
I so desperately want to feel like I’m making progress. I’ll admit that I’ll never be perfect, but there’s something inside of me that want to at least think that I’m getting better.
Thank goodness that they’ve given us some marks of maturity that we can use as a guide to our progress.
- Bonding…the ability to give and receive love.
- Boundaries…having a clear sense of responsibility.
- Sorting Out Good From Bad…the ability to receive and give forgiveness.
- Becoming an Adult…Being able to exercise adult authority in the world.
If these sound familiar then you’re paying attention…we’ve seen them before in Chapter 3.
People do finish therapy and support group successfully. They learn ways to develop boundaries. They begin to accept those places where they need to work on imperfections. They reach the places where they don’t need professional help anymore…But…conflicts and internal struggles are not over forever. The conflicts and struggles just change. As long as we’re living, breathing, and walking around on earth we’ll have struggles.
Here’s more to consider from page 225.
“As we mature, our cry to God should always be, ‘Be merciful to me, a sinner.’ Drawing closer to god exposes our sinfulness and neediness, and consequently forces us to our knees. From that position, we can perhaps better see that the endpoint – and the journey itself – is loving and being loved. We will then ask not ‘Am I finished with my recovery yet?’ but ‘What’s next on my journey, as I am known by God and others?'”
If you’d like to join this study in real time…I’m teaching it at HopePark Wednesday Mornings & Thursday Nights. If you’re a Nashville local, the door is always open. We’re at 8001 Hwy. 70 South, just off I-40. Online at http://hopepark.com and on twitter @hopepark.
Me…well you can find me twittering @jodytodd.
Have a great week!
Questions and assigned quotes from the study by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend entitled “12 Christian Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy.”