“[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
Addiction thrives in secrecy, and deceit is its lifeblood. A turning point for our loved ones ensnared in addiction occurs when they recognize the role secrecy and deceit play in enabling their challenges and addictions. When they lie to us or deceive us and minimize their bad behavior, we lose trust. Without trust, it is hard to overcome our fear and worry about what they may be doing in our absence. For example, if they tell us they are going to the store, we may wonder whether they are lying and actually intend to engage in inappropriate behavior. This distrust creates barriers in communication and relationship. We may find ourselves constantly worrying about what our loved ones are doing and may take steps to monitor their behavior. While we may not now be able to fully trust them, we can trust the Lord and His protection.
|Art by Amberle Stoffers|
How will trusting the Lord help you when you struggle to trust your loved one?
For many of us, discovering our loved ones’ addictions causes shock and alarm. Naturally, we have many questions regarding their actions and behaviors. To what extent have we been deceived? What else don’t we know? We are anxious to get answers and find out the truth. Often, they are in denial or are so embarrassed and ashamed that they will share only a little at a time. While it is important for them to be honest and accountable, full disclosure is usually a process that takes time, especially where patterns of secrecy and deceit have been in place for a long time.
It is difficult to learn the secret and painful things that our loved ones have done. We may not want to know, or we may not be ready to hear everything—it may be hurtful and damaging for us to hear some specific details. Everyone’s circumstances differ regarding how much detail will satisfy the need for truth. A friend, a counselor—and above all, the Spirit—can help guide us in balancing what we need to know and what might actually further harm us. Even though we may feel angry or hurt because of what our loved ones share, it is important not to act in anger or to shame them. Remember that disclosure is part of recovery and healing. Our loved ones may already be experiencing shame and self-loathing—feelings which will need to be overcome as they move toward recovery.
What level of honesty might you need in order to build a foundation for trust?
How will you decide what is important to know and what should be left unsaid?
Our loved ones may be hesitant or unwilling to speak with us about their struggles or challenges. Likewise, we may not be comfortable sharing our feelings with them. Although it may be difficult, we can be open and honest with them. All will benefit from talking to each other regularly about the journey toward recovery and healing. This includes discussing times or circumstances in which they become tempted or experience a relapse.
It may be difficult to know when, how often, and what kinds of things we should ask our loved ones to share with us. The method and frequency of our communication may differ depending on our role as a spouse, a parent of a minor child, or a parent of an adult child. Again, an ecclesiastical leader, friend, or counselor can help us find the right balance. Open and honest communication is the beginning of rebuilding trust. As we patiently speak with them, if they are willing, the Spirit will guide and support us.
How has regular, open, and honest communication blessed your relationship with your loved one?
In what specific ways can you and your loved one improve your communication?
Our loved ones may need to learn how to be honest and trustworthy again. While they may say all the right things, it is important to observe their actions. This can help us understand the sincerity of their efforts toward recovery. They may not yet be willing to do what is necessary to find recovery or may relapse and fall back into their addiction. In such instances, we may choose to be patient and love them without extending our full trust to them yet. Our trust may increase as we observe them drawing closer to the Lord and
making progress toward recovery. As they are honest with us about their hard times, we can also begin to believe that they are being honest about their good times. The Spirit will help us understand when we can begin to trust again. This process may happen gradually over time. In some cases, we may feel that we will never be able to trust again because we have been hurt too much. Even when they are honest and trustworthy, our own fear or anger may prevent us from extending our trust. This is another burden that we can give to the Lord. His comfort and support can heal our hearts and make it possible to once again trust, once they earn that trust.
What are some next steps for you to take in the process of rebuilding trust?
We must understand the power of the word that comes out of our mouth. One word is like a spell and humans use the word like black magicians, thoughtlessly putting spells on each other. Every human is a magician and we can either put a spell on someone or release someone. We cast spells all the time with our opinions.
Personal importance is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about "me". Nothing other people do is because of us. It is because of themselves. Even when others insult us directly, it has nothing to do with us. What they say and do and their opinions are according to the agreements they have in their own minds. By taking things personally, we set ourselves up to suffer for nothing. Humans are addicted to suffering at different levels and different degrees and we support each other in maintaining these addictions. Wherever we go, we will find people lying to us and as our awareness grows, we will notice that we also lie to ourselves. Others lie because they are afraid we will discover they are not perfect.
|Art by Amberle Stoffers|
Taking things personally makes us easy prey for predators, the black magicians. They can hook us easily with one little opinion and feed us poison when they want, because we eat it up. We eat all their emotional garbage and it becomes our garbage. But, if we do not take it personally, we are immune in the middle of hell. This includes positive. If they tell us how wonderful we are, they are not saying it because of us. They say it because of them. Whatever they say about us, turn it around and it becomes about them.
Can anyone share an example of something that was said to us that we took personally. What was the result?
We want to trust in anything rather than the Lord. We'll trust in our own abilities, in our boss's judgment of us, in our money, our doctor, even an airline pilot. But the Lord? Well… It's easy to trust in things we can see. Sure, we believe in God, but to allow him to run our life? That's asking a little too much, we think. The bottom line is that our wants may not agree with what God's wants for us. After all, it's our life, isn't it? Shouldn't we have the say over it? Shouldn't we be the one who calls the shots? God gave us free agency, didn't he?
How do you trust in God instead of the world or yourself?
The secret lives within us: the Holy Spirit, who will reveal to us the value of trusting in the Lord. It's just too tough to do on our own. God is infinitely patient, so He'll let us do baby steps. He'll catch us if we stumble. He'll rejoice with us when we succeed. The good news is that the more often we see God's loving hand working in our lives, the easier this trusting becomes. When we trust in the Lord, we will feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted off our shoulders. The pressure's off us now and on God, and he can handle it perfectly.
Learning and Application
Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these answers will provide you with new insights. Go back to the questions in the chapter. Write your answers. Each time you go through a chapter, your answers might change.
As you study the resources listed below, prayerfully consider how you can apply the principles they teach and write about it.
1. James 1:19–20 (Be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger)
2. James 3:2 (A perfect man does not offend others through his words)