Brian Murphy, MS, LMHC
As a mental health therapist working in the field of substance abuse, I have been able to witness from a very close view the destruction of addiction as well as the transformational power of Jesus Christ. At least at first glance, you would never know many of those with whom I have worked as their therapist struggle with addiction. They appear to be responsible people; hardworking, committed to their family and love the Lord. Much of this in fact is often true; however, as they begin to open up with me and their peers in the confidentiality and safety of our individual and group therapy sessions, they begin to pour out their hearts which are filled with deep hurt, great regret and painful shame.
The people I see who are successful in overcoming addiction are those who surrender their ways to God. In so many insidious ways, we get off track from God’s plan and fall into the trap of our own agendas. The enemy deceives us into this way of life but then is quick to condemn us after we have fallen. One of the most important ways of getting unstuck from this age-old trap is to surrender to the truth that God’s plan of restoration includes other people used in his process of our personal healing and spiritual growth.
Ephesians 4:16 (NIV) says, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Just as we have heard it said, “it takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a team of people using their spiritual gifts within our lives for each of us to realize our spiritual maturity.
Nothing causes an addict or any of us for that matter to remain in the grips of our issues more easily then to fail to continually extend our hands out for help directly to the Spirit of God and his Spirit within others. It is crucial to reach out to others who are more spiritually grown-up than we are at that particular time. These precious people can offer us a relational environment of God’s grace where we can experience other humans being present with us, accepting of where we are currently are in our growth process, but also being honest with us by challenging us to continue to grow.
In fact, one of the main ingredients I see Christians leave out (including myself from time to time) is the importance of our human relationships. I believe it is often because of our greatest hurts, usually emanating from betrayal and loss, that we put up walls to defend us from future attacks. However, the reality is we also keep out those who can help us take the walls down and begin experiencing the deep healing and life transformation God has in mind.
If we do not do the work with the help of others to uncover these wounds that touch the very depth of our souls, we are quick to default to our dysfunctional patterns digging an even deeper hole. It is hard for us to see with our own eyes what our deepest problems are because they are too close to home and often have consumed us to the point where we can no longer separate the wounds from who we actually are.
As a therapist, I have the opportunity to walk slowly with those who have been wounded and often have fallen into the bondage of their own plans in attempts to resolve their pain and disorder. I look to my Friend who guides us into all truth (John 16:13). I have seen how God has been faithful to meet in the counseling room and reveal himself and his plan to my patients. I teach my patients to not be overwhelmed with the work ahead because God will do for them what they cannot do on their own. At the same time, I encourage them to begin to take control of what God has ordained they have control over within their own lives.
He takes the guesswork out of it as they surrender to him one day at a time and remain open to the counsel of the godly team of people he provides. In the recovery community, you hear the phrase “working a program” all of the time. Traditionally, this refers to participating in a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
I believe God does have a “program” for each of us, and it is tailored for each of us to contain exactly what we need. However, we cannot discover this plan on our own. He has created it within his order that we must depend on him and those within his body for his program to make us whole.
Brian Murphy, MS, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor having earned his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in the areas of psychology and sociology and a master’s degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in mental health counseling. Brian has been committed to serving in the areas of social work and mental health in South Florida for the past ten years.