ABSTINENCE WITH SUPPORT —Dr. Richard Hamilton
Personal behavior occurring day after day usually fills a need. Being finite, our life on earth requires planning the use of our energy wisely. An underlying theme is the development of our love for God and all that He represents.
This includes love for ourselves socially, physically, and spiritually. Achieving and maintaining a strong relationship to this highly personal goal is a lifelong investment. God's infinite wisdom and love has given each of us access to the open road of life. Each day we make decisions about our lives and develop a wise expression of our love towards Him. Substance abuse in any form does not allow for optimal expression of love toward God.
Freedom to live our lives is influenced by social pressures, conflicts, and uncertainties. In the midst of this freedom, natural messages (tiredness, nausea, headaches, sick-looking skin, bloodshot eyes) that should tell us we are living self-destructively get ignored. Often we are unaware of untoward trends resulting from unhealthy behavior as they creep into our lives. While reassuring ourselves that all is well, but knowing better, we persist in enjoying a good time. Meanwhile, our spirit and body are suffering the consequences of the "pleasure" of our emotions (the need to soothe the Ego). "l know what I should do, but I can’t"—a frequently heard phrase. When we hear ourselves say or think this more than three times a week, it is time to decide whether the behavior that “can't be changed" is detrimental to our life. Then we exercise our freedom of choice to make decisions that will enhance our life on earth. God loves us enough to support us in all of our decisions, positive or negative. The strongest support we receive is proportional to the degree that our decisions are in concert with life. God gives us the strength to be part of humankind for as long as effectively possible. We carry His message of love and concern for ourselves and others.
Helping Each Other
Since perfection is not a human trait, none of us can avoid hypocrisy if we cast dispersions on others for doing things that appear self-destructive. Supportive ways of loving others includes setting limits (such as Kinship's recent resolution on alcohol). When these ways are not respected there will be changes of attitudes in the love relationship. Positive change will come from closeness to the beautiful love that comes from God, passes through us, and moves towards others who need it. They, in turn, can pass it on and gain strength by giving support and love to others. We cannot shy away from the pain of others just because they are suffering or have vomit on their clothes. These people need our love and kindness. If we can encourage them through our example without driving them into the desert, they will find a way to alter habits that are making it difficult for the Spirit to survive in their earthly temple.
Helping Through Groups
In short, rules exist as a definition of behavior consistent with the overall well-being of society, community, and the individual. They are to be followed with faith and administered through love. Judgment is between God and the individual. Prejudice and rejection are habits similar to the uncontrolled use of substances, profanity, and intimacy. Stable growth out of these lifestyles is slow and requires ultimate faith in His plan and the abundance of His love.
Ours is to facilitate the giving of love by providing support for change and not the habit. Resources available to those needing change are Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other dependency self-help groups.
Previously published July 1983 in Connection Magazine, formerly SDA Kinship Connection.
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