He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. — Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
A dear friend of mine, whom I will call Allie, did an intervention on her husband earlier this week. He’s been an alcoholic for years. Although I didn’t come from a background of alcoholism or drug dependency, I have been able to experience the debilitating effects it has on people by listening to not only her story but by observing the behavior of another dear friend of mine whose parents were alcoholics.
Alcoholism is not just a physical disease, it’s an emotional one. The unfortunate thing about emotional diseases is that people who have them may look entirely healthy and normal; their behavior, on the other hand, can be anything but.
When Allie first talked about doing an intervention on her husband a few years ago, she was at a low point. She was suffering, her children were suffering, and her husband was under the impression that no one knew that he was an alcoholic. Due to other health concerns Allie’s husband was experiencing (involving an upcoming surgery), Allie decided the timing just wasn’t right to do the intervention, so she postponed it. Things continued to get worse. Now, years later, her children were not only angry at their father, they were beginning to get angry with her. She knew it was time to do something, but the timing still wasn’t right. Her husband’s employer was having layoffs; his job was on the line. Luckily, this time, Allie didn’t let it deter her. She followed through with the intervention.
I prayed hard for her all week. I lifted not only her and her children up in prayer but her husband as well. Allie loves her husband dearly. Whereas he has been thinking all this time that she wants a divorce, she told me time and time again that she doesn’t. She told her husband that countless times as well; but because of the alcohol affecting his brain, he hasn’t been able to “hear” what she has been saying. So, I prayed for all of them, and I know others were praying as well.
Whereas Allie’s husband initially said, “Thanks, but no thanks” to the intervention, now–nearly a week later–it’s looking like he is willing to follow through and get help.
I think what helped Allie the most was the support she received from friends. Her husband’s best friend from childhood, a reformed alcoholic himself, came down hard on Allie’s husband, making sure he realizes this isn’t just about the fact that he is going to lose his family and, quite possibly, his job; his very life is on the line. (The interventionalist, who has done over 2,500 interventions, told Allie that her husband was even worse off than he had first thought just from talking with her. Once he looked into her husband’s eyes and saw the yellow color and the lack of expression, he knew things were bad.) So, not only does Allie have her husband’s best friend rallying around her in support, but Allie’s own children are standing their ground. When Allie’s husband called and asked her to bring some of his personal items to the hotel he was staying at (Allie and the girls refuse to let him come home until he gets treatment), the children (unbeknownst to Allie) dropped them off at the hotel’s front desk without seeing their dad and left a message on Allie’s cell phone letting her know they took care of it and she was not (under any circumstances) to contact him (because they knew he would wear her down and she would feel sorry for him).
So, why am I writing all of this…
Because it has shown me so very clearly how we all struggle. For many it may be alcohol or drug dependency that causes the problems in our families; but for others it may be the codependency itself. There may be no chemical dependency involved whatsoever. Perhaps there is just such a strong underlying root of rejection, insecurity, shame, and/or guilt that leads us to want to help others too much. We help to the point of enabling them. We want people to like us, so we do whatever we can to make sure they do.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for people we love so much is to let them fall flat on their face… stop enabling them. It’s time they own their own issues so that those of us who live with them don’t have to. We have enough issues of our own to deal with. When we let their issues start to define our behavior, we lose ourselves and become worn out and ineffective at living our own lives. We cease fulfill our God-given purpose.
My other dear friend… the one whose parents were alcoholics… has difficulty with intimacy. He has many friends, but he allows them to only get so close before he backs away. There is something broken inside him. Until he is willing to deal with the issues his alcoholic parents infested him with as a young boy, he will be unable to have fulfilling relationships with others as an adult. Either he will strive unendingly to validate himself through works, or he will settle for shallow relationships that will eventually fall short of satisfying his deepest longings.
I am so thankful we have a God who specializes in restoring battered up, broken souls. I am thankful He can mend us from the inside out … if we let Him. Just like Allie’s husband needs some time alone at an addiction treatment center to overcome his alcoholism, I need time alone with God to heal my wounded soul. How about you? Do you have a broken part that needs some mending? I would encourage you to seek out Jehovah Rapha. He’s in the restoration business. He will mend you and make you whole.
Thank you, Father, for loving me … even in my battered, bruised, and broken state. I pray that You would heal me everywhere I hurt, from the inside out. I pray that You would infuse my soul with Your Holy Spirit, that I might water the souls of others as I walk through life with my patched-up holes. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.