Imagine the feeling of finally seeing someone with a lifejacket on the side of a boat nearby while drowning in the open ocean.
You feel fatigued and helpless. The more you struggle, the more seem to dip under the water. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a boat appears.
As soon as they throw the lifejacket to you, hope overwhelms the fear. You gain your footing and begin to overcome the water that, seconds earlier, had been overcoming you.
This is what sharing our story does for families who are dealing with addictions.
Someone in the family is addicted, and the entire family feels like they’re drowning. The harder they strive, the more they try to help, the worse the situation becomes.
Then, they share their story.
Suddenly, a breath of fresh air flows into them. Instead of drowning in the addiction of their loved one, they feel a sense of support.
In fact, there are three amazing benefits to a family sharing their story of addiction with others.
Let’s consider each of them.
It Removes the Shame
Sin blossoms in the dark. The best way to get rid of it is to expose it. But it’s hard to do that when we are ashamed. And the longer we keep the problem a secret, the more we allow shame to reign free.
Sharing our struggles as a family exposes the situation. It reveals the sin and therefore handicaps shame’s ability to thrive.
It sets us free.
It Breaks the Isolation
A byproduct of the shame discussed in the point above is isolation. Since nobody knows what’s going on, we feel alone.
When families have the opportunity to share their story, something powerful happens. A connection is made between the testimony-giver and the testimony-receiver.
The one receiving it no longer feels alone because (s)he sees someone else who has the same struggle.
And the one giving it no longer feels that way because (s)he has someone to identify with the pain.
Sharing our testimony connects us with other people.
It Lifts the Weight of the Secret off of Them
In addition to feeling ashamed and isolated, keeping our struggle with addiction contained within the family creates a secret.
And secrets are heavy.
It’s as if we have a weight pressing down on our hearts 24/7 – a weight we cannot release or communicate to those around us.
Sharing our testimonies while going through our pain lifts the weight off of us.
It lightens the load from our hearts.
Now, all three of these benefits bring healing to the families who share their stories.
But what about families who are still going through the problem?
Should they testify or should they not?
To answer this, we need only to consider a verse of scripture and a simple analogy.
Let’s examine both.
Claiming Victory before We Have It Honors God
“God… calls those things which do not exist as though they did”
Romans 4:17 (NKJV)
On one occasion in the Bible, a man’s daughter died. The man’s servants found him and told him what happened. Jesus went to the man’s house with him and saw people crying in chaos. He looked at them and said, “Why all this commotion and weeping? The child isn’t dead; she’s only asleep” (Mark 5:39).
But we know from the ruckus that the girl was in fact dead. Jesus wasn’t clarifying for them what happened (as if they were all wrong about her being dead). Jesus was instead declaring to them that even though this painful situation is currently occurring as we speak, it is good to testify to the goodness of God to see us through the victory in the end.
Therefore, he declares what is in the way it should be.
The addiction is. But freedom is how it should be.
And following Christ as our example, it is right for us to testify even though we are going through the struggle at the current moment.
Doing so honors God and prepares us to obtain the victory that is rightfully ours to have.
We Don’t Tell a Drowning Man He Cannot Have a Lifejacket
As the start of this post, we proposed an analogy – sharing a testimony is to the family struggling with addiction what a lifejacket is to the person drowning.
Some may suggest, however, that a family still going through the addiction should not testify but should instead wait to overcome their issues before telling others about them.
But that doesn’t make logical sense.
TELLING A FAMILY DEALING WITH AN ADDICTION TO WAIT TO TESTIFY UNTIL AFTER THEY RECOVERED IT LIKE TELLING A DROWNING MAN TO WAIT FOR A LIFEJACKET UNTIL AFTER HE DROWNED.
We don’t just testify after we overcome our pain. Sometimes we testify in order to overcome it.
Therefore, since it is good for families to share their struggles even while continuing to endure them, they should certainly use every opportunity to do so.
The main reason is because of the first three points we looked at in this post – doing so breaks the shame, isolation, and weight of the problem.
And freedom from these three problems helps the family break through the bondage of addiction and live out the life of freedom.