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Confronting Ourselves

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Betty Ford, the wife of our 38th president, Gerald Ford, died on July 8, at age 93. While her outspokenness offended some people, her quality of frankness and a lack of pretense made her very popular as the first lady.

Because of her public admission of her alcoholism and addiction to prescription pain killers, most people thought highly of her. Her addiction to pain killers started after she suffered a pinched nerve in her neck. Even with therapy and traction, the condition remained. The pain, coupled with arthritis, was debilitating.

But she faced her problems and took the necessary steps to get the help she needed.

An intervention for the First Lady

At first she did not seek help on her own. The initial motivation came after a push by her family, friends and doctors, who confronted her after her husband had left office. In her book Betty: A Glad Awakening, written years later, she called this help from family and friends a turning point that saved her life.

In October 1982 she and Leonard Firestone co-founded a clinic to treat addicts, which is now called the Betty Ford Center, located in Rancho Mirage, CA. Her support effected beneficial changes in the public perception of the treatment of addicts, evidenced by appreciative tributes from Nancy Reagan, Ali McGraw and countless others.

Betty Ford's legacy of overcoming

The Center has served about 97,000 patients to date, and 81 percent of the alumnae remain drug free.

New patients to the Center hear a recording of this frank greeting: “Hello, my name's Betty Ford, and I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict.”

Betty Ford demonstrated what we each need to do. She confronted her weaknesses. Our problems may or may not involve addictions, but we each have behaviors that need to be changed or eliminated from our lives.

People use substances and actions to either feel good or to avoid feeling bad. When strong measures along these lines are performed repetitiously, both are escapes from reality.

What can we learn from the example of Betty Ford?

Step 1: Confront Your Weaknesses

Facing and confronting our problems is not easy. We resist starting. Mrs. Ford resisted the confrontation from her family. She became angry and called them “monsters” for making her confront those weaknesses.

Overcoming denial seems to be the most difficult step for everyone. Here is how John Schwarzlone, executive director and vice president of the Center, put it. He said, “I don't think anything compares to the difficulty of denial. Even people who want to come in don't believe they really need to be here. They still don't believe they are that bad.”

Perhaps we can think of confronting our weaknesses as our personal “glad” awakening. It is a sound biblical principle to confront our sins or weaknesses.

In 1 John 1:8 1 John 1:8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
American King James Version×
we read, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Step 2: Confess Your Weaknesses

The Nelson Study Bible has these wonderful comments about confession: “Progress and change start with confession. Confession works against the worst part of human nature, the part that imagines itself to be better than it really is.

“We think 'I'm not perfect, but I'm not as bad as the next-door neighbor.' There is no confession in that statement. There is no admission of guilt.”

Confessing to someone you respect and trust is usually quite rewarding. But it is especially essential to learn to be completely open, honest and humble toward God. In Psalms 32:5 Psalms 32:5I acknowledge my sin to you, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
American King James Version×
(New Living Translation), King David prayed: “Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.' And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”

Would that we all followed that example of David! Our progress and change can start today. As John wrote to fellow believers in 1 John 1: 9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Step 3: Continue to Work on Your Weaknesses

Persevering is a major key to success. In the fight to overcome your weaknesses, never give up.

And there is a practical tool we can each use to start overcoming our weaknesses. It's the spiritual tool.

Gary Wilkinson, the Center's clinical supervisor was asked, “What is the hardest part about treatment?” He said: “The spiritual side: to get to the point of realizing I need to depend on somebody or something else. I can't do this alone.” Isn't that true for each of us, too, to admit we that can't do this alone?

And the greatest and most available power is that of God. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27 Luke 18:27And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.
American King James Version×
).From Betty Ford's example, we can learn to confront our weaknesses, to confess our weaknesses, and to continually work on our weaknesses.

For more on overcoming addictions, please read An Addict's Story: What's at the Root of Addictions?

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  • Kenneth Wilson

    There is no reason to believe that recovery from addictions of all sorts is a long and painful process. What causes people to medicate in behavior or substance is always the same. A spiritual malady driven by self centered self reliance. All struggles in life are “self” imposed and the Bible is so incredible in describing the reprobate mind God promises from self reliance. This is so true. The big empty, the inability to solve our own problems, the reprobate mind “spinning” making people lost and confused is no more than: distance from our Creator and a personal refusal to absolutely rely on Him.

    For me the consequences of our actions is the way God gets in touch, in other words, being humbled and brought to my knees because of my actions was God’s way of making me willing, humbling me and proving to me that living my life on my own self reliance without Him is futile. For me I could not foster complete God reliance without the experience if a complete failing of self reliance. Emotional pain has become the touchstone of spiritual growth. The only thing that puts addictions into remission is a spiritual awakening. I do not care what people “sell” as a “cure”, this is an absolute.

    The national statistics for substance abuse are showing a very small minority will recover from the fatal progressive self inflicted diseases of addiction. Alcoholism is about 14% and drug addicts are currently less then 10% to recover. The ONLY thing we can do for people who suffer is pray that God gets in touch with them directly, anything, I mean ANYTHING else is a complete waste of time and likely damaging. I have come to believe that people addicted to behavior or substance suffer deeper and faster than the general population primarily from their distance from God. Just sayin….

  • Katherine Rowland

    Ultimately, the true cure is, as you state, God’s intervention. While prayer is certainly one of the biggest ways we can help other people, I would not say that it is the only thing we can or should do. Even in the event of coming to an understanding of God and His ways–and in repentance and a desire to rely on Him–there is no “magic bullet” for addictions, just as there is no “magic bullet” for human nature. As Paul said in Romans 3:23, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. In Romans 7:19, Paul talks about the struggle that all believers are familiar with: we want to do good, but find it so hard to do; we don’t want to do what is not good, but that is so easy to do. We need God’s Spirit, but we also often need the help of others. We must love one another in both word and deed; sometimes, all we can do is pray. On the other hand, where there are additional means of helping someone to overcome their weakness, it is of great benefit to make them aware of those means and to help them while we continue to pray. Eventually, God will intervene directly with all mankind, and we will no longer be distanced from Him. Until then, we must all work to draw closer to Him, to encourage one another to follow His ways, and to help one another in our battles to overcome our weaknesses.

  • linda effenberger

    Addictions come in all sorts of forms. Drugs, alcohol, even porno are all readily available to the user. What is even more readily available is food. Food can also be an addictive substance, where one cannot control oneself and know when to stop. Obesity and many other health problems could be derived from over-indulgence, and also eating too much of the wrong foods.

    I can speak from experience. I was a food addict. Mostly I could not control eating foods with sugar, and especially chocolate. I can say I was a sugar and chocolate addict. Over many years, my weight fluctuated from one diet to another. When I felt not in control of my situation, I would reach for what consoled me – mostly candy and chocolate, but even food in general. Eventually, I was totally out of control; my weight was so debilitating, and I felt so bad - physically and mentally. I was depressed and at the end of my strength. About this time, I believe God was trying to tell me that if I did not do something to change what I was doing to myself, I was surely going to die!

    Throughout all these years, I would call myself a follower of Christ, because I believe in God and tried to obey Him as I understood the scriptures. Still, I needed outside help. Asking God for help, He sent me someone who did help me to break my habit - my addiction. It took me some 2 years to lose over 100 pounds, to be virtually pain-free from joint pains throughout my body, and relieved/cured of other health problems. My asthma condition has improved so that I have no severe breathing difficulties and do not need any medication. I totally changed my way of eating, thanks to the professional help God sent to me, and the strength God gave me to go through what I did.

    I am still a sugar and chocolate addict, but I avoid eating anything that could cause me to be dependent on any food stuff again. I cannot say I am totally cured, for there are times when I want to use food to console my feelings, but with God’s help and a self-will not to “cross the line”, I am able to stay in check.

  • medina1

    learning eveyday….

  • Hiskid2

    this is for Mr. Wilson……All struggles in life are “self” imposed and the Bible is so incredible in describing the reprobate mind God promises from self reliance. (YOUR COMMENT)

    So, Sir, do I understand you correctly? Are you saying that any struggle we might be facing is self imposed, as in we “created” that problem? Because that is what I am getting from your comment, & Lord help me I pray I am wrong!

    Webster’s says.(adj) self-imposed voluntarily assumed or endured “self-imposed exile”
    Kernerman ..voluntarily taken on one’s self; as, self-imposed tasks chosen by you, not forced upon you…a self-imposed deadline..

    so let me say first how arrogant!!! How do you figure a child asks to be raped? To be left to their selves to take care of themselves in the case of a absent parent, a addict parent, a whatever kind of cruel circumstance? How do you figure that a woman or man is suffering as a result of their own making when taking cruel treatment by another? Let me guess..YOU are one of those “LIFE is what you make IT” people…
    WELL…hate to pop your bubble..but NO!!! is not..IT IS HOWEVER HOW YOU HANDLE WHAT YOU GET

    I was born in S.C.& sold @ 3 days old for $25.00! Indian Father who was a drunk, Mother uneducated & submissive. I was SOLD for the money to pay the midwife & buy a bottle of booze! Then I suffered the consequences of parents who did not adopt me legally. I endured beatings, being raped, etc…so are you telling ME that was “self imposed”?..are you saying that I asked for that? The greater part of my life has been a on going soap opera! Well lets see..I was just diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, a tumor, & a mass! Due to no insurance, I can’t even get adequate medical help..but hey maybe I asked for that!

    Even the Bible states that the disciples asked Jesus who was to blame or in sin for the blind man to be suffering as he was..didn’t Jesus say NONE..but for the glory of God to be made manifest by his healing, or the witness of it? Doesn’t the story of JOB say that “HE was a man after the heart of GOD”? that his trials were a result of God’s answering the accusations of Satan’s railings? Or God’s way of proving His point?
    So, how is it you arrived at your conclusion?

    It absolutely makes me cringe when I hear comments as such. Not to mention it screams volumes on the type of personality you posses! I have dealt with a certain kind of people all my life. The kind of tend to closely match up to!

    MAYBE should ask God for some “compassion”..some resemblance of a heart for loving concern. I totally agree that people are in control of how they respond to what life has dealt them. I do with all my being know the difference between a problem that is “self created” due to bad choices, or decisions as compared to one that happens just because LIFE happens!

    I guess too, that a person driving for ex. to their job, or on a errand, etc. & they are driving well..when along comes a crazy person drunk, high, or distracted …broadsides them, which results in a life time of hardship for them if not a fatal one would be a “self imposed” problem also…

    Geesh, I can’t even stop now, because I am that angry with the “Wilson’s of the world!!! NOW THAT IS A SELF IMPOSED ISSUE, PROBLEM..WHATEVER.BECAUSE IT IS MY CHOICE TO BE TICKED OFF..BUT NOT WITHOUT GOOD CAUSE!!!

  • Kenneth Wilson

    My comment concerning struggles in life relates to addictions and the article above, as people who have to MEDICATE in behavior or substance suffer from self-centeredness and a distance from God. This is the primary cause of addictions, not a person’s environment or circumstance. Addictions are defined as being “unable” to stop the behavior or substance by self will alone. I did not see in the article where it referred to environment or circumstance, I know that neither of these can cause addictions, they can aid and abet but never cause. Extended wallowing in self pity is a manifestation of self. God determines what is tragedy or blessing anything I put on it is just a label. For me pain is inevitable but with God suffering is optional.

    The internal struggles “self” imposed manifest in the very traits and promises the Bible describes. From my personal experience = how spiritual sickness manifests itself in a person, the two biggest self imposed struggles of addicts, codependents and alcoholics are fear, 1000 forms of it, ANGER, they rationalize as justified, self pity concerning their condition or circumstance in life. What I have found is that God is very clear concerning anger. What I know is that manifestations of my selfish nature is what distanced me from God, caused my anger, and I saw in the Bible, God said IF YOU ARE THAT then I will leave you to your own reprobate mind. I know this is True from personal experience. Not only have I found God says what he means but He is also not codependent. To forgive those who hurt me the most was an instruction of God, I was COMPLETELY incapable of doing that without His assistance. Faith for me is “how much” trust and reliance I have on Him. That He is in charge, that He will do all His pleasure, not mine. Whether I consider it good or bad doesn’t make it either.

    Another distinctive trait of addicted people is almost always the same issue, a trump card, this trump card can be thrown down onto the table any time someone stands in the way of them getting or doing what they want, when they want it. That trump card is always “I am terminally unique” “I have had it worse than you” “Poor Poor Me” They will throw the trump card down in order to facilitate and do what they want to do until it possibly kills them. It is thrown down to evoke an enabler’s “compassion”. Unless the srit of Truth shows you the difference then you will never know if the incessant helping is really hurting and even possibly killing.

    A personal issue in life that I have found makes God abandon me promptly is when I play God. Not only in my own life, but also in the lives of others. There is not a lack of compassion in this world but a solidly misplaced and entrenched false belief system. A DELUSION of satan’s that disguises compassion as something “inherently good”, when it is not. Here is the difference and very few may understand, “never do for someone what they should be doing for themselves”, it robs them of their path and chance to grow and possibly enslaves them.

    If something about another person’s “life situation” upsets me and I move in to “fix” it then I am playing God. My actions are inherently selfish because the end result is just that I “feel better” and I am not trusting God. Because I KNOW the consequences of my behavior is how the God of my understanding gets in touch and it is usually not pretty, however it can be. I am talking about codependency and enabling which is how family and friends help kill off addicts and alcoholics they claim to “support or Love”. I noticed that when I adopt someone else’s circumstances I may often LIVE them too. This is why the handout politics of the todays government are of satan and not God. Care taking is not “compassion”. Care taking other people creates dependents who then can’t take care of themselves and later refuse to. Sometimes I see the white horseman not only as a false messiah but as satan’s delusion or “false belief system” that “compassion” is always “good” or guarantees spiritual redemption. It is not. Many people base their entire self worth and spiritual well being on this delusion. Sometimes I see the red horseman not only as war but as socialism brought in by the selfish compassion of purchasing people with handouts. This certainly has the power to take peace from the earth as it is right now and is enabling the black horseman to ride.

    Kid you know me not, you know not my struggles or situations. The only thing that puts addictions in remission is a spiritual awakening, with God’s hand on my shoulder I clearly saw that all struggles in life are self imposed, including “justified” anger. That in particular distanced me from God SO MUCH IT HURT and is a manifestation of SELF. I let God show me that my “tragedies” were really blessings, blessed with His assistance I am able to not to wear them as a badge of definition but be humbled by them and Trust Him. May God Bless you, May you find the Spirit of Truth.

  • ushme

    quite diplomatic of you mr wilson. Im happy i read this article this morning, lots of great insights i must say. i gained some amount of deep intuitive understanding from it.
    Michael Edwards

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