Q Can I change?
a Definitely! Spiritual growth underscores every twelve-step program of recovery. The question is not so much “Can I change?” but “Am I willing to change?”.
Q Does God love me?
a Absolutely! No matter how far down the scale people have plummeted, the Lord sees the potential good in everyone. All that is required is honesty, open-mindedness and a willingness to seek Him. There is more joy in heaven over the one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine just people who need no repentance (see Luke 15:7).
Q Are we inclined to addiction?
a The Writings for the New Church teach that all people incline to evils of every kind. Some medical research suggests there is a genetic connection: genes which, if present, open the addiction door a little wider. Other evidence suggests that nurture—the people and environments which surround us—is a factor too. To me, it seems clear we love our evils. If we did not, they would be easy to get rid of.
Q How do I know if something (eating, caffeine, exercise, etc.) has become an addiction?
a Ask yourself this question: “How much time do I think about or do it?” Addiction becomes all-consuming. Addiction takes time and resources (usually money). It takes away love and trust from family and friends. As addiction progresses, the addict will begin not to care about loved ones. He or she constantly thinks, “Where am I going to get the money for it, and when can I do it next?”.
Q Do our physical addictions follow us into the next life?
a The Writings for the New Church suggest that there are no physical handicaps or ailments in the next life. We become whole and healthy angelic forms manifesting the affections and loves we have developed for ourselves in this world. What I find fascinating is that recovery from physical addiction prior to death depends upon addressing one’s spiritual condition. Then and only then can mental and physical recovery happen.
Q Are addictions hereditary?
a Medical research professionals are perhaps better qualified to answer the question of heredity and addiction. Still, I have found that certain addictive behaviors do seem to follow families. The chance of a child becoming an alcoholic is greater if both parents are themselves alcoholics, although this is not a hard-and-fast rule. There is a common denominator with all addicts: at some point they can no longer control and enjoy their drug of choice, and they plunge into a terrible spiral of despair. But there is hope! The world of recovery is simply wonderful. There, you will find people who are willing and able to help you recover from a seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body. You grow spiritually and find God. Only He (a power greater than human power) can remove that terrible obsession and set you free. “If the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
By Rev. Mark Perry, Pastor of the San Diego New Church (www.sandiegonewchurch.org).