Enslaved by choice
Slavery is a big topic, especially in the history of the United States. Many people quickly think of a master ruling over some other people in a prisoner setting. This article is not about the slavery that is so commonly referred to in this manner. I want to define and explain an equally powerful situation. One that all of us are challenged with today, even after slavery has been abolished.
This notion that there is a behavioral slavery that can be so damaging and painful. It is the act of being enslaved by our own choice. From the outside we see people living certain ways, making crazy choices and we just don’t understand why someone would do such things. In Mark Driscoll’s book*, he has a great section that describes enslavement. I want to provide you an excerpt here for reference.
Is it enslaving? With this question we seek to ascertain whether or not an act could become obsessive, out of control, or addictive in an unhealthy and concerning way – what the Bible calls slavery. When most people think of slavery, they consider only imposed slavery when someone is overtaken against his or her will. But there is another form of slavery that is even more common – chosen slavery. Chosen slavery i swhen a person freely chooses the slave master that rules over him, controls him, and harms him. The most common forms of chosen slavery are drug abuse, alcohol, gambling, shopping, food, and sex. People addicted to these kinds of things are in fact slaves who have simply chosen which shackles to put their hands into.
Can you relate? I know I sure can. I was enslaved to a variety of things over the years. Sometimes to multiple things at the same time. When we examine our ways and test them, as instructed in Lamentations 3:40, we need the check and see if we have things going on in our life that is damaging to us, our family or others.
Enslaved and a prisoner to things and activities can be so crippling. To the point where the person does not know what else to do. There seems like no hope. Some actions become so common, there seems like no other choice but to just do what has been done in the past. From taking that first drink or hit of the day to grabbing one more donut on the way to work. The thought that things are so screwed up or messed up that “what will one more hurt? tends to be a common mindset.
I want to share with you the hope and confidence that you can have in changing. Just like the idea of “what will one more hurt?”, each choice we make can begin a new behavior. Every streak, learned behavior, all started at one point in time. If it has been twenty plus years since you smoked a cigarette, it all started one day. We don’t automatically get 30 days free from what enslaves us.
As the saying goes, “today is the first day of the rest of your life”, and that is significant. Do you know that your behaviors and actions you take today can start a trend, or life style that will define who you are in the future. Maybe it is that you will read your bible for 20 minutes today before lunch. Maybe it is that you will take a 30 minute walk after dinner tonight. Whatever your choice, if you are consistent, you will then have a behavior that is rooted. A month from now you can say “I have done ______ for 30 days”. But you know what, you can’t have an anniversary without a starting point.
The other major thing I have learned is that “I will continue to do what I do until my pain exceeds my pride”. I will continue to do the wrong thing, even painful, costly things until it gets to a point where I don’t get any gain from the activity. I will only change when I realize that the cost, pain and consequences are not worth the pleasure anticipated or experienced. Whether it is being sick, being arrested or broke to the point of embarrassment, there is a threshold that we establish. A breaking point we define. It could even be that you are in an abusive relationship, but you will allow the abuse to happen, until that one day. When the pain exceeds your pride and you are not embarrassed to standup and leave.
Don’t let your pride inflict unnecessary pain on you or someone you care about. If we will only change our behavior when our pain exceeds our pride, and we don’t want pain, the task at hand is to reduce our pride. Become humble, become less arrogant. Refrain from believing that we are entitled and deserve so much more than others. Our humility in admitting we were wrong or that we made a mistake and need to change is so restrictive, especially for men.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. – James 5:16
I can share with you that the ability to openly share and confess my shortcomings with a discipleship partner, sponsor, is monumental. It was not until I confessed my sins with someone did I really begin transformation. The idea of just confessing and saying things were wrong never changed my ways. I needed to confess and repent, turn from my ways, to allow a transformation in my life. This happens by the renewing of my mind. Thinking differently. That whole mindset of….
Is the next thing I say or do going to glorify God or oppose Him?
A simple and profound statement. I have used this question over the past 5 years. It has not made me perfect, but I can attest that it has simplified my life, provide peace and clarity in my daily walk. I know that there has been countless thoughts and actions that I have altered or avoided by asking that question. Whether it is something I am about to say in a conversation, or an action I am going to take or decision I have to make.
I do have to say that when I ask that question and I consciously decide to do something that opposes God, it never has positive results. It may be fun for the moment, but in the grand scheme of things, I have lost ground. I have been blessed on other occasions where I was not sure what to do and the simple answer to that question has brought much delight.
This week, I challenge you to examine your ways. Identify some things that may have you enslaved. Find a close person you can begin to confide in and begin to humble yourself and begin that healing road to happiness. Use that simple discerning questing of your motivation to your actions and see how it turns out. I believe you will be happily pleased.
If you don’t know where to start, I would suggest finding a Celebrate Recovery (http://celebraterecovery.com) or a local Christian church and seek fellowship and gender specific community groups. If you are a man and live in the Columbus, GA. area, you are welcome to check out Wild Men of God (http://wildmenofgod.com). These groups can be a healing step for each of us. The opportunity to address things ranging from addictions to compulsive behaviors is the joy of recovery and community.
Don’t be enslaved. Start a trend today!