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Using Chaos to Stay Stuck

Do you have a habit or addiction you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to break? If so, you might unwittingly be using chaos to keep yourself stuck.

Anytime we’re working to grow, we’re going to face resistance. Change, even good change, can be scary. The flesh, or the “old man,” offers a way out: chaos. If life gets too chaotic—if crisis comes, if the bottom falls out, if I get slammed with work—then I can’t keep doing the hard, scary work.

We see this regularly as we walk with men and women seeking freedom from sexual addictions, but it’s true for all manner of habits or hang-ups we try to break.

It is suspiciously common when a person attempts to grow and change to encounter difficulties, set-backs, and crises that seem to dictate he or she cannot continue:

I got a gym membership but work’s been so busy lately.

I dropped out of my support group because I didn’t want to keep disappointing everyone.

I know I need therapy but I just can’t afford it.

I’m going to tell my wife what I’ve been doing, but I need my marriage to be in a better place first.

I was going to ask my friend for accountability, but she’s been so happy recently, I don’t want to bring her down.

God’s been blessing my ministry so much I just can’t take the time to focus on that character issue in my life right now.

Are these legitimate excuses or the enemy whispering rationales to keep you stuck and possibly make matters worse?

As you consider, notice that many forms of chaos and crisis produce feelings very similar to feelings produced by our addictions:

Momentary thrill, excitement, an adrenaline rush

Mental busy-ness, confusion, distraction

Numbness from pain

Discouragement

Loneliness and isolation

Shame

Despair and helplessness

To me, these similarities make me wonder if maybe the chaos keeping us from recovery isn’t just the addiction itself in disguise.

Of great importance here is the fact that when chaos or crises strike, we are thwarted in our efforts to stay the course of recovery, of growing in Christian virtue, of practicing holy living. And so, they miss out, taking occasional sips where what they actually need is daily visits to clean water where they can drink deeply.

“Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” – Matthew 26:41.

“But it’s not my fault my car broke down when it did!”

“What should I have done? Quit my job?”

“Was I supposed to make everyone miserable because of my problem?”

“Do you think I asked for this?”

“Am I supposed to let everyone down?”

I’m simply asking you to consider whether the unanticipated busy-ness, crises, difficulties, or “blessings” might be your addiction in disguise. And if it might be, might you be (unwittingly) allowing it to keep you stuck?

Without coming under any condemnation, consider the events in your life that have detracted from your own personal journey of recovery, restoration, honesty, and growth over the years. Would you be willing to ask yourself, the Lord, and trusted others what they think?

Question for you: Where do you recognize chaos in your life in relation to your own “stuckness”? Is this chaos something you could ease or stop fueling?

Regeneration is ready to help you recognize and isolate the chaos that is hindering your progress towards freedom. Let us know if we can help!

For you,

Josh

6 thoughts on “Using Chaos to Stay Stuck”

  1. I believe this was originally written back in 2013.

    I had the link posted in a parent support group I facilitate on Facebook.

    Parents of LGBTQ identifying kids of any age.

    The original link now is broken.

    I am wondering if you changed the content at all.

    Thanks for your time

    1. Hi Charlene, I’m not sure if we posted something similar in 2013, but it’s possible. The concepts here are important enough to repeat. If you notice something you remember in a previous article that’s not here, please feel free to share here as I know others could benefit as well. Grace and peace to you and your group on Facebook. If we can help there in any way, please let us know that, too!

  2. I don’t think I have ever considered the possibility that “many forms of chaos and crisis produce feelings very similar to feelings produced by our addictions”. Definitely food for thought….

  3. That is a really insightful thought Josh. The “chaos – the addiction in disguise”, what good food for thought and self reflection. Perhaps confronting that challenging question you pose, would be a key to cutting through confusion and distortions a person may have.
    I often question my own discernment of things, how much personal bias is influencing it.
    In terms of chaos being embraced as an escape or distraction, I think that’s common.
    For myself I’ve often felt that way about work, keeping me busy and my mind off unhealthy preoccupations. But it also can take me away from spending time on good things, and in that sense ultimately backfire. So this is a great subject matter which you describe so well! I think it’s a great question “Would you be willing to ask yourself, the Lord, and trusted others what they think?” If you’re divided in mind or heart, it may be hard to hear God’s response. So the help of a third party, could facilitate that.
    I’ve been thinking of talking to priest I’ve confessed to. He’s not from my parish, and expressed genuine concern about the things I disclosed. I feel desperate for clarity. Yet I still feel hesitant! Speaking to the point you made about an attachment to the chaos, in some way maintaining the attachment to your habit or addiction! But your advice is good, and I’m hopeful it’s a real solution.

  4. Spot on. I’ve seen this in my life. CONTROL. SELF-IMPORTANCE. Calls for deeper level of surrender, make a phone call or a dozen calls. Prayer. Journal it out.

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