If you are like me, your mailbox was probably inundated with more than your fair share of photo Christmas cards. Maybe you received a family newsletter or two -you know, the one written by an anonymous author telling of the tremendous achievements of all the family members.
Because I can't find a Post-It sized envelope, our family opts for the photo card. It is nice to receive these things, and it is a great way to keep up with others and to let others see how the kids are growing up.
Sadly, it is also a great way to hide the nightmare of what takes place inside the "happy home" being presented.
In my ministry, I am invited to share in some of the most joyous occasions. I am also exposed to the brokenness that so many people deal with on a daily basis. Of all the issues that come across my path, addiction is the most common and by far the most complicated.
Whatever the vice of choice might be, its effect on the family is devastating. Perhaps the most mysterious piece of this puzzle is how one person's behavior can alter the behavior of so many others. In counseling terms, words like codependency and enabling take center stage. Over time, it becomes hard, if not impossible, to distinguish between who is more ill -the addicted or the family member who loves him or her.
No one would deny that an addicted person needs to get help; however, there is more to the healing than simply sending someone off to be rehabilitated. Unless the family of those who struggle with addiction gets help, too, the entire system will continue to face ongoing problems. Generations can be and often are affected in the absence of professional help.
If the church is to be a relevant source of hope and help, it has to come to terms with its responsibility to address the unpleasant subjects along with the pleasant ones. Ignoring the reality that addiction is no respecter of faith does no more to offer hope than ignoring that a family member has a problem.
And at the risk of offending the church and my colleagues, we need to recognize that quoting "Scripture-bytes" or even our best sermons fall short of resolving such a complex and deeply rooted problem.
Yes, there is a spiritual element that must be addressed. For the believer, one's faith in God, the power of prayer, and the hope of lasting transformation provide a great foundation for recovery. Even so, we must be willing to address the larger picture and offer practical help for those who so desperately want and need a change in their family.
During the month of January, we are going to take a candid and holistic look at addiction. Our focus will be on the loved ones who care about and want to help their addicted family member. Professionals representing a variety of disciplines will be participating in a series of conversations, interviews and sermons aimed at offering practical help and hope for learning to manage the mosaic of brokenness that addiction leaves behind.
In addition to representatives from law enforcement, pastoral care and the medical field, we will hear from a recovering addict and from family members, including me, who have learned to live and thrive by setting healthy boundaries.
If this ever-growing issue does not affect you personally, I am so very grateful for that. If it does, or if it affects someone you know and care about, I hope that you will consider accepting this invitation to be our guest as we seek to offer hope and help to a hurting world.
The "Managing the Mosaic: Living with Addiction" series will take place during the regular worship services each Sunday in January, beginning this Sunday, Jan. 9, at Covenant United Methodist Church. Services begin at 10 a.m., and coffee, beverages, and refreshments are available beginning at 9:30. Covenant is located at 4536 Suite 2, Washington Road, Evans, in Eagle Point Plaza, between Walmart and Gibbs Road.
(Randy Monk is pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church.)
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