By Rachel Yensel
Promise is a Christ-based support group for people who have loved ones battling addiction. Promise serves people who have (or have had) relationships with a loved one who is an addict/alcoholic, abusive, absent, or physically or mentally impaired. These relationships can create significant and unresolved hurt, anger, fear, or anxiety. We meet every Saturday (see details below).
Most people (including myself) develop unhealthy emotional and behavioral tendencies when they try to cope with loving an addict. These types of unhealthy tendencies are known as being “codependent.” Codependency is often a way to try and fulfill the love and security we desperately desire, and it can manifest in many different ways (e.g., trying to fix, control or rescue people, trying to help people who may not even want help, etc.).
At Promise, we believe that a growing relationship with Jesus is the one, true thing that will fulfill our desire for love and security. We look to Him to reshape our thoughts, feelings, and actions through the lens of the Bible in order to learn how to have healthy relationships with others and with God. We come together at Promise to pray, encourage one another, share accountability, and grieve alongside one another. It's really an incredible thing to be in a room where you feel known and understood. Addiction is so isolating and stigmatized--there is so much power and healing that comes from living transparently.
After my husband relapsed (he is a recovering alcoholic who now leads in the Hope ministry) I felt despaired and paralyzed by fear. I was, however, deeply encouraged by the relationships he was building in Hope (which is a Christ-based support group for people who struggle with addiction) and I witnessed his transformation because he surrendered to God and immersed himself in the Hope ministry. All the while, I wished there was someplace for me to go--a place where people would nod their heads in understanding rather than having a look of wide-eyed bewilderment when I shared about what was going on in my life. I was lucky enough to connect with another couple who felt the same way as me. I have the extreme honor of leading this ministry with Rob and Annette Buchbinder. I have learned so much from Rob and Annette about healing from codependency, forgiveness, and transformative love. They have impacted my life in immeasurable ways.
Promise is important because addiction is everywhere; its an absolute epidemic. Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction (not including tobacco). Over 100 people die every day from drug overdoses. This rate has tripled in the past 20 years*. Addiction transcends class, race, socio-economic status, etc. I'm grateful to be a part of a fellowship that welcomes people who struggle with addiction and offers help and support for, not only the addict, but the family as well. Addiction inflicts so much collateral damage that it's important that we, as a fellowship of believers, seek to provide the truth, comfort, and hope to those who are hurting. Learning to showcase the gospel when it comes to healing from the trauma of addiction is tantamount. The gospel provides hope and the promise that we can heal and having lasting transformation (not just behavior modification).
If you have a family member or friend ensnared by addiction, you know enduring pain. One of the most devastating realities of addiction is that it inflicts collateral damage on loved ones--the people trying to help the most can end up being really hurt. Care for people struggling in addiction demands a resiliency of character and commitment that is extraordinarily difficult to sustain over time (and virtually impossible to sustain apart from Christ’s redeeming power). Rescues fail, ultimatums are ignored, mercy is trampled, patience is exhausted, and trust is crushed. This pattern often leads to despair.
What is the truth that anchors us during times of uncertainty, fear, and despair? "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
Faith, hope, and love, the “grace trilogy” for people seeking to live as faithful disciples in a spirit-breaking world. Faith, hope, and love compel sustained ministry effort during trial and provide stable constancy and protection in times of darkness. We can actively choose to be grounded by faith, hope, and love. Faith keeps us focused on the right thing (Christ) in the hard times. Regarding hope, it's the object of our hope that is most important.
It is hard to love an addict. The best thing you can ever give an addict is your utmost confidence in the love of Christ displayed on the cross when he died for our unrighteousness. It is the need for this love that binds addict and helper together--we both need the same things. The shared need for the love of Christ will be your bridge of ministry over the long haul. Love doesn’t negate your sin or your addict’s sin. Love doesn’t enable your addict or minimize the problem. Love doesn't mean living a life of delusion and ignoring the problem. Love means remembering that you and your addict are the same at the foot of the cross. Promise provides a place to encourage one another, grieve together, share about our failures, fears, and hopes. It's been incredibly rewarding to get to be a part of this ministry; it's sweet to feel understood and supported.
Anyone is welcome to join us. There is childcare during the meeting for a small fee as well. If you'd like to learn more about the ministry please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just show up on a Saturday. I'm confident that God will honor your step of faith.