I threw the book across the room. Hadn’t I done enough?
God had been opening my eyes to the truth of how alcohol had caused decades of collateral damage in my life, and I wanted to learn more. In my friend’s Facebook feed, I spied a book about understanding your loved one’s addiction and ordered it right away.
The day the book arrived, I devoured it. The first half confirmed what I already knew: I was being mistreated, neglected and unfairly blamed. My deep hurts cried out for this affirmation.
But then the writer explained how I needed to seek treatment. He wrote that all the family members are sick, not only the addict. That nothing would change unless I was willing to make the first steps forward and seek recovery.
That’s when I chucked the book into the corner and began arguing with God.
“What about the years I already spent in therapy?” I whined. “I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. Are you really asking me to do more?” Anger boiled up inside me, from the place the book so accurately described.
Jesus reminded me of a story I had just used to confront one of my addicted loved ones. In John 5:1-15, Jesus encountered a man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. This man waited every day for someone to carry him to the pool of Bethesda, believed to have healing powers.
Jesus asked the man, “Do you want to get well?”
On the surface, this is a ridiculous question. Who wants to lay around year after year with no healing? What person in their right mind puts all their hope in a liquid substance?
The man didn’t seem shocked by Jesus’ question, however. He answered, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” (v. 7)
In the dozens of times I’d read that story, I placed my addicted loved ones alongside the paralyzed man. The ones crippled by their choices who perhaps didn’t want to get well.
Jesus gently showed me how the passage applied to me. I was also laying beside an emotional pool, longing for healing, year after year. Like the paralyzed man, I depended more on relationships than God to meet my needs. I had played the victim for far too long. I need Jesus’ healing just as much as my loved ones need it.
Then Jesus asked me, loud and clear: “Do you want to get well?”
I answered him, “More than anything.”
Jesus helped me find the courage to join a recovery group. He is guiding me through past pain to gain his perfect peace. His words healed the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, and they are healing me too.
Jesus is helping me pick up my mat and walk forward in stronger faith.
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” John 5:6 NIV