I know that we have talked a lot about love hunger in the last few years. It probably will never end, so let’s add to our list of considerations about love hunger by looking at the possibility of addictions as they relate to love hunger.
First, let’s consider this question. Are addictions a spiritual, emotional or spiritual problem? In most cases, the answer is ‘yes’ to all three. Our Heavenly Father established love as the essence of life itself and He is the only source of true, life-giving, unconditional love. Therefore, love at its root is a spiritual issue. Love or the absence of love drives our emotions and our emotions have either a positive or a negative affect on our physical well-being. The presence of addictive behavior is usually evidence of spiritual/emotional wounding.
Is there any limit to what a person can be addicted to? I think not. We are all aware of many common areas such as drugs, alcohol, sex, food, TV, computers, work, religion, sports, shopping and so on. The solution to addictive behavior must be healing in all three areas of spirit, soul and body.
To experience true love there must be intimacy in the relationship and for many love hunger victims the experience of intimacy is only a dream. They cannot seem to connect with God and other people at a deep, intimate level. They continually live through shallow relationships that seldom last long and more frequently than not they end in offense of some kind. So on they go looking for lasting, loving relationships, doing the same things repeatedly expecting a different result each time, only to be disappointed over and over. They are frustrated, angry, lonely, hopeless, and perhaps depressed at life’s repeated failures and pain. This cycle is the result of our negative reaction to painful life experience. It is a natural reaction in life to withdraw from pain. Whatever the form the pain may come in we typically withdraw from it and we can withdraw spiritually, emotionally and/or physically from that source of pain. In more severe cases of wounding our spirit can withdraw from life or go into hiding so to speak. This compromises our ability to be intimate with anyone. Another way to say this is ‘we close our heart to intimacy’ to protect ourselves from being hurt again. It does not work!
It only increases the difficulty in our life experiences. A heart/spirit that is withdrawn or closed in self-protection is not available for intimate relationship. Therefore, whatever love needs that should be met through the relationship are not met and the emotional rollercoaster continues. At some point in a person’s life, they can give up, loose all hope of love and intimacy and become an isolationist. This is true for all relationships including marriage. This is a life lost to its purpose and destiny in God unless their ultimate solution to love hunger is experienced in Father God.
This life of frustration and disappointment describes many Christians. We minister to them on a regular basis and it is amazing how many have given up on life. Many have a death wish. Many wonder why their walk with God is not more life giving. Why is He not doing more to meet their needs? They feel frustrated, disappointed and burned out in their Christian walk and many are angry at Father Himself. All this is self-defeating; however, when a person gets to the end of self, Father is still there and still available with love and healing. The individual is responsible for making a righteous choice to open their heart to love and intimacy and call their human spirit out of hiding to embrace life and love. Withdrawing and closing our heart is a sin against love and the consequence of that sin is aggravated love hunger. Our repentance to God is required before the healing process can begin. He always hears and responds to true repentance.
Back to addictions. No matter what form our addiction takes it is usually in response to our love hunger. It is our repeated attempt to have a respite even though brief from the pain of our love hunger. Once we find that situation that gives us the relief we are looking for we strive to repeat it as often as possible. Oh what a relief it is! Although short lived, it is relief, but it is a deception, a counterfeit and a trap whose end is only more pain and destruction. Some even turn to denial in their attempt to find relief. His or her mantra becomes, ‘I don’t have a problem,’ or ‘I don’t need anything,’ or ‘I don’t need healing,’ or ‘I don’t need anyone and I certainly don’t need a counselor.’ These are lies that the person lives by and as such, they carry the power of truth, trapping the individual in their deception and the bondage of love hunger continues.
Do you recognize that you have an addiction? Have you tried to change your behavior (the physical), and repeatedly failed? Have you confessed your fault, your sin or shortcoming to someone else and repented only to fail again? These two steps are necessary and essential to the healing process, but are seldom enough to bring complete and lasting success without the next step.
The next step is dealing with love hunger itself. This step is multi-faceted and usually a process that takes time, unless you are on the receiving end of a miraculous intervention; my Father Himself. Apart from a miraculous intervention, which seems to be the exception rather than the rule, this process will require commitment and determination. Complete success will require total honesty before God and man. In order to involve God in your healing process you must remove all barriers you have erected between yourself and Him. This may take revelation from God so you can see what makes up the wall that separates you from intimate relationship with Him. Most Christians we have met do not have much problem with Jesus, but many Christians we have met have an emotional/spiritual wall between themselves and Father. Without Him love hunger issues will not be resolved successfully. Dealing with a judgmental and critical attitude toward Father God is essential in our healing process. Being willing to repent for our sin in life is also essential. One general, all-inclusive prayer will not do the job. Specifics are required because each one is connected to something or someone else. Forgiveness of others including God is also essential to our healing process. If we want to be forgiven and healed, we must be willing to forgive those who have hurt/offended us.
Also involved in this process is the required healing of wounding events in a person’s life. It is important to remember that forgiveness and healing are two different things. Without forgiveness on our part, healing will not likely take place. Since each person’s life experience is unique to them, the number of wounding events will vary but they all need healing. The possibilities are endless but here are a few examples:
- A child rejected in the womb
- Getting lost
- Being bullied, molested or raped
- A child left at daycare
- Getting caught in a fire
- Experiencing a near drowning
- Being affected by a bad storm
- Being involved in a car accident
- Experiencing the loss of a parent, sibling or other loved one
- Being attacked by an animal
The possibilities go on…
These types of incidents can have many adverse consequences in the person’s life. For example, fear and insecurity, low self esteem, self-hatred, anger, depression, and relational dysfunction on a broad spectrum. These wounding events must be revisited in the Spirit and it is necessary to ask Jesus to come and bring healing to the issues involved.
Typically, the core issues involved in love hunger revolve around our four basic needs which are:
- Unconditional, expressed love
- Affirmation and Affection
- Safety and Security
- Purpose and Destiny
Someone else’s list may include other needs, and that is fine, but this works for us. When these needs are not met in our lives, the result is love hunger, a driving force within us demanding satisfaction. The continual pursuit and repeated disappointments create an atmosphere ripe for addictions.
When expressed love is absent, we usually find issues of abandonment, rejection, shame and fear to be common. This is usually the result of parental sin against their children. These areas of wounding can begin in the womb and continue throughout a lifetime. This is why we must depend on the Holy Spirit to reveal, guide and bring healing to the roots of our issues.
In my opinion, when we succumb to methods of ministry applied equally across the board to everyone we limit our success. There are many variables to a successful ministry experience. One major one is that the Holy Spirit does not function as well in our boxes of methodology as He does when at liberty to do what He wants, when He wants, in the way He wants in each person’s life. Obviously, another variable is our willingness to yield to His leadership at all times in spite of our planned procedures. Another variable is the client themselves, and their willingness and determination to pay the price for their freedom. This can be a painful process and it requires a whole hearted commitment and pursuit to reach the desired goals. We have experienced some clients who receive some wonderful healing but in the end they were unwilling to give up their addiction. Obviously, they are free to make that choice, but it is usually a costly one.
Behavior modification alone seldom has lasting results because the root of the problem remains untouched. Even if the person is successful in avoiding the drug of choice, the addictive behavior will usually surface again in a different form. Gerri’s mother was an alcoholic later in life. When health issues forced her to give up alcohol, we assumed there would be victory. There was victory over the alcohol, but the addiction continued through her coffee, which she consumed with huge amounts of sugar in each cup. She then developed a stomach ulcer and had to give up coffee, but by this time she was on a small, prescribed amount of oxygen. The addictive behavior turned to the oxygen and she demanded more and more beyond what her doctor said was necessary. She never received the spiritual/emotional healing she needed. Her love hunger was never satisfied.
Some addictions such as substance abuse deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals. In order to get healthy and feel better these missing elements must be replaced. Some substance abuse depletes our immune system and that makes us more vulnerable to sickness and disease. That in itself makes recovery more difficult. Usually addictions in general carry a measure of shame, fear and anxiety and that equates to stress which also depletes the immune system and has many other adverse physical consequences.
When these adverse physical consequences are added to a person suffering from love hunger, the results can be devastating. A life in physical, emotional and spiritual pain can be very dark and hopeless. God’s plan and provision for each life is quite the opposite.
Learning to live loved is the greatest challenge most of us will face in our life time, but it is Father’s desire and His provision for all who will listen and pursue Him. His awesome, life changing gifts of love will quiet the raging storm of love hunger and empower faith to move mountains in our lives. Jesus came to set the captive free! Are you captive to something or someone? Is it your time to be free?