Last year for his birthday, Shaun received a dwarf hamster as a gift from his grandparents. He decided on a name that was all too appropriate, Tiny.
Tiny now lives in our home. He and his habitat moved here at the beginning of the school year. Funny how it went from being called a cage in the seventies back when John and I had pet gerbils to being a habitat today. I suppose it sounds more humane, less like a jail sentence for Tiny.
In his habitat is one of those wheels that goes round and round, but never actually takes Tiny anywhere. To give Tiny the freedom to explore our apartment, Amanda purchased a clear plastic ball that we can put Tiny into and let him roll around our apartment floor.
It’s so much fun to watch Tiny roam our apartment in his little plastic ball. It’s as close to freedom as Tiny is allowed to get. After all, he is a rodent at heart, and as such would quickly disappear if he were to escape. Chances are that freedom for Tiny would end in the paws of one of the cats in our building. It would be a fun day for the cat, but not so much for Tiny.
I know this from personal experience. That pet gerbil John and I once had, made its escape one day. Somehow the poor little critter (if we named it I cannot recall it’s name) made its way out of our house and into the front yard.
That’s where we found its body’s. Lifeless and partially mauled by a cat.
Like Tiny, our gerbil had one of those wheels that turned round and round. Also like Tiny, it spent much of its waking day in the wheel, spinning round and round. Perhaps it’s a form of training. Preparation for the day when they find freedom. Best to keep in shape just in case, right? Never know when the cage door, eh hem, sorry, habitat door, will accidentally be left open!
Now I’m not going to go so far as to say the either a gerbil or hamster has faith in their future. Any desire for escape would be founded in instinct. We protect Tiny from the dangers that would come from an escape by taking care to secure his door at all times.
There are times when being a recovering addict can feel like life in a cage. At such times, my focus is generally shifted from just how good life is today, and toward the restrictions recovery brings. If I’m not careful, during such a shift in focus, I can develop a resentment toward God.
You see, I believe in a God who heals. I have faith that if it were His will, God could reach down and take away my addiction. He could absolutely heal me, and set me free.
Not only that, but He could intercede in my life in super-natural ways. He could bring and end to the consequences I face regularly for my past drug use. Yes, my God could do these things and much more. I have absolute faith in this area.
Despite my faith that God could do these things, He does not. I am still an addict, though an addict in recovery. I still face consequences for my actions. No amount of faith seems to change this reality. Perhaps even worse, I don’t believe any kind of divine healing for my disease will come.
For whatever reason, despite His omnipotence, my God chooses to let me live with my disease and it’s consequences. The cage of my addiction remains in tact.
How sad it would be if that were the end of my story. How tragic if all I could see was the cage.
Thankfully, I see beyond the cage. I see a true habitat. Yes, I’m an addict, that is true. Yet, as an addict in recovery, the options for my future have been expanded beyond my wildest dreams. I have relationships today that have been restored, giving me hope that others can be restored in the future too. I have true friends on whom I can depend. I have a beautiful and loving wife who encourages me daily, reminding me of how far I’ve come. I have a nine year old boy in my life who thinks I somehow hung the moon. Even my career today is better than ever.
I am blessed in so many ways!
So, am I an addict? Yes. Do I expect to die an addict? Yes. Do these things mean I’ve been sentenced to live in a cage for the rest of my life? Absolutely not!
God has not brought me healing from my disease. No cure has been found. Yet, as I live the steps of Narcotics Anonymous in my life, applying spiritual principles to all my affairs, I do find freedom. I find healing in the most important areas of my life. My faith grows larger.
Best of all, as I grow in my recovery, my life begins to have greater purpose. At the beginning, it was all about staying clean. Stopping the free fall toward death that drugs were bringing. Today, I not only get to stay clean, but I can offer experience, strength, and hope to fellow addicts who are struggling.
Addiction may be a cage, but through recovery, I have found that life is without cages. My faith is not weakened by the absence of healing in this area. No, it is strengthened, by seeing what God can do despite my disease.
Have a remarkable day!