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Me First

Thoughts From The Give Back Group:

If a person in my family has an addiction I am either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Even if I don't suffer from addiction myself I would do well to keep in mind the words of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica: “Instead of beginning with ourselves, we always want to change others first and ourselves last. If everyone were to begin first with themselves, then there would be peace all around!”

Changing my own behavior first; this is my part of the solution, facilitating change in my loved one when they decide they want to change.After years of my own addiction treatment, extensive reading, and most importantly immersion in the life of Christ in His Church, one thing is clearer to me now than had been: There is nothing I can do to change the behavior of another person. If I want to help a loved one who has an addiction, I need to change my behavior. And not just my behavior as it relates to my loved ones addiction, necessary as that is. My behavior is driven by what I want, by what is important to me. If I continue to pursue my addiction or my idol (be it money, cars, clothes, theology, being right, or what-have-you) then I am modeling behavior that shows my loved one that it is okay to pursue their idol, their addiction.What is amazing about the idea of changing myself to effect change in others is not that it is common in addiction treatment, but that it is Scriptural: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:3,5)

If only I could realize in my life the observation made by St Seraphim of Sarov: If I am saved, I will be the the vehicle of salvation for a thousand people around me. What helps those around me is not just that I have experienced healing through addiction treatment, but that I believe and know that God is good, and loves humankind, and I thereby may work out my salvation, my healing, in fear and trembling. At least that's what I keep praying. May God help us.

"Assuming the blame for your own sins is by no means identical to avoiding confrontation with others. It means refusing to be victimized. It implies freedom and control over one's life. If you are not in control of what you do, then someone else is in control of your life and you are dis-empowered from any action at all. The first step in personal change can only come from within. Assuming responsibility for your life, and doing something about it , is the beginning of a truly creative and meaningful life."

-Dn. John Chryssavgis: In the Heart of the Desert

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