One of the shocks of the spiritual life is how fast we can lose our freedom. I have people in my parish who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, addiction to computers, pornography, self-abuse, abuse of others, over working, preoccupation with beauty, and the list goes on.
My advice to anyone who senses another god in their life rather than the Lord Jesus is to try something akin to Alcoholics Anonymous, only simpler. I have seen people regain their freedom and experience deep healings by using these steps. But you have to agree to regularly go to confession and have a spiritual friend work with you — someone like a sponsor who you can call and talk things through during rough times.
Here are some of the principles we must keep in mind when looking at our life’s problems. First, God is bigger than our problems. Do we believe this? Do we let God be God? Do we believe that the God who created the universe (including each of us) can help us and show us the answer to our problems?
Second, we must admit that we cannot solve our problems alone. We need God and we need others. Do we let God work in us and are we humble enough to say, “I need you God. I can’t do this myself?” Do we have the wisdom to ask help from people with spiritual wisdom?
Third, we must admit that we are part of every problem in our life. Even if someone else causes me pain I have a role to play. We must admit that we create many of the problems through anger, impatience, too many expectations and irritations. We must give God all that we have in life — the good and the bad.
Fourth, we must ask for grace to change. We may not want to or even think we need to change but we must ask anyway. We must surrender to God’s will for our life and ask his grace to work in us.
Fifth, we must give up blaming others for our problems and ask God to give us the grace to see a way through the problem.
Sixth, we need to make a step of faith and do one small thing to change our life and our way of thinking. This change can be a commitment to offering a simple daily prayer or reading a passage from the Bible or trying to change our attitude towards someone. We mustn’t look to change all at once, just one small step at a time.
Seventh, we need to ask for and give forgiveness and acknowledge that we belong to God, completely.
Here’s a simple prayer that sums up these principles: I can’t. You can. All is yours. Please help. I surrender. I am yours.
The writer is pastor of the Church of the Nativity in Magadan, Russia.