Archive for December, 2017


Originally posted at: https://altruistico.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/what-are-some-encouraging-bible-verses-2/

by altruistico

No matter what our discouraging situation, there are encouraging verses in the Bible that can give us hope:

When you’ve lost something, or someone, who has been very precious to you:
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Revelation 1:18 “I am alive forevermore.”
John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies’”

When excruciating waves of chronic pain and weakness are crashing over your head:
2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

When your cupboard is bare, and your last crumb has been scraped up:
Matthew 6:33 “Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Psalm 23:1 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “… give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When no one seems to understand, or even to care:
Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”
Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

When you are being persecuted for your faith:
2 Peter 2:9 “the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment.”
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

When the nation, the world, and even the family and the church, seem to be disintegrating:
Isaiah 14:24: “The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand.’”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

When life’s fears and insecurities gang up on you:
Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”
Luke 12:7 “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Romans 8:1 “There is, therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”

When your mood is dark:
Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice, and be glad in it.”
Romans 8:29-30 “For those whom God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

When worn out and worn down to the point of giving up:
Hebrews 12:2-3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and completer of our faith, who, for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

When abandoned by everyone meaningful:
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 “… God has said, ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”

When friends and even family seem to be abandoning God:
Psalm 100:5 “God’s faithfulness endures through all generations.”
2 Timothy 3:1-4 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”

When under powerful temptation:
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
2 Timothy 1:12 “He is able to keep what I committed to Him against that day.”
Hebrews 2:18 “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”

When stung by your enemy’s false accusation:
1 Peter 3:14, 16 “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. … keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, because great is your reward in heaven”
Romans 8:31-34 “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

When circumstances lead you to doubt God:
Psalm 42:5 “O my soul, why are you downcast? Put your hope in God: for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
Mark 9:24 “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When gripped by unrelenting anger and even hatred:
Ephesians 4:31 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
James 1:19 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

When defeated with guilt, shame, and remorse:
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

When about to go over the edge with overwhelming demands, pressures, and expectations:
Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
John 15:5 [Jesus said] “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

When the road forks unexpectedly, or when the multiplied factors of a crucial decision bring darkening confusion:
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
1 Corinthians 14:33 “God is not the author of confusion.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.”

When you are famished of soul, longing for purity and righteousness:
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
Psalm 23:3 “He leads me in paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.”

When all roads have been cut off so that only despair seems left:
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
2 Corinthians 4:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair.”

When the grave opens before you:
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Hebrews 2:14-15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

A blessing for all circumstances:
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”


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New Year’s Resolutions – What is yours??
Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. – Genesis 5:24

Wow. 2018 is here. I don’t know about you, but I am NOT ready. Preparing for new years for me usually meant strategic planning, goal setting, looking for what is to come. Depending on myself.

My son brought up a great point this week. We were talking about walking with Christ and what that means. He asked me to think about what happens when you walk “with” someone. I didn’t get it. He demonstrated and had me walk next to him.

“So what do you notice,” he asked?

“Ah…our strides match up.”

“Exactly. When you walk with someone, you walk like they do. You take your direction from them. You mirror them,” he said.

Enoch did that. He walked in close fellowship with God. That’s how I want to start my 2018. Walking with God.

Coming This Week:

  • Charlie brings his testimony of recovery.
  • Sean has his New Year’s resolution. He brings a message on how to prepare for 2018.
  • Also, expect impactful worship songs, a time of celebration and sharing of our milestones, and a testimony of spiritual awakening.

When: Every Saturday at 5:30 pm

Location: The Fellowship (in the Loft), 22765 Westheimer Pkwy, Katy, TX 77450

Childcare is available. Pre-notification is not necessary but is requested. For more information about childcare, email us info@theprodigals.org.

Don’t forget to stop in at Kosmos Coffee Shop at the Fellowship before and after service. They are open just for us!

Come home, prodigals!


Originally posted at: https://altruistico.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/why-does-god-allow-us-to-go-through-trials-and-tribulations/

by altruistico

One of the most difficult parts of the Christian life is the fact that becoming a disciple of Christ does not make us immune to life’s trials and tribulations. Why would a good and loving God allow us to go through such things as the death of a child, disease and injury to ourselves and our loved ones, financial hardships, worry and fear? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable? Well, no, it doesn’t. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves those who are His children, and He “works all things together for good” for us (Romans 8:28). So that must mean that the trials and tribulations He allows in our lives are part of the working together of all things for good. Therefore, for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a divine purpose.

As in all things, God’s ultimate purpose for us is to grow more and more into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). This is the goal of the Christian, and everything in life, including the trials and tribulations, is designed to enable us to reach that goal. It is part of the process of sanctification, being set apart for God’s purposes and fitted to live for His glory. The way trials accomplish this is explained in 1 Peter 1:6-7: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The true believer’s faith will be made sure by the trials we experience so that we can rest in the knowledge that it is real and will last forever.

Trials develop godly character, and that enables us to “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5). Jesus Christ set the perfect example. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). These verses reveal aspects of His divine purpose for both Jesus Christ’s trials and tribulations and ours. Persevering proves our faith. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

However, we must be careful never to make excuses for our “trials and tribulations” if they are a result of our own wrongdoing. “By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Peter 4:15). God will forgive our sins because the eternal punishment for them has been paid by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, we still have to suffer the natural consequences in this life for our sins and bad choices. But God uses even those sufferings to mold and shape us for His purposes and our ultimate good.

Trials and tribulations come with both a purpose and a reward. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. . . . Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-4,12).

Through all of life’s trials and tribulations, we have the victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Although we are in a spiritual battle, Satan has no authority over the believer in Christ. God has given us His Word to guide us, His Holy Spirit to enable us, and the privilege of coming to Him anywhere, at any time, to pray about anything. He has also assured us that no trial will test us beyond our ability to bear it, and “he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).


One of my favorite stories in the Bible is when Jesus discusses the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.  In recovery, I must always remember that I am a “Tax Collector” – always a sinner but freed by the blood of Christ.  Below is this verse paraphrased from the Bible and as written in the Castimonia book under Step 7.

“Thank you God that I am not like these other men still living in sexual sin, I am rigorously honest, I pray to You in the morning and at night, I work my intimacy exercises with my spouse, and I am not tempted to sin sexually anymore.”  This may seem like a normal statement to make, however, in our program, we must remain humble, where we stand before the Lord, our heads bowed in prayer stating, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  We are all full of sin, and are not yet sanctified; not until we enter His kingdom.  If we exalt ourselves, He will humble us, if we remain humble, He will exalt us (Luke 18:9-14).

Merry Christmas.

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Originally posted at: https://altruistico.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/why-should-i-not-commit-suicide-2/

by altruistico

Our hearts go out to those who have thoughts of ending their own lives through suicide. If that is you right now, it may speak of many emotions, such as feelings of hopelessness and despair. You may feel like you are in the deepest pit, and you doubt there is any hope of things getting better. No one seems to care or understand where you are coming from. Life just is not worth living…or is it?

If you will take a few moments to consider letting God truly be God in your life right now, He will prove how big He really is, “for nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Perhaps scars from past hurts have resulted in an overwhelming sense of rejection or abandonment. That may lead to self-pity, anger, bitterness, vengeful thoughts, or unhealthy fears that have caused problems in some of your most important relationships.

Why should you not commit suicide? Friend, no matter how bad things are in your life, there is a God of love who is waiting for you to let Him guide you through your tunnel of despair and out into His marvelous light. He is your sure hope. His name is Jesus.

This Jesus, the sinless Son of God, identifies with you in your time of rejection and humiliation. The prophet Isaiah wrote of Him in Isaiah 53:2-6, describing Him as a man who was “despised and rejected” by everyone. His life was full of sorrow and suffering. But the sorrows He bore were not His own; they were ours. He was pierced, wounded, and crushed, all because of our sin. Because of His suffering, our lives can be redeemed and made whole.

Friend, Jesus Christ endured all this so that you might have all your sins forgiven. Whatever weight of guilt you carry, know that He will forgive you if you humbly receive Him as your Savior. “…Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you…” (Psalm 50:15). Nothing you have ever done is too bad for Jesus to forgive. Some of His choicest servants committed gross sins like murder (Moses), murder and adultery (King David), and physical and emotional abuse (the apostle Paul). Yet they found forgiveness and a new abundant life in the Lord. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Why should you not commit suicide? Friend, God stands ready to repair what is “broken,” namely, the life you have now, the life you want to end by suicide. In Isaiah 61:1-3, the prophet wrote, “The LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

Come to Jesus, and let Him restore your joy and usefulness as you trust Him to begin a new work in your life. He promises to restore the joy you have lost and give you a new spirit to sustain you. Your broken heart is precious to Him: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:12, 15-17).

Will you accept the Lord as your Savior and Shepherd? He will guide your thoughts and steps—one day at a time—through His Word, the Bible. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8). “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure” (Isaiah 33:6). In Christ, you will still have struggles, but you will now have hope. He is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you in your hour of decision.

If you desire to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, speak these words in your heart to God: “God, I need you in my life. Please forgive me for all that I have done. I place my faith in Jesus Christ and believe that He is my Savior. Please cleanse me, heal me, and restore my joy in life. Thank You for Your love for me and for Jesus’ death on my behalf.”

If you are considering suicide, please seek help now. Call 1-800-273-8255, the national hotline, get yourself to a hospital if you can, call 911, go alert someone in your home, apartment, or workplace, or wherever you are, and do whatever it takes to get help.

National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
To Write Love on Her Arms: http://twloha.com/find-help
Befrienders.org: http://www.befrienders.org/directory
Suicide hotlines available in most countries:

http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html


NotUnknown.com by Keith B

“Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus. Then three years later I went to Jerusalem…” – Galatians 1:17-18a

I learn the best theology in recovery meetings. Something about sitting in a circle and sharing my soul leads to receiving God’s truths in a profound way. I communicate with God primarily through Bible study with others and through writing. He also allows me to communicate with Him in circles. Intimate discussions with other men in those meetings allow me to directly witness His work in my life and the lives of others.

A brother shared something about Paul that I didn’t know. More accurately, I never bothered to investigate. In Galatians, Paul reviewed the beginning of his ministry. He reminded everyone that his ministry didn’t begin instantaneously. He spent three years in Arabia, allowing God to make him ready for the work God had for him. It was another thirteen (more or less) years before Paul made his first missionary journey.

God’s revelation to Paul on the road to Damascus was life changing. That experience began his ministry and reshaped the church and the spread of the Gospel message. Paul didn’t instantly began spreading the Gospel all over the known world. He allowed God to prepare him for the work to come.

Most of my life, I couldn’t understand why God didn’t instantly heal me from the sex and relationship addictions dominating my life. Why couldn’t I touch His robe or dip into the river or experience a “Damascus road” transformation? I believed that was the only healing God did…instant healing.

Paul’s story reminded me again of my lack of understanding of how God works. He can heal instantly. He chooses in me to prepare in His time, not mine. Paul learned something I am learning now. He learned to operate on God’s timing and urging, not his own.

Paul could have sought out Peter and James and the other disciples and leaders of the church at the time to jump start what he believed God had for him. He didn’t do that. He spent three years in Arabia. He didn’t consult others for direction. He first looked to God’s instruction and guidance. He trusted God to lead him.

I identify strategic planning as one of my greatest strengths. Throughout most of my adult life, I haven’t felt at ease unless I have a long term plan and am taking action to reach some goal or another. My goals. Not God’s. Mine. To be rigorously honest, I didn’t feel at ease. I felt uneasy and believed that was because I hadn’t reached my goal yet.

God has revealed to me my uneasiness didn’t come from a lack of achievement of personal goals. It came from seeking my own goals. My plan. Not His. Mine. Paul reminded me to follow God’s plan in God’s timing to achieve God’s goals for my life. My ministry. My ministry springs from His plan and in His timing.

Recognizing my life depends solely on His direction results in something I haven’t ever known before. I experience peace. I am not comfortable with peace yet. I am learning peace in His timing.


Dot is the wife of an alcoholic. When she and her husband met and married, she knew that he drank, but she didn’t know how much, because he kept much of this behavior hidden. As their marriage progressed, she became more aware of his drinking, and she started to find empty pill bottles in the trash — prescription opioids that didn’t belong to her or her husband.

Dot loves her husband and has no interest in leaving him, so she’s done what anyone who loves her partner would do — she’s tried to manage the problem by controlling his drinking and pill abuse and prevent him from driving while intoxicated. Sadly, life for Dot has become less about her needs and more about “managing the situation.”

Despite Dot’s best efforts, her husband recently got arrested for driving while impaired. His attorney encouraged him to get treatment. At the same time, Dot decided to see a therapist for advice on how to help her husband. The therapist heard Dot’s story and immediately said, “Wow, you’re a classic co-addict. You’re an enabler and a caretaker, and you need to go to CoDA (Codependent’s Anonymous) to deal with your problem.”

Guess what? Dot never went back to therapy, and she never went to a CoDA meeting. Instead, she feels hurt, angry, ashamed, and confused about why the therapist blamed her for her husband’s addiction. So instead of seeking support that could help her walk through a difficult time, she has retreated to her marriage, and she now speaks only to her husband about her feelings. Of course, as an addict who is (understandably) keen to maintain the status quo, he is of little help.

Moving Beyond the Codependency Label

Prodependence is a term I have created for use in a forthcoming (2018) book, co-written with Dr. Stefanie Carnes, to help loved ones of addicts. I use this term to describe healthy interdependence in the modern world. Essentially, prodependence occurs when attachment relationships are mutually beneficial — with one person’s strengths filling in the weak points of the other, and vice versa — and this mutual support occurs automatically and without question.

The term prodependence is, rather obviously, a play on an older term with which most readers will probably be familiar — codependence. Codependence occurs when one person tries to control the actions of another, in the guise of helping. so that he or she can feel better about himself or herself and the relationship with that other person.

The codependency concept came into vogue in the mid-1980s, mostly with the publication of three specific books: Janet Woititz’s Adult Children of Alcoholics(1983)1; Robin Norwood’s Women Who Love Too Much (1985)2; and Melody Beattie‘s Codependent No More (1986)3. Based on these works, the 12-step fellowship Codependents Anonymous was born, with its first meeting taking place on October 22, 1986.4

One of the best explanations of the early codependency movement, especially in relation to addictions, appears in the foreword of the 2003 edition of Pia Mellody’s book, Facing Codependence. There, Andrea Wells Miller and J. Keith Miller write:

“It was actually the families of alcoholics and other chemically dependent people who brought [codependency] to the attention of therapists in treatment centers. These family members all seemed to be plagued with intensified feelings of shamefearanger, and pain in their relationships with the alcoholic or addict who was the focal point of their family. … One irrational aspect was that most of the family members had a deluded hope that if they could only be perfect in their ‘relating to’ and “helping” the alcoholic, he or she would become sober — and they, the family members, would be free of their awful shame, pain, fear, and anger.”5

This statement recognizes and summarizes the feelings that many loved ones of addicts experience. They mistakenly think, “If I can just control the other person’s addiction in some way, everything will turn out the way I’d like.” That belief is the crux of codependence in its purest form.

Unfortunately, the concept of codependence has morphed into a negative, pathological-sounding label, indiscriminately applied to almost any person who tries to help an addicted loved one. So instead of being encouraged to care for yourself as well as your addicted loved one, you are encouraged to care for yourself instead of your addicted loved one. Basically, there seems to be a consensus that you really can love and care for someone too much. That is not what the progenitors of the codependence concept intended. But it’s what we’ve got.

Today, if you are the spouse, parentsibling, or friend of an addict, you’ve almost certainly had perfectly loving people tell you to step away from the relationship, to stop rescuing, to stop enabling, to “detach with love,” and to “stop being so codependent.” If you’ve experienced this, you’ve likely asked, “How can I possibly abandon a person I love, especially in his or her time of need?”

Still, plenty of people — family, friends, clergy, and even therapists — will try to convince you that caring about a person you’ve been close to for a very long time (perhaps his or her entire life, if you’re a parent or a sibling) is somehow irrational on your part, and counterproductive for both you and the challenged individual. Very probably, these well-meaning folks have suggested therapy, interventions, and participation in support groups like Al-Anon and CoDA as a way for you to fully and completely detach from what they think is a bad situation that’s taking you away from your own needs, goals, and personal fulfillment, while keeping your loved one mired in the problem.

As an addiction and mental-health treatment specialist who has worked for decades with addicts and their families, I admit that in the past I have espoused this outdated and potentially harmful opinion. This is the stance I was taught to take, both in school and in my continuing professional education. In training I was told, “If a loved one cannot emotionally detach from an active addict, that person will be dragged down into the murky depths of despair. Thus, loved ones must be coached to let go.” So when I saw spouses, family members, and friends refuse to distance themselves from an active addict, I told them they were enmeshed and codependent, and encouraged them to detach.

Unfortunately, this tactic ignores the ways in which human beings are wired for survival.

Prodependence

Human beings are meant to work together, not to go it alone. Think back to prehistoric times when people lived in tribes. If we went hunting, we went in a group; otherwise, we were as likely to be eaten as to eat. And hunting trips could take a very long time, so other members of our tribe stayed behind in the cave and tanned hides to keep the group warm, gathered nuts and berries to eat, collected sticks for fire, and maybe even did some rudimentary farming.

For thousands of years, this type of communal living was our standard for survival and our brains evolved in ways that encourage interpersonal bonding. Thus, we are evolutionarily wired to be dependent upon others. We enter the world reliant on others for shelter, nutrition, and emotional support, and these core requirements do not change as we grow older. What keeps us healthy as infants and children also keeps us healthy as adults.

Yet somehow, as we move into adulthood, our intrinsic need for emotional connection (i.e., love) gets discounted, despite the fact that people who spend their lives “apart from” rather than “a part of” do not function as well as those who feel emotionally connected. In fact, an immense amount of mental and physical health research shows that isolated/separated individuals suffer both emotionally and physically.6 Conversely, people who place a high value on developing and maintaining meaningful connections tend to be happier, more resilient, and more successful.7 They even tend to live longer.8 So, emotionally intimate connections are as essential as more obvious needs like food, water, clean air, and shelter. Without healthy dependency and connection, we may survive physically (for a while), but we won’t be as healthy or as happy as we could be.

Importantly, this deeply ingrained need for emotional connection does not abate simply because a person with whom we feel an intimate bond is challenged with an addiction or some other serious issue.

I think about it this way: If your spouse, child, sibling, or best friend was diagnosed with cancer and needed your help with doctor’s appointments, household chores, and maybe even his or her finances, would you walk away from that person? Most likely not. And nobody would blame you or label you or try to pathologize you for temporarily pushing your own needs to the side. But when you try to help an addict in a similar fashion, people will label you in all sorts of ways—and tell you to stop.

That is the wrong approach. Instead of being confrontational with spouses and others who love and care for addicts, we need to be invitational. We need to meet them where they are and teach them not to walk away, but to support in healthier, more prodependent ways. Rather than preaching detachment and distance over continued bonding and assistance, as so many therapists, self-help books, and 12-step groups do, we should celebrate the human need for and the pursuit of intimate connection, using that as a positive force for change.

Rather than labeling and pathologizing the supporters of challenged individuals when they refuse to abandon their caregiving roles, we should encourage them to continue their pursuit of love and emotional intimacy as best they can. At the same time, we can provide an outline for developing and maintaining healthy, prodependent boundaries — margins within which caregivers can love unconditionally, while not enabling or doing things their loved one could and should be doing for himself or herself. In so doing, we will create a fresh paradigm for useful and healthy support, an evolved prism through which caregivers can examine, evaluate, and improve their daily lives despite the oftentimes debilitating presence of an addiction.

by Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S