How many Biology terms do you recall from school lessons? How about Symbiosis, Commensalism and Parasitism?! Symbiosis describes a close and long-term relationship between different species. Commensalism is a symbiotic relationship in which one species benefits while the other is not affected, with examples such as barnacles and birds nesting in tree hollows. Parasitism is a symbiotic relationship in which the parasitic species benefits while the host species is harmed. This is less pleasant but obvious examples are mosquitos, fleas, aphids and tapeworms! Whilst not such an extreme example of parasitism, ivy does use the structure of a tree or bush to support its growth, subsequent domination and eventual destruction of its host plant. If this ivy is not dealt with, it will destroy this vine meaning there will be no more lovely fruit. Addictions act just like this.
- ‘I wanted to write about the moment when your addictions no longer hide the truth from you. When your whole life breaks down. That's the moment when you have to somehow choose what your life is going to be about’ – Chuck Palahniuk
- ‘Learning about all those different things psychologically - about grief and my own addictions and problems and stuff like that, and really getting an education on it, I think it was part of the process of it, learning about it and trying to lick it’ – Richie Sambora
- ‘Nothing good could ever have come of my life if I hadn't been able to get therapy and overcome my addictions’ – Susan Burton
- ‘Habits can be good or bad, whereas addictions are always bad’ – Nir Eyal
For us humans some parasites are ingested through liquid or food, some come through the skin, but others come into our minds and find their way to our hearts. Take the tick from a deer, it can lead to Lyme’s disease that can cause a wide range of symptoms and even affect your heart if left untreated. When Lyme bacteria reach your heart tissue, it can cause Lyme Carditis, which affects your heart's electrical system and can cause death. The challenge with a parasite is to recognise it before it has taken a hold and begins to pull you down. Substances that we humans often turn to when feeling down will raise us up emotionally for a time before they take us down to lower than we were before. This is even true of antidepressants for they have side effects such as:
- increased appetite and weight gain
- loss of sexual desire and other sexual problems
- fatigue and drowsiness
- dry mouth
- blurred vision
People often become addicted to things that seem to help, but this is where the stranglehold begins. That extra glass of wine, the comfort eating, the yearning for a cigarette, the experiment with a ‘soft’ drug, the clicking on a porn site or even pain killers – they all start with a little ivy shoot which is the beginning of its spreading control and your loss of control. Pain killers were reputed to have killed Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson, Judy Garland, Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith – amongst other things they can cause stomach bleeding, disease of the liver and kidney.
- ‘If you don't know someone who's had a problem with addiction, you will’ – Dana Boente
- ‘Unfortunately, with addiction, there's manipulation and deception’ – Jeremy Camp
- ‘Secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction’ – Edward Teller
- ‘No addiction is good’ - José Mujica
Christians are not immune from the power of addictions, whether they had a hold before coming to faith or they found a way in afterwards. These things are often hidden from public view but can be devastating to marriages, families and personal well-being.
- ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith’ – Hebrews 12:1-2
- ‘Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control’ – Proverbs 25:28
- ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age’ – Titus 2:11-12
- ‘For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love’ – 2 Peter 1:5-7
Addiction is a serious matter with no easy solutions. Recognition of the problem is an essential first stepping stone to recovery and there are many agencies available to help but there must be a willingness to take that first step. The Christian has the advantage of God the Father who is on your side, God the Son who will deliver you and God the Spirit who will empower you – but even so, it is vital to be honest with yourself and with God if you are to break free.
- ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery’ – Galatians 5:1
- ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’ – John 10:10
- ‘Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus’ – Philippians 3:12-14
- ‘The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’ – 2 Corinthians 10:4-6
- ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ – Romans 12:2
To deal properly with this ivy will take radical treatment – pulling leaves away is merely temporary. A mind under siege can be renewed and a heart that is battered can be healed. If you are struggling with something or know someone else who is, take a first step by watching C4L’s 9 minute video ‘Battle for Freedom’: https://connect4life.org.uk/c4l-videos-4-life
TAGS – change, rescue, stronghold, deliverance, obsession, phobia, depression