September 6, 2021
Faith is a beautiful thing. It gets us through hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, robberies, illness, and other God- and man-made challenges. If we live through these situations, we often realize at a certain point, that our God (whatever we refer to it as) is bigger than any fearful thing that comes our way. Not that things turn out okay every time, but with our Higher Power around, we often end up emotionally stronger as a result of having gone through it.
Thus, when the question is asked ‘Is your God bigger than that?’ a person of faith will often answer with an unequivocal YES.
Yet time and again, when working with people of deep faith on issues of a loved one’s SUD or mental health challenge, I notice that many struggle to bring that understanding into the day-to-day world of how to relate to their struggling loved one - how to see them, how to understand what they are going through, and whether their malady is truly beyond their control.
I will often ask, “have you taken that question to God?” and hear the answer, “No, not that one.”
As if it is too small for their God to deal with.
Yet, if nothing is too big, neither is anything too small…
At least that is how I see it.
Working with God - Let Go Without Giving Up or Giving In
So what would it look like to ‘work with God’ so to speak on the challenges facing our families around addiction?
Here are a few ideas many have found helpful in the BALM® Program. See if they can be helpful to you.
When it comes to a relationship with a loved one with an SUD, the old saying “Let Go and Let God,” has too often meant people put the situation in God’s hands and walk away.
The BALM® sees letting go differently. Our third principle states: “Let go, without giving up or giving in.”
This, to us, means: Let go of obsessing about the issue. The Divine Plan may be different than what you have in mind, so stop demanding that things go your way.
So, then what? Do you walk away at that point? No!
Don’t give up means, learn what does help (which you will learn in the BALM® Program) and do it!
Okay, but what about the relationship you have with your loved one? We don’t advocate walking away except in the most severe of circumstances. Rather, we say: Don’t give in.
This means do not allow your loved one’s hijacked brain to manipulate you. You have a brain. You have a Spirit. And, hopefully, a coach and a community. Use these to think things through so you can resist being pushed around by the demands of your loved one’s disease.
Working With God - Be the Peace (and Love) You Wish to See in the World
And then there is the first of the 7 steps: “Be the Peace You Wish to See in the World.”
The BALM® posits that you are, at your core, peace and love. That view presupposes that you are close to God or Spirit or the Sacred (pick your term) by Design. In fact, as close as the breath.
How can this impact your relationship with your loved one who is struggling?
Surely there is room on this planet for people of all kinds and all struggles. And there is enough love for all of us.
So, how can you demonstrate that love? What is it you can do to bring that peace into your home day by day?
Be it. Practice it. Put it first and watch how you become a person capable of greater empathy, compassion, and understanding.
As we practice being the peace, we find it easier and easier to handle difficult situations and to make challenging decisions from a place of love and understanding.
When we apply this to our relationship with a using loved one, we see them through the eyes of compassion, care, and love. We are better able to listen, to calmly tell them what we see, to love ourselves and them fully.
Does this mean being a doormat? Quite the opposite. The peace is profound. It wraps us in a blanket of love that allows us to see things from different sides without being overrun by other people or opinions.
Of course, education on addiction and recovery is essential to go along with the peace, which is why the BALM® starts with peace and ends with love and has so many tools and techniques of communication and helpfulness in between.
Food for Thought
If you count yourself among the faithful, yet push persons with SUD, mental health, and/or other disabilities aside, ask yourself:
What would love do? What would peace do?
Practice the BALM®, Be the Peace, and find out.
See you on the BALM®!
Beverly Buncher, MA, PCC, CBFRLC, CTPC, known as the "Foremost Family Recovery Life Coach in the Nation", is the Founder and CEO of Family Recovery Resources, LLC, and the BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror®) Institutes for Family Recovery Coach Training and Family Recovery Education.