I was watching a toddler today while I was at a sporting event with my family. I think it was Johnny Depp who best described them as “drunk little people.” The little boy was very cute and equally as rambunctious. Every time his parents would put him down for a second, he was off to the races. He was climbing on and behind and under the bleachers beneath our feet, then he crawled at Mach speed toward any door knob or gate latch that he could reach and of course attempted to open them.
I laughed a little while and just observed the toddler and his parents. Don’t get me wrong, if the little boy had done something to hurt himself that I could have prevented I surely would have swooped down and helped him. Nothing seemed bad enough for me to intervene so I just watched in amusement. Over the next few minutes I felt God speaking to me. It wasn’t audible or anything it was just an awareness of his presence, his nearness. I think it’s always there but unfortunately most of the time I’m not really tuned into him.
So, the toddler breaks away from his parents on one of his first few attempts and starts to climb on these cold metal bleachers we are sitting on. It was almost predictable, the little boy hoists himself up and in the same motion falls forward just enough to hit his mouth on the bleachers. He immediately began to cry and scream for his parents, who, as parents should, came over to swiftly aid their son. There was no blood, nothing to really be alarmed about and soon the crying subsided and the toddler was once again trying to break loose from his dads clutches, why you ask? To get down and crawl around again and return to his rambunctiousness, as kids will do.
The toddler then began to do the exact things he’d done before. He was climbing on the bleachers once again and I thought to myself, “why would you do that?, don’t you remember what happened last time?” But obviously he has quickly forgotten because yep, you guessed it, he pulled himself up and did the exact same thing, this time a little less extreme, he bumped his head and began to cry again. Rinse, cycle and repeat.
This is where the light bulb came on, it was at this point that God spoke to my spirit and brought a verse to my mind from Proverbs. “As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” I realized in that very moment I was just like the toddler I’d been watching. I mean the circumstances have been a little different and varied but I do the exact same thing, I’ve been a fool, ALOT!!
What comes to mind immediately is my own personal story of addiction and recovery. When I first started realizing there was a problem, in my mid 20’s, I would get into a drug and alcohol fueled frenzy and then realize I needed help. I was much like that toddler, crying for help. I would end up getting the help I needed , going to treatment or detox, but soon after I would forget the pain that drove me to my knees in such a desperate state and I would relapse or return to the exact same behaviors I’d done before. It made no sense, it still makes no sense but that’s the insanity of addiction.
Here’s where it gets even more tricky. I’ve been able to put the drugs and alcohol down for long periods of time but when I do it seems like I always have another issue that raises its ugly head, (in recovery we call these things defects of character) and the cycle starts all over again. I’m perpetually in this sick cycle and I feel like what the word says is a “dog returning to its vomit.” That May Sound extremely harsh unless you’ve ever been stuck in this type of cycle, then of course you know this is the truth.
Time and time again since I’ve become a believer and follower of Jesus I’ve gotten stuck in these “sin cycles” where some behavior I’m repeating is making me feel alienated from God and from who I really am. The good news is we have a God who doesn’t condemn us but instead continues to draw us to himself with what the Bible calls “cords of love.” Now, that makes no sense in my mind but I’m so glad it’s the truth. I’m so glad that his mercies are new every morning. I’m also grateful for a program of recovery that allows God to heal me through the 12 steps.
I’ll close with this little children’s song that sums it all up for me. Sing it with me If you know it. “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. It took him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the earth, the sun and Jupiter and Mars. How loving and patient he must be, he’s still working on me….”