5 Signs You May Be Addicted to Religion
When we’re battling addictions to common vices like alcohol, drugs or sex, we think, “If only we could get addicted to something good.” Many addicts, as they progress through rehab and recovery, will begin to form a relationship with their Higher Power and learn what it means to “turn our will and our lives over to God.” We get excited about this God who is saving us from destruction and delivering us from the behaviors and substances that threatened to kill us.
And as the black-and-white, all-or-nothing people that we are, we assume that if a little religion is good, a whole lot more must be a whole lot better. After all, finally we’re feeling good and getting our lives back on track. We’re starting to understand the meaning of a spiritual experience and we can’t deny how good the spiritual highs make us feel. Naturally we just want more.
But it is possible to have too much of a good thing and addiction, in any form, has the power to be destructive. Here are a five common signs of religious addiction:
- Obsessing about religious activities. True and healthy religion is about a relationship, not religious practice. While religious practices can help us focus our attention on God, when they become the end in themselves, we’re on shaky ground.
- Withdrawal symptoms when you don’t engage in religious activity. This may include feeling guilt or shame for missing church or religious event, or experiencing the withdrawal that comes from not attaining the desired spiritual high.
- Feeling like it’s never enough. God wants us to rest in him. That doesn’t mean laziness, but it does mean peace. When we’re preoccupied to the point of anxiety with whether we’re good enough or doing enough, we’re putting the focus back on ourselves—just like we did in our addict days. A healthy relationship with God means we focus on him and others more than ourselves.
- Jeopardizing your relationships with others. Religious addicts will often move away from their family and friends, isolating themselves with other like-minded folk. Overzealousness can also be a problem when the addict begins to shun or verbally judge those who don’t share his or her convictions or practices.
- Hyper focus on the future causes you to ignore the present. Religion, when used improperly, can even be a form of escapism. Being concerned with future spiritual things can cause the individual to justify ignoring the less exciting present concerns and to avoid dealing with important emotional issues and personal responsibilities.
While a strong faith is essential for recovery, and many of us will agree that we are to put our recovery and relationship with God as our highest priorities, obsession with religion is a different thing altogether and not a good thing. Christian drug rehabs are about helping you develop the wise, stable relationship with God that will deliver you from addictive life patterns and coping mechanisms without transferring your addiction to some other entity. Healthy faith liberates; it doesn’t enslave. If you believe you struggle with an unhealthy relationship with religion, there is help for you.
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