Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Disability We All Have

I recently read an article about Steve Sarkisian, the former Head Coach of the USC Football team. He is suing the school for various reasons. Included in the article is the statement that “The suit also asserts Sarkisian has, at times, been "a person with a disability" under federal law because of his alcoholism and that the stress of his job contributed to his alcohol dependency.[1]

My sister has disabilities. She was born with them. She cannot do anything about them. If she pushed herself, she could develop more in certain ways, but she could never be a fully functioning adult. Period.

I was a gambling addict. It controlled my life. I lied to my wife, family, and friends. I stole from a person very close to me.

Are we all in the same boat? Are we victims, equally in need of certain breaks and help/protection from government?

If so, what is your disability? What behavior can you not control that you should be getting special treatment because of? Maybe it’s cheating on your taxes? Maybe it’s cheating on your spouse? Maybe it’s running red lights? If so, maybe you should tell the IRS, or your wife, or the police, that you have a disability. Maybe then they’d back off and see that you’re the victim, not the people you hurt by your actions.

Okay, so I’m being facetious. Hopefully that’s obvious. Hopefully it’s equally obvious that Mr. Sarkisian (the alcoholic) and myself (the gambler) do not have disabilities in a way that’s even close to the same way that my sister has disabilities. Mr Sarkisian has a very real problem and I HAD a very real problem. He needs help. I needed help. But this does NOT mean that we should be classified in the same way as my sister and millions of others who cannot do a single thing to undo their disability.

Let’s be real. Addictions, especially chemical ones, are real and horrible life-changers. I don't pretend to know everything about addiction, especially chemical addiction. But what’s at the heart of the issue? At the heart of the issue is the heart. We’re all born with the same disability: selfishness. We’re addicted to self. This addiction plays itself out differently for every person. Some mask it pretty well, while others do not. Some deal with it and take responsibility for it, while others blame things and other people for it.

So how does one deal with it and take responsibility for it? It starts with Confession. Believing and saying the same thing as God on the subject: You’re a sinner in need of a Savior. Confessing that Jesus is your Savior, not yourself or anyone else. Then turning away from your sin and towards following Jesus. It’s pretty simple. Sin & selfishness are no longer in control of you, you belong to Jesus. Simple, yet so hard for prideful people. Simple, yet unfathomably wonderful.
What if you’ve truly done this? The means for stopping a certain behavior, whether it’s chemical dependency or not, are not much different. I’ll use my gambling as an example. I confessed that I was not living the way God created me to live. I was sinning against Him. I confessed that I needed a Savior then as much as ever. I confessed, again, that Jesus is my Savior. I confessed I needed His help. I turned from my sin and towards Christ (repentance). I put off certain things in my life that tempted me to gamble, including watching poker on TV & playing with friends. I put on truths from Scripture(such as needing the help of brothers) & a closer relationship with Jesus that filled the void left by the gambling. The grasp that gambling had on me was quickly weakened and then slowly destroyed. It’s not easy, because we’re fighting against the flesh, but thru dependency upon God’s Spirit and not ourselves, it’s very doable.

Some have a physical and/or mental disability. All of us share the same spiritual disability. Let’s be careful to put things in their proper category. Don’t you agree?