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A true brokenness is a divine appointment only God can orchestrate. Through various situations, God is pleading with us to realize our helplessness and thus realize our need for Him. When this occurs, it gives us the ability to transfer control. When and if we are ready to surrender, we must take two basic transactions:

-Die to self. What does that mean? We choose to cease control. We choose to strip off our own defense mechanisms and strategies of battle, recognizing that we are losing the war. THe death of self is not the death of our God given destiny, identity, personality and giftedness. It’s the death of our self-will (flesh) that is programmed to meet needs independent of God.

-Ask God to take control of our life. That means we no longer call the shots based on our own needs, perceptions, survival strategies, and so forth. Instead, we let God call the shots for us. We allow Him to lead and guide us into His ultimate plan and purpose for our life.

While this sounds simple enough, it can be a fierce internal struggle. By nature, we are prone to be in a mode of self-survival and self-defense. Being asked to abandon those strategies, admit defeat and truly surrender can leave us with a complete sense of vulnerability. So what would motivate us to do such a thing?

John 12:24-26 provides a summary of the purpose and goal of true surrender. (Bracket’s enclose author’s words for emphasis).

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies (our self-will), it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives (a life surrendered). Those who love their life in this world will lose it (those who choose to live independently of God). Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity (those who give God control). Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”

Through this scripture, we learn that ultimately the entire destination of our lives rests upon our willingness to die to self so Christ can live through us. Living for God brings amazing blessings – the access to all God’s resources and an endless supply of His love, mercy, grace and power.


-Christian Codependence Workbook, ©New Life Spirit Recovery


Honor and Recovery



God’s love honors us. To honor is to assign value and preciousness as prescribed by the Beholder. Honor isn’t based on what we do or even the contents we carry internally. Honor is imputed to us by the God that both created us and redeemed us. God’s honor means the price and value of our life is high. For God to honor us is the highest position we will ever carry in this world. Kings and queens; presidents and diplomats are honored by the standards of this world; we are honored by the King of Kings and Lord and Lords. There simply is no greater privilege.

When we enter into healing, we can easily misinterpret God’s intents if we don’t understand honor drives the essence of everything He does. Through honor, God meets us where we are at and loves us without conditions. Before commanding we change or barging into our world to tell us what’s wrong; He tenderly injects Himself in our pain and perspective. It’s vital we know that God does this first, lest we can mistake His actions as a rejection of who we are at the moment.

God doesn’t speak down to us as though we are wretched, or dirty or defective. He loves us in the broken places and sees our value far surpassing the adjustment that needs to be made. Through honor, God allows us to feel, to hurt, to have needs, and to be where we are. In essence, He doesn’t ask us to come up to His level. He drops down and sits in the pits of our life situations with us.

Most of us will enter seasons in our life when we don’t want someone to fix us; we want someone to hear our heart. This is very much a human need, and God knows that need more than anyone. The challenge that arises is that in our pit we typically surround ourselves with faulty messaging and toxic mindsets that will destroy our inner world. The injuries we carry at a heart level can create filters that wrongly judge the situation and circumstances. We can have misplaced intimacy and misguided insights into relational principles. Thus, should God leave us where we are without offering us a redemptive tool, it wouldn’t be love at all. He will challenge us to make the choice to heal in the midst of our awareness of what’s wrong – but not because He won’t accept us and love us exactly how we are. But because He calls us to more. He calls us to freedom and wholeness in Him. He calls us into a relationship with people that allow us to give and receive love as He intended.

He loves us too much to enable us to stay in the pit and create that as our own “normal”. But the ability to leave the pit will always, always be activated through the choices we make. People will try to fix us in the pit; but only God owns the tools of redemption. And because God honors us; He lets us make a choice. We can stay in the pit if we choose.

Uprooting old systems

Looking at rooted issues in life may seem backwards but the roots drive what is happening in the here and now.

“Most of us are unaware of how deep our methods of self-protection and survival run. We often developed unhealthy roots that have dug down and formed internal mindsets that dictated the way we see life, relationships, and our identity. As we grow, life experiences drive these roots deeper and produce wrongful fruits: fear, anger, discord, bitterness, drinking, drugs, codependency, love addiction, anxiety, inferiority, depression, people pleasing are merely fruits. As we are driven further away from our ordained purpose by harmful behaviors and emotions, we lose touch with the nature of God’s redemptive heart, and the perspective He houses toward us.

Many times, we want to change our “fruit” without the comprehension of how deep that fruit links with the rooted system. We, in essence, want to plant over areas in our lives with the “good stuff” we hope to attain, only to continually experience failure. Not understanding that we can’t plant something new where deeper rooted systems were already formed, we wrongly conclude that healthy growth is impossible or that we are stuck in our circumstances with no way out. Misunderstanding the nature of God’s love and the power He claims on our behalf, we do not walk with the authority to overcome; but we live as though we are spiritual paupers – having a Heavenly Father, but being unable to live under His promises.

It’s not that God can’t emerge us into our design, but rather that we need to uproot sometimes before that positive growth can occur. Looking at the rooted issues in our life may seem backwards, but it drives what is happening in the here and now. You can chop the fruit off a tree, but until it’s roots are eliminated, it will continue to grow back. So it is with the “fruit” we eliminated in our own lives.

While looking at roots is imperative, it’s not enough. God calls us out of bondage by speaking vision, destiny, and purpose into our lives. He gives us a picture of our potential; much like viewing the eventual fruit meant to be harvested from a tiny seed. So just as God comes to uproot, He comes to plant you into your original design. God never paints a picture of our future with doom and gloom; He has a redemptive scope on our life. God may not immediately change or fix what’s wrong; but He places His grace on to our situation and somehow, someway, He can resurrect life and goodness in the very places of pain and destruction. “
Thrive, Spirit of Life Recovery

Intervention: The Help An Addict Needs

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by Stephanie Tucker, MDAAC, M.Min.

As he slammed the door to leave, Ann felt that sick, queasy feeling in her stomach. She knew what was next. She always knew what was next, and the chaos and frustration left her paralyzed. Brad promised to quit time and time again. But his promises meant nothing to her anymore.

Ann tried to hold their life together the best she could. She cared for their two daughters and worked a job to pay the bills. But she knew this couldn’t go on. All her efforts to make Brad quit failed. One part of her had love and compassion for him, she knew some of the things he has been through. On the other hand, Ann felt angry, betrayed and let down by his selfish need to go use drugs.

You may have a “Brad” in your life. He or she may be drinking alcohol excessively, using street or prescription drugs or finding another way to “get high” You may be a parent, a spouse, or a family member that simply can’t grasp how someone can continue down this road of insanity. That’s because the behavior of addiction is what the bible calls a stronghold. In full swing, addictive behavior spins completely out of control. The addict no longer chooses to use, the addict must use because of the physical and emotional dependency – and the spiritual nature of bondage.

There are no words that can describe addiction – it is a personal hell that destroys life and relationships. The addict can behave in ways that are inexcusable, yet, as horrible as it appears, the addict is in a self-destructive crisis that requires authentic love and intervention. If we could look at addictive behavior on a diagram, we would find its roots buried back to much deeper issues. Most addicts have already been vulnerable to addictive behavior long before touching a substance. When they pick up alcohol or drugs, it seems the perfect to deal with life.

What Should I Do as a Family Member?

While understanding the nature of addiction is essential, it’s important to understand how you can intervene. In step one of the twelve- step program we are to “admit we were powerless over alcohol (drugs, a person, etc.) and that our lives have become unmanageable.” Dwell on that for a moment. Does it fit your situation? Are you dealing with an alcoholic or addict and simply don’t know what to do? Do all your efforts to “help” seem to only make things worse? If it feels that way, it’s because in some ways it is true.

A person with addictive behaviors won’t respond to manipulation, rationalization or control. In fact, that only makes matters worse. What will an addict respond to? An addict has to come to that place of defeat, realizing that he or she is powerless over alcohol and drugs and that his or her life has spun out of control. When a person reaches this point, he or she will be ready for help. Normally, a person experiences a desire to change when the painful consequences of the addiction have exceeded any benefits.  Family members easily become consumed by the addict’s behavior. They are often trying to protect, help, change and fix the addict, while at the same time feeling resentful and angry. Their efforts to “help” the addict in fact oftentimes allow the addict to stay in his or her disease. How so? If the family members can prevent the painful consequences from being felt by the addict, the family members also prevent the addict from hitting that “rock bottom” place where he or she will want and desire help.

Some ways family members prevent consequences include:

Continually bailing someone out financially

Providing housing for an adult child that should be self-sufficient ·

Calling the addict in “sick” to an employer ·

Bailing someone out of jail repeatedly ·

Believing lies and manipulations in order to appease the addict ·

Blaming self for the addict’s drinking or using

How Do I Intervene?

Educate yourself about addiction. The more you can educate yourself about addiction and treatment through a Christian perspective the more prepared you will be in understanding your role in the overall addiction cycle. We have a multitude of resources on our website and can offer you additional information if you are interested.

Understand Codependency. Many times, family members take on characteristics known as “codependency.” This behavior, although it appears good on the outside, is just as toxic and dangerous as the substance addiction itself. Visit our codependence blog at

Learn to Set Boundaries. You will need to learn to set firm boundaries with the addict. This essentially gives you the ability to love the addict, but refuse the negative behavior in your life.When you learn healthy boundaries, you will stop unknowingly enabling the addict in harmful ways. You may need to stop financially supporting an adult child or physically separate from a spouse (we do not encourage this, especially divorce, but in some circumstances, it is necessary).By allowing your child, husband or wife to face up to his her behaviors in church, work and home, there is a chance that he or she will be closer to wanting help.

Schedule an Intervention. Some people choose to coordinate a planned intervention. This can be a great alternative if you see someone sinking into the depths of addiction. The general idea of an intervention is to clearly and lovingly express your intolerance of the addict’s behavior. You also point out the ways in which the addict’s behaviors have hurt you and other family members/friends. Through an intervention, you must remember that the addict has deeper issues that drove him or her to use in the first place. Simply screaming angry, shaming and frustrated words won’t help, it will in fact cause the addict to run. Through an intervention you are essentially saying that you refuse to tolerate the negative effects of addiction, but you are standing by with love and encouragement, understanding the addict truly needs help. This approach should be gentle, yet firm, with clear-cut consequences if the addict refuses to get help. Most interventions offer the addict an opportunity to get detox or treatment immediately, with a pre-planned option in place.

What if The Intervention Doesn’t Work?

Interventions don’t work if they are not properly presented. Family members close to the addict often have a difficult time being objective: they are prone to either overly protect and defend the addict, allow the addict to manipulate and convince them they are “okay”, or are so bitter they are unable to display any grace whatsoever. Using a professional interventionist is an excellent alternative. The professional interventionist truly knows and understands the addict as well as the struggling family members. This interventionist can lead and direct specific projects, statements and tasks required by each family member. The interventionist spends time planning for the intervention prior to actually confronting the addict. Pastors and church leaders might be another excellent resource to call upon. A pastor that works in recovery or has been exposed to addicts and alcoholics would be most qualified.

Interventions don’t work if the addict truly isn’t ready to stop using. Some addicts simply don’t want to quit. If this is the case, then it is time that you show the addict “tough love”. This is where you want to enforce boundaries and stop enabling the addict to continue to use in any way. By making the addiction more “painful”, there is a better chance the addict will finally decide to get help. Remember, controlling someone else’s behavior is impossible. The purpose of setting boundaries is merely to protect yourself and your family members, and to let the addict know that you love him or her too much to participate in his or her choice to consume alcohol or use drugs in any way.

I’ve Been Told I Need Help.

Why? Whether or not your addict gets help and enters treatment, you can learn to cope in healthy ways.  If you struggle with codependency, you will literally need to unlearn some of the ways you have been functioning in that relationship. Seek counseling, a 12-step program (Al-Anon or Celebrate Recovery) or find guidance from a recovery pastor who understands addiction and codependency. Seek out books and resources. We recommend you visit our codependence blog at

But most importantly, seek out God. This is the time to “let go and let God”. In your recognition of the enormity of substance addiction and your inability to change it, you have the opportunity to hand it over to God (Step 3). Your prayers are by far your most powerful weapon. As you depend on the Lord, He may change the addict in your life, but He will definitely change you and grant you the peace and joy of His presence.

For more information on addiction, codependency or for help in planning an intervention, please contact us at 714-841-1906.

Stephanie Tucker is the codependency and family counselor of New Life Spirit Recovery

Understanding Boundaries

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Without healthy boundaries, we will allow things into our life that don’t belong. We will give away things we should not give away. We will enable a person in an addiction. And ultimately, we will lose our sense of values and beliefs. It is vital to learn healthy boundaries. Do you understand how they are working in your life?

by Stephanie Tucker, MDAAC, MMin.

If you are dealing with an addict in your life, learning healthy boundaries is an essential ingredient in coping with that relationship. It is important to understand that a person functioning with addictive behaviors is doing things that are inappropriate and irresponsible. However, that person is in deep need of authentic love and concern. How can you love a person suffering from addiction? By taking a stand against wrong behavior and addiction itself, while at the same time knowing that your loved one’s brokenness can be the beginning of a new life. You can only do this by defining and setting healthy boundaries in your life. This allows you the opportunity to love that person, but hate and refuse the addictive behaviors that cause pain and conflict in your home. It will also allow the addict to feel the ramifications of choices that you are not willing to tolerate. Often, when family members are committed to no longer enabling the addict, the addict will come to the desperate place of wanting or needing help. This is not an easy task. But in order to do this, it’s important to begin to understand what boundaries are all about.

What is a Boundary?

Boundaries are invisible fences around ourselves that protect what we let in and what we give out. Boundaries in essence say “I belong to me” and “you belong to you.” They establish a system of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  Rather than merely separate, boundaries PROTECT what we possess and value, including our own life and body. By design, boundaries set the course for mutual respect, consideration, protection and safety in all forms of relationships.

Types of Boundaries

Generally speaking, there are two different types of boundaries: external and internal.

External boundaries exist around homes, yards, personal property, desk space, car space, etc. It is very easy to recognize this type of boundary.  They define our property and ownership! For someone to enter into our personal property would be an obvious violation.

Our physical bodies also operate through external boundaries. We have a “space” around us that we generally feel the need to protect. If a stranger gets too close to us, for example, we are naturally inclined to feel somewhat threatened, and will probably take a few steps back to recreate that comfortable space. If we felt we were about to be violated, we would mostly likely try to run.

Internal boundaries are much more difficult to understand  because they deal with our inner person: our soul and spirit. All of God’s principles, laws and promises rest on a perfect set of boundaries He has established through His Word. Although we may attempt to justify certain behaviors, in reality, God does not negotiate His boundaries. They are very specific for each and every area of our life. Each one of them is established to protect and love us.  It is up to us, utilizing the power of the Holy Spirit, to keep those boundaries.   If we compromise the things we understand to be right, we will face the negative consequence. We will hurt our relationship to God.

Emotions are the killer of all our attempts to set and adhere to healthy boundaries. This is because how we feel in a given situation isn’t necessarily what we should do. If our lives are dictated by our emotions rather than our beliefs and convictions, compromise is sure to follow. People who lack emotional boundaries are prone to be manipulated or manipulate others. For example, if you tell a person “no” when they are requesting something from you, they might start to pull the emotional strings that would get you to change your mind. They might try to use guilt, shame or fear to convince you to do what they are requesting. If you heed to those “emotional strings”, you will always break a boundary you have set.

Healthy emotional boundaries protect our heart. They ensure we don’t allow or carelessly give away our hearts and souls to the wrong person who might hurt us. They protect those intimate places in our life where we might be weak and vulnerable. Emotional boundaries also separate our feelings from other people’s feelings. This means another person isn’t responsible for how we feel, nor are we responsible for how another person feels. When we do not have healthy emotional boundaries, we are prone to latch unto people inappropriately, and are unable to separate our emotions from that person. This is the beginning to a downward spiral that will lead to all forms of unhealthy relationship issues.

What Boundaries Do: 

They DO set guidelines in advance for us to follow in all areas of life (In the areas of weakness, we need someone to help us keep our pre-established boundaries)
They DO protect the morals and values we place in our life
They DO protect our rights to be treated with dignity and respect in all relationships.
They DO protect us from allowing someone to enter into our lives wrongly or ask us to do things we don’t want to do
They DO protect us from our own emotional instability in a given situation
They DO act as a warning sign when we are about enter places that are dangerous
They DO prescribe a consequence if the boundary is breached

What Boundaries Don’t Do:

Boundaries DON’T change our heart – if we continually break a boundary it’s because of a stronghold in our soul and spirit that needs to be overcome. This is why we can’t follow all God’s laws and “boundaries” perfectly. Sometimes our hearts must change before our behavior changes.

Boundaries CAN’T be imposed as control used to change the outcome of someone else’s behaviors. We must decide what we will or will not allow, but cannot force another person to change by setting boundaries. Our boundaries are set for ourselves, we do not set other people’s boundaries.

Boundaries DON’T protect or encourage negative behavior, only behavior driven by God’s Word, morals, values and the preciousness of who we are in Christ. If a boundary encourages unhealthy behavior, it has no element of love and protection.

God’s Example

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given a set of boundaries by God. He clearly defined what he would and would not allow in His relationship with them. He also prescribed the consequence upfront so they understood what would happen if the boundaries were violated. Then temptation hit. First, Eve was lured by Satan. He convinced her that she needed something God told her she shouldn’t have. She gave into her emotions rather than heeding to the set boundary. Her husband also broke a boundary by allowing her to convince him that eating the apple was acceptable behavior.

When they broke that boundary and ate the forbidden fruit, the consequences were devastating. God had to impose the consequences, otherwise the boundary itself and His Holiness and authority would be meaningless. But we must remember what happened after that. God forgave that behavior and brought  restoration their lives. Through their one act of disobedience the entire human race was cursed. But as they were truly broken and remorseful for their choice, God responded by sending a plan of salvation.  God’s goal in setting painful consequences? It is a set up to be able to offer forgiveness, healing and newness of life. And a harsh reminder not to commit that behavior again!

This is the essential nature of God’s boundaries:

He establishes them ahead of time and assigns a consequences if they are broken

He establishes them based on His love and desire to protect us, not merely out of control

He gives us the ability to accomplish them by His power living in the inside of us (therefore they are reasonable to accomplish)

He establishes them on the basis of the truth of His Word

He will allow us to feel the consequences if they are broken

When the consequences hurt, God wants us to repent so He can forgive us and restore us

When it comes to dealing with the addict or alcoholic, using God’s principles for setting healthy boundaries is essential. It is important to determine ahead of time what you will or will not allow, and then assign a consequence for that behavior.  Unfounded threats don’t work. “If you do that one more time, I’ll do this”, you might say. But when it all comes down to it, it was merely a threat to change (control) a behavior, not a healthy boundary at all. You have a right to establish boundaries in your home. However you have an obligation to make sure those boundaries are realistic and fair, and founded in love, not control. Most important,  you must be willing and ready to follow through on the consequence, otherwise, the ”fence” (boundary) gets trampled and  is no longer valid.

Sometimes, boundaries are “tough love.” So often, family members struggle with this. Remember something, IT NOT LOVE TO ALLOW SOMEONE TO CONTINUE IN ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR. If you in anyway allow or unknowingly encourage that behavior, you are now participating in it. Rather, as God demonstrates for us, it is loving to place a healthy boundary in your life that protects you and those you love, including the addict, from harmful behaviors. The PAIN OF THAT CONSEQUENCE IS MEANT AS A LOVING METHOD OF EXPRESSING THAT CERTAIN BEHAVIORS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE AND WON’T BE ALLOWED.  But the ultimate goal is not the pain of the consequence. It is the brokenness that follows the painful consequence that holds so much POWER.  In that broken state, forgiveness is offered and recovery begins.

As you learn to set healthy boundaries in all relationships, you may be surprised how often your decisions are based on emotions or the need to please people rather than on your legitimate right to keep your boundary in place. If you struggle with this, ask Jesus to be your “gatekeeper”. Think of Him as the person that is assigning and protecting the “fences” in your life. Think of Him as the person that will also impose a consequence on any violation. You know He’s doing it in love. You know He takes His boundaries very seriously! And you know His ultimate goal is always restoration and new beginnings.

Learn more about codependence and the process of setting healthy boundaries through The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook: From Surviving to Significance


My Family Member is in Treatment, Now What?


by Stephanie Tucker, MDAAC, MMin.

Dealing with a family member’s addiction has most likely been a painful rollercoaster. You’ve reached the bottom at times, and didn’t know how you would be able to continue another day. Watching someone you love destroy his or her life through addiction can be an emotionally exhausting and extraordinarily stressful experience.

So if your family member has finally sought help, why do you continue to feel anxious and stressed out? Why is it that as they are seeking help, you are finding it hard to cope?

Here’s a practical strategy to help ground you as you deal with difficult emotions.

Give Grace

The bible says that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) We can use the same approach in dealing with an addict in our family. If he or she is truly broken and remorseful, now is the time to give grace. This means it is not appropriate to bring up everything wrong that was taking place during the addiction. It is not the time to share your anger or frustration that has been pent up inside you (although you most certainly need to share that with a trusted friend or sponsor). At one point, those issues will need to be addressed, but for now, the addict in your life needs grace.

How do you do this? Be willing to see past an addict’s behavior and know that underneath is a human being in need of God’s healing and forgiveness. God isn’t going to deal with the addict in your life by pointing out all of his or her sinful external behaviors (even though the behaviors are wrong). God wants to find the true person locked underneath the addiction, and reveal to him or her what went wrong that led to this path of destruction in the first place. If the addict in your life is humble and broken, this will be an amazing process ignited by God’s grace. If the addict is not ready for this process and continues to engage in self-centered, rebellious behavior, the process of recovery will not work. Why? Because the “process” is confession, repentance and renouncing of sin. This could never work if one is not willing. If this happens, prepare yourself to set firm, strict boundaries that will no longer tolerate or permit the behavior surrounding addiction in your life.

Be Understanding and Educated about Addiction

Unfortunately, many people truly don’t understand addictive behavior, even people who truly do mean well. They see an addict’s behavior as personal weakness or willful rebellion. However, when in full swing, addiction is no longer a conscious choice, but something the bible calls a stronghold. (although at one point a choice was made that brought the addict to this point.) In the addiction cycle, the physical body is addicted, but the true cause is rooted in spiritual and emotional damage. These roots must be dealt with properly in order for true change to occur. The most important step in recovery is a full admission that one is powerless over addiction, BUT that God is more powerful. A true surrender to God through Jesus Christ brings all the power necessary to overcome addiction. This surrender doesn’t account for the transformation (sanctification) process that happens more gradually. An addict needs to learn how to live life again, change one day at time, and receive lots of support from others going through the same thing.

Set Realistic Relationship Expectations

Relationships take time to heal. An addict in recovery needs time to focus on self. Many times, family members feel this process is “selfish”, and feel angry or hurt that they are being left out. Understand, addiction truly affects and infects the entire family system. At New Life Spirit Recovery, the addict will spend much time learning about proper relationship skills and God’s plan for the family. However, focusing on relationships cannot happen until the addict in your life has addressed his or her personal issues, including the root causes for the addictive behavior. Don’t pressure your family member to become the spouse, child, mother, father or friend that you have wanted and need. Rather, patiently wait for that healing process to take root and spend much time in prayer, relying on God to change that person. Understand, it may take some time before the relational issues can be fully addressed. If true recovery occurs, this will happen.

Set Boundaries

While you will be required to forgive the addict in your life, you do not need to allow that behavior again in the future. Whether you are a spouse, parent, friend or church leader, this is the time to set boundaries that you can stick with. As a spouse or parent, you may want to clearly stake out those things you will not allow, and set specific consequences.

When working on developing boundaries, seek help from a wise person or sponsor who understands true recovery. Remember, it gets tricky at times, because as much as boundaries are necessary, there are times when grace is warranted. Knowing the difference can be difficult if you are learning to set healthy boundaries for the first time. Your loved one will also be learning in treatment how to set healthy boundaries. That means this is an excellent opportunity for both of you to mutually set loving boundaries and agree to have a mutual plan for accountability, expectations and consequences.

Prepare for Transition

If the addict in your life truly does begin a transformation process, prepare yourself for a major transition in the family/relationship. You may have grown accustomed for overly caring for that person. In some ways, you may experience a sense of loss in the relationship. All the things you have been doing for that person will suddenly be unnecessary. As strange as it may be, when we have dysfunctional relationships due to addiction, everyone can adapt so much that when the addict gets better, the other family members don’t know how to readjust. Prepare for some transition difficulties. You may not feel comfortable with your husband’s desire to lead the family again. You may not feel comfortable that your adult child wants to be entirely independent. But in reality, these are GOOD! Still, it’s entirely possible and even probable that this transition may be emotionally uncomfortable for you. If you are doing your part through educating yourself about addiction and codependency and participating in support groups, you and the addict in your life stand an excellent chance of coming through this with a healthy and whole relationship. It takes two people willing to address their personal contribution to the problem to allow the relationship to heal. If you feel especially challenged in this area, you may want to consider finding a counselor who has a biblical understanding of addiction to help you.

Learn to Refocus

Oftentimes, it can be as difficult to be the person supporting an addict in treatment as the person actually going through treatment. The addict in treatment is surrounded by supportive people who understand where he or she has been. You, on the other hand, may feel entirely alone. What should you do? The hardest part is for you to truly let go. Resolve to take the focus off the addict, (you can of course continue to pray) and take time to understand what is going on inside you. What are you feeling? Are you angry or hurt? Have you lost your identity while focusing too much on the addict and not enough on yourself? Use this time to connect to God and ask for His wisdom and strength. Ask yourself how you may have contributed to the negative relationship symptoms. Most family members have some form of codependency. Ironically, these issues can contribute to the problem so much, that if they are not addressed, they will prevent a proper healing to take place in the relationship. If you would like more information on codependency, you can contact one of our counselors. You can also find a local 12-step meeting such as Celebrate Recovery, Al-Anon or Codependency Anonymous. This will bring you the much needed support to get through this time and the transition of recovery.

Stephanie Tucker is the Codependency and Family Counselor at New Life Spirit Recovery

Do You Know What It Means to Be Free?


By Stephanie Tucker

What does it mean to be free on the inside? For some of us, it might seem a strange question. For others, we might understand where we found that freedom. Freedom on the inside occurs when as humans we realize that we fall short and need the resources from God to make our life work. It isn’t just a matter of professing our faith in Jesus Christ, it entails an entire systemic change where we surrender and give God access to every aspect of our life. It means that we are not bound to anything or anyone that would control or prevent us from being all that God intended us to be. When we are free, we are in alignment with our Creator – all thing fall under His authority in our life. When we are not free, however, another force dominates us. We become entangled in things that take us away from God’s true purpose and plan for us.

 The Rule of Freedom versus Domination

To put in perspective, think of freedom in terms of nations. The United States of America is founded above all on freedom. It protects and gives right to individuals, allowing them to make choices within the confines of the laws. This allows people to pursue their interests, to worship in their own churches, to choose their own career and to express their individuality in a variety of ways. These choices may or may not align with God’s truth, but the purpose of freedom is in choice.

On the other hand, nations under dictatorship rule impose standards on their citizens. People living under the authority of that power axle may be told how to dress, who to worship, what to speak, what to read or what property to own. In this environment, individual freedoms are lost, and thus the people are not able to live and express their own choices. That means the people of that nation are enslaved.

The very notion of freedom isn’t political; it’s a system God put in place when He created mankind. God gave Adam and Eve the gift of freedom – this means He didn’t create them to be mere robots that were forced to do His will. With that freedom came choice and responsibility. Why would God do such a thing when He could have prevented them from sinning in the first place?    If God took personal freedom away, He would have been a mere dictator, forcing people and controlling people through domination, not because of the freedom in their hearts.  Being in that position would violate the heart of God – which above all else chooses to respect the human race and enter into relationship with His children on the basis of love.

In our own lives, the struggle to keep our hearts in the position of freedom is always at play. For those of us in recovery, we may have encountered a power that overtook us, such as drugs and alcohol, which removed our ability to make choices. Under its influence, we became bound to compulsively need more, thus we became completely enslaved.

But the loss of freedom comes in many others way, some much more subtle and difficult to recognize. This means we don’t just need to be under the influence of a drug or other form of addiction to be in bondage.

Ways We Aren’t Free

We can be bound in our hearts in a variety of ways. Sometimes, people with addictions get the help they need because their addictions are obvious. But we can be suffering from a loss of freedom inside of our hearts and not even be aware. Here are some examples:

We have a religious mind-set rather than a grace-based mindset – Whenever we begin to live the Christian life based on an external check-list of what we do or don’t do, we are in some form of bondage. Some of the most important freedom we find as Christians is freedom from sin’s condemnation. We realize that God’s gift of freedom and forgiveness is something we can’t purchase. That means there isn’t something we can do or not do to take it away.

For those of us that may not have come into contact yet with the depths of the love of God, we may be accustomed to “working for God” or trying to “win over” His approval or the approval of others. This form of “buying” love or approval stands in direct opposition to the free nature of God’s gifts, gifts He offers us through His grace. Anyone who has this mentality in their life needs a richer, more personal understanding of this grace.

We hold someone else responsible for our feelings or actions – Whenever we find ourselves holding a human being in the position of being in charge of why we feel or act a certain way, we have empowered that person.  In essence, they have a form of “ownership” of our life, whether or not they asked for it. That’s not to say we can’t be influenced by people, but when there is a direct string that attaches us to another person in such a way that we find it difficult to understand we begin and they end, we are in a form of bondage. This is also a symptom of codependency.

When we attempt to control another person – Whether outward and obvious, or subtle and manipulative, when we are engaged in relationships where we are trying to dominate how another person thinks, feels or acts, we’ve taken a position of control that contradicts God’s principles. This can be rather difficult to see, especially if we tend to believe we are truly benefitting the people in our lives who we wish to control, such as an adult child or spouse.

Sometimes, our efforts to control others are methods to manage and deal with our fears and insecurities. We begin to think that if we can control the people in our life, we’ll be able to feel stable. However, this rarely occurs. Trying to control another person only makes matters worse.

Other times, we may have learned to use control as a form of power over others, thus use it to get what we need or desire in relationships. This mindset is similar to a dictator – and clearly is a form of bondage that needs to be dealt with.

We allow our emotions to dictate our reality – For anyone who has struggled with depression or serious anxiety, those symptoms are real. For those who deal with anger and rage, those symptoms are also real. But where we have an emotional issue in our life that is paralyzing us to the point that we can’t overcome it in a healthy way, our hearts are not free. Emotions are indicators of deeper underlining issues. When we can find those root issues and deal with them according to God’s provisions in our lives, the emotional issues might not completely end initially, but we won’t feel as though they have to overpower all aspects of our lives. If we emotional issues that feel out of control, it’s an indication that need to deal with something significant.

We are self-sufficient – In a culture that encourages self-sufficiency and independence, it’s difficult to recognize that it is actually a form of bondage rather than freedom. Our chronic need to manage our own life, fix our own problems and meet our own needs removes the ability of God to provide in our lives. It causes us to depend on ourselves rather than Him, thus leaves us exhausted and unable to overcome the trials of life.

What to Do If My Heart Isn’t Free

If you recognize areas where you don’t have freedom, it simply means that there is a life awaiting you that will allow you to become who God intended you become if you will surrender and trust Him. God doesn’t just come to bring us abundance in the material sense; He comes to bring abundance to our souls – to restore us and position us for the life He designed for us to live. This abundance produces in us His resources – love, peace, grace, kindness, patience, compassion.  It doesn’t take away the challenges of life, however, it just gives us a better way to deal with them.

So how can you get free? It’s important to know that it’s not your own efforts that will get you on track. As we begin to understand that we have bondage in our life, we must also understand that the Only One who can deliver us is our Lord Jesus. It’s easy to profess Jesus Christ with our lips, but we also must give Him access into our hearts. This requires that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, honest and authentic before Him.

Many times we stay in our bondage and adapt our lives around it. While we may not be free, we are scared of what the cost might be if we truly surrendered fully to God. Therefore, we keep hanging on, missing out on God’s authentic purpose for us. In order to move into freedom, we must first understand that God does not force us into relationship with Him, and therefore, will only go to the places where we grant Him permission.

Giving God Access:

The only cure for a lack of freedom in our hearts is through an invitation to our Lord Jesus. We must:

  1. Acknowledge/face the areas of my life where I’m in bondage and bringing it openly before the Lord.
  2. Confess and ask for His forgiveness and grace to cover me
  3. Allow (give permission) to God, through the Holy Spirit, to get into the deep areas of my heart so He can reveal the roots that have driven me into bondage. This may take time, and it may be painful at times.
  4. Continually denounce the things that I hold onto that replace the provisions of God – and continually announce the authority of God to manage my life on my behalf

Prayer of Deliverance

Father God,

I acknowledge that I’ve allowed things into my life that have placed me in bondage. I chose these things to survive, to feel good or to independently manage my life apart from you. I realize that I have been caught in a trap. I can’t get out of it on my own. I don’t even have the capability to understand or know what is happening in my heart. Lord, today, I release these things over to you and surrender my heart and my life to you.  I pray that you would take me out of the trap I climbed into. I give you permission to get on the inside of me and reveal and deal with those things in my life that led me into bondage. I pray to renounce each and every sin, relationship or mentality that stands in contradiction to your truth. I announce that I am a precious child of God, free in Your truth and free to become who you created me to become.  Father, I need your grace because I know that I won’t be zapped overnight. Lead me to the right recovery community or support system so that I can learn to walk out that freedom from here on out.

In Jesus Name,


What’s My Role in Addiction? Families Dealing with the Cycle of Addiction

by Stephanie Tucker, MDAAC, M.Min

Over and over again family members come to us confused, angry and overcome by a sense of hopelessness and fear that their loved one’s addiction is out of control, and may even lead to death. They have grown weary of trying to help the addict in their life, and don’t know where to turn. Perhaps you can relate to their pain. The question is what, if anything, can you really do to help a person in an addiction? Do you have a part in your loved one’s  recovery? The answer may not be the one you’ve been seeking, but it is still an emphatic YES!  

Confronting Your Role: Have I become an Enabler?

No matter how frustrated you might have become by your loved one’s addiction, it is important to understand how you may be unknowingly participating in the addiction cycle.  Trying to help an addict is a difficult and often impossible task. While most family and friends truly mean well, they sometimes end up falling in the trap of becoming an enabler. If you are covering up, excusing or overly trying to fix the addict in your life, there is a good chance you fall in this category. Enablers have good intentions, but as the addiction cycle progresses, they become as much a part of the problem as the addiction itself. Here are some key ingredients of understanding if you are showing the signs of enablement: 

  1. Feeling as though your “help” will get the addict out of his or her addiction.
  2. Doing for the addict what he or she can and should be doing for himself or herself.
  3. Continually providing money, housing and other things to “make up” for what the addict isn’t handling well. Being overly responsible to compensate for the addict’s irresponsible behavior.
  4. Telling “white lies” or covering up negative behavior in order to rescue the addict from consequences.  This could include calling in “sick” to a boss or helping the addict avoid legal ramifications.

Help! What should I do now?

If you recognize any of these behaviors, you need to get to help. The key lesson is for you to learn to establish boundaries. You must be willing to allow the addict in your life to feel the consequences of his or her behavior so he or she may be driven to want help. It is important that you understand that addiction is a manifestation of deeper emotional and spiritual problems. The addict needs to address the underlying roots that have lead up to this behavior. To simply tell an addict to “stop” won’t work. Instead, you must hold the addict accountable for his or her responsibilities, obligations and roles. It is true that the addict is not able to function, but this very behavior must be confronted as unacceptable. Facing consequences for behavior is the key for each and every person in addictive behavior.  It is in these consequences that the pain and loss may become so great, the addict will finally seek help. How do you do this? You must decide beforehand what you will NOT allow, and propose a consequence if your loved one chooses to disrespect this. When that boundary is broken, you must be willing to allow the addict to feel and bear the burden of responsibility for his or her action. This may mean losing a job, losing money, losing a place to live or having to face jail time. This is not meant to be easy, that is why it is called “tough love.” Remember, this battle is for life and death.

Is that Really Love?

God’s love is unique, and provides guidelines in all our relationships. The thing we must realize about God’s love is that it operates in TRUTH and HOLINESS. God does not allow us to continue in our sin and bad choices without feeling the consequences. He lets us hurt, ONLY so that we will run to Him and allow Him alone to fix what is not working. We need to understand that when we allow a person to continue in his or her destructive behavior without allowing consequences, we are hurting him or her deeply. In fact, this is not love at all, but a term that we refer to as codependence. But just as God gives consequences for bad behavior, He does so for the motive of grace and forgiveness. He doesn’t WANT an addict to continue down a path of destruction. He hopes that eventually when the pain is so severe, He’ll be able to snatch an addict from Satan’s grip. We must link boundaries and allowing painful consequences with the true purpose: to give the addict the opportunity to experience God’s grace and mercy. Ultimately, God separates our behaviors from who we really are. God doesn’t always approve of what we do, but He ALWAYS approves our core being because we are stamped, sealed and claimed as His very own child!  Remember, you never have to like or approve a behavior, but you can love a person no matter what.

A Time to Surrender

Addiction is a horrible stronghold. In full swing, an addict no longer is making a rationale choice, but is in complete bondage. By understanding this, you can stop trying to control, fix and change that person. You need to give that person over to God to allow His power to work in that person alone. It is amazing that when we make this transaction, we will experience a tremendous sense of freedom and peace, understanding God is bigger than addiction (and our own efforts!).   

Oftentimes, people who have become enablers have issues in their own lives that need to be addressed. Do not be afraid to learn more about codependence and seek help. This may be a tremendous opportunity for your own personal growth!

Practical Applications: 

  1. Decide to love the person in your life struggling with an addiction, but hate and stand against his or her addictive behaviors. Realize you are at war with an addiction, but the person underneath truly needs help and love.
  2. Surrender this person over to God. It is His power alone that can set a person free. Spend more time praying and less time trying to fix the situation. Understand that you may be getting in the way of God’s way of dealing with him or her.
  3. Decide right now what you will NOT allow as a result of your loved one’s addiction. Determine consequences if the addict violates this. This may simply mean that you no longer intervene or try to save him or her, or you no longer will provide financial support.
  4. Get help and support for yourself. You too deserve and need the tools to find a peaceful and fulfilling life no matter what the addict in your life chooses to do. Join an Al-Anon or Celebrate Recovery group, or find a trusted friend who understands addiction and what you are going through.

Stephanie Tucker is the Codependency and Family Counselor at New Life Spirit Recovery

Embracing Identity

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by Stephanie Tucker, CS, MDAAC, M.Min.                                                     

Codependency takes on many forms and symptoms. (To learn about the symptoms of codependency, click here)  One of the most challenging areas lies in self-identity. Most people who struggle with codependency have a difficult time seeing themselves from a healthy perspective.
They are often prone to overly focus on the needs of others, while unknowingly disconnecting to self. Instead of being free to live the life that God intended, they get worn down, burdened, guilt-ridden and overwhelmed by a sense of responsibility.  Life becomes a constant race to try to accommodate and meet the demands of other people and circumstances. Song of Solomon 1:6 describes a young lady suffering from this very condition. She says “They made me caretaker of the vineyards, But I have not taken care of my own vineyard.” It is truly a sad situation when in our efforts to seemingly help others, we are unable to care for ourselves and even lose ourselves. If this describes you, take some time right now to pray and ask God to begin to work a process in you that will connect you back to who you are. While this article is intended to provide some guidance, it is truly only the Guidance of the Holy Spirit that can bring you through the journey of embracing true identity.

What Is Identity?

Some of us may not have ever really understood the question “who am I?” our entire life. We may have assumed we would figure it out as we went along – as we found the right job, the right spouse, the right life. Yet true identity isn’t any of those things.  True identity isn’t found by merely looking at the tasks or good deeds we’ve performed. It isn’t found through our professional credentials, church position, education or personal success. It isn’t even found by the roles we play day to day, such as a mother, wife, father, husband, etc. In fact, identity isn’t about what we do, it is about who we are at our core level.

We can only find true identity by going to the Person that claims ownership of us. It is through our Creator that we find the significance and value of who we truly are. If you own a piece of equipment, what do you reference to understand how it works? You read the owner’s manual, written by the manufacturer. God is our manufacturer, and His Word is our owners manual. He know exactly where we are today, and can see those things that aren’t working quite right. What an amazing perspective this brings to life! God is fully in control of who we are and desires that we see ourselves through His eyes, not our own ideas and belief that are not based on biblical facts. That means we don’t overly estimate or underestimate who we are, we simply accept we are product of His very own hand and His very own heart. His ultimate goal is that we be transformed into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true identity and purpose of our life! This translates into hundreds of precious and marvelous promises and truths found in His Word.

When Things Get Broken

Because we live in a fallen world and in fallen flesh, things get broken along the way in our life. We can easily become entangled in sinful hang-ups without even realizing it. We become overwhelmed by difficult relationships and our efforts to change and fix others. Before we know it, life itself isn’t working. No matter how hard we try, we can’t get the results we are looking for. Our routines and patterns we adjusted to simply to “survive” quickly become habits and strongholds. They eventually lead to a variety of character defects. If these character defects overwhelm our life, they can be misconstrued as our identity, or essentially, define who we are. But this inaccurate. We are NOT defined by our defects.

The most significant principle to grasp in this journey is that separation must take place between the person God made you to be, and the sin nature and devastation sin has caused in your life. Sadly, many well-meaning churches and Christians never learn to differentiate between the two. Never mistake a confident, grounded, joyful person who has learned to walk in the freedom of God’s grace as someone prideful. God intended us to be free and experience Him in abundance. He paid a price for our sin and our sin nature. And it is only when we recognize that, surrender to Him and receive His Spirit that we are restored back to the person we were meant to be. Piece by piece, one step at a time, God will remove the tarnish in our life.  Just the same, if we never acknowledge sin or the need to be made right, we’ll never become the person God intended us to be.

Leaving the Baggage Behind
If it sounds easy, what holds us back from living in light of this reality? There are two vital ingredients in finding and being established in true identity: removing the faulty belief systems and “baggage” we’ve carried and replacing those lies with the Truth of God’s Word. In order to begin to uncover those things that are blocking and preventing us from living out the life God intended for us, we must be fully surrendered to the biblical process of change. This means we must have a willingness to allow God to “gut out” the lies we have believed, the sinful mentalities we carry and the bitterness we may be harbouring towards others. Recovery is all about removing and ridding the damaging effects of sin (our sin and other people’s sin against us.). The 12 Step program is a direct tool to work through this, but we are going to look at a brief overview we use in our treatment program.

The Process of Securing Identity

The process of recovery (sanctification, transformation) automatically ushers in a solid sense of identity. Therefore, as we make genuine recovery a goal, we find that our identity becomes more and more in line with what God intended. Here are some core functions of that process:

Stop running, cease striving
A codependent by nature has a difficult time admitting and coming to terms with sin and wrongdoing (or might be overly sensitive to it). We might be hiding behind “good” efforts to run away from the shame we feel inside. Instead of hiding, God wants us to confront reality. He isn’t interested in our efforts to impress Him through our deeds. Going to church, reading the bible and helping others mean very little unless we are truly connected to the Lord through a humble, open and honest relationship. He’s interested in our humility and willingness to say “this is wrong with me, this is how I’ve sinned, please forgive me”.

Stop Doing
As we surrender to God’s grace, we will find that He begins to clearly separate what we do from who we are. If we are bound by our personal efforts to please other people, or need to “feel good” through “good behaviors”, God will make us painfully aware that He is not interested in this mindset at all. The only thing God is after is the “real you”  that no-one else on this earth can replace. Everything else – sins, habits and hang-ups, need to be removed. It is not in our trying and doing, but in our true surrender that God has His way in our life.

See Reality
If we stay focused on the recovery process, God will begin to show us at deeper levels the beliefs and roots that have been driving our behavior, whether it’s insane efforts to fix, sustain and please others, or chemical addictive behavior. God wants to break through at the very places of our pain – He will uncover the reasons why we do the things we do. It might be a difficult childhood, abuse issues or some other traumatic event. Only your heavenly Father truly knows and understands where you are today. No human being could ever see or understand you like He does. We must be willing to see behind the surface of our outward behavior for God to show us what lies deep in our hearts that needs to be healed.

Seek forgiveness.
God may bring us through a season of pain if we begin to connect to emotions and realities that have been hidden and repressed. His ultimate goal in this process is quite simply forgiveness. But before forgiveness can be applied as the remedy, we must understand and diagnose the problem. That’s why we go through a process first if we’ve been in some form of denial.  As God exposes the damage and sin in us, we ask for and receive God’s forgiveness by repenting of our sins. Just the same, we need to be ready to GIVE forgiveness to others. Forgiveness is something we can easily say with our mouth, but having it in our hearts is altogether different.  God forgives and loves PEOPLE, not BEHAVIORS. He expects the same of us. We can forgive people, but we need never forgive certain acts. If you struggle with forgiving others, it’s essential that you evaluate and understand how God has forgiven you. “Forgiven” people are “forgiving” people.

Receive Truth. What we believe is ultimately what we become. While God has given us truth, we can choose to whether or not to believe it. The process of restoration happens only as we truly embrace Truth into our life. In this process, we may be astonished to discover the types of lies we have believed. The only way we can encounter Truth and dispel lies is by diligently praying and seeking out a personal relationship with our Lord. We must read His Word while allowing the Spirit of God to apply it specifically to our lives. (Refer again to the chart “Who I Am in Christ)

The most remarkable part of the journey of recovery is getting rid of the damage and the curse of sin in order to receive God’s blessings and fullness in our life.  As we’ve learned, our purpose and identity as a child of God was damaged along the way. Through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, we are reconnected to our original purpose. Through Him, we are being restored each and every day.

Remember, when the attacks to your identity come from other people and from your own thought life, you must fight back with the truth of who GOD SAYS YOU ARE. As you begin to approach the challenges and circumstances in your life, having this perspective brings all power necessary through Christ. God will show you where you are overly focused on other people, and will show you how to appropriately love and give to others in your life. You may always be a kind, caring person sensitive to others, but you will learn how to be that way with healthy boundaries. You may always function in a role of helping others, but you will be motivated by the right reason. You will do so in the power of the Holy Spirit. God will use all the things that ever happened in your past for your good and His glory. As you mature, you will be able to truly see and understand the needs of those around you in order to minister to them as you are directed by the Spirit of God.

Do you know who you are today? Do you know to whom you belong? Seek after Him! Embrace all He intended for your life. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plan I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

If you are not sure you have established a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, please learn more about that today.
It’s the ONLY way you could ever find your true purpose and identity.

Stephanie Tucker is the codependency and family counselor of New LIfe Spirit Recovery

Facing Codependency

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by Stephanie Tucker, MDAAC, M.Min.

If you are like many, you may feel confused by the term codependency. I know I certainly was at one point in my life. When I was confronted with my codependent behaviors, I reasoned it was simply a part of my personality. When I became a Christian, however, I was forced to face that my relational skills were unhealthy. As much as I desired to change, I found myself “stuck” in old mentalities and a way of functioning that crippled me from growing spiritually or emotionally. Eventually, through a variety of circumstances that took the very things and people out of my life I depended on, my eyes were opened. I understood that above all, God wanted a full surrender. When this happened, He taught me how I needed to let go of people and let Him alone change them and me. He taught me this change happens only through Him, and striving and efforts to change myself or others will always fail. He taught me to focus less on helping others to satisfy my own needs, and focus more on being like Jesus so He could help others through me (the people HE chose me to help!). What a journey it has been.  

Today, God has called me to teach and counsel in the area of codependency .  I am amazed by how many people are completely paralyzed by its effects. These are often “good people” who sit in church pews every Sunday, and people who would never appear to have any problems in the world. One of the biggest problems with codependency is that it disguises and hides itself very well. That is the reason for this article, to begin to face and understand the nature of codependency.  

How about you? Do you understand codependency? Let’s start by taking a look at some of the common symptoms. Check to see if these apply in your life.

Codependency Checklist

  • Feeling personally responsible for the way others feel and act
  • Needing to be loved by another person in order to feel validated and significant
  • Believing with enough effort, love can be earned
  • Losing own interests and identity in close relationships. Defining sense of self through another person, with  no separation of emotions, feelings and attitudes (happy if they are happy, sad if they are sad)
  • Changing self (becoming a chameleon) to fit in with peers, friends, and family members, even if it means compromising moral and spiritual convictions.
  • Compelling fear of being alone or abandoned; or, isolating from close relationships to avoid rejection altogether
  • Overly caring for other people to the neglect of own needs.
  • Tolerating mistreatment or abuse from people while excusing their behavior (he didn’t mean it, he’s just having a bad day)
  • Avoiding conflict with other people to the point of being unable to speak true feelings or directly ask for legitimate needs. 
  • Covering up for irresponsible people in life by lying or “filling in the gaps” to “help” them.
  • Doing for others what they should be doing for themselves, while neglecting own responsibilities or needs in the process
  • Telling frequent “white lies” out of fear that truth might not be accepted or will lead to some sort of rejection. These “white lies” can come in the form of exaggeration and covering up things that aren’t necessarily wrong in order to feel accepted.
  • Becoming an enabler by protecting a person from emotional pain or consequences of their unhealthy behaviors, such as using drugs and alcohol.
  • Directly or indirectly attempt to fix, manage or control another person’s problems, even if it was meant in a loving way.  
  • Living in constant crisis. Feeling empty, bored or unimportant when not helping someone or responding to a crisis situation                                                                                                                     
  • Trying to please people by going out of the way to be helpful, thoughtful or caring, and then becoming angry or discouraged when they don’t respond a certain way
  • Migrating towards people who need help, yet having a difficult time receiving help from others.  
  • Having a difficult time saying “no”, even when it causes compromise
  • Worrying about other people’s feelings so much that their problems affect own feelings significantly.
  • Feeling responsible for others emotional, spiritual and physical needs; feeling the need to “save and rescue” people from bad feelings even when the situation may be very unhealthy and dangerous.
If you can identify with two or more of these, there is a good chance you have codependent tendencies.

So What Exactly is Codependency?

The term codependency was originally created to describe the significant other of an alcoholic/addict. This is because it became evident that just as the alcoholic had addictive symptoms and behaviors, their family member/partner also shared behaviors that were addictive in nature (the codependent is addicted to the alcoholic/addict). However, codependency is much broader then simply being involved with a substance abuser. In fact, that is a symptom, not the actual problem at all.  
There are many definitions and understandings of codependency, but I define it as a series of adaptive relationship skills used to function in relationships that are unhealthy and lack genuine love, relationships that do not have God at the center. Codependency reflects an inner brokenness and a foundation that is people-based rather that God-based. This foundation drives a codependent to find someone or something outside of themselves to meet their deepest emotional and spiritual needs. It puts people in the place of God.  
Codependent behaviors are usually formed as coping mechanisms in a dysfunctional family system (a family operating outside of God’s plan). In this environment, the codependent is usually  the “good one”  trying to make up for what is lacking. The codependent appears caring, concerned, loving, responsible and will continually attempt to solve the problems of the family. The codependent role in the family unit/relationship is to care for the needs of others, but in the process will neglect self.  A codependent appears very healthy, strong and without need of assistance to the outside observer. Their problems, which in actuality are quite extensive, appear to extend to other people in their life that struggles with addiction, violence, mental illness, etc.
Let me use “Mary” as an example. Mary was not in an addictive relationship, so it was difficult for her to come to a place where she even saw she had anything wrong with her. In fact, she wasn’t even getting counseling for herself! She was looking for a solution to everyone else! When I first met with her, she had whirlwind of activity in her life. She spent a significant amount of time describing the people in her life with problems and what she felt those people needed to do. She talked about her endless attempts and efforts to make these people change. She felt discouraged and hopeless that her attempts hadn’t gotten the results she wanted. By now, she had become downright angry and bitter. She was blaming how she felt on the unhealthy people in her life. When asked if she thought those people changing would affect her, she immediately said “yes”. She felt that if they changed, it would actually solve all her problems. It is her belief system that the people in her life shaped and defined who she was as a person.
Mary had a hard time talking about herself, and continually fixated on the people in her life she was struggling with. If she did talk about herself, it was awkward for her. Deep down, she felt victimized that she has been required to do so much in her relationships, yet her efforts weren’t reciprocated.  She felt she had no choice but to compensate for people in her life who were irresponsible or unavailable.   She felt she was by design made to help people. She felt she was strong. Yet at the core, a gnawing, nagging loneliness existed that she couldn’t quite describe. In all her busyness, her life was empty.   
What is going on here? Mary is a typical codependent. She is consumed in the problems and needs of others around her. She directly links herself to them, and believes her entire sense of worth, value and purpose rests in what they do or say. She is detached and disconnected with herself. She doesn’t know who she is, so she obsessively focuses on the others in her life
This is a truly tragic place for a person to be, yet it can happen so easily before even recognizing there is an even larger problem. At first, anyone with Mary’s tendencies will insist on continually focusing on those “other people”. They will insist that their only real problems are other people’s problems. But deep down, there is much more going on. A person with these behaviors is yearning for love and acceptance, and has developed a belief system that doing for others will be rewarded with a sense of validation and usefulness.
To take a person from this place of codependency through the journey of healing requires some important ingredients. In other articles, we will discuss more specifically some of the attributes of codependency and the significance of the recovery process. But for now, I’d like to introduce a preview of the solution.

Recovering from Codependency:

My personal experience with recovery was not found in a 12-step meeting, it was entirely through an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. However, I believe these types of groups are healthy and essential for recovery. The 12 steps are a practical, yet biblical formula for genuine change. Yet the major roadblock that prevents a codependent person from healing is when a person or group of people is placed before God. Sometimes, a time of aloneness in recovery may be necessary in order for God to get our attention and learn how to place Him first. That is in no way meant to discourage from reaching out to others. Isolation is also a dangerous place to be unless God orchestrates it to teach you the lesson of depending on Him alone. There is a healthy need for other people. God’s long-term plans are always for us to be in relationships.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the key aspects of genuine recovery in codependency:   
Coming out of denial: A person with codependent behavior needs to confront reality and admit there is a problem. (Step 1 of the 12 step program) Often, codependents are covered in thick layers of denial that prevents them from seeing what is really happening. After all, they appear to the healthy one in relationships, it’s everyone else that is sick, right? Wrong!!! Codependency behavior is very sick – it can drive us to insanity literally. Admitting that we have a problem is absolutely necessary in order for true change to occur.
Surrender of Self and Others to God: We need a power Higher than ourselves to be restored to sanity (Step 2 of the 12 step program). This Higher Power is our Creator, Maker and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Without Him in the process, we could never find true Solution or wholeness. In fact, it is Him MISSING that has set the wheels in motion for our dysfunctional behaviors. So when we invite into our lives AND surrender our will to His (Step 3), we are guaranteed to be on the road to healing. How exactly do you surrender? Simply pray and ask for the ability to do so. God will move heaven and earth to answer that prayer, but be prepared for serious changes as a result.  
Cease Control: We must acknowledge that we are unable to see ourselves when we are fixated on others. We must detach and learn to let go. We have had people on the throne in place of God. We must stop allowing others to influence and affect the way we think, feel and act. These other people may not have even asked for that, but in an effort to please them, we allow it to happen.  Furthermore, we must stop believing we have the ability to change others with enough efforts, we do not. We must cease control and give it over to God.    
Face Self: Codependents are normally very detached from who they really are and the inner pain that is driving them. They have been so busy “doing”, they lost their true identity along the way. There are a series of deeply rooted issues and sin that takes a person to this place. All these issues must be addressed. (Steps 4-7). It is important to rid toxic thoughts and beliefs. In the healing process, we learn to forgive people who have violated us, but we also learn that we do not need to accept wrongful behaviors. We learn to establish healthy boundaries. We learn to receive forgiveness from God. We learn to forgive ourselves. (Steps 8-9)
God doesn’t call us to walk the journey alone. If we allow Him, He will hold our hand, guide us and show us the areas in our life that need correction. This can be a painful process. But most importantly, He will give us unconditional love, acceptance and peace as we go through recovery.   
Align our Identity and Value with Jesus Christ: As we experience more of Jesus, we will begin to learn how to see how valuable, precious and loved we are. This is how healthy self esteem is established. We will see ourselves as God sees us. People will be small, and God will be big! We will begin to understand God’s perspective of us matters far more than anything or anyone else. When we experience the love of Jesus, it will change our outlook on everything. We will understand that mere humans could never, ever have the power to change us, and therefore, we will also understand that we could never have the power to change them! We will further understand that human love could never replace the love of God. (Step 11)
Restore Relationships Properly – In codependency, we have been consumed in helping and fixing others. It may seem that many of those acts of kindness were Christian-like, but usually the motivation behind them was wrong.  In fact, many times codependents are enablers and encourage and reward negative behavior. It’s one thing to do things for others to gain a sense of validation and approval, or simply to feel better about ourself. It’s something altogether different to help others through the power of Jesus Christ for no other benefit then to be obedient to Him.  Genuine love is something we need to get from God in order to give to others.
We must remember that it is not our efforts, but our dependence on Christ Jesus, that gives us the ability to truly help others (Step 12). God is not requiring we give up relationships, in fact He wants our close relationships restored (if they are proper). He is simply requiring that we no longer place people in front of Him.  Once that is done, relationships stand a chance of getting on the right track. Remember, however, it is not up to us to change others. You can be a living testimony, but your efforts to make someone change will always fail. Learn to pray for them instead, because God DOES have the power to bring change into their lives.
Establish Healthy Boundaries – As we learn to be more healthy, we must protect ourselves from allowing unhealthy people and beliefs in our life. We must stand against abusive or negative behavior while loving the people in our life. Boundaries give us the ability to let in or keep out these negative behavior. Having the courage to make a stand in this area can be difficult. Finding a sponsor or mentor is an important step to maintain healthy boundaries.  
As we take gradual steps towards walking with God, over time, our entire belief system about love and relationships will change. We will learn to let people go. We will learn that we do not control the world, but God does. We will not feel overly responsible for others. 

But above all, the only way to truly understand and heal from codependency is to know and encounter the love of God. It is literally an antidote for all the insanity behind codependency. When we reach our hands out for the Lord and ask Him to be put first, in the very place He was designed to hold, an entirely new world is awaiting us. We learn to see ourselves as He sees us, love ourselves as He loves us, and receive all that He has for us to give away to others.

Have you received Him? If so, make today a new beginning.
Stephanie Tucker is the codependency and family counselor at New Life Spirit Recovery