My dilemma is I've been involved with an alcoholic for the last 2 ½ years. I just recently broke it off. I know I can't change him, but can I help him to know our Lord and Savior?
Honestly, when I'm with him, I don't like myself. He brings out rage in me. I become judgmental and I have never been judgmental before. Is this the Lord's way of testing my endurance or testing my strength? Is there hope that he will see the "light"? Do I stand by him and show him by example what goodness the Lord can offer?
His treatment of me is poor to say the least, but I can't help feeling that I have abandoned him. I am still thoroughly confused. I pray and ask for answers yet don't hear any.
- K. from Mt. Carmel, Pa.
Sorting out the issues (Part 1)
There are a number of issues at play here and the first thing to do is separate them off from each other and tell each one to go sit in its own chair. If you don't, all the issues jump into the same stew pot and your mind becomes a swirling mess. As you said, you become "thoroughly confused."
First there are his issues: his alcoholism, the consequences of alcoholism such as the way he treated you and the fact that he has now lost you, his need for change in his life and for Jesus as Savior. He is the one who "owns" these things and he is responsible for them. You are not responsible for his issues. You did not cause his alcoholism and you cannot cure it. You did not deserve ill treatment. You cannot make him see the "light."
You have probably been told these things before and in your head you probably know it is true. Still, emotionally you continue to feel responsible for him. That is your issue and we will talk about that in a little while.
God's heart is for this man to be restored and healed to the uttermost. The Father willingly gave his Son as a sacrifice so that each human being would live life here on earth to the fullest and then spend eternity with him in heaven. Think how wonderful that is. Even knowing that every person would not accept his gift he gave it anyhow.
God respects each person's free will. He will pursue us and woo us and wait for us patiently. He loves us infinitely yet in the end he will respect our decision. If you place this man totally in God's hands you can be certain that HE will be responsible for him. God loves him much more than you do. Lay him down at Jesus' feet.
Next: Now let's get to YOUR issues.
Will you own your own issues? (Part 2)
You keep wondering; is there something more I could have done? How will my abandoning him help? Shouldn't I stay and witness to him? Is God testing my strength? Underlying all that is the supposition that you are somehow responsible and that brings on guilt. But we know those are his issues. Right?
Your value to God is not tied to whether or not this man ever stops drinking or turns to him. God's deep love of you is not dependent on you accepting poor treatment stoically or having strength to endure as you wait for change. The Lord loves you for yourself. You are worthy because he says you are. "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1)
Stop second guessing yourself. Stop feeling guilty. Start concentrating on the great treasure you are to God. You probably don't feel like a treasure. You probably feel like you don't deserve the really best and most wonderful things in life. The truth is that none of us do deserve them. Even so, God has a wonderful plan for you and wants to give you great blessings.
I would like to see you turn your eyes away from this 2 ½ year destructive relationship and turn your eyes on God's best for you. What does he have in store for you? I know he has deep peace for your heart and I know he has joy to accompany you in all the tough places. He may just have a few more surprises for you too!
Alcoholism is extremely insidious in its ability to dampen the spirit of everyone touched by it. You have probably been assaulted in your spirit more than you know. You may need special prayer by some other Christians who can talk with you and support you and encourage you. Perhaps there is a Christian support group you could join? You do not have to be alone as you pursue a new and healthier life for yourself.
Next: Practically speaking, how can you move on?
What practical steps can you take toward new health and happiness? (Part 3)
I want to start this by repeating what I ended with in Part 2: You need a spiritual support system and you need a prayer partner. See if your church has any small home fellowship groups that you can be part of or seek a good Christian church that does. Perhaps you need to make an appointment with your Pastor and see what he suggests.
I emphasize that you should not be alone as you try to proceed in life after disconnecting from this relationship. Why? Because if you don't change some patterns in your life it will be very tempting to return to the relationship when you are lonely or have a moment of weakness.
The next thing is having something wonderful and productive to fill the empty places. It's especially important to have something different to do during those times or nights of the week that you previously devoted to the relationship. If you always met for dinner on Friday night, you need to get something new going during that time frame.
The easiest and quickest way to get out of your own thoughts and concerns is to serve someone else. Volunteer. For instance, volunteer at your local library to teach someone how to read. Sign up at your church to help make meals for the benevolence ministry. Assist at school for some after school program. Whatever you do can be small as long as your eyes are directed to someone else's need.
Finally, congratulate yourself on making a healthy choice by breaking off a destructive relationship. I certainly congratulate you and admire your courage. This is not the end of something but the beginning of something good and wonderful. Later, as you look back that decision will be confirmed over and over again. You will be so glad you stuck with it over the loneliness hump and made it to the other side.
I'll leave you with this thought; "'I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)