The young man had been wandering in the desert for too many days to count.
He was hungry, thirsty, hot, dirty and lonely. He had gone into the wilderness to get some clarity in regard to his life and mission, and instead all he got was suffering! Although he was a religious man, it is not out of the question to assume he may have been wondering about the presence of God in his life, if he was really on the right path?
After all, he was trying to follow a higher calling, but was literally getting nowhere, becoming lost in the wilderness!
Then, in the midst of a hot, dry afternoon, when he felt like he could go no further, the young man saw another person coming
towards him! Could this be someone coming to help him, and give him comfort?
Had his prayers finally been answered?
As the figure drew closer, the young man saw that it was a man, a little older than he was, robust, well-fed, and happy! With a broad smile on his face, the stranger called the young man’s name, held his arms out in greeting and said “Why are you out here, torturing yourself?” “Trying to get myself together, and to find a deeper connection with God.” The young man answered. When he heard this, the stranger’s smile faded, replaced by sympathy, and said “You should just give up this foolishness, a loving God would never ask you suffer so!” Then he put his arm around the young man, and tempted him, not just to test his faith, but to test God’s love for him, saying “Here you are, starving, you know you can change these rocks into bread, so do it already, and let’s eat!”
Overwhelmed by weariness and hunger, and perhaps feeling like life was not fair (after all he had done, to be left to starve in the desert), we can imagine that the young man would have been tempted to listen to his new friend, and give in to the temptation; it would have made things so much easier for him, and very quickly!
However, he found the strength to ‘just say NO’ to the temptation, and to continue doing what he knew to be right, although it was the harder road.
What if this was you?
If you were sick and in pain, feeling alone and lost, and someone appeared, offering friendship and comfort, and to relieve your pain, saying all you had to do was to listen to him, and do as he said. Even if that meant doing something you knew was not the best thing for you!
Many people who are Addicted to drugs and/or alcohol can also find themselves lost and wandering in the wilderness. Plagued with guilt, confusion and pain, feeling estranged from their own lives, and not sure where to turn for help or how to find safety and comfort. Feeling so lost, they are vulnerable to temptation: to go back to the only remaining ‘comfort’ they know, as a way of getting an escape from their pain!
Those in early Recovery can be especially at risk, as they can get frustrated at the pace of their Recovery, and of having to face the consequences of their past, or start to believe that they never had a problem in their first place, so why deny themselves?
Active Addicts can also fall victim to these temptations!
Some believe that Addiction is a choice, that the Addict is happiest when in the midst of using their drug of choice; however, the truth is that people in active Addiction often struggle daily with whether or not to take a drink or a drug. Many of these Addicts want to quit, they know it is destroying their lives, but they feel powerless to stop.
This disease does not let go of its victims easily!
Many Addicts start with good intentions to get Sober and stay Sober, but often the temptations are too strong to deny. It would be so much easier to just say “No” if it came from a frightening demon, or a scary drug dealer like in the movies; however, like with the young man in the desert, temptation often comes from a friendly face!
They can be old friends or family members, people who are trusted, and only want to help their friends feel better, by offering them a drink or a drug! Most of these people do not understand the nature of Addiction! They think it can be cured, or at least managed.
This is why it is so hard for an Addict to “Just say NO!”, because the temptation does come from such a warm and inviting place, and is offered out of sincere compassion.
This is also why it is so important for an Addict to get support from those who understand that this disease does not just go away, but needs to be faced on a daily basis…and that it is best when it is not faced alone! People who have faced the struggle of Addiction themselves, and know what it is like to live Sober, one day at a time, despite the many temptations offered by the big world around us!
The young man, who was wandering in the wilderness starving and alone, managed to turn away from the temptation to take comfort for himself, to end his suffering, as he knew that falling prey to it would not only cost him his soul, but also leave the world a whole lot darker!
In time, the young man found his way back to his friends and family, where they helped him clean-up, fed him, and allowed him to rest and prepare for what was coming next. The road ahead for the young man was full of joy and love, as well as pain, betrayal, and even more temptations…typical life on life’s terms stuff! Yet throughout it all, the young many never again felt so alone, and did all he could to give comfort and care to others, giving the gifts of compassion and love!
The same gifts we can share with each other, as many of us have struggled with monsters of our own, and while friendly faces can tempt us, those who have traveled our path, who understand, can give us hope…born of knowing each other’s pain, born of true compassion!