Confession of an Addict

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate. … Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? – Romans 7:15, 24
I am addicted to fossil fuels. I am a slave to them, and I cannot break free. I have tried cutting back; for a period of years I avoided air travel, and I consider carefully how to get from one place to another. But carbon is always lurking, waiting for an opportune time.

It sneaks up on me. I make commitments, promises that I can only keep by drinking deeply from offshore oil rigs. I travel across the country – and occasionally beyond it – in the service of a calling that I believe comes from God. What sense does it make that my addiction should be fueled by what I believe is faithfulness to Christ?

I have often beaten myself up over my carbon abuse. Even as I watch the seas rise, the ice caps melt and droughts afflict whole continents, I continue to burn the very toxins that cause this destruction. What kind of person am I, who cannot break his habit when he sees the pain and suffering he is causing to those around him? I have often hated myself for the ways that my addiction affects the people and other living things that I love.
I have tried to quit so many times. It has become a familiar cycle: I swear off fossil fuels for a while, but soon I succumb to a binge. There is always some trip I need to take that seems so important. And then another, and another. The worst of it is the feeling that I should be able to beatthis thing. If I only had more will power! If I were just more spiritual, I would not be in bondage like this. If I were a better person, I would not hurt those around me through my craven use of carbon.

This morning, however, I no longer feel guilty. I am done with beating myself up. I am ready to take the first step out of denial and confess: I am powerless over my addiction, and my life has become unmanageable. I see that I am incapable of overcoming this addiction on my own, that no amount of personal effort on my part will be able to release me from it.

As those familiar with the 12 Step program will know, there is a next step. Now that I recognize that I am out of control and powerless in the face of my addiction to fossil fuels, I am invited to “believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.” And I do believe this. In other areas of my life, Jesus Christ has liberated me from bondage, such as the eating disorder and deep depression that I suffered from as a teenager. I do believe that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

But if I am brutally honest with myself, I have to confess that I am not sure whether I am ready to let God heal me. This addiction feels bigger than most other challenges I have faced in my life. Being released from other forms of darkness have actually had the effect of making me a more successful, better integrated person. I get along better in society because I am not depressed, for example. But breaking my addiction to carbon would almost certainly diminish my ability to fit in. How can I seek sobriety when our entire civilization is founded on intoxication?

I know what needs to be done. I know that my lifestyle is unsustainable. Yet I cannot bring myself to break with it. I simply do not know how to live any other way. This is where I am stuck: aware of my brokenness and need for divine intervention, but unable to take the next step. Lord Jesus, help me take the next step.