Sunday, July 17, 2016


Everyone's not necessarily going to be thrilled when you, or your marriage, or family, or church, or organization, gets healthy. Because: Some people are addicted to crisis. Your well-being stands as a threat to them.

Some people can't live without crisis. It's the air they breathe. They are like prisoners who, when set free, can't stand freedom so they return to bondage. They function best and feel most in control when in chains. They complain of the chains and the prison walls and say they want release, but that is only part of the normal culture of prison life. They must have something to complain about, otherwise they feel insecure. Crisis-addicts are like this.

I have met crisis-addicts. Unless there is some scandal, or something going very wrong, things don't feel right to them. If their church starts to get healthy this is threatening. If their spouse starts to get healthy they see this as a threat. They are like the woman who marries an abuser, divorces, and then marries another abuser. Abuse, and being-abused, is their "normal." If this isn't taking place they can't cope. Some people leave church when things get healthy because they can't live without disease. When "church" becomes a "Movement" the crisis-addict will not move with you. The recidivism rate of the crisis-addict is high, and they like to take others with them. In their misery they desire companionship.

Crisis-addicts need the existence of someone who is failing to talk about and "pray for." This is their joy, the fount of their spirituality. This is what fuels their fire. They are "tabloid" people who thank God for the paparazzi. Crisis nurtures them.

When crisis gets resolved, they are out of their comfort zone. They may meditate on crisis that is past, and raise doubts and concerns about whether things really are better. They may display the gift of spinning a new crisis out of nothing. For them, the glass is eternally half-empty. This is the creativity of the crisis-addict.

The crisis-addict rejoices in the wrong, in failure, in sin. They reverse the love language of 1 Corinthians 13 and then take out "love" as well. They don't understand love.

Jesus-followers who are crisis addicts resign from their God-appointed ministries of reconciliation. They are attracted to watching others have accidents. They stand apart from the accident and criticize. The crisis-addict fights against and disclaims the health of the body of Christ. They function like the hypochondriac, imagining disease and its consequences where none exist.

The roots of crisis-addiction are buried deep in the family of origin. The child who grew up in an environment where parents conflicted, abused, and divorced, needed help but received none. They learned, unconsciously, to cope. 

I remember a young woman who was in our campus mininistry. Her father abused her regularly. She had a permanent scar on her cheek. I asked, "How did you get that?" She said, "I forgot to bring something home one day and my dad pushed me down the basement stairs." Then she said, "I don't think I know how to love." 

That is correct. She didn't. But that day she began to emerge from the darkness and destruction she was forced to cope with, and walked into freedom. This was not easy for her. The freedom felt threatening, abnormal, frightening. How could she live in a world with a husband who would love her as Christ loved her? This young woman who knew how to function when things were always falling apart entered the alien culture of love and freedom where things are working together for good. A lot of her wanted to go back to the abuse.

When marriages and families and churches and organizations morph from sickness and disease to spiritual health, everyone will not necessarily appreciate this. The enemy of our souls wants to keep his claws in us. Jesus, on the other hand, allowed the enemy to claw him so we could be set free from sin. It's not hard to understand this. But the process is a battle.

Crisis-addiction is a manifestation of our pre-Jesus, kingdom of darkness life. It is acculturation to "this age," as opposed to the "age to come." Included in the "life more abundant" perspective of Jesus is not only release from perpetual troubledness but becoming, in the hands of God, an agent of reconciliation and redemption. Instead of being drawn toward and captivated by wreckage and the carnage of constant human dysfunction, one stands against it and combats it in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Its eradication becomes the occasion for great joy and satisfaction.

Freedom from crisis-addiction is found in the abiding-in-Christ life. God is not in a "panic room" state or in constant crisis mode. His peace gets imparted to us. We view the train wrecks of life with sadness and compassion without being attached to them as things we need to spiritually entertain us.

My first book is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.