A Way to Hide Our Pain

Self-medication is the use of drugs, including alcohol, or other self-soothing forms of behavior, to treat a perceived or real malady. Self-medication is often referred to in the context of a person self-medicating, in order to alleviate their own distress or pain.

People self medicate in a variety of ways. The obvious vices are drugs and alcohol. For others of us, we use food to hide from our pains or to suppress the emotional issues that we need to face and don’t. And since the content of food has becoming increasingly drug-like, those of us who try to eat our way out of our hurt can get a double hit. The act of self-medicating is also thought to be a form of self-control, as in a way for one to create the semblance of control in the midst of a situation or circumstance that is very much out of control.

Now I’m going to step out on a limb and say that in addition to food or drugs or alcohol, there is another, less obvious form of self-medication going on with some of us. For many people, the medication of choice is their own gifts.

Whaaaat??? I know. Sounds crazy. But give me some room to explain…

I would like to submit that some of us self-medicate ourselves with our gifts, our talents, our abilities. Did you know that you can make your gift, the very thing that God gave you to give Him glory, an idol? So…this means that if you are a singer, dancer, writer, or doctor you can become SO consumed by your gift…a subtle distraction by the enemy…that you begin to serve it versus using it to serve God or the people God has placed in your path. You can also find yourself using your gifts and abilities as a way to divert your own much needed attention away from the broken places in your life. To try to retain some kind of pseudo-control over a chaotic emotional state.

So what does this kind of self-medication look like?

For me, writing is a gift that I’m very clear has been given to me by God. However, I also know that even in the midst of what I call success, God has not been able to get the full and maximum use of it. Why? Because of my need to control my gift. I’ve taken control over what I will or won’t write. I think I know what people will or won’t like; what they need to read from me and what they don’t. How many of us who are writers have, deep down beneath our own will, felt strongly that we were being led by God to write on a specific topic or write a certain kind of book but because of external factors or our internal issues, we chose not to? That is an example of attempting to control your gift versus allowing God full control over it.

I believe that our gifts, no matter what they are, are the vehicles by which we reach our individual purpose and destiny on earth. Therefore, we should be flexible in our operation of them; they should remain accessible and moldable to the hands of God. In fact, the scriptures state that God’s ways and thoughts are much greater than our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yeah. I’m guessing this probably means that how He plans to use our gifts is probably going to work out much better than our own plans for our gifts. I also deduce from this that maximum creativity comes from being able to be flexible within the will of God in terms of what He wants to do with our gifts. I can write poem after poem or book after book and become so consumed with my own ideas, the actual act of writing, and the manipulation of words that I lose sight of the purpose of the gift of writing in the first place. Not good. So not good. I liken that to overdosing. For real.

So this begs the question: Why do we o.d. on our gifts? Why do we try to maintain control of our talents?

Well, that brings me back to the concept of self-medication. I think we become consumed by or controlling of our gifts out of fear of what will happen if we allow ourselves to be the fully open and complete vessels for the message of God. I think that I, and maybe you, are afraid of how great we can be, but we are also afraid of the hurt that we may have to re-live in order to get there.

Nine times out of ten God is going to use the very pain that we are running from (the same as anyone who abuses drugs or alcohol or food) as the avenue by which we will travel and be delivered to our destiny. So by trying to maintain some control over our gifts, we think we can control the how, the why, and the way of that trip. Yet, in doing this, we are essentially saying this: “I don’t want to deal with the pain of my childhood. I don’t want to deal with the pain caused by my own choices. I don’t want to experience that rejection or this feeling and so yes God, I’ll write about, sing about, dance about, this but I will not write about, sing about, dance about that. Because IF I write about, sing about, dance about this then I can keep some kind of control over my emotions; suppressing the pain.” The result? My journal and my books become my bottle of Hennessy; the place where I can hide my pain in superficial and powerless words instead of exploring the transformational stories that are embedded in my own. For the painter, the canvas becomes your cocaine; the space in which you can indulge all the notions and observations that don’t matter and that serve no purpose instead of seeing the beautiful images that are amazingly reflected from your own hurt.

Unfortunately, all of this keeps us from be the great [fill in the blank] that were created to be.

Still not sold? Let me ask you this. If it is possible to express ourselves through our gifts, isn’t it also possible to suppress ourselves with our gifts?


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