“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.”
EVEN THE MIGHTY WILL BECOME TRAPPED
In 1978, Betty Ford’s family confronted her about her alcoholism and addiction to opiates. In her memoirs she later stated, “I liked alcohol, it made me feel warm. And I loved pills. They took away my tension and pain.” Here was a former first lady admitting her addiction. A former First Lady who was well regarded for her social activism and grace. Despite her power and status, she had been trapped. After her family’s intervention, she entered rehab and emerged into recovery. Behind her life as a social activist, a recovered breast cancer survivor, and an abused wife in her first marriage, was a hidden life of booze and drugs. The pressures of her past and present had driven her into the trap.
Later, she set up the famous Betty Ford Center. In its time, it became the go-to place for addiction recovery. Betty Ford’s public admission of her situation helped over one hundred thousand people take the first steps to recovery, but Betty Ford was more than this. She also inspired women struggling with breast cancer. She fought for women’s rights by lobbying for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. In 1991, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Jesus tells us that all will be confronted. None will escape the battle. Even first ladies of great character.”
Near the end of Jesus’ mission on earth he issues a warning to be on guard, by saying, “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.” (Luke [21:34]–35)
In this verse, Jesus tells us to be on guard against life’s addictions of all kinds. He calls them a trap that arises unexpectedly. Jesus also tells us that all will be confronted. None will escape the battle. Even first ladies of great character. It can become an embarrassing moment in our lives that we try to conceal. In this concealment, we lose the resources of friends who will help. We conceal our addiction and silent lives from God, who will help. We fight alone against a dangerous foe. Our embarrassment prevents resources from coming to our aid. We become trapped. It is inevitable that we all encounter this part of life in one form or another. Our faith development will be challenged, we will have to fight back mightily to retain our faith and ourselves.
How do we win against addiction and life’s traps? Jesus says through prayer and our faith. We should pray for strength to escape these things, but it starts with our first admitting that we are being confronted. We need to extend this recognition into prayer. We need to allow others in on the secret, as Betty Ford was forced to do. Our faith, prayers, friends, and most importantly our recognition of our addictions become our shield. There will be those who judge, but they will have their turn. They will need help in some distant future. We press forward balancing judgment against recovery. Assisting those in recovery is far stronger, judgment is far weaker.
Even one of our country’s most gracious first ladies became entrapped. Sinking into the abyss of brokenness, she found herself alone, hiding her addiction. Through her faith, prayers, family, and friends she recovered. Not only did she recover, she turned her personal tragedy into a beacon of hope for others.
We all will enter this moment in our lives. Hopefully, a temporary test of our faith. When we emerge into recovery, we can renew our lives and begin the task of being a shining light. We become healed.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman