“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 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 person well regarded for her social activism and grace. She had been trapped. 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. Over one hundred thousand people emerged from the center into recovery. Betty Ford’s public admission of her situation helped others take the first steps to recovery. But Betty Ford was more than this. She inspired people 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 to be on guard for life’s addictions, of all kinds.”

Jesus tells us to be on guard for life’s addictions, of all kinds. He calls it a trap that arises unexpectedly. He 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 from God, who will help. We fight alone against a dangerous foe. Our embarrassment prevents our 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 prayers, friends, and most importantly our recognition of our addictions become our shield.”

How do we win against addiction? Jesus says through prayer. Praying for strength to escape these things. But it starts with our first admitting that we are being confronted. We extend this recognition into prayer. We allow others in on the secret, as Betty Ford did. Our 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. Recovery is stronger, judgment is weaker.

When we emerge into recovery, we can renew our lives and begin the task of being a shining light.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman



Is addiction just drugs and alcohol?

What are other addictions?

How do we fight back?