Self-medicating gets a bad rap. We all employ self-medication in one way or another. We each choose our medicant, and while some are healthier than others, our use of them is a means of relieving the stress with which we deal in our lives. That’s why I believe that we need to learn how to self-medicate in a healthy way. While it is true that we can use some form of self-medication as a means of escaping the pain in our lives… to cover our pain and escape from that which frustrates us… we instead can use it to re-engage the beauty of life through celebration and thanksgiving.
This perspective shift is especially timely in light of the news of the death of Amy Winehouse, at the age of 27. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/amy-winehouse-drug-haunted-british-pop-diva-dies-at-27/2011/07/23/gIQAgaOLVI_story.html
(A special thanks to my Facebook friend, Shawn Anthony, for his post which mentions Winehouse’s joining “The 27 Club”, which is a group of rock and blues artists who also died at age 27. You can find a list here:
None of us will ever totally escape difficulties in life. However, it can be really easy for us to focus so singularly on them, that we completely miss the moments of beauty which surround us. While I could list some of those moments, I think it more effective to allow you to make your own list, right where you are as you read. If you would like, you could even write your list as a responding comment to this blog…
One method and practice which can help us self-medicate in a healthy way is that of Sabbath. Dan Allender, in his book “Sabbath”, (http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=dan+allender+sabbath&tag=googhydr-20&index=stripbooks&hvadid=4286333845&ref=pd_sl_85ndk89y5x_b )
identifies the practice of Sabbath as a day within which we engage joy and delight, and turn aside from controversy and contention. In it, we intentionally seperate ourselves from the rush, competition, and frequent panic we may live in the other 6 days of the week, to celebrate the gifts and people that God has brought into our lives.
…and all the church folks said…. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”
Honestly, one of the frustrations I began to battle as a preacher’s kid and as a layman who was very involved in the ministries of the church, was that Sunday seemed to be just another work day. This day, however, we were “workin’ for the LAWD!” The problem for me, was that the church became my “mistress” of sorts, which came between me and my family. I came to be disillusioned by how my faith tradition interpretted the Sabbath and wanted to learn how to practice it in a way that encouraged and strengthened my closest relationships, as well as developing a healthier faith community. So… was my divorce a direct result of spending too much time at church? Not entirely, but one of my responsibilities in the death of the marriage was that ministry became sort of an idol for me; not that it necessaritly stole all my time, but which did consume my mind in such a way that I wasn’t fully present in the presence. Instead, I was thinking and reading about how to reach others for Christ, while denying the God-designed, Edenic nature of relationships within my own family.
Sabbath, in the manner Allender describes it, invites us to be fully present in the “right now” for one day and to do it together. Living in this way might actually begin habits of living and loving that could invade the other 6 days of the week. Our attitudes might change as it relates to our priorities, and need to control. We might find ourselves delighting in unforeseen pleasures and receiving them with thanksgiving, as well as to make efforts to prepare our own gifts to others. Our “church work” might become transformed into a joyful celebration of giving our talents and time and treasure as gifts of love to both our community of faith, as well as the community within which we live, not to mention our own family. We might learn to live and give out of a artesion well of thankfulness, rather than a septic tank of guilt and coercion.
We might even get a little sleep….