Reader Q/A: Is Laziness Contributing to My Struggle with Sobriety?

Question: “I get the connection between sobriety and spirituality but I drift into laziness and my self-interests and attractions cloud my decision-making whenever that happens. I think laziness is a trap that scuttles my desire to live soberly. Got any insights?”

Reader Q/AWhen you use the term “laziness,” I assume you’re talking about spiritual laziness as opposed to physical laziness. In other words, you’re not talking about binge-watch Netflix instead of going to the gym. You’re talking about a lack of time doing the things that you believe are required to grow your faith.

Either way, let’s unpack both scenarios because one of them can be helpful, and the other is absolutely crucial—although not necessarily in the way you may be expecting.

Physical Laziness

It may not seem like it at first, but physical laziness and a lack of proper self-care can contribute to a pornography addiction. After all, it’s hard to find motivation to do anything in life when you lack the energy to even get off the couch. This is more than we have time to fully unpack here, but I did want to address a few things regarding exercise.

Physical exercise will allow your body to release mood-enhancing endorphins, relieve stress in a healthy way, and can even lead you to seek out healthy support communities (such as an exercise partner or a gym class).

Those are all good things of course, but many people make exercise their main focus on their path to sobriety, effectively trading their “negative” addictions for a “positive” addiction to exercise. After all, how many ultra-runners have a history of past substance abuse?

So yes, it’s important to take care of your body and move away from physical laziness, but make sure you aren’t forsaking the inward journey that will lead to true healing of your whole self. Having rock-hard abs won’t actually change your life for the better, no matter what the fitness magazines tell you.

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4:8

Spiritual Laziness

There’s a tendency many of us have to look at our spiritual lives and wonder if we’re being too lazy. If we’re not experiencing the level of sobriety we desire, then it must be because we’re not working hard enough spiritually.

I need to read my Bible more, pray more, follow God’s laws better…

Yes, it may be true that becoming less “lazy” in your approach to such practices will lead to deeper freedom, but what if such striving, as well-intentioned as it appears, is actually hindering your recovery? The answer lies in your motivation. Let me explain.

Bullock_yokesYou’re probably familiar with the verse in Matthew where Jesus refers to His yoke as “easy.” When we picture this scene, we typically think of the yoke a farmer places over the necks of a pair of oxen and see ourselves being yoked alongside Jesus as we navigate our journey of faith.

This may be a comforting picture, but there’s one problem with it: This type of yoke distributes the load between both oxen evenly, which means you’re still responsible for 50% of the work. Isn’t that how so many of us view our faith? Yes, Jesus saved me on the cross, but it’s up to me to pull my half of the weight from here out.

Water YokeBut what if the yoke Jesus is referring to in this passage isn’t an oxen yoke, but it’s actually a water carrying yoke? In other words, it’s His yoke to carry. He does the work for us, not with us. He takes the full load of our sin—our addictions, failures, shame, guilt, hurts, and hangups—completely on His own. Our only remaining job then, is to simply walk beside Him. That changes things, doesn’t it?

Look again at the image of the water yoke and notice how the weight of the buckets causes it to bend downward at the ends. When you’re standing immediately next to Jesus, the weight rests fully on His shoulders, but the further you move away from Him, the more weight will be transferred to you.

I’ve found in my own recovery, the more I tried to overcome my spiritual laziness through striving to do all the right things, the less I wanted to spend time resting in the love of Christ—the only thing that would lead me to true freedom. By striving to carry my own weight and overcoming my spiritual laziness in my own power, I was actually moving away from Jesus.

I was trying to work, and all He wanted me to do was rest—rest in the fact that He was doing the work in me.

So instead of looking at spiritual practices such as prayer and Bible reading as a way to become a better person, what if you looked at them as a way to draw you closer to Jesus? I think you will find that it becomes less about striving to do what you think you “should” be doing (IE: overcoming laziness), and more about doing what your soul truly desires to do.

And the more you feed your soul’s true desires, the less tempting your addictions will become. A rich and lasting sobriety will begin to flow out of your new heart as you experience your connection to Jesus more deeply every day.

Two Birds, One Stone

I’d encourage you to take a walk with Jesus, both physically and spiritually. Go for a hike in nature, or simply wander around your neighborhood for a while if that’s all you can manage. Talk with Him. Ask Him how He feels about you. Ask Him what He wants you to focus on. Imagine Jesus walking beside you enjoying every moment, because He is. Take these walks regularly, and you’ll find freedom from both types of laziness.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29

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