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LiterateParakeet

Article: How Dealing With Past Trauma May Be the Key to Breaking Addiction

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From the article:  "Whatever it is I’m addicted to, or ever have been addicted to, it’s not what it is but what it does – to me, to you, to anyone. He believes that anything we’ve ever craved helped us escape emotional pain. It gave us peace of mind, a sense of control and a feeling of happiness.

And all of that, explains Maté, reveals a great deal about addiction, which he defines as any behaviour that gives a person temporary relief and pleasure, but also has negative consequences, and to which the individual will return time and again. At the heart of Maté’s philosophy is the belief that there’s no such thing as an “addictive personality”. And nor is addiction a “disease”. Instead, it originates in a person’s need to solve a problem: a deep-seated problem, often from our earliest years that was to do with trauma or loss."

Link to article from The Guardian here

I think this is so true of many addictions these days...  @MormonGator  This reminds me of Sebastian Flyte.  :)

Thoughts?  @Jane_Doe,  @NeedleinA, @askandanswer ....anyone else?

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5 hours ago, LiterateParakeet said:

Thoughts?  @Jane_Doe,  @NeedleinA, @askandanswer ....anyone else?

I guess I fit into the "anyone else" category.  I liked the article.

I believe trauma could be too big a word.  True it is that trauma will tend to cause the greatest addictions.  But I believe "smaller addictions" could be caused by unmet needs of various kinds.  So, really, ANY bad behavior can be rooted in some unmet need.

Quote

Jesus saw sin as wrong but also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet needs on the part of the sinner. This permitted him to condemn the sin without condemning the individual.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1979/08/jesus-the-perfect-leader?lang=eng

From an address delivered to the Young Presidents organization, Sun Valley, Idaho, 15 January 1977

To say there is an "addictive" personality is to say that a person is a sinner rather than a child of God who happened to sin -- and can repent.

When we speak of "addiction" in the gospel sense, it is no different than sin.  We get into this pattern because there are some serious needs that are being unfulfilled.  And addictive behaviors (or sins) somehow fill those needs on a very temporary level while also harming us in a significant way.  

In our limited human perception, all we know is that our needs are being fulfilled.  We don't acknowledge (strongly or deeply enough) that it is only temporary, and that it comes at a price.

Dealing with things in the past is really simple, but almost impossible for us mere mortals.  "Dealing with it" means that we must do some impossible tasks:

  • Accept the fact that NONE of us are victims. There was only ONE victim -- EVER.  To those who have been unjustly harmed (especially when our suffering is disproportionately intense compared to "average" people) find this truly difficult to accept.  And we ALL get up in arms when tremendous injustices are enacted upon the truly innocent.  But it is true.  None of us are victims.  No mortal mind can conceive of the suffering of the Savior.  And it is so difficult for us to get out of our own human bubble to believe that the wrongs we have suffered are nothing compared to His.  As mortals, impossible.
  • Focus on the good rather than the bad.  Again, as mortals, we find it so difficult to see any good out of the injustices we've experienced in our lives.  They are truly horrific.  Only a few people in my life have I found have had worse injustices than those I've witnessed in my own family.  But there is good that comes with it and from it.  This is a matter of faith because I can't explain all the good for any given situation.  But I believe it.  Good comes from it?  For mortals, impossible.
  • (again from Kimball: Miracle of Forgiveness) Allowing forgiveness into our hearts means that we can forgive others AND it means that we receive forgiveness for ourselves.  This is not a matter of justice.  It never is.  Forgiveness is not something we have the power to give or pronounce upon someone.  All we can do is receive it into our hearts or deny a place for it in our hearts.  That's the only choice we have.  Forgiving others eases our own burdens?  To mortals, impossible.
  • The Lord will heal all, if we have faith in Him.  His suffering was not ONLY about suffering for our sins.  He had to know what suffering all things (body and spirit) so that He could truly succor His people.  That means that He suffered everything that we've suffered.  And He came out on the other side.  He knows the way.  That's why He IS the way.  For God, nothing is impossible.
Edited by Mores

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I'm glad the church has adopted the 12-step model of recovery from addictions.  It's useful for the people that can't seem to avail themselves of all that stuff Mores is saying.   Because although the Lord will heal all, eventually, not everybody is set up to get all the healing on this side of the veil.  Some folks*  need to trudge under the weight of their scars and brokenness and endure to the end, and that's what doing it right looks like. 

 

(And when I say Some Folks, I mean for every 100 people who think they're permanently damaged for life, all of them have more opportunities to heal and improve in store in this life.  Sorting through what's permanent, what can change, and what should change, can be quite difficult with no clear answers.)

Edited by NeuroTypical

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I know 3 or 4 people in my life who are or have been addicted to drug or alcohol, and many, many more who have been or are addicted to pornography or the like (though I think using the term "addiction" in many of these cases is flawed in itself...but that's a different point.) None of them come for a "trauma" situation that I'm aware of. Whereas I grant there may be secret trauma or abuse situations that I'm unaware of (though in some of these cases I know the situations well enough to be pretty confident), I'm skeptical of the idea that the underlying cause of addiction is always external trauma. I could buy into the internal trauma idea -- because some people just live internally traumatized whether there's real trauma or not (I have several family members who fit this category). Obviously sometimes external trauma is a cause.

I'm not saying Maté said it's always external trauma. But...the ideas presented don't seem to distinguish between different types and realities of "trauma". Being traumatized because you were sexually abused by an uncle is decidedly different than being traumatized because your mom makes you clean your room sometimes and won't let you spend all your free time out hanging with your friends.

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1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:

I know 3 or 4 people in my life who are or have been addicted to drug or alcohol, and many, many more who have been or are addicted to pornography or the like (though I think using the term "addiction" in many of these cases is flawed in itself...but that's a different point.) None of them come for a "trauma" situation that I'm aware of.

Same here.  The addicts in my family became alcoholics and drug addicts because of "barkada".  That's why the family elders' #1 concern with the kids is who they hang out with. 

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5 hours ago, Mores said:

The Lord will heal all, if we have faith in Him.

 

1 hour ago, The Folk Prophet said:
3 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

 [All] folks*  need to trudge under the weight of their scars and brokenness and endure to the end

Fixed it.

 

Both things are true.  Sounds like a paradox.  How do you reconcile it?

 

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8 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Both things are true.  Sounds like a paradox.  How do you reconcile it?

I'm not sure why this is a paradox.

I suppose you're saying that "The Lord heals all" contradicts the claim that "All need to trudge under the weight..."

I'm going to give Folk dude the benefit of the doubt that he was not talking about those who HAVE BEEN healed.  Rather, we all have trials in our lives.  We all have those scars and broken spirits that weigh us down. And we do.  But as we depend on the Lord, He lifts those yokes and places on us HIS yoke.

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7 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

 

 

Both things are true.  Sounds like a paradox.  How do you reconcile it?

 

I don't see it as a paradox.

ALL folks need to trudge the weight of their scars and brokeness and endure to the end when Christ's Atonement takes it all away. 

Scars and brokeness are burdens that induce spiritual change of our pre-mortal spirits into better post-mortal spirits.  Christ's promise was that God will not give us more than we can bear.

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Folks don't see a paradox?

Can you be all healed if you're still broken?   Do you point to someone with chronic nerve pain from an un-repairable defect or injury or something, and tell them they are fully healed?  If you see someone who successfully turned from sinful paths and now walks clean, shame free, fully engaged in the work of the Lord, do you tell that person "I'm sorry you're so burdened with the weight of your scars and brokenness"?

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4 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Folks don't see a paradox?

Can you be all healed if you're still broken?   Do you point to someone with chronic nerve pain from an un-repairable defect or injury or something, and tell them they are fully healed?  If you see someone who successfully turned from sinful paths and now walks clean, shame free, fully engaged in the work of the Lord, do you tell that person "I'm sorry you're so burdened with the weight of your scars and brokenness"?

Well, you're talking about physical scars.  I was mostly talking about spiritual and emotional scars.  You mentioned "shame free".

For physical scars, I do feel saddened that we live in a world of unbelief to the point where the physical healing is witnessed at a lower frequency than spiritual healing.  I wish it were different.

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17 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Folks don't see a paradox?

Can you be all healed if you're still broken?   Do you point to someone with chronic nerve pain from an un-repairable defect or injury or something, and tell them they are fully healed?  If you see someone who successfully turned from sinful paths and now walks clean, shame free, fully engaged in the work of the Lord, do you tell that person "I'm sorry you're so burdened with the weight of your scars and brokenness"?

I think it depends on what we're talking about.

I can only speak from personal experience and a few accounts I've heard second or third hand, but it strikes me that complete healing will never occur until that perfect day. Until that time, I struggle with temptations, weaknesses, mortality, etc. I don't expect to have no more temptation, weaknesses, or mortal experiences just because I've had the Spirit in my life as I've accepted Christ, repented, and turned to Him in my trials and sorrows.

But I can testify that I have been healed, time and again, in ways that are difficult to put into words.

I think the interpretation of Christ healing us needs to be seen as a present-tense process that is happening, not a one and done thing. I am being healed as I turn to Him. When I stray, I am injured anew.

It's similar, methinks, to the scripture that talks about "no more desire to do evil". Does anyone ever, REALLY, have no more desire to do anything that is imperfect? We know that is not the case. There was only one. That was Christ. Repenting and turning to Christ doesn't make us Christ.

There's a reason the phrase "endure to the end" has the word "endure" in it.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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6 minutes ago, Mores said:

For physical scars, I do feel saddened that we live in a world of unbelief to the point where the physical healing is witnessed at a lower frequency than spiritual healing.  I wish it were different.

I don't know that this is true, and I'm not sure how one could conclude the facts of the matter either way, as most incidences of both are probably unreported, and even the anecdotal is unreliable.

I'm also quite sure complete physical healing is not meant to happen in this life. Even those healed by Christ or the priesthood are still mortal, still infirm in some ways, still grow old, still face fatigue, pain and difficulty, and will still die. It's mortality.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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2 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

I don't know that this is true, and I'm not sure how one could conclude the facts of the matter either way, as most incidences of both are probably unreported, and even the anecdotal is unreliable.

I'm also quite sure complete physical healing is not meant to happen in this life. Even those healed by Christ or the priesthood are still mortal, still infirm in some ways, still grow old, still face fatigue, pain and difficulty, and will still die. It's mortality.

You're right.  I don't have any data on either except what I've personally witnessed.

  • People in my life have enough faith to believe in emotional and spiritual healing. 
  • I have not seen many who are willing to believe in physical healing beyond the very minor things.

Since the power of the Lord is usually brought about by faith, the results should reflect that.

  • I've personally witnessed wondrous physical healing -- things that people simply said would not / should not happen.
  • I've personally witnessed tremendous emotional and spiritual transformations.

I haven't kept track enough to know which has been more common in my life.  But when I tell people about either, they have more difficulty believing in the physical healing than the spiritual.

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27 minutes ago, Mores said:

Well, you're talking about physical scars.  I was mostly talking about spiritual and emotional scars.

Fair enough.  At least when talking about "the Lord heals all" and "endure to the end", I draw no distinction in scars and burdens, be they physical spiritual or emotional.  Yes, people stand in their own way of healing.  Yes, miracles happen.  But also, some rare occasions have me thinking that for some folks, full healing just is not being provided by the Lord in this life, for His own just reasons.    

Many/most can be fully healed in this life.  But there is a small segment that will not experience full healing in this life, no matter how righteous/worthy the person.  Maybe it's a limitation of medical science.  Maybe it's an issue of "the Lord does not see fit to heal the person at this time."

For the topic of this thread, yeah, there is such a thing as a dude 35 years sober, who still struggles daily with the urge to drink, forever just three inches away from falling off the wagon and ruining everything he's fought so hard to build.    A while ago I made some statement that had you (I think) taking issue with it and summarizing it as "sinful thoughts aren't sinful".  This is the concept I was trying to hamfistedly convey.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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7 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

I draw no distinction in scars and burdens, be they physical spiritual or emotional.

I think you should.

Physical scars and burdens are guaranteed. It's mortality. No matter how well you take care of yourself and how spiritual you are you will get old, your body will fail, and you will die.

But spiritual infirmity is a direct result of choices. If one is dying spiritually there is something they can do about it.

In the end, no matter how well you took care of yourself and how spiritual you were, you will be made perfect physically.

But spiritual perfection or the lack thereof will be a direct result of choices.

They are not the same.

I have no comment on emotional issues.

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Regarding spiritual infirmity, I'm not talking about people dying spiritually, or people who can do things but won't.  I'm thinking specifically of various mental illnesses that pretty much preclude one from feeling the spirit.  They exist - occasionally we see one here on the board looking for advice.   We tend to tell 'em to do their best, we talk about the spiritual gift of "believing another's words", we urge them to bear their burdens well and promise them if they are faithful, they can be exalted like any other faithful and righteous disciple. 

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21 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

Fair enough.  At least when talking about "the Lord heals all" and "endure to the end", I draw no distinction in scars and burdens, be they physical spiritual or emotional.

Many/most can be fully healed in this life.  But there is a small segment that will not experience full healing in this life, no matter how righteous/worthy the person.  Maybe it's a limitation of medical science.  Maybe it's an issue of "the Lord does not see fit to heal the person at this time."

 

 

I don't know if I'm understanding what you're saying.

Some people think... "I'm healed from my broken arm!" and a few years later they break their leg.

Some people think... "I'm healed from my depression!" and then they have a baby and a different kind of depression kicks in.

Some people think... "I have broken the shackles of substance addiction." and 50 years later their spouse dies and they find themselves at the bottom of the bottle.

I do not agree that many/most can be fully healed in this life.  This is a myopic view of mortality.  Sure, you get over an obstacle today.  Tomorrow there's a new one.  We face different challenges and in the end we die.  This is MANY/MOST of human experience.  This is LIFE.  It is an ongoing up and down and up and down.  Perfection does not happen in this life.  Not even for those strong enough to be called prophets.

Edited by anatess2

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I was at a child abuse conference last month where a seminar presenter said that “basically, trauma is anything unpleasant”.

I don’t disagree that severe trauma plays heck with a person physiologically, chemically, and spiritually.  But I think things may be getting slightly out-of-hand.  In my non-expert opinion, I think as a clinical diagnosis/buzzword that we’re going to reach “peak trauma” in the next decade or so; and then there will be a backlash and the mental health community will be on to the next new thing.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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6 hours ago, Mores said:

 But I believe "smaller addictions" could be caused by unmet needs of various kinds.  So, really, ANY bad behavior can be rooted in some unmet need.

I have to say....I really love this.  Unmet needs...yes, I agree.  I've been pondering lately why people often get caught up in collecting things....I mean large amounts of things, like my  a friend of mine who has about 40 (or so) pocket knives.  He just loves them and rotates them regularly so they do get used, but still, wow.  And it is the same with fountain pens, or some womens yarn or fabric stashes.  I've decided that we (I'm guilty of this some degree too) do it because the thrill of purchase makes us happy...for a moment....and fulfills some unmet need.   I would call this one of those "smaller addictions".  When you know your spouse would be angry, but you just gotta buy one more . . .   :)  
 

Quote

To say there is an "addictive" personality is to say that a person is a sinner rather than a child of God who happened to sin -- and can repent.

I think this is a really interesting idea that I will need to consider a bit more.   My thought (for now) though is that an "addictive personality" is someone with a lot of unmet need and perhaps trauma.  I have an addictive personality and I find I have to be careful of anything remotely addictive (yes, I have trauma history).  I believe genetics also play a part, I have hear that the tendency to become alcoholic (I would assume other substance abuse in included here).  Both my parents were alcoholics (I hit the jeackpot on that one...ugh!)  But then again is that nature or nurture?  I can't say for sure.  Both my brothers became alcoholics and my sister married an alcoholic so . . . whatever it is it's a hard pattern to break.
 

Quote

When we speak of "addiction" in the gospel sense, it is no different than sin.  We get into this pattern because there are some serious needs that are being unfulfilled.  And addictive behaviors (or sins) somehow fill those needs on a very temporary level while also harming us in a significant way.  


This is another interesting idea.   In part I want to say that addiction is involuntary and sin is voluntary so they aren't the same, but many addictions, like for example alcohol are inherently a sin as well.  The rest of this quote though, I totally agree with!  Well said. 
 

Quote

In our limited human perception, all we know is that our needs are being fulfilled.  We don't acknowledge (strongly or deeply enough) that it is only temporary, and that it comes at a price.

Quote

 


I agree.  Often times we don't even realize we are doing it. 
 

Quote

Dealing with things in the past is really simple, but almost impossible for us mere mortals.  "Dealing with it" means that we must do some impossible tasks:


Well it depends on what past you are dealing with.  I think it is certainly possible, but can be very difficult (understatement of epic proportions here.) 
 

Quote

Accept the fact that NONE of us are victims. There was only ONE victim -- EVER.  To those who have been unjustly harmed (especially when our suffering is disproportionately intense compared to "average" people) find this truly difficult to accept.  And we ALL get up in arms when tremendous injustices are enacted upon the truly innocent.  But it is true.  None of us are victims.  No mortal mind can conceive of the suffering of the Savior.  And it is so difficult for us to get out of our own human bubble to believe that the wrongs we have suffered are nothing compared to His.  As mortals, impossible.


I'm not really clear on what you are saying here.  "Victim" is one of those words that means different things to different people.  If a woman is raped, some might say she is a victim of a terrible crime.  I would agree.  But some woman would take umbrage at that and say, "I'm not a victim; I'm a survivor."  Which Is also true.  

Are you saying that Christ was the only victim because He was innocent?  But that couldn't be what you meant, because you know innocent children are sometimes victims.  Sorry, I'm just not clear what you are saying here. 

 

Quote

Focus on the good rather than the bad.  Again, as mortals, we find it so difficult to see any good out of the injustices we've experienced in our lives.  They are truly horrific.  Only a few people in my life have I found have had worse injustices than those I've witnessed in my own family.  But there is good that comes with it and from it.  This is a matter of faith because I can't explain all the good for any given situation.  But I believe it.  Good comes from it?  For mortals, impossible.


I think one needs to take time to heal, and to grieve the umet needs (be angry, be sad, whatever that entails) but yes, I think one of the miracles of the Atonement is that Christ can turn anything we suffer into something for our good.  This I am certain of.  

 

Quote

The Lord will heal all, if we have faith in Him.  His suffering was not ONLY about suffering for our sins.  He had to know what suffering all things (body and spirit) so that He could truly succor His people.  That means that He suffered everything that we've suffered.  And He came out on the other side.  He knows the way.  That's why He IS the way.  For God, nothing is impossible.

I agree...with one caveat....He does have the ability to heal us.  Though He chooses how that healing will come to pass, though we may wish for instantaneous healing like in the New Testament...usually His healing is more along the lines of walking by our side through the fire and giving us strength to survive and come out on the other side better than we were before.  For some wounds that is truly a miracle, but it is ceratinly possible through Christ. 

Thanks for your post.  I particularly liked the quote from the Young Presidents Organization.  

 

 

 

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31 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

I'm thinking specifically of various mental illnesses that pretty much preclude one from feeling the spirit.  They exist

I believe that would be very difficult to prove. As for me, I'm not sure I believe it.

31 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

occasionally we see one here on the board looking for advice.

Someone saying something isn't proof.

32 minutes ago, NeuroTypical said:

We tend to tell 'em to do their best, we talk about the spiritual gift of "believing another's words", we urge them to bear their burdens well and promise them if they are faithful, they can be exalted like any other faithful and righteous disciple. 

What we need to add to this is that the Lord has made promises through covenant that if we are baptized, always remember Him, keep His commandments, and take His name upon us that we will always have His Spirit to be with us.

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9 minutes ago, The Folk Prophet said:

I believe that would be very difficult to prove. As for me, I'm not sure I believe it.

Someone saying something isn't proof.

What we need to add to this is that the Lord has made promises through covenant that if we are baptized, always remember Him, keep His commandments, and take His name upon us that we will always have His Spirit to be with us.

My tendency to agree with what I understand you to be saying here is tempered by experiences of those close to me. I am intimately familiar with a man who is both one of the smartest people I have known and also one of the most filled with integrity. Yet this man says he has never felt the Spirit. He was promised on his mission and afterward (and before) that if he did X, Y, and Z, he would gain a testimony. He did X, Y, and Z, and still feels he doesn't have a testimony. I have tried to tell him that this and that event in his life IS a testimony, but he says he has never recognizably felt the Spirit. I can't gainsay him; he is an honest a man as I know. So where does that leave us? He serves faithfully in the Church and is married in the temple. But sometimes he feels hypocritical, or something approaching that. He has never lied to his mission or stake president or bishop, and is quite open (to them) about how he feels and how he doesn't feel.

I want to believe that if you do Thing X, then Result Y will inevitably occur. That seems to be what the scriptures teach. Yet my own experiences and those of people close to me suggest, at the least, that there is some subtlety to this, and that at the very least, it's not as cut-and-dried obvious as we tend to think it is.

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18 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

I think this is a really interesting idea that I will need to consider a bit more.   My thought (for now) though is that an "addictive personality" is someone with a lot of unmet need and perhaps trauma.  I have an addictive personality and I find I have to be careful of anything remotely addictive (yes, I have trauma history).  I believe genetics also play a part, I have hear that the tendency to become alcoholic (I would assume other substance abuse in included here).  Both my parents were alcoholics (I hit the jeackpot on that one...ugh!)  But then again is that nature or nurture?  I can't say for sure.  Both my brothers became alcoholics and my sister married an alcoholic so . . . whatever it is it's a hard pattern to break.

While the words and terms can get caught up in semantics, my meaning was basically along the lines of "God didn't make any dumb kids.  He made kids, and they sometimes do dumb things."  Someone recently asked about why Latter-day Saints tend to answer the question "Are you a sinner?" with "no".  It is really a matter of focus.

By calling someone a sinner, there is this unspoken assumption that they cannot help themselves and (more significantly) that the cannot change (read: repent).

18 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

This is another interesting idea.   In part I want to say that addiction is involuntary and sin is voluntary so they aren't the same, but many addictions, like for example alcohol are inherently a sin as well.  The rest of this quote though, I totally agree with!  Well said. 

TBH, I'm not certain it is a question of voluntary/involuntary.  Everything we do is voluntary. But there are some things we do without thinking about it.  These are called "habits."  Part of those habits is valuing one thing over another.  Do we value momentary pleasure from a hit of drugs over the more fulfilling and longer lasting interaction with people in a meaningful way?

Change the value system and the habits will change.

18 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

I agree.  Often times we don't even realize we are doing it. 

That's where I'd say it is a habit.

18 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

Well it depends on what past you are dealing with.  I think it is certainly possible, but can be very difficult (understatement of epic proportions here.) 

I don't believe there is much difference between "impossible for us mortals" vs "very difficult of epic proportions".

18 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

I'm not really clear on what you are saying here.  "Victim" is one of those words that means different things to different people.  If a woman is raped, some might say she is a victim of a terrible crime.  I would agree.  But some woman would take umbrage at that and say, "I'm not a victim; I'm a survivor."  Which Is also true.  

The bolded somewhat talks to the point I was making.  Again it is semantics and focus.  In a criminal investigation, there is a perpetrator and a victim.  Definition.

But from a spiritual perspective, is there a reason to focus on the crime committed against us?  Is there any benefit in doing so?  It tends to take us into the realm of wallowing.  That's not beneficial. 

18 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

Are you saying that Christ was the only victim because He was innocent?  But that couldn't be what you meant, because you know innocent children are sometimes victims.  Sorry, I'm just not clear what you are saying here. 

Most of what I was saying was basically a shift in focus.  When I say that there was only one victim, it is to change focus from our suffering to the suffering of the Lord.

18 minutes ago, LiterateParakeet said:

I agree...with one caveat....He does have the ability to heal us.  Though He chooses how that healing will come to pass, though we may wish for instantaneous healing like in the New Testament...usually His healing is more along the lines of walking by our side through the fire and giving us strength to survive and come out on the other side better than we were before.  For some wounds that is truly a miracle, but it is ceratinly possible through Christ. 

Yes, all things are indeed done on the Lord's timetable.

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