How Do We Change?

Joe spent four months at Helping Up Mission – he was trying and made some progress. But stuff happened and one night he came back drunk and had to leave. Sometime later, I saw him stumbling around Little Italy.

“Hey Mike, man, give me a verse…Mike, give me a verse.”

At HUM, guys memorizing Bible verses. Neuropsychological (brain and thinking) rehabilitation from chemical addiction occurs with abstinence and mental exercises – positive, repetitive recovery-oriented mental exercises. Here, they have a Biblical focus and thinking differently leads to feeling differently and ultimately acting differently. Real and lasting change starts on the inside – in our hearts and minds. 

When Joe asked for a verse, he wanted to hear some of that positive, recovery-oriented thinking he experienced in the past. So I shared I Corinthians 10:13 with him:

“No temptation has seized you accept what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but when tempted, He will provide a way out.”

Then I asked, “What happened?”

It became clear Joe was battling with his identity. Identities are often forged in our minds by past mistakes, shame and guilt. Then stress and pressure cause us to hit the default button of old identity patterns which leads to old behavior patterns.

Joe looked up at me. “I just love to drink, Mike…I love it.”

Then, head lowered and sounding defeated, said, “This is who I am, man. This is who I am.”

That’s where the battle’s won or lost – in the mind. Joe doesn’t have to be that guy defeated by guilt, compounded by chemicals. He can be the guy motivated and empowered by the same identity he began practicing at HUM. 

Joe can let go of the shame and then won’t love to drink anymore – won’t even need it! God has the power to transform our identities by transforming our minds. It takes time and focus, but leads to the man we’re supposed to be.
Mike Rallo
Spiritual Life Director