Summary: Addictive behaviors are sins that we simply ought not to start; and they are sicknesses that stem from low self-esteem. Christ is able to deliver from both sin and sickness.
When washday comes at our house, I go on alert. I go on alert for a certain noise. If we are washing something heavy, like bathroom mats or a bedspread, I can predict that during the washing process, I will hear great clunks and thunks arising from the basement. It will sound as though somebody is hammering on the walls, as though some thief was trying to wrestle all our worldly goods out the back door. The pipes will rattle and the walls will vibrate; our little dog will perk up her ears and jump; the whole place will suddenly be alive with ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk. What’s going on?
It’s the spin cycle. Our washing machine has gone into the spin cycle, during which it is supposed to turn at higher and higher speeds, until most of the moisture has been thrown out of the fabrics being washed. The spin cycle is perfectly all right, it’s normal. But when you put heavy fabrics in a washing machine, it’s easy for them to drift to one side of the drum. And that throws the machine off balance, so that not only does it vibrate madly; not only does it punctuate our conversation with ceaseless ka-chunks; but also it staggers across the basement floor, bumping things as it goes. And if I just let it go, there’s a very good possibility that the washing machine may damage itself. If I don’t do something during its unbalanced spin cycle, it may end up broken and ruined.
A great many of us live our lives in the spin cycle. We are busy about lots of things, we keep going and going and going, like the Energizer rabbit. We may not be going anywhere in particular. We’re just busy. Just frantically energetic. Go, go, go. In the spin cycle, at high speed, feeling a little wrung out. You know: the kind of person who is always juggling job and family and household and volunteer work and civic affairs, who never seems to stop? The kind of person who takes on so many things he has to leave one activity early so that he can be at the next one late? Someone has suggested that we need an addition to the list of Biblical Beatitudes: "Blessed are those who spin around in circles, for they shall be known as Big Wheels." It seems important to us to stay busy, doesn’t it? It seems as though we measure our value by how many things we get into.
We even have this kind of behavior in church, you know; someone laid a few more dates on my calendar this week, and I repeated a nursery rhyme parody, "Mary had a little lamb; it would have been a sheep. But it became a Baptist, and died for lack of sleep." Most of us know what it is to live in the spin cycle, wrung out from going faster and faster. But that’s normal, it’s OK, we can handle it, usually.
But if in our lives there is an imbalance of some kind; if into our lives we thrust a heavy-duty ingredient; if we deliberately allow something to get hold of us; then we are going to go ka-chunk, ka-chunk. We are going to stagger and stall and we may end up hurting ourselves, sometimes beyond repair. We’ll be out of balance in the spin cycle.