Last weekend the weather in Michigan took a turn for the worst. Prior to the weekend, the weather was dramatically improving. The sun came out, the temperatures were warming up nicely and much of the snow from a long winter melted away. Things were headed in a good direction.
But by mid-Sunday, it all changed. The temperatures plummeted to well below the freezing mark, the winds picked up, and heavy snow started falling. By the next morning, over a half foot of wet snow and ice blanketed the ground and the roads.
Yuk! Winter had settled back in.
I know that Spring will eventually arrive, but from where I sit, the weather didn’t’ have a minor set-back. It seems like a full-blown relapse.
After a period of improvement, the difference between a set-back and a relapse is huge. This is especially the case when it comes to an addiction.
Set-backs or an occasional slip are often part of the messy process of busting loose from the grip of a compulsive behavior. While it is still inexcusable, they don”t occur with the same frequency and intensity as before. A relapse, however, is when one excuses acting out again with no serious intention of stopping. Unlike a set-back, there is no desire to keep going forward and to get well. There is no commitment to own and learn from our mistakes. Instead there is a giving up and a giving into an even greater level of indulgence (Ephesians 4:19).
Set-back versus relapse—two terms that can help us gauge where we or someone else may be at in dealing with (or not dealing with) an addiction.