May 22, 2019 | Didi Bacon
Addiction is the misguided pursuit of Shalom. Shalom is peace. It is
I found John Ortberg’s article in the June 2008 Leadership Journal on this subject fascinating.
FTT—my wife first introduced me to those initials. Nancy was a nurse when I first met her. There were many parts of nursing for which she did not care. But she loved diagnosis. To this day, there cannot be too many episodes of Grey’s Anatomy or ER for her. (Oprah either, but that’s another story.) She is constantly telling me her private diagnoses of people—even total strangers—based on their skin color. She can tell you how long you have to live if she gets a long look at your face and the light is good.
But of all the diagnoses I ever heard her discuss, FTT is the one that sticks in my mind. Those initials would go on the chart of an infant who, often for unknown reasons, was unable to gain weight or grow.
Failure to thrive.
Sometimes, they guess, it happens when a parent or care-giver is depressed, and the depression seems to get passed down. Sometimes something seems to be off in an infant’s metabolism for reasons no one can understand, so FTT is one of those mysterious phrases that sounds like an explanation but explains nothing.
Failure to thrive.
I didn’t know why it struck me as so unspeakably sad until I read Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines, a book that has affected me more than any book other than the Bible, from which Dallas actually gets his best ideas. Dallas writes that although we have tended to think of the word salvation as the forgiveness of sins or the escape from punishment, it actually has a much more robust meaning for the writers of Scripture: "the simple and wholly adequate word for salvation in the New Testament is 'life.' 'I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.’ ‘He that hath the Son hath life.' 'Even when we were dead through our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ.'"
This is the human condition. FTT.
Thrive is a life word; a word full of shalom. Thriving is what life was intended to do, like a flower stubbornly pushing through a crack in the sidewalk. It is why we pause in wonder at a human being’s first step, or first word; and why we ought to wonder at every step, and every word. Thriving is what God saw when he made life and saw that it was good. "Thrive" was the first command: be fruitful, and multiply.
God neutralizes FTT by Grace. Grace provides a way to “God with us”. Going with God is the way to the “shalom” (peace) our addictions crave.