Repeated sins and compensations sought out in order to avoid being present, when repeated enough, become deeply rooted to the point that they take the heart captive so you cannot not do them. As we become aware of this condition and begin to struggle, it causes a lament to build in the heart like St. Paul: “The good I would do I do not and the evil I would not do that I do! Who will free me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:19). Fortunately, God’s love is just the reverse of addiction. God refuses to take captive our freedom to resist him. God is without compulsion. At its most extreme, captivity to a passion seems all powerful and God utterly helpless, abandoning. Unavailable. We are alone with our suffering and the sea of human misery.
Freedom, on the other hand, is found in the mystery of Christ freely assuming human nature and the cross and when he seemed most vulnerable, most overpowered, he was actually opening up the possibility of humanity freely responding to God’s love. Choosing to turn and let ourselves be loved by God in the abandoned places and at the moments we feel most compulsively unable to and most unworthy of love is paradoxically the first step toward freedom to love. According to St. Isaac the Syrian, “nothing is stronger than despair, for it is then that we discover God’s strength and grace, not in comfort.”
(Stephen Muse, When Hearts Become Flame, p. 240)