I’ve been explaining to folks for years now that it’s easy for me to have faith in a Higher Power because I get to see miracles on a regular basis. Some of my favorites are people who, according to every medical journal everywhere, should be dead a hundred times over and yet here they are, living lives “second to none.”
If you work in the addictions field long enough, you may find yourself noticing things in your local newspaper that never used to interest you. The police beat, court news and obituaries among them. It’s a shame that the average person only hears about the alcoholic or addict when they are in the midst of the chaos and disaster that is active addiction. There’s always more to the story.
The success stories don’t often make the news. They far more commonly abound in the halls of AA and NA. They are shared in group therapy sessions and over coffee in sponsor’s homes. To share in these stories and to see these results can leave no doubt that there exists…something…and that whatever It is, It surely loves addicts and alcoholics.
I have watched good people die from the disease of addiction and I keep the words of Grandma Moses at the forefront of my thoughts, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” The active addict or alcoholic cannot be said to be “living.” They are caught in the purgatory equivalent of surviving and while surviving sucks, it can be overcome. Death cannot.
On many an occasion, I have lost connection with a client and have said to my wife, “I’m afraid that the next time I hear of them it will be in their obituary. Such was the case a year ago, when an individual I have profound respect for was made a mockery by their disease and by their actions making headline news.
I have a beautiful Phoenix that hangs with powerful symbolism above my desk. The individual I believed destined to die is the embodiment of that spirit. Released from prison with a newfound determination and dignity; it was immediately apparent that they had experienced a spiritual awakening. There is nothing in this world like seeing a person rise from the ashes by the grace of God. It is inspiring beyond words.
The joy of simply knowing that they remained vertical and breathing was overwhelming to me. In coming to know them anew, I found so much was missing. Gone was the guardedness and tough as nails exterior. There instead was a person with awareness of needs, feelings, and fears. Gone was the vicious self loathing and shame. Instead there was Serenity and self acceptance. Gone was the person who could only experience love as being needed. There instead was a person who seeks to love and be loved in healthy ways.
The Gift of Desperation had come to them. If you have never seen the transformation that is born from the willingness to go to any lengths, if you have never heard a person speak the three beautiful words, Whatever It Takes, then you are missing out on watching God work in the most profound of ways.
“God loves a drunkards cry,
The soldier’s plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.” – Amy Grant “Better than a Hallelujah”
The person that I see today has wealth to offer the world. They are able to share experience, strength, and hope with others, especially those who suffer from the disease of addiction. The person I know today is a powerful source of love and acceptance. They deserve to be celebrated, supported and encouraged.
Recovering from addiction is one of the hardest things a human being can do.
What facilitated so much healing and growth for this individual was not acknowledging the existence of a Higher Power but rather coming to accept and experience what God can and will do when asked. All that this requires is the rather terrifying prospect of surrendering control of our will and the direction of our lives to Her/Him.
Spirituality is the greatest relationship of all and it’s the one we struggle with the most. Some of us learned shame through organized religion, some of us are atheists and others agnostics. We are people who are shame and fear based. To believe that a God exists in the midst of suffering (our own and throughout the world) is difficult. To believe that such a being would care about us despite all of our flaws and past choices…can be seen as a leap of faith – or we can see it as Bill & Bob did:
“We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God. Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another’s conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him.” – from “We Agnostics” The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous