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Through the Red Door Blog

In the early days of the Church, when the front door of the parish was painted red it was said to signify sanctuary – that the ground beyond these doors was holy, and anyone who entered through them was safe from harm.

In the lives of many recovering people, it is through these same red doors that sanctuary is found on a daily basis. Initially that sanctuary may not have started in the rooms with high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, but in the basements and back rooms of churches where 12-step meetings are held.

This blog was created for recovering people to share the experiences they found walking through those doors of safety, refuge and peace.

 
To submit a entry to the blog, please click here for the details or contact us at info@episcopalrecovery.org.

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  • 10/10/2019 6:09 PM | Anonymous

    Jonah 2:5-7
    New Revised Standard Version
    (NRSV)


    5
          The waters closed in over me;
              the deep surrounded me;
            weeds were wrapped around my head
    6          at the roots of the mountains.
            I went down to the land
              whose bars closed upon me forever;
            yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
              O
    Lord my God.
    7       As my life was ebbing away,
              I remembered the
    Lord;
            and my prayer came to you,
              into your holy temple.

    This past Sunday, one of our beloved seminarians brought a sermon about being, feeling, believing that we are enough. She, of course, drew from the day’s lectionary – especially the epistle (2 Timothy 1:1-14) and the Gospel (Luke 17:5-10). Her words resonated with me as a person in long-term recovery. I often feel as if I need more or as if I am not enough.

    This never enough feeling tries to keep me trapped in my addictions. I may presently be free from alcohol and drugs, but I tend to seek my sense of worth and well-being from approval from others and perfection and the illusion of control – all things for me which are as personally dangerous as my substance addictions were because they draw me away from self, God, and authenticity.

    Feeling that I am not enough is filled by what therapists call cognitive distortions or automatic negative thoughts. For me, mind reading, fortune telling, catastrophizing, black-and-white thinking, personalization, magnifying, overgeneralization, discounting the positive, filtering, labeling, emotional reasoning, always being right, fallacy of change, and control fallacy are very common in my thought life. These addictive thought patterns connect closely to my feelings that I am not enough and that I need more things, people, education, time, money, therapy, etc.

    The disciples, in Luke, asked, “Increase our faith.” Paul says to Timothy, “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God.” As our beloved seminarian shared in this past Sunday’s sermon, these are each an example of learning that you are enough. The disciples want more, but, in fact, everything they need is within them already; they need not doubt. Jesus' parable of the mustard seed illustrates this. Paul reminds Timothy that he has what it takes to start the God-fire – re -kindle – the ember is already there – you are enough.

    So, when I am underwater and need to get out of a negative thought cycle, to recognize that I am enough, that I have enough, I try to remember Jonah – I remember God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and I pray. Sometimes that prayer looks like reading Forward Day by Day; sometimes it looks like writing morning pages. Sometimes that prayer looks like getting to a meeting, and sometimes it looks like this: I am not ashamed. I have faith. You brought me up from the pit. I am enough. Amen.

    Brandon B.
    San Marcos TX


  • 10/03/2019 9:45 PM | Anonymous

    The following is an article written for our parish newsletter designed to heighten recovery during September, National Recovery Month. May it encourage you to see your own faith community as a vital part of your recovery.

    Hello, my name is Shane and I am a grateful person in recovery.

    In January 2016 I walked into Saint Peter’s after a very dark four years. I was broken, discouraged, fearful, and attempting to rebuild my life after the choices I made in addiction had paid off in destructive ways. Coming from an evangelical background, I did not know what to expect when I shared my story with Teri, the previous Rector. I remember crying over my choices and her listening and taking it all in. After she heard all the gory details, she looked me in the eye and told me something I will never forget.

    “You are welcome here Shane.” She said.

    Now, over three years later I can not imagine my life without Saint Peter’s. I have discovered that my church life is a key component to my recovery and being at Saint Peter’s empowers me to walk out my recovery in the context of a loving, caring, and Christlike community. In my time here I have had the privilege of meeting other people in our congregation who are recovering as well. Some from alcoholism, others from drugs, and still others from the pain of being co-dependent or having a loved one who is an addict. While the impact of addiction is a common experience we share, it is the belief that this family of choice helps us recover which really connects us.

    If you are struggling with any type of addiction and you come to Saint Peter’s, you are in the right place. I invite you to begin your own recovery story by reaching out to someone – a friend, a staff member – and take the first step back toward sanity. It begins with asking for help. Visit the website for the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church, and read about the resources available to you. Contact one of the 12 Step Meetings help in our area, a few of which actually meet at Saint Peter’s! There is hope available, all you must do is reach out for it.

    September is National Recovery Month. If you have been impacted by addiction in someway, will you join me during this month in three activities?

    First, let us pray. The Book of Common Prayer has a wonderful prayer for those who are struggling with addiction. It is a great way to turn spiritual energy toward a difficult challenge that affects hurting people.

    Secondly, if you know someone who is struggling with alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, or any other compulsive behavior, would you love them enough to express your care and concern? We never know how our willingness to be honest can sync up with God’s timing and be the catalyst that jump starts someone’s recovery

    Finally, will you join me in making sure that Saint Peter’s continues to be a place where hurting people can be made whole? Isn’t that the promise of the gospel? When you meet someone in our congregation who is struggling, will you continue to be open and available to them? Can we join together and love the struggling as Jesus loves us, extend our arms and say, “You are welcome here.”?

    Thank you for the incarnational love that permeates this place. It is changing lives.

    Sincerely,
    Shane

    September 2019

  • 09/27/2019 10:19 PM | Anonymous

    Nearly three years ago, our rector asked if she might refer a parishioner to me whose spouse is incessantly drunk, hiding the booze, but unable to hide the mumbling, stumbling muddle, the bruises and the breaks.  I agreed, but when the phone rang again, it was the alcoholic on the line, saying “I drink uncontrollably”. 

    It’s been a bumpy ride for my friends: recycling through detoxes and rehabs, lying near death on a hospital gurney and roiling in the codependent turmoil that is integral to all addictions. Now, a measure of hope is taking hold for this unhappy family to find sobriety and tranquility. It also has been, I must add, awkward for the couple within the parish. Church communities are uncomfortable and, at times, clumsy in respecting the privacy dignity of members in dire straits.

    The mission of our diocesan Recovery Advocates Network is to “support all who are affected by rampant substance use disorders. RAN is a diocese-wide network that fosters awareness, prevention, intervention, treatment and support, it envisions a safe community within the church. RAN enables recovery, expels shame and celebrates God’s grace outpouring a abundant life in recovery.” 

    We are not agents, interventionists, counselors or therapists. We are, ourselves, in recovery or intimately associated with someone who is. We offer our experience, strength, love and faith to the extent it is invited, welcome and helpful.  As a “network” constituted by the diocese, we have experimented with programs and events to bring light to our readiness to address issues of addiction. Two constraints hinder our success: our lack of resources to mobilize and deliver needed activities; the existing overload that burdens clergy, parish staff and volunteers, and our families in their ordinary (manic) 21st century lives. What to do? How do we bring the hand of twelve-step, spiritually based recovery “whenever anyone, anywhere reaches out for help and hope”?

    There are many answers, but one in particular seems promising – the existing programs within our parishes address pastoral care, outreach, wellness and spiritual  growth offer stunning varieties of activities and services that engage the interest and skills of our members. Grace brings its own structure.

    The key to tapping the potential of these extant resources is to meet people where they are. Until full-blown calamity parts the veil, denial reigns; few are ready to expose their own or their loved one’s travail: the disorder and disease of addiction. Our role as “good Episcopalians” is to care for the “least of these”, not be one of ‘em.  Perhaps, we simply lower the bar. Strikes me there’s a reference to that in Step One in the text of AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

    St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises cultivate detachment as foundational to spiritual life.  Vinita Hampton Wright recently blogged:

    “Disordered attachments are habits, patterns and addictions that inhibit authentic engagement with God and stifle honest reflection, deep listening with others, and constructive action. Beyond balanced attachments toward people, possessions, money or power, we prayerfully consider the relationships within our own selves – with our feelings, our bodies, our view of life. An attitude toward life that is neither dour pessimism nor blind optimism helps us recognize and prayerfully reconcile our emotional and physical habits. We are called to listen to God, reflect on our lives in view of God’s love, and put that love into action.”

    Adapted from “What Is an Unhealthy Attachment?” www.ignatianspirituality.com

    It is clear to me and others actively involved in helping the Episcopal Church engage our fellow congregants, our families and communities that our parish life offers many opportunities for conversation about the role of detachment in the stewardship of our souls. Everyone can occupy the top edge of the slippery slope, practicing the sacrament of presence. From that vantage point, we who have experienced the ride to the bottom of that precarious ridge can engage prayerfully, responsibly and effectively as grace and suffering summon us.


  • 09/19/2019 8:38 PM | Anonymous

    Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:1-2).

    In his book REACHING Out*, Henri Nouwen wrote “…hospitality…is one of the richest biblical terms that can deepen and broaden our insight in our relationships to our fellow human beings.”

    We don’t talk much about hospitality in Recovery and yet it is a way of life for us as recovering addicts. We have learned to turn from selfishness and self-centeredness to reaching out, being present, being compassionate to those on the journey and those who are still suffering.

    Nouwen goes on to write: “To fully appreciate what hospitality can mean, we possibly have to be become first a stranger ourselves.”  Nowhere did I feel more a stranger than my fist meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t identify with “those people”. I told my boss I’d stop drinking and go to A.A. but had no idea as to what I was letting myself into. A stranger! I sat there judging everyone around me. I smoked like a chimney on fire. The music from the bar next door was much more inviting.

    I had left a friend’s house where he had poured me a glass of whiskey. Why didn’t I have my last drink?  Now I remember the last drink I didn’t get to drink. “Hi, my name is…..” Friendly strangers shook hands with me, welcomed me, got me coffee. Emotionally I was a million miles away. They were not just strangers to me. I was a stranger to myself. I told my boss I thought I might have a drinking problem. I wasn’t an alcoholic.  Now I felt like a stranger in a strange land and “those people” were most hospitable to me.

    “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I hated myself. As I listened to the stories, I felt inadequate. On one level I identified with them and, on the other, I was denying it as fast as I could. I was a stranger even to myself.

    Nouwen writes: “When hostility is converted into hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them. Then, in fact the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognition of the new found unity.”

    I put on a brave face. Acted as if. Got involved. Still, there was a wall I could not breach. No matter how nice, how good, “those people” were, I did not want to get close to them. I was not one of them.

    For almost five years I treaded water and then something happened. I was no longer a stranger to myself. I was beginning to like this person I looked at in the mirror. “I am an addict” Period.  I’ve experienced blackouts. I reached a point in life when I knew and admitted to myself that, while I had not lost a job, home, etc, I had lost all my values, I had become “morally bankrupt.”  I was looking at myself with compassion.

    The years of coming in early, setting up the room, cleaning ashtrays, making and serving coffee, had all paid off. These simple acts of hospitality had torn down my walls and I was able to see the people who had been hospitable to me, a stranger to myself and them. They had taken a risk, opened their hearts and minds, listened, and were patient with me and all my blunders and arrogance.

    As Nouwen wrote;”…the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognition of the newfound unity.”  Through atonement (at-one-ment)-steps 6-9, I had become at-one with myself and in so doing had become at-one with those I considered strangers. The inner hostility had evaporated and I was welcoming myself as much as I was welcoming others into my new found life.

    Living our Twelve Step way of life is a life of hospitality to the stranger within and the stranger without. We live the biblical message of being kind ‘to the stranger in your midst.”

    *REACHING OUT: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Henri Nouwen. 66-67. 


  • 09/11/2019 6:25 PM | Anonymous

    Slow down, you move too fast
    You got to make the morning last”

    I've been thinking about these words with which Paul Simon opened his 1966 classic, recorded with Art Garfunkel, 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).

    When I was young, my dad and I would play a game in which we would see how long, with meaning and understanding, we could converse using only Paul Simon lyrics, and my dad often spoke these two lines to me as guidance, advice, correction, hope, and love.

    As a child, my thoughts on those lines differed so from my thoughts now. Then, I most often responded with lines from the song I Know What I Know from Paul Simon's 1986 Graceland album:

    “I know what I know
    I'll sing what I said
    We come and we go
    That's a thing that I keep
    In the back of my head”

    Now my response to the 59th Street Bridge Song urging to slow down is more like the words of Paul’s (Simon) more recent song Quiet from the 2000 You're the One album:

    I am heading for a time of quiet
    When my restlessness is past
    And I can lie down on my blanket
    And release my fists at last

    I am heading for a time of solitude
    Of peace without illusions
    When the perfect circle
    Marries all beginnings and conclusions”

    As I was sitting today in the AA open share meeting that I attend these days, the words of a friend sharing on why AA has worked for him led me back to these Paul Simon lyrics and also to the ways that I have admitted my own powerlessness time and again and continually turn my life and will over to God. I've gone from a devotion and proclaiming of my own knowing and toward peace without illusions. And the path for me is the one where I slow down, where I listen to what others have to say. I lean not on my own understanding, one might say. (Proverbs 3:5)

    As I move slower intentionally, I see beautiful connections all around. In a class at church, we are studying through Acts and today read Acts 5. I can think of no word better to describe the beginning of the ministry of The Apostles than slow. And they were intentional about their ministry. All the negative happenings in their time toward them – the persecution, e.g. – yet they persisted – slowly and with the ears of their hearts always to God.

    This sentiment of slowing down, of resting, ties to one of my heart verses and then back to a gift for which I am ever thankful – Paul Simon and his music. My continued, sustained recovery has come to rely on these:

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

    When you're weary, feeling small 
    When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all (all) 
    I'm on your side” (Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, 1970)

    We are safe in the palm of God’s hand, and God gives us opportunities to slow down, so we must take them. I'm on your side, friends, so together let's slow down when called so that we are equipped to work  more effectively in our covenant relationships, as is described in my favorite prayer:

    Friends, our life on Earth is  short, and we have too little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind….and may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, be with you now and always.”

    Brandon B.


  • 09/04/2019 8:45 PM | Anonymous

    “When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”- Lao Tzu

    Is my recovery one of scarcity or abundance?

    How I answer that question determines the quality of my recovery journey while revealing what I truly believe about my Higher Power.  In the past, I was guilty of transferring my worldview of scarcity into my program. This happened with the best intentions. Early on I was deeply aware of the absence of my drug of choice. I defined my program by the number of days I stayed sober and what I was not allowed to do. Honestly, that was all I needed or could handle at the time.

    Now, years later, I sense the breath and width sobriety brings. I sense that recovery is inherently spiritual, and intimately connected to my Higher Power. That connection allows access to an unlimited supply of love, acceptance, grace, creativity and beauty. My focus has gone from just surviving to really living. I have realized that my life consists of mind, body, and spirit. I feel it when one is out of balance. When all three are being serviced, my whole world opens up! I am alive and healthy!

    I define abundant recovery by the words "can" and “shall.” While I am always aware of my limitations, my character defects, and bottom-lines, they never serve as an excuse to adopt a victim stance or become bitter. My focus is on becoming the best and most honest version of me possible, not my restrictions or limitations in sobriety. It also means that my Higher Power has been working, is working, and will be working to empower my recovery!

    Surely it is this view about which Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 1:20?

    “Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.”*

    Working my program has taught me that scarcity is no way to live. In doing so I deny the very power of my creator to do what he promised - say yes to restoring me to life, reestablishing my sanity and blessing me more than I can imagine. It requires both surrendering to that yes and cooperating with the power it releases. When it occurs it opens up new dimensions of integrity, joy, confidence and humility. Theologically this is called sanctification.

    I just call it abundant recovery.

    Shane M.
    Conway, AR

    * Scripture taken from The Message Bible, The Message (MSG), Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson


  • 08/28/2019 9:23 PM | Anonymous

    This is Part 3 of a series centered on fears that one really can’t stop, even with years working the program. There is some sadness in this. We did a lot of work with the help of our Higher Power to get all that sobriety under our belt; worked through some really bad problems -- deaths of friends, forced early retirement, and the divorce of our daughter after many years and 3 lovely children. The program was there when you needed it.

    But for some reason, after a goodly amount of sobriety, you sense an uneasiness. You seem nervous and anxious around old beloved friends who are enjoying an actively social time. One way to look at this is to remember the stories you heard at meetings of folks who suffered through a relapse after time in the Program. What did they say about awakening to the realization they are in the middle of a relapse and are going to have to “come back” and deal with those feelings?

    I was a relapser after a period of sobriety and I can tell you it took a good deal of guts to come back and fess up to my old home group. I felt ashamed, depressed. I felt I had become this year’s Alcoholics Anonymous Relapser poster child. But what happened? Most didn’t say anything, or if they did it was -- “happened to me,” “welcome back,” “Let’s figure this out” (spoken by your sponsor).  I hate to say it, but a relapse seems to be so common that it seems to be a part of the medical and psychological traits of this disease we are a victim of.

    Of course, not everyone falls victim to the relapse. They are fortunate. But what happened to others really isn’t relevant to your situation, is it. All that is relevant is the steps they took to safely arrive back into the graces of the program through their new start at working the program. Spending a lot of time trying to figure out how it happened is often counter-productive. The question is: “how do you react to your slip and what is it you will do about it”.

    Usually, the cause of a relapse is a declining interest in working the program because of “time served,” a reduction of enthusiasm for the Big Book, the 12/ 12, leads, working with others, and most importantly a disengagement from “going to meetings” for that is the place we receive a daily intake of communications from the program. Surely we remember that very often a discussion topic or a lead will appear to come from you and your daily experiences. You’re not alone, nor are you unique when it comes to dealing with this addiction. “Many of us all been there, and here’s what we did about it.”

    So, if you’ve “fallen off the wagon” (in that old expression), get to a meeting, work with a newcomer, present a lead and topics for discussion, increase your number and places of meetings, seek outside counsel if necessary. But whatever you do, remember -- our addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. We need a solid quality infusion of the AA program every day, whether it’s a meeting, meditation with the Big Book, working with someone or, whatever will work to keep the fires of commitment to the ways of the Program burning in your life.

    When you first came in, you learned that it’s not the end of the world. But it is if you don’t do something about your disease. Just remember that help is available and all you have to do is ask. The grace of the Program will reach out and help. It won’t condemn you, or mock you for failing. It will always supply helpful grace just as our Higher Power does for us every day. But ... never ... ever give up!”

    Jim A. Covington, Kentucky

  • 08/21/2019 7:43 PM | Anonymous

    I posted a commentary in July about the fear expressed by someone who relapsed after many years of being able to successfully work the program. Newly returned to our rooms, she expressed a fear of “not being able to stop” … she like the taste of alcohol, the ambience of happy party goers, the options of all the new micro-breweries. How can she successfully confront her genuine fears?

    Can’t tell if these ideas will work but it is what I practiced to avoid temptation:

    • Don’t go into bars amid all that fun, gaiety, good spirits. Think of the smells, the source for which you probably wish you didn’t know. The boiled eggs in a large jar ageing in that cloudy green water. The noise. The quizzical looks of the habitual patrons as you enter. Find a place more conducive to your Program that has excellent burgers. The food at the bar wasn’t that good, really.
    • Avoid liquor stores.  Don’t browse to kill time. Have a reason to be there.  If you must, “Get in and get out, asap.” Leave if it’s too much. Take your spouse, or your legal-aged kids.
    • Avoid wine & cheese receptions. Certainly, don’t succumb to “this is a great wine, try it.” If you must, get in, make your round to shake hands and kiss the air, and get out.
    • There’s always a new gimmick -- now its bourbon browsing  -- don’t do it.
    • Stopping to gas up? You’re there to get gas and buy a lottery ticket. You’re not there to browse in the Beer Cave and its seductive collection of all those micro-breweries with the cute names.
    • Don’t linger over those sexy beer and liquor advertisements, or spend time watching YouTube’s collection of hilarious football beer commercials or that Christmas ad for Bud of the sleigh ride merrily jingling through that snowy Vermont terrain to that tune, “I’ll be home for Christmas ...”
    • Watch your trips to the “ol fishing hole” and that spot you got that deer. Both are excellent covers for a rip-roaring drunk. Isn’t that the real reason you went and sat in a shaking seat attached to a tree 30 feet off the ground, or sat in a canoe in the rain with a darkening sky, having had no luck fishing, with the temperature’s  dropping as fast as the setting of the sun?
    • Sherry sauces -- be careful. Yes, the alcohol may be gone but the wonderful appetizing smell is intended to enhance the main course. And, the smell of sherry or the wonderful smells of the  liquor sauces may be a prelude to entry on a path you shouldn’t be walking.
    • Weddings are classic places to tie one on -- free booze, everyone in hilarious moods, youngsters dancing to a throbbing beat. Remedy?  Easy -- arrive late, leave early. Your excuse: “We have a long-standing commitment to attend a neighborhood open house.”

    Everyone has their own tricks to “get in and get out.” When in doubt, ask your sponsor or someone what to do in the particular situation. It’s important. Everyone faces this in today’s often intense social calendar.

    Next time ......... a short reminder of the consequences of a relapse.........

    Jim A./Covington, Kentucky

  • 08/15/2019 7:25 PM | Anonymous

    “A man’s true greatness lies in the consciousness of an honest purpose in life, founded on a just estimate of himself and everything else, on frequent self-examinations, and a steady obedience to the rule which he knows to be right, without troubling himself about what others may think or say, or whether they do or do not that which he thinks and says and does.” MARCUS AURELIUS

    I get frustrated with my computer. Occasionally I sit down, begin to write or pay bills, only to find it slow or unresponsive. When this happens, I resort to rebooting the thing and starting over. It seems the act of just restarting solves many of the bugs that cause the machine to slow down and not function as it was intended.

    In recovery, we call this an inventory. 

    The practice of inventory (or self-examination) is essential to sustainable recovery. It is often a “sobering” experience when we look at how our addictive behaviors have impacted ourselves and others. Having a regular, standing appointment to press our restart button will help break through any thinking errors which may be present and ground us in reality.

    Here are three things to consider when you hit reboot.

    Self-Examination begins with external behaviors. This implies we have clear bottom lines. We are more likely to achieve our goals in recovery if we write them down and compare them with our behavior. If not drinking is a bottom line, then asking the question, “Did I drink today?” will be a powerful way to reset any flirtation we may be having with leaving reality. I call this Level One Recovery, but it is only the beginning. 

    Self-Examination includes both liabilities and assets. Miserable is the recoveree who only dwells on his or her character liabilities. A balanced, spiritual program of recovery must include a sense of gratitude for what we have to offer to the universe! A commitment to honesty should include the ability to not apologize for being a faithful partner, a good employee, or a strong leader. Inventories help prevent these positive traits from turning negative.

    Self-Examination is most effective when it includes things that are not easily seen. Like an iceberg, our motives, emotions, inappropriate pride, and self-will are only seen when we look beyond our behaviors. We should ask ourselves about these icebergs regularly and adjust course when our radar exposes the hidden dangers below the water's surface.

    I am often asked what inventory tool is best. I always respond, “The one you use.” Just as our bodies lapse into atrophy, so does our recovery when it is absent of self-examination. Inventories, self-assessments, and other resources are great as long as we use them! The point is to develop the muscle memory of being present in our mind, emotions, and thoughts and apply that experience to our recovery.

    -Shane Montgomery

  • 08/08/2019 5:37 PM | Anonymous

    “I am grateful to be a recovering alcoholic” can sound preposterous, ironic, self-righteous, if not self-serving. Yet many cursed with chronic illnesses discover that their afflictions reveal profound insights, deliver unexpected opportunities, and bestow unimaginable peace. 

    Why so? When disease or calamity strike, we are thrown off course. Devastated and powerless, we may sink, rebound or reset. Once in recovery via the steps, clinical therapies, spiritual quests, and (not to be dismissed) personal resolve, we wrestle with the weight of our woes (sink), our desire to restore our lost selves (rebound), or divine higher meanings for our lives (reset). The process is erratic, taxing and inspired; it ends only with our last breath. 

    Recovery resides in the spirit, yet we live in the din of a crowded, fraught world. Our society, technology, culture and economy pack howling hurricane winds – all of us grasp frantically for footing, squint for our bearings.  As my alcoholism peaked, my grip failed and the tempests destroyed me.

    • I am grateful to have lost valued totems and prized assets.
    • I am grateful to have lost esteemed rank.
    • I am grateful to have lost grand aspirations.
    • I am grateful to have lost cherished loves.
    • I am grateful to have lost hope.

    These damages silenced my life, stripped me of self-assurance, shattered my false self.  I treasure the quiet. When I strive to manage the noise within and around me, the quiet arrives, and in the quiet comes grace. With grace comes patience, then wisdom, followed by a spirit of generosity that impels action, igniting the virtuous cycle of recovery. 

    I cannot be grateful for my recovery without first being grateful for the devastation that stifled me. Thank you, Lord, for loving me to my last reserve.

    Martin


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