“Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” –Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent
What a powerful collect for this addict! Powerlessness. My most frequent response when a sponsee is struggling is: Have you asked God to help you?” Throughout my recovery and even before I found recovery (or it found me) I prayed for help. The prayers changed over time. When I was younger and my dad died, my prayer was “God, please bring my daddy back.” When I was first getting into drugs my prayers were “God, please don’t let me die from using this scary new drug. Please don’t let me get stopped and go to jail. Please don’t let the house catch on fire with my young son home alone. Please don’t let me OD and my son wake up and find me dead.” When I got clean, my prayers were: “Please, God, help me be willing to do whatever it takes to stay clean. Help me not get so upset every time I talk to my mother ‘cause she just thinks I’m using when I do. Help me to stay out of relationships ‘til you think I’m ready.” (Boy did I regret that one – it was YEARS before I had a romantic relationship after that prayer!) Today my prayers are more like: “Please help me not think these evil thoughts. Help me to be more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving”. And sometimes just, “please help.”
Does God wave a magic wand and help me? I don’t know. But I do know that my prayers are answered. Usually just a change of heart, a change of attitude, a change from negative to positive, from feeling overwhelmed and helpless to I can do this with God’s help.
So, sometimes I think my pat answer of “Ask God to help you” is taking the easy way out. Shouldn’t I have a more intellectual response to offer others after all these years in recovery? Maybe, but as long as I know “Ask God for help” works, that will continue to be my most frequent go-to solution for life’s problems. Maybe God won’t wave a magic wand, but somehow I (and hopefully others) will get the strength and courage and knowledge and willingness and acceptance, and faith and hope to make it through one more of life’s challenges.