Jesus answered, “…I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“’What is truth?’ Pilate asked.”1 Pilate dithered between his own certitude and the Jews’ insistence that Jesus die. Jerusalem was jam-packed on this high holy day and, for the Roman governor of this volatile hell-hole, it was easier to snuff out one life than quash an uprising, so in the end, Pilate set aside the truth and caved. On that day, no one listened to Jesus, heeding instead the imperatives of self-preservation and privilege. Ouch – a little close to home for a recovering drunk like me.
Truth is incidental to addicts and alcoholics, sometimes expendable entirely. Truth interferes with our addictions and the ideas and attitudes and behaviors that sustain them. Truth is our addictions’ enemy, which is why “rigorous honesty” plays so prominently in recovery: “Those who do not recover are …usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. … They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a way of life which demands rigorous honesty.”2
In isolation, we reinforce and exaggerate the lies we tell ourselves, the lies that excuse our addictions and demand our manipulations to feed them; lies that affirm our delusions that we are “fine”, repelling any impulse to seek help and dismissing every hope of a way out. We recover the truth together, because when we are lost in ourselves, the truth doesn’t stand a chance – Pilate knew this and so did the Jews. Alone with our fears, facing a drink, we are swept into darkness.
“Martin, if you’re talking to yourself, you’re talking to the wrong guy.” Early on, my sponsor explained this simple fact of recovery. It stuck, though it was years before it penetrated the armor of my self-sufficiency. In time, talking with friends in recovery, I began to open up and began recognizing, then listening for Jesus. As I continue to engage intimates in recovery, the truth of my venality and self-centeredness, the truth of my fears and resentments, the truth of my innate gifts and swelling graces are revealed.
“I am the heart of Christ…The self of you becomes itself in me. …Pray to me. Few words need be said.”3
“What is the truth?” In the words and actions of people who are not only regaining sobriety, but reclaiming grace, we learn to listen for Jesus. In prayer and meditation (Step 11), through scripture, tradition and reason, and in the silence of our hearts, we learn to listen for Jesus. It is in his “experience strength and hope” that we learn the truth. In him, we learn to live in the truth. -Martin McE.1 John 19:37-38, NIV
2 Alcoholics Anonymous [Big Book] GSO World Services, Fourth Edition 2013
3 I Am the Heart of Christ, George Gaston