“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” Philippians 3:12-14, The Message
By the Grace of God, and this fellowship of recovering souls, I gave thanks for 20 years of recovering life yesterday, May 23. On this day, I always hold the promise before me that states “we will not forget the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” So I remember looking out the window of my room in the rehab facility that first morning of May 24. I remember still being unable to not stop sobbing uncontrollably about what had happened, what I had done to my family and myself, and the certainty that all I had worked for so long would be ruined from this day onward. I remember looking at my intake photo – bloated, red-faced from blood pressure numbers through the roof, bleary eyed, and hopeless. I have since shredded the intake photo, but it is and will be ingrained in my soul’s hard drive, and with gratefulness.
I had no expectation of making 20 days without alcohol, let alone 20 weeks, or 20 months. Yet now, by working the program of recovery physically, mentally, and spiritually, by giving away what I have to help the other wounded ones coming in those doors, I gratefully stand with 20 years sober living. While still basking in this double digit marker in this recovering life, I am quickly grounded by “Trucker Jay,” my dear friend and companion at our home group meeting. Bright and early we gather, 7 a.m. each day, coffee with friends, and much, much more. While many in the room offered handclaps and handshakes in congratulations yesterday, “Trucker Jay” looked me in the eye with his semi-perpetual scowl and said, “Yeah, yeah, BIG whoop! You got another day like the kid that just walked in the room today. Go help him with what you have been given. Double it down, &*$*%#” Jay is a truck driver, so you can fill in his closing word. It is pretty much the same words every year of the almost 10 years as part of this home group. Yet there is always this slight wry smile and twinkle in his eye that says, “Good working it! I’m proud and happy for you.”
This is the gift of the recovering community for me. We celebrate, we give thanks, and then we double down into another new day! As I come to the end of my service in full-time ministry to the parish I serve now, and those I have served for 25 years, I am grateful that over three-fourths of my work life in ministry has been living the recovering life. Perhaps some of the gifts of the Twelve Steps, of the deep and profound friendships and fellowship of the recovering communities I have been a part, might inspire others no in the rooms to live into and serve out of the greatest gift of Love for all. For we all are recovering from something, day by day.
Grateful always, in peace