The thought of discovering spirituality and a deepening relationship with God in a room full of drunks and drug addicts telling stories about their foibles and failures might seem like a paradoxical oxymoron. But far from it…
For us alcoholics and addicts in recovery, stories are what save our lives.
Ancient truth and history reveal that stories are one of the very foundations of both cultures and religions; stories are what God uses to reveal the Divine to us most commonly. And it is such transformative stories that are found in the rooms of recovery.
Jesus told stories – some offensive, some hilarious, all of them insightful – as he taught and lived these very stories as a means of communicating God’s infinite and tender love for us.
Stories in general, and our stories in particular, are what keep people like me clean and sober. We share what we have done and who we have been in the hopes of opening up our hearts to let the grace of God fill and transform us, so we do not remain those fractured characters of our stories past. In sharing our stories, in sharing my story, I find I am freed from the bondage of the past and the restraints of the disease named addiction. When my story is unleashed, I am unchained.
Stories are the vehicle for God’s grace as it comes in tenderness, in messiness, in darkness and shifting shadows…but come it does when I open my heart and share the truth of who I am and what I have been like. And in stories, in the sharing of my past wreckage and destruction, healing is found and divine light is released into the world, shining so as to light the path for those who walk with me and those who will come after.
Addiction is indeed cunning and baffling for you, me, for the professionals treating it; but not so for God. One more time: addiction is not cunning and baffling for God; God is not baffled by my dis-ease. God is the great Mystery that swallows up all the mysteries of the how’s and why’s of addiction. God is the truth in the lies, the light in the darkness. Indeed, God is the tenderness to my sharp edges.
That is the grace and power of our stories – stories of addiction and recovery shared become the paradox of our freedom.
Only in a room full of addicts and alcoholics (the walking wounded and wonderful) do I learn that I cannot keep what I do not give away. And like the ancient echoes of the prayer of St. Francis, I learn daily that in giving, I receive; in pardoning, I am pardoned; and in dying daily to my selfish ego, I am born anew in the living grace of a loving God.