Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life in Recovery – When Life Returns (or Becomes) Normal (Again)

I’M NOT SURE IF THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE who know I had a drinking problem; indeed, I used substances i.e. plural. This was before God showered me with his wonderful revelation, facilitated by the collapse of my first marriage.

Some may think me all sorts of things for being so frank, but there are many people who need to know what life after substance use and abuse is about; it gives them hope.

Without going into blow by blow descriptions of what ‘I got up to,’ it is helpful to know that I was a binge weekend drinker for over ten years. (I was unfortunately “blessed” with high tolerance to alcohol. The dangers for me were the long term health effects.) The day after my then wife wanted a ‘trial separation’ (as if there ever was such a thing), citing my drinking as part of the reason, I went to my first AA meeting.

I committed my heart to it. For the next eleven months I attended 159 AA meetings (sometimes five or six evenings a week) and after doing ‘the Steps (four and five)’ was secretary of my local meeting each Thursday night. I then felt the distinct tug of God calling me to “graduate” from AA and focus on church alone—this was a bold move but it has worked for me because God was behind it. I got involved in ministry, studied and then ministered in my own right.

But AA taught me many things about humility, service, repentance, the Twelve Steps (which I undertook and continue to do today), and love—for instance, the love of a sponsor. Why else would someone spend five hours of his Sunday night with me so I could do a thorough admission of my wrongs before God and him (i.e. Step 5)?

The point is I was healed of my propensity to drink, and cope with the pressures of life that way, overnight. I never missed it. I asked God to heal me of it and he did. I was so determined to put my marriage back together I turned my life around 180 degrees and maintained every change easily when previously it had been seemingly impossible. And yet, I have never missed drinking. Indeed, I love sobriety! I’ll never drink again.

Life in recovery is a one-day-at-a-time process. There are tough times when we simply ‘let go and let God.’ I don’t believe recovery is possible without God—AA advocates a ‘Power greater than ourselves,’ a.k.a. God. AA is basically a Christian program without being overtly invasive in its approach. It’s a recovery program based on Jesus’ love in my view.

For the person who’s suffered the shame of not being able to control what they drink or consume (i.e. drugs) these matters are so perplexing; life is base misery. These people are ordinarily so capable and yet they still cannot control the demon drink or the chastening drug—their lack of control overwhelms them in hopelessness. I know. The cycle just continues.

There is hope. But I have to say, in my direct case personally, it was salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ that saved me, cleansing me of my sin, setting me on a clear path out of dependency and clear into his sanctified grace.

There is also hope in the knowledge that we’re not the only ones; many, many more suffer in silence—lonely and confused about their disease. And that’s what we’re dealing with; a spiritual disease. The only way we can truly be saved is through a Saviour—our very own, personal Saviour, Jesus.

The cool thing is, this Spirit of God heals us in such personal ways, we know he knows us intimately—we know his forgiveness and grace; and we know where we please God we have no need to please another soul—the pressure I mean.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

NB: Facebook friend reminder: I’m incommunicado for the next 48 hours.

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