Life is hard sometimes. When I entered the world of life in recovery, I thought it was about just not using and redeeming what I thought was my horrible, weak character. Years later, I now know that it is much more. Life, whether through addiction recovery or any other adversity, is about reaching a chapter of spiritual growth. So here’s the hard truth! Spiritual growth does not blossom through the easy, peasy moments. It is birthed through adversity and hardship. And nobody escapes life without adversity and hardship! Here’s the thing…life and people and circumstances are not out to get you, they are out to grow you!
She sat next to the bed. I hadn’t touched her in months. She didn’t seem to notice - she didn’t say a word. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt like I had been unfaithful.
There had been so many excuses. “I’m too busy. I’m too tired. I’ve got more important things to do”. Excuses all...
Finally, I reached over and gently brushed off the dust from her jacket. I started my daily readings – again.
I always learned that the cure for any hurdle was to “try harder.” Struck out in Little League? TRY HARDER next at bat. Low grade on a test? STUDY HARDER next exam. Didn’t close the sale at work? TRY HARDER next customer. The message was to keep doing what you’re doing…but TRY HARDER! Can’t stop drinking? TRY HARDER. When I tried as hard as I could to stop drinking and using drugs and found that I could not on my own will, I tried harder in other areas of my life. Surely success in those areas would offset my utter failure to control and enjoy my drinking! That logic seemed unbeatable. But experience taught I am not. And thus the great paradox of recovery reared its beautiful head in my life. To make progress, to find sobriety, to find happiness, I had to STOP TRYING. (WHAT??)
Recently, I overheard a person in recovery talk about being concerned because he hadn’t had a spiritual awakening like Bill W. He was afraid he had done something wrong. He wondered if he had fallen out of favor with God. He questioned whether he had missed something when he went through the 12 Steps. He thought maybe he had glossed over some vital section of the first 164 pages.
The Presidential campaign this year may appear to be uniquely trashy. It isn’t that unusual, set against the full sweep of American history. The 1884 campaign of the Democratic President Grover Cleveland against the Republican James G. Blaine was trashier. Blaine was accused of profiting from sales of railroad bonds and Cleveland was accused of fathering a child out of wedlock. Crowds at campaign rallies shouted down each candidate: “Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the State of Maine” and “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House, ha! Ha! Ha!” Ugly politics is nothing new.
You might remember the famous “Last Lecture” given a few years ago. Well, this is my last blog and so I am going to share with you three of the most important realizations I have been blessed with in my years as a twelve-stepper. My recovery date is May 1, 1979 and so I consider myself a mere beginner in The Climb, but here is my humble offering.