National Recovery Month

by Gary Pond
September is national recovery month so I thought we might just take a look at a very misunderstood term.
For most people, unless you have an active addiction that your aware of, or unless you’ve been impacted by someone else’s addiction, recovery is a word you probably don’t think of often. When you do, it might have to do with regaining strength after surgery, calling a tow truck, or how long it takes your body to bounce back after working out. We don’t often apply the word to our faith or our spiritual journey, when this is where recovery applies to us all.
Bill Wilson, the co-founder of alcoholics anonymous, defined recovery by this statement, “First of all, we had to quit playing God.” I don’t know about you, but I can confess an ongoing daily struggle with playing God. I like choosing, deciding, and controlling things in my little world. Somehow if feels safer and more natural to control my own life, even after seeing evidence repeatedly that God does a much better job.
As Christians we all have this in common. Many of us have that marker moment in our lives when we decided to accept Christ as the manager of our lives, followed by a journey of attempting to let him!
This is recovery. You don’t have to be a “classic addict” to be in recovery. Richard Rohr, Rick Warren, Dallas Willard, and many other spiritual leaders tell us the whole human race is addicted. We are addicted to playing God. In his book about recovery, Rami Shipiro calls recovery, “The Sacred Art,” and calls the 12 steps a spiritual practice. You may never have imagined recovery as sacred but it’s easy to see how it can be. First, recovery starts with humility, an admission of our own lacking, followed then by hope and the commitment of our life to the care of God. Sound a bit like your conversion experience? Step 3 in recovery insists on this commitment, along with a Biblically sound process of healing, growth, and continual self-examination. All the while we’re discovering a closer relationship to God. In recovery there is no neutral. You are either moving forward and becoming more Christlike (discipleship), or you are heading back toward your old way of controlling your own life.
I challenge you this month to think of recovery in a different light. Do not define it by drug addiction or alcoholism.
As a downtown church, many of our Celebrate Recovery attendees come from local shelters or the streets, and we look a bit different than the “Sunday morning crowd.” We understand it can feel difficult to identify with us, but this is where humility comes in.
It takes humility to admit that my issue with anger, control, or codependence is every bit as harmful to me and my loved ones as alcohol is to the alcoholic. It takes humility to admit that my issue with pornography, gambling, or compulsive buying is as addicting as drugs. It takes humility to admit that my depression or anxiety makes my life seem unmanageable.
God is always the answer and recovery always points us there. My sponsor and mentor constantly reminds me that Jesus came for the sick, not the healthy. Which are you?
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