So many times we have heard these words, only to roll our eyes and say, not again. Cliches like this dot the landscape of recovery, and though always truth, the reminders make us wonder if it is ever going to end. It won't.
Having had some problems with my back and legs recently, there was a day of relief after I had Physical Therapy. Feeling pretty good, I stopped by the yogurt store to celebrate with a cup of a really great tasting mix. As I felt the joy of the moment, it hit me, that I had just poured fuel on the fire by adding sugar which of course, enhances inflammation, which, of course, causes back and leg pain.
Yes, I am still a recovering addict and alcoholic who needs work. My main defect that haunts me still, is self-destructing after success. I have a few friends in the Bible who struggled with the same problem, David, Solomon, Peter, and others who just couldn't handle continued success and had those moments of self-destruction.
To avoid having more than momentary setbacks that are minor, we who know the capability of a proverbial Dennis The Menace mentality have to keep working some sort of mental program, that is not only spiritual, but is also behavioral. Thus a program like the 12 Steps helps restore us to sanity and it does Work If We Work It.
We know we will never reach perfection, but we will progress so that any slips we have are minor and not of catastrophic proportion. We are not only a work in progress (no more cliches I promise), but we are also being sharpened by the iron that is chiseled in the Master's fire.
Well, maybe just one or two more....we learn one simple truth to change....God can do for us what we could not do for ourselves! No more yogurt, I will just keep coming back!
This time of year the world turns it's eyes toward Easter as the new spring season approaches. Some for the proverbial Easter bunny, some for the warm weather, but most for the events that happened on Calvary. That was where the hope of a new chapter of life came from, and as the weather changes, let's hope our hearts can as well.
It was painful beyond the words of scripture to watch, for that I am sure, but as we look back we can truly say that the pain endured to bring salvation was worth it to God. He loves us so much that he would go to any means without sinning to bring us back to him. The addicts, the thieves, the adulterers, the religious perfectionists, the add your own category folks, all had to have their hearts broken to come to the reality that only by pain can we experience lasting gain.
Happiness, joy, all of those warm and fuzzy feelings only last while things are going well for most people. True, the memories bring us solace in difficult times, but that pain, that pain is a constant reminder of how far we were gone and how far we have come. It teaches us to endure, to persevere through the worst of times, and provides us with a platform to speak on to others, that there is Gain In The Pain!
Jesus planted a seed in the world that, unfortunately for most of us, only grows when experiencing pain. Yes, there are some who do not need to hit rock bottom to grow, but in reality, in this world we live in, many prefer to have faith in mother earth and that bunny. That is, until we experience tragedy and extreme pain.
God knew that, that is why the excruciating events on Calvary, chronicled vividly in Hollywood's productions hit home with us as we are forced to see in re-creation, pain at its highest peak. I remember watching The Passion Of Christ with our church family and how the audience, including me, were in tears thinking of the cost paid for our salvation. It was beyond painful to watch.
But then, there was was that stone pushed aside, those public appearances by Jesus when he came back to life, the words of forgiveness and redemption that he continued to utter, and I realize, whenever I experience my own pain, it is a pathway to true freedom in life.
As they say, no pain, no gain!
It's one thing to be generous and have a continuous heart for giving. It's another to give almost without any hesitation or reservation in the way you do.
Several months ago, one of the men on our Board Of Directors saw a problem with a man in need, took this stranger to an ATM and handed him $200 to help him find his way. I was not only impressed with it, he has become one of my closest friends because he has no fear of making an impact with Velocity Generosity. That's giving in such a way as to make a huge difference immediately.
That same man helps us clean up after almost every event, it's in his heart to serve. Last Friday I got a call from my doctor (she has been my primary for 25 years) who said she had just bought us a freezer and fridge at an estate sale and asked if we could pick it up by Sunday, which we did. After loading it up I said she should come visit us some day at our facility, whereupon she said I will follow you there. This was Sunday and we were in Marietta about 35 minutes away.
She toured our facility gave me the approval, paid me for the rental truck bill, and said she was off to raise money for us. No hesitation, a doctor on a Sunday taking her time and effort to help those in need of a great physician. I could go on about her immense impact on my life but I think you can see her heart and her desire to serve.
Then, this past Tuesday, I sent out an appeal to raise funds for our next few months as we still await potential grants to kick in, and another member of our Board offers to match any donation to ATB received by April 1st dollar for dollar up to $5000. Not just offered, but offered within hours of the email. In everything he has done and how he lives you can see his desire to serve.
These three showed that Velocity Generosity making a quick, sudden impact on a situation with influence that was memorable. Sounds a lot to me like a Jewish carpenter who walked this earth and acted much the same, as he came upon people in need. His impact, as was theirs, was enormous.
They all had the uncommon desire to give and to serve without hesitation.
There are certain phrases, catchwords and slogans that we pick up and love to repeat either as fun or inspiration. Some more than others are automatic responses to a situation, and like you, I have Bible verses that inspire me daily in each different circumstance. But there are others that also help us through the most difficult times.
This week's groups were highlighted by the topic DBNO which is a compact, Urban Dictionary catchphrase for Down But Not Out. Great inspiration for us all to get up off the deck when we have been knocked down by situations in life or our own bad decisions. All the Rocky movies come to mind. He never quit getting up even though he was knocked around, nearly knocked out and always counted out because of his talent or age.
But the greatest comeback story of all was that man who lived on this earth for 33 years who was mistaken for a magic man, a blasphemer, and a mere prophet. He told folks things they did not necessarily want to hear, he hung out with the wrong crowd, and acted very anti-establishment. He kept telling everyone he could that if you looked at Him you were looking at God and that made most of them mad, except for the ones he healed.
And then he kept saying I will be leaving for awhile, but I will come back, but nobody really understood what he meant. Then they killed him, nailed him to a cross because of jealously and misunderstanding. And, his closest disciples even doubted that he was who he said he was because he died and didn't save them, or so they thought.
Then came the resurrection, the redemption and the hope of mankind that we too could be redeemed from our sins and our bad habits, like addiction. He was truly DBNO but his comeback gave us hope that we too could follow Him to redemption.
Yes, we could hit rock bottom, but we didn't have to stay there; there is hope beyond our dope.
There is more that we talked about, but so difficult to fit in a blog. But know this please: you may look knocked out, you may feel knocked out, but those three people in your corner between rounds are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost urging you to keep ducking, keep punching, because they will never let you get knocked out if you believe in them.
We are also champs because He became our Champion!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.