“It seemed that direct communication with God was something exclusively for the ancients and uncivilized, while educated Westerners’ access to God was mediated and controlled by the intelligentsia.” -Wm. Paul Young: The Shack, pg. 66
“The Shack” is a book of fiction. On page 66, I read about the agony of a man whose young daughter was abducted and murdered by an apparent serial killer.
And just what does this have to do with my recovery?
I am sensing many of the emotions that are part of my life of addiction and my journey of recovery. Mack is the main character whose daughter was abducted and murdered. Also, prior to his daughter’s abduction, there was a view of his journey into the trauma of his early years living with an alcoholic father. His trauma is described as “a great sadness”. His great sadness hangs over him like a persistent cloud. Some days, the cloud thins and life is a bit brighter. Other days, the cloud’s density cripples his ability to connect with life beyond the drudgery of his routine. The cloud is always present. Mack’s life is always experienced through his great sadness. The death of his daughter results in total darkness.
My life of addiction was a life of great sadness. Even during the periods of self-control when I glimpsed sobriety, my being was clouded with the self-talk: “if they only knew”, “what if they find out?”, “how do I cover this lie?” There was the persistent denial of my reality. The best of life in addiction was clouded by truth. Even when I believed my own lies, there was a cloud that would not lift completely.
If God really loved me, then…………………………………..I have pages to complete this thought. In reality, God just didn’t listen to me. I was never out from under the great sadness. God just wasn’t doing His/Her job for me.
My religious education was one of fearing God. Follow the rules or else. The rules were based on a vision of God being ‘up there’ in the judgement seat. I knew I would never meet the expectations. The cloud of the great sadness began with this image of God.
So what changed? How did I establish and sustain sobriety?
As I discussed a few weeks ago, I can look back and agree that my first experience with Spirituality was when I asked for help. This was the recognition of my need for someone greater than me.
God’s response to my plea: you!
The fellowship of the recovering community was my initial experience with the skin of forgiveness. I had been to confession a lot but my experience of forgiveness had no skin. You, in the fellowship put skin to forgiveness. You offered your ears, your pain, your joy, your struggles, and your forgiveness, 70 X 7.
With every connection in time of need, there was and is acceptance, forgiveness, accountability, forgiveness, more forgiveness, and celebration of our universal Spirituality.
My daily routine of prayer, reading and meditation is critical to my sustained sobriety. These practices open my soul to the skin of our Higher Power. I hear this experience referred to as our fellowship, the Body of Christ, our Universal relationship……There are many ways to put words to this reality. In the end, the greatest of these is the love we bring to each other. We bring tough love, gentle love, human love, divining love – we embody love. It is the face of the substance of sobriety and Spirituality, on earth as it is in heaven.
Direct communication with God is not exclusive. Direct communication with God is the reality of our connection and ongoing relationship. Maybe we are an exclusive club. Our exclusivity is defined by our mutual need to be loved. As our relationships continue, we enjoy the transformation exclusive to our mutual need and recognition of our gifts.
I am humbled.
I am grateful.
I am at rest beside the icy waters.
Bundle up and come on along.