"He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly."
Luke 1: 50-52
According to the Christian scriptures, a 16 year old girl uttered these words after learning that she was pregnant though not married, nor had she been with a man, and that her elderly cousin was pregnant. As she was greeted by her elderly relative, these words flowed from her mouth, the mouth of Mary. I could go on for quite a while about all of the implications of these words and the people from whom they came. But in my particular place in life, I was struck by a couple phrases in particular.
From my point in recovery, I hear loud and clear "He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation."
There is no doubt that my Higher Power, God, has lavished mercy on me. The point with which I struggle is where in this process did I develop fear of God. While active in addiction, I don't recall fearing God. I don't recall honoring, respecting, or even acknowledging his/her influence on me. So how do I deserve mercy?
I think of my parents and their prayer life. My mom was devoted to Mary. She was always pushing me to pray the rosary. I never did in my early life. It just never made sense. So, could it be that my mother's fear of God resulted in God's mercy on me? Well, I am the next generation so it kind of makes sense that God's mercy follows from my parents to me. Right?
He has scattered the proud in their conceit
Here I am, proud, conceited, in full denial of the destructive nature of my trauma and my addictive response. Yup! This one hurts. No doubt that I fit fully with the gathering of the proud and conceited. Further, I was scattered in mind, body and spirit. I could not have found myself as I recall being so disconnected that I would not look at the impact of my addiction on those who loved me so dearly. Yet, here I am, by God's mercy, celebrating every breath of sobriety.
He has lifted up the lowly.
How low can you go? I have met hundreds of low lives in my recovery. Our addictive behaviors have inflicted pain on family, friends, employers, and many unknown people that were endangered while active in my addiction. Yet, so many of us continue to meet each other in our various states of recovery. Each of us struggling, grateful, and in awe of whatever aspect of sobriety we enjoy. Our deepest pains and fears are eased as we share with each other. We leave our meetings, phone calls, and chance encounters 'lifted up'. We are lifted up by our experiences, strengths and hopes, all of which are the stuff of God's mercy.
I truly believe that each of us could write a gospel similar to Mary's. Granted, I've yet to hear of a virgin birth. However, the miracle of sobriety is truly a gift of mercy to the lowly, the proud and the conceited. In this process, we begin to recognize that these gifts are not the result of our fear of God. Rather, we recognize that the generations before us have begged for God's mercy on our behalf. We are the benefactors of the intentions of others who have come to fear, honor and adore a God of love and mercy.
So, we find ourselves in the midst of another Christmas celebration. The opportunity to ponder this aspect of the Christian report of a virgin child, and the words spoken under the influence of God's gracious spirit, have left me with a deeper appreciation for the generations of God fearing souls who have involved God's mercy in our direction.
I am deeply grateful to each of you who share this path of healing, fear, healing, pain, healing, joy, healing, tears, and .............
There are not gifts great enough for me to express to you the depth of my gratitude. So, I will simply say: