“Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” (Mark 1:31) I love the focus on serving in the gospel of Mark. My first attempt at getting clean wasn’t successful and was short-lived. One thing about that attempt is that I don’t remember being of service, other than the chores required of me in the rehab center. On my second attempt, I prayed for the willingness and strength to do the things I needed to do to stay clean. One of those things was being of service. I was told that I couldn’t keep what I had unless I gave it away and I believed it. The fellowship I was recovering in was a young fellowship at the time in Memphis, TN, so there was plenty to do. I came into recovery with little to no self-esteem and found right away that being of service helped me to feel better about myself and I needed to feel better! This was just one of the benefits of helping others. I wouldn't have thought in a million years that opening a door for a meeting, or making a pot of coffee, or answering a helpline call would help ME.
I was blessed with finding a job working in an Episcopal church early in recovery. One day when opening the mail, there was a notice from the diocese about a local commission on alcohol and drugs. I was thrilled to see that the church was interested in addiction and recovery! After sending a message to the bishop expressing interest in this commission, I became involved in this ministry. Along with being involved locally came news of a national organization – at the time called the National Episcopal Coalition on Alcohol and Drugs (NECAD), now Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church. Now, I not only was of service in my 12-step fellowship, but in my church also! My church started setting aside one Sunday a year for education, support, prayers, and recognition of this important ministry, and still does. Join us August 30 at Grace-St. Luke’s Church in Memphis as we welcome the Rev. Rebecca Stevens as our guest preacher and Sunday school presenter for Recovery Sunday 2015.
The motivation to continue this work has not always come easy. But when I remember that being of service in my church in this way can be a matter of life and death, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue this work. We, the church, can plant seeds that will bring others out of the bondage of physical, mental, and spiritual addiction - from a life of jails, institutions, and death - and into a life worth living -- a life filled with faith, hope, love, and freedom.
Just like Mark 1:31, when the fever left me – when I stopped living in active addiction – I began to serve others. And in turn, the days have added up – over 10,000 days to be exact – and just maybe another addict or 2 along the way has found a life worth living.