Okay, first off, I stole that title. It’s actually the headline from a recent blog post by the marketing guru Seth Godin.* My story does not relate to Seth’s story, it’s related to the headline itself.
About a month ago I had the pleasure of attending a talk by the Director of Community Relations from Hazeldon/Betty Ford, William Cope Moyers, a former crack addict and now a bestselling author. In his presentation he mentioned that when someone tells him that they had ‘hit bottom’ as a result of their addictive ways, he corrects them by saying, “The only real bottom is death.” In a Q&A following his talk, he unpacked the phrase to explain that while everyone has a different depth to which they have fallen, it’s not so deep that there is no way out. To describe a situation as a bottom means that there is no further depth to fall. Many of us who have lost friends and loved ones to addictive diseases know that whatever depth we have fallen to, it is not the ‘bottom’ that has taken so many others.
My personal journey into alcoholism has taken me to deep depths that have created feelings of grief and remorse for what I have lost and the hurt that I have caused loved ones that will last for the rest of my life.
My recovery has forced me to take 50 years of Christian formation and turn it upside-down. Most of what I studied was always through the filter of applying the lessons from scripture and the studies of theology to other people. People who needed help more than myself. How could I identify with those that needed these messages when I was, well, not perfect, but in complete control of my life? Wow. Talk about alcohol being cunning, baffling and powerful. I was the model of that sediment. I was not in control. In no way, shape or form.
I cannot, however, let my feelings and past failings get in the way of what God has laid in front of me, an incredible opportunity. This is where Seth Godin’s headline comes in. It’s a great metaphor.
The writings of Richard Rohr, with his plain and clear style, really spoke to me and forced me to look at life with a new set of filters. I could use my fall, to my depths, as a brand new starting point to not just rebuild a life, but to build a new life. One that can take the strengths and skills of my past life, work through the challenges created by my addiction, add a new ‘clearness of thought’ and emerge as a much stronger, focused and humble Christian servant.
“It's not the bottom, it's the foundation.” As clearly stated in Psalms 118:22-23, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”
That passage from Psalms always takes me back to my younger days as a counselor at Sheldon Calvary Camp with the words of Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame from his song Building Block, “There is a man who has collected all the sorrow in our eyes. He gives us love as God directed but is seldom recognized. When all your dreams have been connected and your vision has been returned, remember, love, you are protected by the truth your heart has learned.”
Amen. Every day I am thankful for AA, my spiritual advisor, my Church, and my triune God for this amazing journey.
Sober since August 26, 2013