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Through the Red Door Blog

In the early days of the Church, when the front door of the parish was painted red it was said to signify sanctuary – that the ground beyond these doors was holy, and anyone who entered through them was safe from harm.

In the lives of many recovering people, it is through these same red doors that sanctuary is found on a daily basis. Initially that sanctuary may not have started in the rooms with high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, but in the basements and back rooms of churches where 12-step meetings are held.

This blog was created for recovering people to share the experiences they found walking through those doors of safety, refuge and peace.

To submit a entry to the blog, please click here for the details or contact us at info@episcopalrecovery.org.

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  • 11/13/2019 7:39 PM | Anonymous

    Surrender results in a change in perception. We realize that our selfish, self-centered addictions, afflictions and compulsive behaviors have cut us off from God and have left us in a dark, lonely prison of hopelessness and despair.  -Wally P., Back to the Basics of Recovery, 1999

    For most of my life the biggest road block to my recovery from sex, love, and pornography addiction was looking me straight in the mirror. In the height of my acting out, my life centered around what I wanted, when I wanted it, and with whom I wanted it. I had little concern over the consequences of my actions or the emotional impact such behaviors might have on others. All I remember is the powerful sense of urgency - yes hunger - to fill that void deep within. A longing inevitably followed by the cycle of shame, guilt, and self hatred.

    My recovery began once my perspective changed.

    I went from looking in the mirror to looking inside. What a frightening and beautiful exploration! When I came to see myself for who I really was - a flawed, imperfect human being - it became much easier to surrender to the reality that there is a God and I am not He, She or It! I began to realize, as I worked the 12 Step Program of Recovery, that my self will and ego resulted in a bottleneck of spiritual power. The inner work required by my program allowed me to move out of denial and into reality. I could no longer pretend to be something I was not.

    Steps One, Two and Three required me to not only admit I was powerless but to embrace it as well. Those are two very different things. One was a mental exercise (which I had conducted each time I quit my addiction) and the other was an act of the heart. It was the desperate surrender of a drowning man who had to accept that continuing to do things my way would not end well.

    As I recover, I choose to lean into my powerlessness, knowing that the more I embrace it, the stronger my recovery grows. Embracing my powerlessness is surrendering to the reality that my best effort to manage my life endangered my family, brought about my divorce, left me unemployed, arrested, and publicly shamed. But in doing so I exercised the courage to reclaim the power which I allowed my addiction to steal from me. As strange as it may seem, accepting my limitations laid a foundation upon which to build my new recovery life.

    The embrace of powerlessness brought the gift of faith into the life of a once life-long evangelical. Surrender allowed a shift from “hunger” to “hope” to occur and has become a day by day (minute by minute) work of the spirit. Today I am able to see that surrender does not imply that I am a loser. Rather, as one person in recovery once said, “Surrender just means you are smart enough to join the winning team.” -Shane M.

  • 10/31/2019 9:30 PM | Anonymous

    A couple newcomers to our fellowship brought this topic for discussion.  Those early days and months can be confusing. I felt there was so much to learn and then one had to figure out how to bring this life-changing knowledge into his or her daily life. Progress appeared to be slow. Sometimes it seemed I should take notes when I observed some making notes in a journal – maybe keeping a journal wasn’t a bad idea.

    Some said that the early days were tough for we may have still felt guilty, ashamed, broken in spirit, deeply remorseful, in fact, maybe genuine appropriate feelings. The answer to this was always, “don’t dwell on the past.” Some didn’t arrive at our rooms easily it may have been court-ordered or prompted by a non-negotiable ultimatum from an employer or family member. 

    What I learned, and this was just my reaction, is that the Program’s map of the journey to sobriety and serenity was a path of some length, with twists and turns, failures here and there, and constant attention to the Program ‘s teachings. I heard at one early meeting that as we worked the Steps, we in essence would be changing our social mores and practices, probably dropping personal relationships with some friends, even reevaluating one’s life values.

    But of course, sometimes there is a feeling of disbelief that you found yourself at an AA meeting at all:

    “I’m not as bad as some of these folks here still have my job, wife and kids, no DUI, auto accidents. My goodness, all I need to learn is a few ways to drink normally, just one or maybe two at a party.”

    And, as I continued my attendance, I found much relief: Everyone said that we needed to “let go and let God,” “easy does it," “keep it simple,” and a whole raft of other seemingly over-simplifications of my feelings and frustrations in these early days. One thought that meant a lot was the idea that the Program sought to remove that feeling of concentration solely on myself I was not the most important person in life, they said saving my inflated ego was not life’s number one priority.

    Then they starting discussing the importance of a spirit-based life. Take prayer for example: the Big Book talks about our seeking God’s will for us and the courage to follow that will removing our ego as the author of God’s Will, rather “Thy Will, not mine.” Then they said the group can serve as our “Higher Power.” Talk about confusion!

    The successful ones made one thing absolutely clear. Never give up. Keep at it. Go to a lot of meetings, not one or two a week 90 in 90 and not just lead meetings but mostly discussion meetings where you can learn  as did Bill and Dr. Bob that the purpose of these meetings is for one alcoholic to talk to another alcoholic and to learn from other alcoholics how they successfully found sobriety and serenity.

    Yes, go to meetings, especially when you don’t want to go. Call your sponsor, read the Big Book, reach out to others especially newcomers, for you are going through the same thicket of ideas... and remember the Big Book’s promise: “Sobriety and serenity will always materialize if we but work for it”

    Jim A., Covington, Kentucky

  • 10/23/2019 7:23 PM | Anonymous

    “The humility generated in recovery is the ability to admit that when it comes to the core questions about who you are and why you are here on this planet the only honest answer is, “I don’t know.” Humility…is living the question without settling on an answer.”(1)

    “Can you tell me…?” That was sufficient for me to get into a history lesson. If the question was “Is it going to rain today?” The answer might be a lesson on condensation or climate change. The deeper I got into my addiction, the surer I was of who I was, what I wanted, what I knew. Sadly, that was only on the outside. On the inside I lived in fear of the answer being wrong; of people discovering I didn’t know what I was talking about; was stupid, a con-artist. I can still remember being told: “You don’t have to give a lecture in order to answer a question.” I had no idea I was doing that either. I was just so afraid, I had to talk.

    I live in so much doubt about self, others, God, I had to have an answer; I had to let others see that I knew what was going on; why things were, etc. I had to have some kind of an answer in order to look good, to seem intelligent.

    My fears caused me to read a lot (something I didn’t learn to do till I was a senior in High School. That’s another story.) I was driven by fear; fear of God, fear of being seen as a con-artist, as being stupid, fear of “not knowing” the correct answer.

    In early recovery I highlighted and memorized lines in the Big Book in order to quote them at the next meeting so that I could be seen as being intelligent; “with it,” “committed to recovery.” I read as much as I could get about the history of A.A., its spirituality, etc. All head knowledge.

    One day I was told, “You know you don’t have to know everything.” I responded, “that’s true.” But I told myself: “If you only knew me, you’d know I have to have the right answer.”

    And then came the time, a few years into the program, I finally could relax and say, “I don’t know. I haven’t got a clue.” Freedom. Breathe deep and relax. The world didn’t come to an end and lightening didn’t strike. It’s okay not to know (and I think it’s okay to say, “I don’t know” in order to let another answer the question. I don’t have to be the one to answer the questions. There are times it feels good to say; “You ought to ask….”

    “Humility…is living the question without settling on an answer.” I once read that “the only true answer is another question.” That made perfect sense. Each answer leads me to something bigger, something deeper, something greater.

    “Why is God not mentioned in step two?” The answer to this led to me find an answer that made sense for me which, in turn, helped me turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Her. “Why can’t I go to confession to a priest?” This led to a deeper understanding of step four and a real healing in step five.

    And then there were the questions I have to live with: “I’m an alcoholic because?” “Why me, not my sister?” “Why is it that some people relapse, or relapse and die after years of sobriety?” “Why is there not a cure for this disease?” “Why do people…..”

    So many questions for which, as yet, there are no answers or even partial answers. With sobriety I have learned to live with questions and be comfortable in not only not knowing answers but that I don’t have to have an answer. Sobriety brought me peace of mind.

    (1)   RECOVERY- the sacred art. Rami Shapiro. 43

  • 10/16/2019 6:55 PM | Anonymous

    We carry thoughts of Gratitude all day, every day of our recovery, and that’s as it should be.

    Sometimes our Gratitude comes to the front of our memory at a meeting as someone expresses relief from past conduct and its shame and sorrow, its black cloud. It’s that relief we receive, free of charge from our Higher Power’s Grace.

    Sometimes it came on a holiday, such as a July Fourth celebration, or the distant echoing of “TAPS” at a service for a fallen police officer or firefighter and we are grateful for the selflessness of their bravery and devotion to those they protect.

    Days of a religious nature also seem to call on us to remember and we see that the Grace we receive from our Higher Power is exactly that – it’s “free,” no strings attached, and it seems to arise just at the moment when we might have a need for it.

    I see Gratitude when newcomers appear and take that first step of commitment. They feel as we all did – a relief, something taken off our shoulders, we see light ahead and the privilege of literally starting our lives over without baggage and even including a plan to grow that feeling, to grow in our spiritual being and to undertake regular Twelve Step work.

    Our kids and grand-kids prompt a swelling of our hearts. Running through life seemingly without a care in the world, their growth as they move through the teens and early adult-hood – and doing so with that same joy they encountered as a kid running and playing.

    I have a Gratitude for the Traditions – we come to meetings and don’t vote on agendas, motions, approval of minutes or election of officers. We can listen to others speaking without a “hidden agenda,” all of us seeking only a “happy, joyous and free life” way of life.

    That brings to mind the Gratitude I see in the range and timing of our meetings. Any time, any day, any city or village, county, state, country – one can find a meeting. When we try other meetings, we see the Gratitude of others we don’t see in our usual home group.

    I think of Bill and Dr. Bob, the “Old-timers” – those who came before us and carved out of whole cloth a way of life without relying on any additive substances to get us through life’s sudden hurt. They are Saints.

    And our loved ones and those that stood behind us during our dark days of pain and rage – spouses, family, friends, employers. It’s a journey to sobriety, sometimes scared by a return to the “old ways” but they joined our journey and shared in its joys and trials.

    ... and we are Grateful for all this and more, especially for the serenity we gain as we work the program day-by-day.

    Jim A. – Covington, Kentucky

  • 10/10/2019 6:09 PM | Anonymous

    Jonah 2:5-7
    New Revised Standard Version

          The waters closed in over me;
              the deep surrounded me;
            weeds were wrapped around my head
    6          at the roots of the mountains.
            I went down to the land
              whose bars closed upon me forever;
            yet you brought up my life from the Pit,
    Lord my God.
    7       As my life was ebbing away,
              I remembered the
            and my prayer came to you,
              into your holy temple.

    This past Sunday, one of our beloved seminarians brought a sermon about being, feeling, believing that we are enough. She, of course, drew from the day’s lectionary – especially the epistle (2 Timothy 1:1-14) and the Gospel (Luke 17:5-10). Her words resonated with me as a person in long-term recovery. I often feel as if I need more or as if I am not enough.

    This never enough feeling tries to keep me trapped in my addictions. I may presently be free from alcohol and drugs, but I tend to seek my sense of worth and well-being from approval from others and perfection and the illusion of control – all things for me which are as personally dangerous as my substance addictions were because they draw me away from self, God, and authenticity.

    Feeling that I am not enough is filled by what therapists call cognitive distortions or automatic negative thoughts. For me, mind reading, fortune telling, catastrophizing, black-and-white thinking, personalization, magnifying, overgeneralization, discounting the positive, filtering, labeling, emotional reasoning, always being right, fallacy of change, and control fallacy are very common in my thought life. These addictive thought patterns connect closely to my feelings that I am not enough and that I need more things, people, education, time, money, therapy, etc.

    The disciples, in Luke, asked, “Increase our faith.” Paul says to Timothy, “I remind you to rekindle the gift of God.” As our beloved seminarian shared in this past Sunday’s sermon, these are each an example of learning that you are enough. The disciples want more, but, in fact, everything they need is within them already; they need not doubt. Jesus' parable of the mustard seed illustrates this. Paul reminds Timothy that he has what it takes to start the God-fire – re -kindle – the ember is already there – you are enough.

    So, when I am underwater and need to get out of a negative thought cycle, to recognize that I am enough, that I have enough, I try to remember Jonah – I remember God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, and I pray. Sometimes that prayer looks like reading Forward Day by Day; sometimes it looks like writing morning pages. Sometimes that prayer looks like getting to a meeting, and sometimes it looks like this: I am not ashamed. I have faith. You brought me up from the pit. I am enough. Amen.

    Brandon B.
    San Marcos TX

  • 10/03/2019 9:45 PM | Anonymous

    The following is an article written for our parish newsletter designed to heighten recovery during September, National Recovery Month. May it encourage you to see your own faith community as a vital part of your recovery.

    Hello, my name is Shane and I am a grateful person in recovery.

    In January 2016 I walked into Saint Peter’s after a very dark four years. I was broken, discouraged, fearful, and attempting to rebuild my life after the choices I made in addiction had paid off in destructive ways. Coming from an evangelical background, I did not know what to expect when I shared my story with Teri, the previous Rector. I remember crying over my choices and her listening and taking it all in. After she heard all the gory details, she looked me in the eye and told me something I will never forget.

    “You are welcome here Shane.” She said.

    Now, over three years later I can not imagine my life without Saint Peter’s. I have discovered that my church life is a key component to my recovery and being at Saint Peter’s empowers me to walk out my recovery in the context of a loving, caring, and Christlike community. In my time here I have had the privilege of meeting other people in our congregation who are recovering as well. Some from alcoholism, others from drugs, and still others from the pain of being co-dependent or having a loved one who is an addict. While the impact of addiction is a common experience we share, it is the belief that this family of choice helps us recover which really connects us.

    If you are struggling with any type of addiction and you come to Saint Peter’s, you are in the right place. I invite you to begin your own recovery story by reaching out to someone – a friend, a staff member – and take the first step back toward sanity. It begins with asking for help. Visit the website for the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church, and read about the resources available to you. Contact one of the 12 Step Meetings help in our area, a few of which actually meet at Saint Peter’s! There is hope available, all you must do is reach out for it.

    September is National Recovery Month. If you have been impacted by addiction in someway, will you join me during this month in three activities?

    First, let us pray. The Book of Common Prayer has a wonderful prayer for those who are struggling with addiction. It is a great way to turn spiritual energy toward a difficult challenge that affects hurting people.

    Secondly, if you know someone who is struggling with alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, or any other compulsive behavior, would you love them enough to express your care and concern? We never know how our willingness to be honest can sync up with God’s timing and be the catalyst that jump starts someone’s recovery

    Finally, will you join me in making sure that Saint Peter’s continues to be a place where hurting people can be made whole? Isn’t that the promise of the gospel? When you meet someone in our congregation who is struggling, will you continue to be open and available to them? Can we join together and love the struggling as Jesus loves us, extend our arms and say, “You are welcome here.”?

    Thank you for the incarnational love that permeates this place. It is changing lives.


    September 2019

  • 09/27/2019 10:19 PM | Anonymous

    Nearly three years ago, our rector asked if she might refer a parishioner to me whose spouse is incessantly drunk, hiding the booze, but unable to hide the mumbling, stumbling muddle, the bruises and the breaks.  I agreed, but when the phone rang again, it was the alcoholic on the line, saying “I drink uncontrollably”. 

    It’s been a bumpy ride for my friends: recycling through detoxes and rehabs, lying near death on a hospital gurney and roiling in the codependent turmoil that is integral to all addictions. Now, a measure of hope is taking hold for this unhappy family to find sobriety and tranquility. It also has been, I must add, awkward for the couple within the parish. Church communities are uncomfortable and, at times, clumsy in respecting the privacy dignity of members in dire straits.

    The mission of our diocesan Recovery Advocates Network is to “support all who are affected by rampant substance use disorders. RAN is a diocese-wide network that fosters awareness, prevention, intervention, treatment and support, it envisions a safe community within the church. RAN enables recovery, expels shame and celebrates God’s grace outpouring a abundant life in recovery.” 

    We are not agents, interventionists, counselors or therapists. We are, ourselves, in recovery or intimately associated with someone who is. We offer our experience, strength, love and faith to the extent it is invited, welcome and helpful.  As a “network” constituted by the diocese, we have experimented with programs and events to bring light to our readiness to address issues of addiction. Two constraints hinder our success: our lack of resources to mobilize and deliver needed activities; the existing overload that burdens clergy, parish staff and volunteers, and our families in their ordinary (manic) 21st century lives. What to do? How do we bring the hand of twelve-step, spiritually based recovery “whenever anyone, anywhere reaches out for help and hope”?

    There are many answers, but one in particular seems promising – the existing programs within our parishes address pastoral care, outreach, wellness and spiritual  growth offer stunning varieties of activities and services that engage the interest and skills of our members. Grace brings its own structure.

    The key to tapping the potential of these extant resources is to meet people where they are. Until full-blown calamity parts the veil, denial reigns; few are ready to expose their own or their loved one’s travail: the disorder and disease of addiction. Our role as “good Episcopalians” is to care for the “least of these”, not be one of ‘em.  Perhaps, we simply lower the bar. Strikes me there’s a reference to that in Step One in the text of AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

    St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises cultivate detachment as foundational to spiritual life.  Vinita Hampton Wright recently blogged:

    “Disordered attachments are habits, patterns and addictions that inhibit authentic engagement with God and stifle honest reflection, deep listening with others, and constructive action. Beyond balanced attachments toward people, possessions, money or power, we prayerfully consider the relationships within our own selves – with our feelings, our bodies, our view of life. An attitude toward life that is neither dour pessimism nor blind optimism helps us recognize and prayerfully reconcile our emotional and physical habits. We are called to listen to God, reflect on our lives in view of God’s love, and put that love into action.”

    Adapted from “What Is an Unhealthy Attachment?” www.ignatianspirituality.com

    It is clear to me and others actively involved in helping the Episcopal Church engage our fellow congregants, our families and communities that our parish life offers many opportunities for conversation about the role of detachment in the stewardship of our souls. Everyone can occupy the top edge of the slippery slope, practicing the sacrament of presence. From that vantage point, we who have experienced the ride to the bottom of that precarious ridge can engage prayerfully, responsibly and effectively as grace and suffering summon us.

  • 09/19/2019 8:38 PM | Anonymous

    Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:1-2).

    In his book REACHING Out*, Henri Nouwen wrote “…hospitality…is one of the richest biblical terms that can deepen and broaden our insight in our relationships to our fellow human beings.”

    We don’t talk much about hospitality in Recovery and yet it is a way of life for us as recovering addicts. We have learned to turn from selfishness and self-centeredness to reaching out, being present, being compassionate to those on the journey and those who are still suffering.

    Nouwen goes on to write: “To fully appreciate what hospitality can mean, we possibly have to be become first a stranger ourselves.”  Nowhere did I feel more a stranger than my fist meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t identify with “those people”. I told my boss I’d stop drinking and go to A.A. but had no idea as to what I was letting myself into. A stranger! I sat there judging everyone around me. I smoked like a chimney on fire. The music from the bar next door was much more inviting.

    I had left a friend’s house where he had poured me a glass of whiskey. Why didn’t I have my last drink?  Now I remember the last drink I didn’t get to drink. “Hi, my name is…..” Friendly strangers shook hands with me, welcomed me, got me coffee. Emotionally I was a million miles away. They were not just strangers to me. I was a stranger to myself. I told my boss I thought I might have a drinking problem. I wasn’t an alcoholic.  Now I felt like a stranger in a strange land and “those people” were most hospitable to me.

    “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I hated myself. As I listened to the stories, I felt inadequate. On one level I identified with them and, on the other, I was denying it as fast as I could. I was a stranger even to myself.

    Nouwen writes: “When hostility is converted into hospitality then fearful strangers can become guests revealing to their hosts the promise they are carrying with them. Then, in fact the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognition of the new found unity.”

    I put on a brave face. Acted as if. Got involved. Still, there was a wall I could not breach. No matter how nice, how good, “those people” were, I did not want to get close to them. I was not one of them.

    For almost five years I treaded water and then something happened. I was no longer a stranger to myself. I was beginning to like this person I looked at in the mirror. “I am an addict” Period.  I’ve experienced blackouts. I reached a point in life when I knew and admitted to myself that, while I had not lost a job, home, etc, I had lost all my values, I had become “morally bankrupt.”  I was looking at myself with compassion.

    The years of coming in early, setting up the room, cleaning ashtrays, making and serving coffee, had all paid off. These simple acts of hospitality had torn down my walls and I was able to see the people who had been hospitable to me, a stranger to myself and them. They had taken a risk, opened their hearts and minds, listened, and were patient with me and all my blunders and arrogance.

    As Nouwen wrote;”…the distinction between host and guest proves to be artificial and evaporates in the recognition of the newfound unity.”  Through atonement (at-one-ment)-steps 6-9, I had become at-one with myself and in so doing had become at-one with those I considered strangers. The inner hostility had evaporated and I was welcoming myself as much as I was welcoming others into my new found life.

    Living our Twelve Step way of life is a life of hospitality to the stranger within and the stranger without. We live the biblical message of being kind ‘to the stranger in your midst.”

    *REACHING OUT: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. Henri Nouwen. 66-67. 

  • 09/11/2019 6:25 PM | Anonymous

    Slow down, you move too fast
    You got to make the morning last”

    I've been thinking about these words with which Paul Simon opened his 1966 classic, recorded with Art Garfunkel, 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).

    When I was young, my dad and I would play a game in which we would see how long, with meaning and understanding, we could converse using only Paul Simon lyrics, and my dad often spoke these two lines to me as guidance, advice, correction, hope, and love.

    As a child, my thoughts on those lines differed so from my thoughts now. Then, I most often responded with lines from the song I Know What I Know from Paul Simon's 1986 Graceland album:

    “I know what I know
    I'll sing what I said
    We come and we go
    That's a thing that I keep
    In the back of my head”

    Now my response to the 59th Street Bridge Song urging to slow down is more like the words of Paul’s (Simon) more recent song Quiet from the 2000 You're the One album:

    I am heading for a time of quiet
    When my restlessness is past
    And I can lie down on my blanket
    And release my fists at last

    I am heading for a time of solitude
    Of peace without illusions
    When the perfect circle
    Marries all beginnings and conclusions”

    As I was sitting today in the AA open share meeting that I attend these days, the words of a friend sharing on why AA has worked for him led me back to these Paul Simon lyrics and also to the ways that I have admitted my own powerlessness time and again and continually turn my life and will over to God. I've gone from a devotion and proclaiming of my own knowing and toward peace without illusions. And the path for me is the one where I slow down, where I listen to what others have to say. I lean not on my own understanding, one might say. (Proverbs 3:5)

    As I move slower intentionally, I see beautiful connections all around. In a class at church, we are studying through Acts and today read Acts 5. I can think of no word better to describe the beginning of the ministry of The Apostles than slow. And they were intentional about their ministry. All the negative happenings in their time toward them – the persecution, e.g. – yet they persisted – slowly and with the ears of their hearts always to God.

    This sentiment of slowing down, of resting, ties to one of my heart verses and then back to a gift for which I am ever thankful – Paul Simon and his music. My continued, sustained recovery has come to rely on these:

    “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

    When you're weary, feeling small 
    When tears are in your eyes, I'll dry them all (all) 
    I'm on your side” (Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, 1970)

    We are safe in the palm of God’s hand, and God gives us opportunities to slow down, so we must take them. I'm on your side, friends, so together let's slow down when called so that we are equipped to work  more effectively in our covenant relationships, as is described in my favorite prayer:

    Friends, our life on Earth is  short, and we have too little time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind….and may the blessing of God Almighty, Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer, be with you now and always.”

    Brandon B.

  • 09/04/2019 8:45 PM | Anonymous

    “When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”- Lao Tzu

    Is my recovery one of scarcity or abundance?

    How I answer that question determines the quality of my recovery journey while revealing what I truly believe about my Higher Power.  In the past, I was guilty of transferring my worldview of scarcity into my program. This happened with the best intentions. Early on I was deeply aware of the absence of my drug of choice. I defined my program by the number of days I stayed sober and what I was not allowed to do. Honestly, that was all I needed or could handle at the time.

    Now, years later, I sense the breath and width sobriety brings. I sense that recovery is inherently spiritual, and intimately connected to my Higher Power. That connection allows access to an unlimited supply of love, acceptance, grace, creativity and beauty. My focus has gone from just surviving to really living. I have realized that my life consists of mind, body, and spirit. I feel it when one is out of balance. When all three are being serviced, my whole world opens up! I am alive and healthy!

    I define abundant recovery by the words "can" and “shall.” While I am always aware of my limitations, my character defects, and bottom-lines, they never serve as an excuse to adopt a victim stance or become bitter. My focus is on becoming the best and most honest version of me possible, not my restrictions or limitations in sobriety. It also means that my Higher Power has been working, is working, and will be working to empower my recovery!

    Surely it is this view about which Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 1:20?

    “Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.”*

    Working my program has taught me that scarcity is no way to live. In doing so I deny the very power of my creator to do what he promised - say yes to restoring me to life, reestablishing my sanity and blessing me more than I can imagine. It requires both surrendering to that yes and cooperating with the power it releases. When it occurs it opens up new dimensions of integrity, joy, confidence and humility. Theologically this is called sanctification.

    I just call it abundant recovery.

    Shane M.
    Conway, AR

    * Scripture taken from The Message Bible, The Message (MSG), Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson

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