In the past month, I’ve had conversations with a number of people addicted to alcohol and drugs who are now sober. One day at a time, they are rebuilding their bodies, their lives and their relationships.
Each one–whether they’ve been sober for weeks or years–was humble, honest and afraid: they know how easy it is to start using again.
“Does it ever get easier?” I asked “Art” (not his real name), who’s been sober twenty-nine years. He shook his head. A young woman explained. “The longer it’s been since you’ve stopped drinking, the farther the memory of how bad it was and the reasons you stopped. That’s why I work with newcomers to AA. They remind me what my life was like before I quit.”
“I’d be dead if it wasn’t for them,” she went on to say. “Art and his wife adopted me soon after my first meeting.”
She wasn’t exaggerating. Every one of them knew people who died from an overdose or alcohol poisoning.
And every one of them give back. “I try to do a good turn every day,” said one man. Another, who used to attend our Wednesday Lunch Club, is ten months sober and working. He returned a couple of times to visit and gave two hefty donations even though he barely makes ends meet.
“I can’t tell you how many lives Art’s saved,” the woman said. I suspected it was true of all of them.
It’s no coincidence that these conversations have taken place as I start the new year literally bearing the weight of my own addiction. God has brought these people to me for my good. They have much to teach me about the cost of denial, the worth of humility, and the value of friendship.
They are giving me the courage to choose life.
Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.
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God has done some incredible love mischief in William Paul Young‘s life. His book The Shack, has sold over 20 million copies and is one of the top 40 bestselling books of all time. It transformed many lives, including mine, because it transformed our view of God. In conferences and interviews, Paul tells the story of how God met him as he faced the truth about his own brokenness and began to believe that he was deeply loved. His recovery led to reconciliation with his wife and the writing of The Shack, which was originally given as a gift to their six children. Young has also written Cross Roads, Eve and the foreword to Richard Rohr’s new book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation. The Shack, the movie, is due to be released in March.