Friday, November 25, 2011
He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn't even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. "Woman, you're free!" He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.
Luke 13:10-13 The Message
“Hope is a risk that must be run.” - Georges Bernanos
Faith is the antidote for and the antithesis of addiction. Where addiction kills, faith gives life. Coming along with our deep desire to survive our addictions, hope came alive inside of us. This hope brought with it an openmindedness that we had never had before. As we looked to others in our fellowship who were recovering, and combining that with our own desire to survive our addictions, faith was born. It took root inside of us. Even before we asked for it, a hopeful faith appeared quiet and close. Coming from outside of us, but connecting and working within. As we saw others recover from their addictions we came to believe that we could possibly recover, too. Our hopelessness changes to hopefulness as we honestly connect with others.
In Luke 13 there is a story about an amazing woman whose suffering was healed as a result of her hopeful faith coming in contact with God. We don’t know a lot about this woman. We don’t even know her name. So, to help us become friends with her, let’s give her a name. We’ll call her, Esperanza. Esperanza suffered for eighteen years with what was apparently a very painful and deforming illness. From the story, we know that her illness was increasingly robbing her of her ability to function in life as she normally would have. Her body had become so bent and mangled from her illness that she had lost the ability to look up. Do you know how that feels?
We can imagine that, along with her bodily illness, Esperanza suffered unrelenting sadness, depression and anxiety as a result of the ongoing pain she felt from her illness. We can surmise that, under the crushing weight of mental and emotional fatigue, Esperanza was unable to raise herself up emotionally and spiritually. And we can assume that our friend Esperanza also suffered deep regret over the loss of many opportunities, shame due to her deformities and self loathing due to the feeling that she was no good to anyone any more. Does this sound familiar to you? Whatever hopefulness and fortitude that she had had on her own was obviously not enough to help her. Her reality was that she was stuck and things were getting worse, not better. Can you relate?
While our addictions have probably not brought on the degree of physical suffering that Esperanza endured, it is important for us to identify with her suffering. After all, addictions are physical diseases just as much as they are emotional, mental and spiritual diseases. Our addictions, over time, erode us physically. Sometimes to the degree that our bodies will never be the same again. And, we suffer in more than physical ways too. These sufferings will include among others, shame, regret and self loathing. When all is said and done, pain is pain. No matter what form that the pain comes, it hurts. And, in our addictions we were, like Esperanza, stuck and painfully waiting for help.
Referring back to the Scripture in Luke we will notice that this story takes place in or around one of the meeting places that the religious people of the day frequented on their day of worship. Specifically, the Scripture tells us that Esperanza was ‘present’ in this location. This is an interesting insight for us recovering addicts as it is important for us to remember that it is essential that we keep ourselves in places, both physical places and spiritual places, where God is the center of our attention. By being present in the meeting place on the Sabbath, Esperanza was keeping herself in a place where recovery was possible for her. She was doing all that she could do, all the while waiting for and being present to the possibility that a savior and healer would come along. There was nothing more that Esperanza could do to help herself. So, she did what she could do. This is how Esperanza displayed her faith.
This is what is important in our Step 2. First, we come to believe that we can be restored to sanity. Then, we come and be part of a fellowship with others who are recovering from their addictions. Most of all, we stay alert. We stay emotionally and spiritually present to every opportunity to reach out and touch back to the hand of healing when it comes our way. All the while remaining as open minded as possible because we are not exactly sure when the healing touch will come or through whom it will come. Like Esperanza, we stay open in our faith, being as “present” as we can to fellowship and hope. Simply said, we maintain an attitude of hopefulness the best we can. We stay ready to receive the touch that will make a difference in our lives. We stay, like Esperanza, emotionally, spiritually and physically present. In this way we become ready to be touched, connected, integrated and healed. It will not likely be a physical touch like the immediate healing Esperanza’s experienced. It will more likely take the form of help through our recovering fellowship, a doctor or a counselor but it will be a healing, nonetheless.
By the way, Esperanza is a Spanish name that when translated into English means hope.
Our Journey Home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright Homecoming Books, 2011