Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Paradox of Willingness

Twelve step recovery is one place, one very rare place where I'm not allowed to play the victim. I'm not victim of this, or victim of that, instead, here is the solution, and either you're willing to do it or you die. And you know what the sad thing is? Most people and by most, 97 out of 100 when it comes right down to it, would rather stay in the problem than face the unknown nature of the solution. And you know what happens? They die. 

I imagine much the same could be related to religion, relationships, depression. We spend all day complaining about the problem, but when faced with the solution, we run the other direction, back to the problem.

That isn't going to be my story.  I hope you'll decide it isn't going to be yours either.  Change is very uncomfortable. 

For the past 1 year, 1 month, and four days I've been granted a miraculous reprieve from pain and disaster.  Has it been easy to walk back from the cliff of death by putrefaction?  No it hasn't.  Horror still lingers in my mind to this very moment.  It comes out day by day, week by week, month by month, the images, the memories and I process the things that happened and the things I did, in a puddle on the floor usually before awaking and going about the next day feeling another step further relieved.

All of this had to happen in a very, very specific way for me to survive this far in the recovery process.  Left to the random functions of space and time, I would be dead.  Of course, such serendipitous and synchronistic evidence is never admissible to the developers of the theory of evolution.  The mathematical improbability is never admissible.  The fact that by the theory, if any one part of the process had been just slightly off from how it happened, there would have been no possibility for life.. well, that's not admissible either apparently.  

But I know theres a God.  Why? Because I'm alive at this moment.  There were too many falls and possible ends to this new beginning.  I haven't survived it alone.  If any one thing had happened just a bit earlier or a bit later, I might have given up and returned to death.  

Very many do.  I've always said, if they dragged the body bags through the recovery meeting rooms many more might stick around for the miracle to happen.  

I am in the process of surviving one of the most deadly illnesses to ever afflict man.  Alcoholism and drug addiction.  It takes countless lives.  

I needed a perfect storm to survive the depraved situation I was in.  

I bounced from mental hospital to mental hospital, rehab to rehab, and jail to jail asking one question, "How does someone want to want to get better?"  In other words.. "How does someone become willing to change?"  I would watch with great despair, as one blunder after another occurred and ask myself the question, "My God Justin, after all of that, all you can do is desire another trip?  Another drunk?"  

What the hell was wrong with me?  How could one disturbed crusade after another that destroyed relationships, friendships, cars, property, and eventually my internal organs themselves still, after 9 years still not be enough for my ego to be fully crushed?  

That was the problem.  Willingness, a problem St. Augustine has written on quite extensively.  He asks at what point is one willing to seek and receive Jesus Christ?  I was asking, at what point would I be willing to seek and receive recovery?

I needed a perfect storm, somewhere after the utter decimation of my ego, but before the massive collapse of my body, and at the same time where I would be presented with the message of recovery, receive it, and begin to recover.  And that was just the beginning.

Could I reach out for that alone?  No.  But I when I fell to my knees and cried out to Jesus, please, save me Lord Jesus... then suddenly, a way was made.  

I have a deadly illness, with no cure.  97 out of 100 alcoholics will die not knowing they have an illness.  Those 3 will stumble into the doors of 12 step recovery.  Out of those 3, 1 out of 100 will stay and survive.  

Now I have two options when I discover the truth of all this: Do I feel sorry for myself, oh boo hoo why me, everyone else can drink and drug why can't I?  Or do I see the most realistic perception of this reality in my life?  Of all the thousands of alcoholics who die without knowing they have a treatable illness, of all the alcoholics who come into recovery and fall away and die, how lucky am I, how blessed am I, how grateful I am that I was one of those very small few who showed up, accepted the message, received the message, and am alive and well.

Just for today.  I have a deadly illness. (disclaimer: I don't claim to be part of any particular fellowship or organization, I'm just a guy)

But it's not the most deadly.  The most deadly illness is pride.  The most deadly illness is the sin nature.  And even less survive that one.  Maybe 1 out of 300 in the world today will realize.. they're a sinner, they need a savior, their life can be made anew, and so knowing, receive that one true savior, Jesus Christ and as a result stay with him, and never fall away, and die finishing the race.  

Man, how lucky are we?  How blessed are we?  

Not only have I been spared from physical death at the hands of this illness, but I've been spared from the greater death, the death of soul reserved for all mankind who refuse the free gift.  God made me with a soul willing to receive eternal life.  For that I'm eternally grateful.

It gives me chills just thinking about it.  Imagine if I was someone else.. someone who would hear the message, and just go on, not care, or worse mock the message, attempt to turn others away from it?  We see that everyday as Christians.  I see it everyday, on the internet, in person, in the media, all the time.  So many dead, still walking.

We will live forever.  Do you really get that?  Because it's real.  It's not a game.  We're not playing church. 

I'm not here to put on a dog and poney show, I believe, through and through, that I will live forever by the blood of Jesus Christ.  I know it.  And it's nothing new my friends, to be mocked for being a Christian.  In the very 1st century of Christianity, during the persecution in the Roman empire Christians were mocked.  

Because it was foolishness.  It only appealed to poor simple minded people.  Anyone with any sense shouldn't believe that.  Sound familiar!?  It's the same arguments today as it was 2,000 years ago!  What's the difference?  Back then there were a few thousand Christians.  Now there are over 2 billion.  A lie doesn't grow like that.  A delusion doesn't live that long.  

So today I choose to be grateful.  I choose to fight for my prayer life, and fight hard.  I choose to get on my knees and offer gratitude to my Maker.  I start to see my character changed, the process of sanctification taking hold of me.  I look at my friends and I realize I'm starting to truly cherish them.  I make heartfelt amends.  I truly begin to enjoy praying and worshipping.  The word of God starts to feel like sweet honey as I page through it.  These are the fruits of the spirit.  I can't see that far ahead.  But I step out in faith, believing for the things I pray for, believing that God is changing and adjusting me internally.  I believe for a wife and a spiritual family, even when I can't see it.  Slowly but surely those things come.  

That's the kind of God we have.  That's how blessed we are.  :)