Today marks one year sober from pharmaceuticals, drugs, and alcohol. 365 days. (Incidentally it is also my cat’s 6th birthday, and 99 days until our due date. All pretty great things.)
I considered going to an AA meeting today for the sole purpose of getting a 1 year chip and then I started thinking. AA has had so little to do with my recovery, my sobriety and journey of the past year. So as I considered driving to and sitting in one of the ‘halls’ with people from all paths of life who struggle with alcoholism, I got a little sad and remembered my last AA meeting at three months sober. They were all sad, mad, or just present to “work the program.” I remember coming home to Kyle and expressing how I felt that I no longer belonged there- in the place that was my home in my first month of recovery. We didn’t have anything in common, sure they had a “higher power” but they didn’t have Jesus.
I’ve had a heart for the “broken” even before mine had to break. It seems that exercising mercy for others helped me take the focus off how badly I needed mercy myself. In surrendering to my own brokenness I was stripped of everything I had associated with my identity my worth or sense of purpose- thus began my journey to today. It wasn’t pretty at all but the things I’ve added to my broken pieces through this journey are. Sadly these things just aren’t discussed in AA which explains why they predominantly believe that whether you have 3 days sober or 365, you’re no better off. Your disease controls you, and it always will. You have to work the program, forever- and even then- you’ll likely relapse, you’ll just have a lot of people surrounding you when you stumble back into the halls who know your shame personally.
The doctor’s opinion in the big book sheds a lot of light alcoholics in recovery read for help and for awhile, hope. These few pages give you the ability to separate yourself- your soul- your being-good or bad- from what you are doing in not being able to resist the drink. This helps for a little while, until you realize how depressing that line of thinking is. It tells you that whether 3 or 365, you have that first drink- you will not be stopped because your disease leaves you utterly powerless. And that you will need AA, the program, your sponsor forever- that the course of your life is changed.
This sounds like fear to me. Which could be entirely appropriate, for a season. To fear and flee from something that makes you stumble so hard! To fear your foothold. And to treat it accordingly- as something to fear and avoid just as you would anything that separates you and your savior. But AA doesn’t have Jesus, and God didn’t give us a spirit of fear. Soak this in:
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Tim 1
Power. Love. Self-control. You will need these things but you also need to realize the true source. Who provides them for you. Who you hit your knees for each morning. Because it will turn from “please keep me sober today” to “oh my gosh I’ve been so busy seeking and finding You I didn’t realize you’ve kept me sober another month.” And this one:
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8
That doesn’t sound like fear. That sounds like empowerment, hope. Nothing can separate. Even when we do fall, fail, and bring our bloodied, ashamed selves back to the cross.
I truly believe that I would not have seen these 365 days through had I not encountered Christ and bore witness to The Conqueror’s work. Had God not, so graciously, stripped me of everything I held dear in my identity to make room for how wrong I had gotten it from the start, and then little by little reveal to me through willingness, discipline, study and prayer- that I truly am his workmanship. There is no way I would be here sober today. Or married, or pregnant, or joyful and at peace with my life. He has continued his work showing me that I am uniquely gifted for a purpose that was set out before I was born- one that no other can complete or fulfill. That I am worthy of his holy spirit’s movements in my life, that I am heard and cherished, adored and sought after… my flaws, shame and past included. Because I don’t need to live in fear. I need to live in his love.
I can truly say that I’m not necessarily much closer today to having received an answer to the identity and purpose prayers that I constantly petition the Lord with- but I see such growth and beauty in recognizing that I am content not knowing. I know I’m following his will for my life- and I can leave my prayers and petitions and trust with him. And I am especially thankful that for today, 365 days into my sobriety, my identity is no longer fused to “alcoholic” but to “conqueror”.
I don’t need to trouble myself with tomorrow.