Saturday, September 5, 2009

Settling For Less, Much Less

Last night at our LDS ARP (Addiction Recovery Program) Meeting, there were 12 in attendance besides the missionaries. It is so gratifying. The Spirit attended in abundance. All were edified.

As our attention moved around the circle and each person shared his experience, faith and hope, I couldn't help but observe that some, while relatively new to the program were making amazing progress. Over the years there have been others who despite coming to meetings for months or years made little if any progress and continually struggled with their compulsions. Why is this?

I think I could hear the answer in their words. Quite often, dead in the water, old timers know all the words to say. They are big on giving advice, quoting the Big Book and citing examples, they know the methodology cold. They understand the technology of recovery thoroughly, but they are stuck. Why is this?

I think it comes down to humility. In fact I think the bottom line of recovery is humility. I don't mean the dejection of failure heaped upon failure. Nor do I mean the humiliation of being found out. When I say humility, I mean the real and understood acknowledgment of one's utter and entire dependence upon God. We have good people, some in recovery even, who've never crossed that bridge. It is apparent in their words, in the counsel they give to others.

There is a method to the 12 Steps that is useful, even critical, to helping us find humility. Too often though, the method becomes the end rather than the means leaving the addict short of the goal. To me, the goal is not recovery, the goal is humility and the resulting companionship with God. Ether 12:27 is a favorite of most in ARP, but I don't see weakness actually becoming strength all that often. Why is this?

Perhaps its because in our short sightedness too many of us see abstinence and sobriety as the goal. While a worthy objective, it falls utterly short of what Moroni was talking about in that glorious scripture. God gives us weakness to draw us to Him (see verse 28). It is not God's objective to merely make us sober, His desire is to help us become like Him. In order to do that we must completely "turn our will and our life" over to Him. Yet it appears that to most of us Step 3 is just the means to a sober end, when in all reality, (see also Step 11) it is the end.

It appears to me that the difference in the progress I see in our little group boils down to the goal each individual sets. If the goal is sobriety, most won't reach it and even if they do, the struggle will continue. On the other hand, if the goal is humility, success is more likely and more rapid. Turning our lives over to God can be seen as a tool for obtaining sobriety, but too many take back control of all or portions of their lives upon successful abstinence and never experience the joy and freedom intended for them by complete surrender.

Someone said last night that one of our most prolific and superlative sponsors, who's been sponsoring for well over ten years, has only seen one of those she's sponsored make it all the way to and through the 12th Step. Most don't even make it through step six. Why is this?

I think it is because most people have set their sights way too low. They are shooting for abstinence when they ought to be shooting for recovery. They are shooting for sobriety when the could be shooting for the constant companionship of God. They are settling for so much less than what is offered them. Why is this?

It is because they are still holding back and that is what's holding them back.

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