Driving down the road the other day, I saw a church sign that struck me as particularly poignant: “Faith makes all things possible, not easy.”
That was a hard concept for me to grasp when I first came to recovery. I thought that because I was clean, and because I was turning my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him, that my hard times were over.
I think a lot of newcomers fall victim to that naivete — the idea that because we’re doing the next right thing that our life would be free of obstacles.
The longer I stayed clean, the more I realized that recovery doesn’t mean we receive “get out of pain free” cards. Life is life, meaning that the totality of the human experience will include emotions that run the gamut, from love to heartache to anguish to pain to ecstasy to peace to tranquility to anger ... I could go on and on. And the experience itself will include a vast range of experiences, from triumph to tragedy and all points in between.
That’s how life goes, and when I first started using drugs, it wasn’t my intent to avoid life altogether. At first, I wanted to avoid the downside of life. Heartbroken? Let’s get loaded and forget about it. Depressed? Let’s get high and feel better. Angry? Let’s get high and mellow out.
After a while, I wasn’t just getting high to avoid life’s valleys; I was doing so to scale its peaks as well. Feeling great? Let’s get loaded and feel even better! In love? Particularly pleased with an accomplishment? Hey, let’s get high and make the good times great!
After a while, though, all the drugs did was take me out of the game altogether. I was like a football player permanently benched, sentenced to sit on the sidelines for eternity and watch the game take place without me.
Life still happened; I was just hidden in the shadows, and in that darkness, I realized what a lonely place that was. I don’t think there’s anything more miserable than being in active addiction, walking down the street in the rain while going through withdrawal, and stopping to watch a family sitting at a restaurant table, laughing and smiling and eating and looking for all the world like something I could never be a part of.
By choosing recovery, I can be a part of that. Recovery doesn’t guarantee me a family and a place at such a table; it doesn’t promise me laughter and tear-free days and nights of bliss. But it does afford me the opportunity to be a part of those moments, if I make choices and decisions that can lead to such experiences.
Without a doubt, life is difficult at times. Losing a loved one is tragic. Losing a job is stressful. Wrecking a car, breaking a bone, getting a divorce, falling ill ... those things happen every day to all sorts of people, and they don’t run and get high to avoid the feelings associated with those things. On the other end of the spectrum, babies are born, accomplishments are achieved, marriages are held, promotions are received, and those blessed with those things don’t use drugs to accentuate their positive feelings.
And when I’m in the middle of such experiences, I have to remember: things will change. That’s the nature of life — things always change, and I can make it through both, and the changes that come, without having to get high to cope or check out altogether.
And when things are going bad, and my twisted thinking tells me things will never get better, I have to just find the strength to hang on and the faith that I’ll soon come out of the shadows in the valley and begin ascending the next peak.
In other words, I just have to have a little faith that those positive experiences can be achieved, as long as I’m willing to stay clean, work a program, practice some spiritual principles and hang on during the bad times.
Because they will pass, just as the good times do. Life, you see, is like that: Full of possibilities, never easy, but so very, very worth it.
Here’s your Friday motivation, friends.