Some of my favorite voices are those who have went through recovery; I’ve always felt at home among them even having never been addicted to a substance (though I have been to rehab).
Grace and sin, failure and forgiveness, friendship, these have been the themes of the past year, and in that time I’ve reflected upon my interest in recovery programs.
We all understand grace for humanity insofar as we understand the universal human affliction, mainly that none of us are perfect. We understand grace for mistakes and weaknesses and the universal slip-ups common to the best-meaning people. We understand grace for the “good” people.
But what AA understands is grace for the “bad” person (oh, how loosely I use such terms). Grace for the condemned. AA is filled with many who have harmed others in egregious ways during their addictions. People who are long past trying to hide their sins. People seemingly not easy to love, with accusations against them…that are true. These are the people who have hurt others and caused destruction…repeatedly.
People like me. And AA is the place where they can finally hear
“Oh, me too” with a wave of the hand,
in a world of
“What kind of person would ever?”
I’ve come to suspect that it is only hard to know how to support someone in their guilt, if you’ve never been the guilty person. If you’ve never known just exactly what kind of person would ever: a person like you.
In a time of immense doubt, a friend once told me to begin writing down what I knew to be true.
This week I can add: grace, solidarity, love, no matter the guilt. I couldn’t have survived without others wrapping me in the same, and I could not withhold that saving grace from the next person in the pit.
Give the grace. Love deeply. Be a loyal friend.
Everyone needs a person who meets the scariest parts of themselves with love, support, transparency, and friendship.
Who recognizes that none of us are one-dimensional, “good” or “bad”.
Who loves them as they love themselves.
That model will be imprinted on the soul, a guide for the path of paying it forward.
Revealing another great paradox: that our strengths are found in the shadow.