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Friday, 23 April 2021
SOMETIMES it seems to me that the churches of this green and mostly pleasant land would collapse financially without the presence of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen and similar groups helping the addicted and those who live with them.
Over 36, across the country, I’ve never served a church which didn’t offer a home to several such groups.
Their work is wonderful, life-saving indeed, and its prevalence bears witness to a grim truth — addiction is a massive problem among us.
Addiction is very close to what the Bible calls “sin”, the essence of which is to give something, something which in itself might be good, the place that rightly belongs to God. It might be drink or drugs, it might be food or sex, it might be behaviours of some sort or another. When those things move from being just a part of life to being the great thing in your life there is usually cause for concern and likely for change.
The first step (AA has 12) is always to admit the problem. Yes, maybe I really have fouled up my life because of my addiction to rage and my inability to control it. Yes, maybe endless videos on YouTube really are commanding attention I should be giving my work, my studies, my partner, my children. This is not just about drink or drugs.
Of course, the obstacle to that first step is denial, the often pathetic excuses and rationalisations we offer ourselves for behaviour that to the outsider seem utterly wrong-headed.
The antidote to denial is truthfulness but “humankind cannot bear very much reality” — T.S. Eliot had it right. To be really truthful with ourselves most of us need support at some stage in our lives. If drink is your problem AA can help that way, knowing from the inside all the evasions we practicse. A good friend, a loving partner, a counsellor, Samaritans or some other source of loving truthfulness might be the way for other addictions.
By way of self-help the old Christian habit of making an inventory of the day in the evening isn’t a bad start. Why was I anxious in that meeting, why did I enjoy putting that person down, why did I need that drink, that cake, that distraction? Consider your motives as well as your actions. Do you see patterns emerging, is something looming too large in your life, being more important than it should be? That kind of inventory is a part of prayer for many.
And for the morning here’s the Morning Prayer from the Big Book of AA (can be read online):
“God direct my thinking today so that it be divorced of self-pity, dishonesty, self-will, self-seeking and fear. God inspire my thinking, decisions and intuitions. Help me to relax and take it easy. Free me from doubt and indecision. Guide me through this day and show me my next step. God give me what I need to take care of any problems. I ask all these things that I may be of maximum service to you and my fellow man ...”
10 February 2020
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