Nadia Bolz-Weber said that she started her church when she realized that there was something wrong with the fact that she saw more people sitting around talking about God, and how He was working in their lives, in the basements during the week at recovery meetings than on Sunday mornings in the sanctuary.
Pick up a copy of Richard Rohr’s, Breathing Under Water, and you will see an even deeper connection between the roots of the Twelve Steps and Christianity. The problem is, the Christianity that a lot of people see has been characterized more by what people don’t do than who they are. Even though this is why most people enter into the Twelve Steps (to be rid of something), eventually, it’s who we are that gets changed.
I was totally one of those – facilitating Bible Studies, going to church, and waking up at the wee hours for my devotional time is what I thought characterized “holiness”. When my four-year-old would get up earlier than I had anticipated, I would rip off her head and let her know that I was DOING MY BIBLE STUDY AND SHE NEEDED TO GO BACK TO BED!
In his book, Addictions and Grace, author Gerald May tells us:
“… this fundamental trust in God allows us to become a little less bound to our addictions. Our security then becomes less dependent on the power of our own brain patterns and more dependent on the unexplainable mercy of God. Finally, as trust grows, we become less self-preoccupied and more free to be attentive to the needs of others, truly more loving.”
This explains why, when bound to our addictions, we are unable to trust God and be in the present moment because we are so pre-occupied with ourselves – getting what we think we need RIGHT NOW! (Either totally uninterruptible or more into the buffet or the booze than the brother sitting next to us). Then, he explains why in Step 3, when we make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, we are moved away from our addiction into a life of greater love. Dropping that addiction allows love to flow through us instead of getting stuck. Kinda like unclogging the arteries. When a life is characterized by a love flowing through us that is not our own, and not just church-going and bible studies, people begin to see Jesus. So, the Twelve Steps can actually a breeding ground for little disciples.
Richard Rohr sums up what often occurs before we hit bottom and are humbled enough to enter the doors of a recovery program (took me two years of just thinking about going to actually walk in): “Until and unless there is a person, situation, event, idea, conflict, or relationship that you cannot “manage”, you will never find the True Manager. So God makes sure that several things will come your way that you cannot manage on your own. Self-made people will try to manufacture an even stronger self by will-power and determination – to put them back in charge and seeming control… This pushy response does not normally create loving people, but just people in control and in ever deeper need of control. Eventually, the game is unsustainable…“.
What is this saying? Out of control addictions lead us towards recovery, which lead us to Our Creator, which lead us to love because we have finally given up – fallen – and realize that we are held.
So, between May’s and Rohr’s books on Addictions, Grace, Spirituality, and Love – it is suggested that God lets us have these things that are too hard for us to manage in order to bring us to Him. So, of course, He gives us more than we can handle! It is often through the Twelve Steps that people finally realize that God is God and we are not. And, it is much more freeing to just love all the other “nots” instead of judging them.
Gonna finish with a song I have been listening to all week – Will Reagan and United Pursuit’s “Take A Moment”. Click it and listen to it and see how it encapsulates each of the Twelve Steps: (or just let it speak to you however God wants…)
Take a moment to remember who God is (Step 2) and who I am (Step 1)
There You go – lifting my load again (Step 3)
Your love carries me through all the valleys and darkest places (Steps 4 & 8)
No longer am I held by the yoke of this world (Steps 5 & 9)
Come up under the yoke of Jesus, His yoke is easy and His burden is so light (Steps 6 & 7)
As I dwell up here where the air is clear where the light is bright and there’s no more fear (Steps 10 & 11)
I know my place, I know my Name, I know you’ve called me to do great things (Step 12)
What are the great things you are being called to? What is in the way? Let go and “live a life of love” (Eph. 5:2).