I’m disappointed again. Someone I invited to a 12-step meeting didn’t show up. I know he needs to come. He knows he needs to come, or at least he says he does. I think he isn’t hurting enough to make attending meetings a priority. He came to one or two meetings at my invitation but has yet to come solely on his own initiative. He doesn’t yet own his own recovery.
As a pastor, I see the same thing happen with seemingly non-addicted people. They come to church…occasionally. And they claim they enjoy it when they do, but they don’t come every week or even very regularly. Some are CEO attenders–Christmas and Easter Only. Some just come once in a while–when the guilt piles up, when someone nags them enough, when they are facing a crisis with a spiritual dimension.
My friend in need of the 12-steps is like that too. I suspect he will come again someday–when the guilt piles up, when a loved one nags him enough, or when he’s facing a crisis in his sobriety (like a slip or a relapse).
I know I was like that once in my recovery. I sought just enough help to get someone off my back or to ease the guilt I felt over an undisclosed relapse. I didn’t make meetings a priority; I didn’t make program calls; I didn’t value the 12-steps. I only sought temporary relief. The phrase “half measures” certainly applied to my recovery, and just like the Big Book says, they availed me nothing.
I remember our counselor telling me I had to make recovery a lifestyle. He said I had to own my own recovery. Recovery would never work for me if I did just enough to get my wife, my boss, or my accountability partner (or even my counselor) off my back. He told me (actually twice) that I needed to do a 90/90 (90 meetings in 90 days). I didn’t see the point of that at first, but after all, we’d paid him big bucks to straighten me out. I really should take his advice. At first, I felt a little like Naaman taking a seven-fold dip in the Jordan, but then I started noticing that going to meetings was no longer the burden it was at first. Being sober, when I truly worked the program, was actually quite enjoyable. Between the 30th and 45th day of sobriety, I started noticing changes. People around me noticed even more changes than I recognized in myself. That was really encouraging. But I would have never experienced those blessings had I not owned my own recovery. Somehow, by God’s grace I began to surrender my self-will and all the half measures that availed me nothing. As the 12-steppers say, “It works when you work it!”