Recovery and Resurrection
Day 1 of 4: Recovery and Resurrection:
For Those of Us Who Have Known Death Intimately
Can I embrace my whole self? Not the idealized one I wish my sober self was? Today we focus on taking stock and fully loving who we are: Beloved of God and sometimes really screwed up.
I’m sick of lame devotionals for those of us in recovery. Whether it’s your first 30 days sober or less, or you have been clean and sober for “double digits,” you have run into them. If it isn’t written in a Byzantine maze of recovery quotes by Captain Cliché, it’s a damn love letter to whiteness and heteronormative standards that dances around the truth of recovery.
The truth for me is that something deep down inside me courted death. I made love to death in whatever form it took beyond the gender binary and beyond whatever substance was in front of me. I’m going to be honest—I am a piss your pants, ruin Thanksgiving dinner kind of drunk. But I also really loved shooting heroin. I loved doing meth and writing. I loved anything that would stick my head over the deep chasm between life and resurrection and let me scream into the abyss. I loved it even when it didn’t love me back. I need fucking help became the Lord’s prayer for me. I never even said the Lord’s prayer before I got sober.
I’m tired of devotionals for people in recovery where they don’t mention the sex work. Or stealing from family. Or that interspersed in between the deep valleys we all focus on, there were some of the greatest times of our lives. No one ever mentions that you become a completely different person a few years into recovery and that it is good and healthy to mourn the loss of the old life. We are taught to shed the skin of the last life and to leap into the arms of the new one without a second thought. It took years in a 12-step program (actually engaging the 12 steps) before I realized that large parts of the old me’s sensibilities, loves, and experiences were not just valuable, but a big part of who I still was.
My day of Grace is February 13th, 2010. I was standing at the back of a Furthur concert in the Hampton Coliseum. I was 35 days into the worst relapse of my life because I’d had a taste of recovery right before it. I had been sober for almost a year and half and had just drank. I had “worked” the 12 steps, was sponsoring people—literally doing all the annoying shit they had been telling me to do for years in recovery. But I fell flat on my face and was already waking up with the rock and roll shakes every morning with demons climbing the wall. It was an unmitigated disaster, and so I just did what I always did and started following a band across the country trying to live off the scene around it.
I heard a voice. Standing at the edge of the crowd, I heard a voice. That wasn’t strange to me—I heard lots of voices that week saying things like you should just end it all or you can never get sober again, you idiot.
This voice said simply and quietly, “You are getting sober today.”
God’s Grace is that I believed that voice. I walked out of the show and haven’t look back since. It was a strange thing, though. With no church background—no real connection to Scripture other than intellectual takedowns of the poor saps who tried to evangelize to me—I associated that voice with Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
What good can come from Nazareth, y’all?
This devotional will not be tidy. I won’t wrap any of my junk in a tidy bow. I won’t sell shame as healthy living, either. I stand at the crossroads of the Church and recovery. You know that makes me an outsider in both worlds if that is you, too.
What I’m going to attempt to do over the course of this devotional is take the shattered pieces of my life and create a mosaic I can share with you until my fingers bleed, and I can’t go on because I have cut myself too many times in this process.
Raw. Broken. Redeemed. Resurrected.
Sinner and Saint.
Rev. Lenny Duncan +
Today ask God, “What’s at risk if I loved all of me?” What if the jagged edges of your life are what God is going to use?