[The following is what I call a "dialog with my Inner Coach," with Norm as N, and Coach as C. These conversations will appear throughout this blog.]
Coach: Are you going to publish your experience, your closing remarks, at the addiction recovery meeting last Thursday?
Norm: I’m not sure. This was such a personal and important experience the day after my diagnosis of cancer.
C: And why would you hesitate to express your personal experience?
N: Maybe because it seems to go against the mask I often wear of being knowledgeable, and in control of my emotions.
C: But, your mask of being OK just got ripped off by your diagnosis, didn’t it?
N: For sure!
C: Earlier you posted the slogan in the doctors office, “Be yourself, everybody else is taken.” Isn’t your vulnerable self a vital part of your real self?
N: Of course.
C: The meeting facilitator said that participants need to see that their group leaders have challenges as well. And don’t you believe that people want to see your vulnerable self, as well as your cool self?
N: I’m sure they do. Perhaps that’s why so many people are offering me their thoughts and prayers.
C: And wouldn’t it be out of whack if you weren’t bold enough to share this story about “Take Step 3, Boldly?”
N: Right. So, here I go, boldly.
Take Step 3, Boldly
By Norm Wood
Closing remarks at an LDS Addiction Recovery Meeting
[More than two dozen participants at this 12-Step meeting had "shared," and now it was my turn to "share" before my wife and I closed the meeting.]
In Mosiah 4:11 (Book of Mormon), King Benjamin defines a large gap for each of us.
On the left side of the gap, I stand with an awareness of my own nothingness, my powerless over my addictions, my biggest problems, or even my opportunities. I am at Step 1, of Honesty, standing here.
On the right side of the gap, is a vision of my sobriety, of solutions to my problems, or of reaching my goals. That vision dims quickly unless lightened by a Hope in Christ. But with that light, I am promised that I will be able to retain this gap in my remembrance, and keep it open long enough to take Step 3 into the gap. And if I do, I will achieve “Benjamin’s Promise” of great blessings.
Taking this Step 3 of Trust, of making the decision to close my big gaps, has been, and still is, the hardest step for me.
Tonight at the close of this meeting, I am standing at Step 1, on the left side of a big gap, facing with honestly the reality of the cancer diagnosis I received from my doctors yesterday.
I’m feeling the powerlessness of this awareness, my nothingness in being able to understand it, or to do something about it right now.
I close my eyes, I go inside, and I try to imagine being healthy, being vital for a long time to come. I don’t see it. I don’t feel it. I keep sensing this difference, going back and forth between the pain of my reality, and trying to see a vision of possibility on the other side.
I keep looking … sensing … and I now see Christ’s image there, standing on the other side of my gap … arms open wide … saying, “Come unto me, ye heavy laden.” I don’t see MY health, or MY money, or MY outcomes there. I see Him.
I now want to take this 3rd Step of Trust, off into this unknown space, to close the distance between us. But I pull back, afraid of falling, or of failing … afraid of being hurt, of more pain, afraid of great loss.
I ask, “Lord, what will you have me do? How can I do this?”
I feel this reply, “Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”
I step forward, checking every thought, believing, not fearing. I sense a steadying force moving me forward. With my inherent need to know, I ask, “Lord, how is it done?”
Then I hear, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your heart, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
With that assurance, I step boldly forward into his arms. He embraces me … I feel home … safe … the distance is closed.
He then invites me to travel each day with the Step 3 of Trust, from that far side of Step 1 … of Honesty … of reality … toward that distant Hope in Him at Step 2.
He assures me that I as I “do my dailies” I will gain tools and skills from the other 9 steps, and that He and his angels – both on earth and in heaven – will help me build a strong bridge of recovery, over time, regardless of whether I recover my way, or His way. I can then invite those that I love, to follow me in that same path, and without compulsion, forever and ever.
I sense the truth of His words, and I say, “Thank you! I will see you tomorrow.”
I look forward to his message to me tomorrow … I feel peace now … In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.