Maybe by now you have picked up on some general themes that tend to permeate my blogs. In the past year or so, since I began attending recovery groups, I started asking myself and eventually others how I could reconcile all I know of God from my church world, with what I am learning about him in recovery world. They are so closely tied, but people rarely seem to put the two together functionally. This bothered me. I wasn’t sure how to put the principles together in my head and desperately wanted to talk about these similarities between recovery and church and how we could help each other. I was stumped as to how to do this for quite some time. Then, enter Leukemia. As I slowly began recovering and started blogging, I unintentionally began piecing my feelings and ideas about how all these thoughts floating around in my head and heart met somewhere in the middle. I can hardly share a word without it relating back to Cancer, Recovery or God. What I have found, from your responses, is that these are 3 of the most common topics that effect almost every human on earth. At some point, we all are “affected” by the sickness of ourselves or others regarding our physical bodies. At some point, most of us are “affected” by someone else’s addiction or our own. And at every point, we are all “affected” by our view of, our struggle with, our disdain for, or our love for God.
I have met several new friends since I got Leukemia. We have just one common factor, really-We are all “affected” by the disease of leukemia. And we know it at the core of our being. We didn’t start off talking about our kids or our jobs, other than the fact that we were in missing our kids and our jobs because Leukemia had abruptly planted us in the hospital without warning. We had an instant bond that was based purely on a common malady. What we did for a living or what part of town we were from never even came up. We felt safe and understood because we knew we shared the same disease and had similar hope and solutions for recovery. It cut years out of what it would take us to reach this level of intimacy in “normal” life circumstances. The “disease” leveled the playing field.
I also have met several new friends since I joined Recovery. We have just one common factor, really-we are all “affected” by the disease of addiction. And we know it at the core of our being. We didn’t start off making small talk or asking about community activities we were invested in. Many of us (ok-me) came in crying and left crying and was pretty much a hot mess for several meetings. No one commented on this and kept telling me to “keep coming back.” They knew already what I would learn soon enough-that we were all similarly “affected” and though their symptoms my look different from mine and manifest themselves in unique ways, we still shared the same “disease” and could help each other with the remedy. The “disease” leveled the playing field.
So here’s where my trouble begins. What I wish I could say, is that I also have met a lot of other friends since I have been in the church and that we share one common factor really-we are all “affected” by the disease of sin and brokenness. And we know it at the core of our being. But I just can’t say it. Don’t hear me wrong: I lOVE the church. It is God’s bride and he cherishes it. But sadly, having been in healthy, wonderful churches my whole life, I still can’t claim the same kind of understanding and acceptance I received since being in recovery and having Leukemia. I am NOT saying that I could have even survived my recent bout with leukemia without help from amazing, church-going, God-loving people. There is no way I could have walked this path without those people. YOU people. Here’s what I am trying to say ( not doing a very good job I am afraid. I am in the hospital on meds and chemo so my thoughts are not as focused, but my heart is heavy)…
Whether we admit it or not, our “disease” has leveled our playing field as well. We are ALL “affected” by our own sins and those of others. None of us is better than the next guy, yet somehow, we pretend otherwise. We are all comparing ourselves with those around us, one way or another. Especially in “religious” circles. We are either doing “better than that guy” or wishing we could be “as spiritual as that guy.” God says that we ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God. That’s why he sent Jesus. To make up the difference. I wish with all my heart that when messed-up, rough, and raw people and even dressed-up polished, guarded people, came to church, they could confess their crap and instead of a judgmental pursing of the lips ( “oh MY”), they would get a hug and a cup of coffee and a listening ear and your phone number and a “glad you are here. keep coming back.” Keep coming back next week and next month and next year-as long as it take’s you to truly embrace an authentic life of faith and recovery and remission. AS LONG AS IT TAKES. And we will love you unconditionally for AS LONG AS IT TAKES (and just in case you wonder how long that is-for most of us it will be a lifetime because the “effects” of this disease started in the Garden and will more than likely run for as long as we have breath in us-just saying.). There is so much that we can learn about ourselves and doing life with each other if we are willing to learn about, apply, and share the wisdom God has provided from EVERY avenue of life he brings our way. My life and understanding is richer as a result of what I have experienced in what some might call “devastating” circumstances. I truly wouldn’t change a thing.
God’s playing field has been leveled. Who’s field are you playing on?