I am not an expert, nor a person in recovery, but I am a long time, church-going Christian, and I had the privilege to attend an AA/NA meeting and was involved in a similar type meeting – S.O.A.R.R., each took place in the basement fellowship halls of a church; my son was a recovering addict and that’s how I became connected to the meetings.
At first glance, the AA/NA & S.O.A.R.R and the Church at large, have many similarities:
• The meetings are weekly
• People are regular about meeting
• There is a book that guides them
• There is a leader who leads them
• There is a common goal
• There is mutual sharing and love.
I was kind of surprised at the many similarities actually.
At the AA/NA & S.O.A.R.R Meetings, everyone is greeted with a genuine bear hug, and people in recovery share testimonies at every gathering, not just on special occasions; I was awed at the level of surrender, humility and depth of airing real-life-messy; it took me by surprise, and without a doubt, convicted me and humbled me. Sharing and speaking up is the point: Step One – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
Total SURRENDER. Total HUMILITY.
My eyes were opened to the brokenness that is unfortunately so prevalent. Heart & gut wrenching details, baring of deep soul hurts and challenges wove through every story like a rough thread in a fine piece of linen.
Total exposing the MESSY of life.
THEN…there was that one thing that melted me.
That one thing stood out like the one tall stalk of corn left in the plowed field.
ACCEPTANCE by way of NO JUDGEMENT.
This is it: the one thing AA/NA has over the church is a lack of judgmental attitude.
It did not matter who was speaking, it did not matter what they had done, experienced, or been through, or how they said what they said. Nods, tears, and mutual-empathetic-attitudes are what exuded from each one sitting in the meeting. Not one member at the meeting judged that person in the vulnerable seat. This witness melted a place deep in my heart.
It is my opinion, that the Church at large can learn something from the meetings that take place in their basement fellowship halls.
The Church at large is generally too clean; at least it can often seem that way because of the façade that is portrayed when people walk through the doors on a Sunday morning wearing their best and smiling their best as they greet each other, exchanging, “How are you’s?” with smiling replies, “I’m fine” (when underneath it all, many, if not all, really are not). I know from my own experiences, I feared the judgment of others, especially as I endured very messy things in my life and guiltily I admit, I seduced others to passivity as well with the “I’m fine” replies, too many times.
To the Church at large, I challenge you to break down the facades if they exist, stop fearing and instead, accept people who have messes and be willing to share your own messes; stop judging those who are struggling with really hard stuff; you aren’t as clean as you want everyone to think you are…
…surrender and be real, so that we all can be seen and heard and accepted and helped, without fear of judgement – no matter what the mess or struggle is…
To the AA/NA meetings and all people in recovery who are fighting for your lives, I say BRAVO! Keep doing what you are doing…
…surrender and be real, keep seeing and hearing and accepting and helping without judgement!
We are all here together in this life trying to survive and thrive – let’s not make it harder for each other. There should be genuine bear hugs enough for all.
Stay tuned for PART TWO: What the Church has over the AA/NA Meetings – Next Tuesday