The word, concept and importance of community continues to cross my mind. Growing up in Chicago in spite of different ethnicities, if you were part of a community defined by certain street boundaries (nowadays known as the hood), it was understood by everybody who lived there that you were entitled to a type of security and respect just because you lived there. It really was safe; you could take risks you would not take on your own if it were not for that sense of community, even if it was for the most part an invisible sensation. It was home, part of family.
Relocating to New Jersey as a 9-year old was traumatic, as the 900 miles seemed like the other side of the world. I began my lying career at this point in time and was quite surprised at some of the tales that came out of my mouth! When we come into recovery and find that the alcohol, food, drugs, shopping, etc. are all symptoms of our problem(s), I can look back and see that I was a pathological liar at age nine! It made me feel
better. I was trying to fit in, but little did I know that I was actually driving people away from me. Another symptom I had as a budding, young, malcontent was that I was resentful and ungrateful for what I had. Today I love that anger and danger are separated by one letter! Enter alcohol and drugs and I was destined to wreak havoc!
I will not forget the desperate loneliness I experienced when I hit my bottom. There was zero security, I had lost all self respect, and my sense of belonging was with the studs on the framing of my garage wall, as I spent many waking hours there, paranoid in the grips of my disease. I didn’t know it but I was not alone at the time, just desperately lonely for someone to understand the mess I worked my way into.
So what happened? What changed my life so that today I’m a joy-filled member of society, living to help the next person that is in my path? Besides Jesus, the one word to sum it up is “community” (which is, by the way, God’s idea).
I was fooled into finding the heart-pounding life of community. As a blackout, “more” guy who hit a bottom, and having only the arms of Alcoholic Anonymous open to hug me, all I could do for some time was just be there and listen. My large and thriving home group of AA and the sponsor I worked with for the first year of my sobriety did not assign newcomer, “celebrity” status to me. I was directed to the solution for my living problem, the 12 Steps of recovery. I was introduced to Jesus, and the church family I found myself in was predominantly elderly grandparent types, and I didn’t feel like I fit in there. I just knew I liked what was happening to me. I was free, and becoming a joyfilled man, in spite of some horrific consequences to choices I made before I got sober. At 14 months sober I, and a man and a woman from my home AA group, met together in my home to talk about Jesus and recovery. We got into a huge argument, and another type of community was born, namely what 24 years later is known as Joy of the Lord Ministries.
Little did I know, but upon reflecting on these precious 24 years of weekly Christcentered recovery meetings, meeting and talking with thousands of alcoholics and others in recovery, God did for me what I could not do for myself – again. He raised upa community! There He goes being God again! So to my point about community, we are paying it forward and having a monthly community night meeting…
The last Monday of every month in 2015 we are going to be enjoying a dinner together, worshipping in song, celebrating milestones in recovery, and hearing a bit of great news from a leader in Christ-centered recovery from somewhere within the greater San Francisco Bay Area. We want to hear the powerful things that God is doing amongst the other recovery groups in Northern California. Please come on by – we start at 7:00 PM. We will also use this community night to fill up the “Jesus tub” and baptize new members of the family of Christ, share communion periodically, and just plain old love on each other.
If you have yet to be “fooled” into the value of community as I have, you will flat out have to give this valuable resource an intentional try. Dr. Luke in the book of Acts talks about how the family of believers devoted themselves to each other in all of the many variables of life. First of all, it is Christ as the common denominator, and then it is the new eternal family.
Wherever it is, don’t rip yourself off by not trying out your new spiritual family! I am praying you will find new meaning and purpose to recovery life as you follow Jesus’s example and direction. Heck, if it worked for me, and since God loves you more than He loves me (hee!), let’s do this thing together!
Because of Jesus… Don Z.