Human nature is a funny thing - As human beings we have a variety of experiences, which lead to the development of our ideas, concepts, beliefs, values and principles that we ultimately incorporate into our lives and live by. Some of these (although we embrace them) can change over time, such as:
Example I : My husband, children and myself always celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents & my sister. It was always important to me to do this. But one day my husband and I moved 800 miles away, causing my circumstances to change. Because of this, the idea, principle and belief that I HAD to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents and sister at my parent’s house had to change as well. I came to realize that we could still celebrate…but it would just need to be done differently.
Example II : When I was single I had an idea, belief, principle and value that I didn’t need the “distraction of other people” in my life – (meaning husband and kids). That it would interfere with what “I” needed to do “for me”. However, after getting married and having kids in my life, that idea, belief and value system changed. I came to find that I could have “my” time, but that having them enhanced my life and kept me growing. These changes were overall were easy to accept.
BUT there are other beliefs, values, ideas and principles that we are often extremely defensive and protective of. I have found this to be especially evident in recovery. Many people in recovery come in through different venues and as a rule each of those people will have very strong feelings about the venue through which they credit their life to having being saved by.
This becomes most evident when we come across people who don’t see recovery concepts the way “we” do. Now THAT can become an interesting situation given the right circumstances! An example might be something as simple as whether a “new-comer” should make the first move to talk to the “old-timers” or whether “old-timers” should make the first move to meet the “new-comer”. It might not seem like a big deal, but when a person relates one of these factors to being a major contributor to what made the difference in their life between them “living sober” or “dying in addiction” it becomes a REAL big deal.
Another example is that of “Working a program that includes the 12 steps” and “Not working a program that includes the 12 steps”. Boy oh boy! You get these two groups of discussion together and it can get real eventful sometimes! Why?...Well, because in each group you will find individuals whose lives have been changed as a direct result of the path that they have taken. In each person’s heart and mind this experience is held with very deeply due to their personal experiences, and because of this they can become defensive and often angry at the idea or suggestion of an experience or idea that is different than theirs.
Basically, whatever “model” we credit to helping save our lives, we often become very defensive of. Whatever we viewed as “saving us” we also view as “love” and so by nature, we want to share that same thing, (love), with others. The problem comes when two different views of “love” collide! The interesting thing is that both parties really often have the same passionate desire, “to help the suffering addict/alcoholic find recovery”. No one person & no one view is wrong in this scenario. (Truth is defined as how each person sees and believes it to be.)
“I” believe that we are all made differently because God has individual purposes for each and every one of us. (The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says: “We are in the world to play the role He assigns.”) I have found most recovering folks are VERY passionate about doing just this. We simply have to guard ourselves from putting God in a box that is restricted to just exactly “how” that will be done. Some of us will be used to do the “reaching out” to those who, (for one reason or another), “can’t reach”. Likewise He will use some of us to be “available to” those who DON’T like feeling pushed and will “reach when they’re ready”. I have found that all “I” need to do is be willing to do my part.
© Rebecca Balko