I could say with full confidence that a number of you could guess how I would finish that title. I fully understand the purpose of introducing yourself at some of the support group meetings. It is a way to find a common ground with others. It is also a way to take responsibility for where you find yourself. It is also a means to help you accept what has gone on in your life and be able to then have a target to work on changing.
I need to tell you, though, that after a number of years and innumerable meetings, I began to question if that was the true picture of me. I knew there was so much more than the alcoholism in me. So, for only myself, I began to modify who I was. What was the description that would help me in my recovery? What did I need to hold out in front of me that would make my life most complete?
So I went from “My name is John and I’m an alcoholic” to “and I’m a Christian with alcoholism.” I did get some negative feedback on that but for me it was an important distinction. Surely I was more than the sum total of an addiction. I understood the philosophy, but if I was to continue growth, my recovery needed to expand to include all of my life.
This worked for a while, but eventually I would need to spend five minutes introducing myself if I would include a husband, father, grandfather, employee, …etc. So I did return to describing myself as an alcoholic. I needed to look elsewhere for my identity.
Since I began writing this blog, which I know has not been that long, I am amazed how ideas come to me. Just today I received the photo below from a friend and with her permission, I am able to share it with you. It helped to solidify my thoughts. (Now who do you suppose had his hand in that!)
The person who shared this photo captioned it “There is only a thin line between smiles and tears.” She describes the stark contrast in the emotional world that we all find within ourselves. But I am sure that she would admit that what she finds within herself is not just a struggle to stay on one side of that line. There is so much more that makes her a person.
So, if I am not only an alcoholic or father, or grandfather or one of the many other labels that I can place on myself, how can I finish ,”My name is John and I am …?” For me it means I need to finish that statement with: therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17. I am a new creation not because the drinking has stopped. The old behaviors are no longer in my life, but not as a result of all the meetings I have attended. My hope for the future is not even founded on my continuing sobriety.
All those things are part of my life, but only as a result of what Christ has done for me. I am a new creation based on His great sacrifice for me. As a result of his gift of love for me, I have the only source of power that can keep me sober, compel me to replace my old behaviors, and give me true confidence for the future. Thank you, God, for your amazing grace to me!
Of course, knowing I am a new creation does not keep me from having an occasional inaccurate picture of who I am. I took this picture just this morning.
Oh to look that slender albeit I would have great difficulty in finding pants to fit. OK, a little silly; but being a new creation has its benefits. I know the truth about me and my recovery and I can even enjoy it.
Hope to see you again – I will wait you.