WoW 084: On recovery, part 1 [Words of Wisdom]

Addiction is living in the kingdom of darkness.

Recovery is living in the Kingdom of God.

We are all addicts.

There are only two ways. One way leads to death, the other way leads to life.

Recovery, like Jesus' parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, is only understood, only truly lived out by the minority. Many hear, but few truly understand. Most remain in denial. This isn't my idea, or what I would choose, but it does appear to be true.

Most think recovery is about attending meetings, identifying as an addict, or even stopping drinking alcohol, or some other surface-level dynamic. Most are in denial of their self-will run riot and the revolutionary change required.

Recovery requires relational risk and vulnerability through rigorous honesty.

Recovery requires a spiritual awakening and a radical surrender of one's own will.

Recovery requires getting to the root of the wounds, shame, lies, and trauma.

Recovery requires a transformation of mind, reformation of heart, and renewal of body.

Recovery requires a bold course of action to make amends and seek to live at peace with others humbly.

Recovery requires the renunciation of any emotional disturbance.

Recovery results in freedom. All it costs is everything.


"This is what the truth of God directs us to seek in the examination of ourselves: it requires a knowledge that will abstract us from all confidence in our own ability, deprive us of every cause of boasting, and reduce us to submission. We must observe this rule, if we wish to reach the proper point of knowledge and action. I am aware of the superior plausibility of that opinion, which invites us rather to a consideration of our goodness, than to a view of our miserable poverty and ignominy, which ought to overwhelm us with shame. For there is nothing more desired by the human mind than soothing flatteries; and therefore, it listens with extreme credulity, to hear its excellences magnified. Wherefore it is the less wonderful that the majority of mankind have fallen into such a pernicious error. For, an immoderate self-love being innate in all men, they readily persuade themselves that there is nothing in them which justly deserves to be an object of aversion. Thus, without any extraneous support, this very false opinion, that man has in himself sufficient ability to insure his own virtue and happiness, generally prevails."

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

"Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.

This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 62


Are you building your life centered primarily around yourself and what you want?

To what degree do you look to God for direction in your life?

What decision are you facing? How can you surrender that to God and seek only His direction and will?


May you find the freedom of surrendering to God now.

Live wisely,


Continue reading

A woman thoughtfully holds a glowing orb.
Our newsletter

Do you hear the call of wisdom?

How you respond to the call of wisdom determines the direction of your life.

Get the Words of Wisdom email every Wednesday: brief reflections on wisdom to help you grow in the skills of virtuous living.