By Chuck Robinson MA, LADC/MH, CSAT, National Director of Christian Programming and Outreach When I…
How Does a Recovering Addict Find Faith?
Many of us come into recovery with our faith in a state of shipwreck. Maybe we were raised in the church, maybe we weren’t. Maybe we proclaimed faith and showed up at church every Sunday but still succumbed to addiction. Maybe we don’t believe that God exists, or we’d rather he didn’t. Many of us have been wronged by the church and want nothing to do with religion, faith or spirituality.
But when we find ourselves utterly defeated and our lives a shambles, we become a little more open to suggestion. In recovery we’re told we need to have faith, that we need to admit powerlessness and that God can restore us to sanity. We are told we need to turn our wills and our lives over to His care.
This is foreign to most of us—even those who profess faith. What does it really mean to have a faith that works—a faith that fuels recovery? How do we find this faith?
Stop the Search
Our culture teaches us to be doers. We are accustomed to being evaluated on our performance and to only getting what we work for. Thus we assume that if we are to know faith, have a relationship with God and enjoy lasting recovery, we’re going to have to work for it.
While recovery does take work, finding faith isn’t about forcing belief into our lives. It’s about letting God work on us and in us. “Be still and know that I am God” is good advice here. He is the Almighty and He knows that we have been battered and bruised and that we don’t know what to do. The quest for faith is not so much a frantic searching as an opening up and an allowing. Even if you are not sure you believe in God, take the leap of asking Him to help you relax and understand what it means to know Him and have faith.
We Already Know How to Worship
We may also realize that we don’t actually need to find faith or the ability to believe or the capacity to worship; these are already within us.
“We found that we had indeed been worshippers … Had we not variously worshipped people, sentiment, things, money and ourselves? … It was impossible to say we had no capacity for faith, or love, or worship. In one form or another we had been living by faith and little else” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 54).
We are not learning to worship and believe—indeed we have been worshipping, loving or devoting ourselves to one thing or another our entire lives. Growing in faith is more a redirection of these energies and affections than a complete overhaul. Recognizing that we have the capacity to love, worship and believe helps us to see that we also have the capacity for faith. We simply need to give it what it needs to grow and flourish.
We are accustomed to relying upon ourselves and our own efforts. We’ve been taught from a young age that there is no free lunch and that no one is going to help us, so we have to help ourselves. And we take pride in this. Despite the fact that our lives and relationships were coming apart at the seams, we could proudly state that we weren’t looking for help from anyone.
That might work in society, but in God’s economy it has no place. People of faith, people who recover, get well and find lives of meaning and purpose are people who are humble. They are people who venture to believe that there is a God who is powerful and loving. Their belief and their faith, far from a weakness, is their greatest source of strength.
“We found many in A.A. who once thought, as we did, that humility was another name for weakness. They helped us to get down to our right size. By their example they showed us that humility and intellect could be compatible, provided we placed humility first. When we began to do that, we received the gift of faith, a faith which works. This faith is for you too” (A.A. Twelve and Twelve, 30).
If you’re looking for faith, know that faith is within you. You are God’s creation and He is never far from you. Ask, seek, knock and He will open the door to you.