Learning from Addicts
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting where a friend of mine was celebrating 10 years clean from drugs. It was really a special time for a few reasons. Of course, it was awesome to celebrate such a milestone in my friends life. He was able to share his story and is a perfect example of God’s grace.
I had never been to any sort of addiction recovery group but here are a few things that made a big impression on me:
1. Recovering addicts have vision. They have goals. Its that simple. They are living with intense purpose. They know that they are addicts and their vision for their lives is that they never take drugs again and they live clean lives that help them function in this world. To me, this is a very compelling vision.
2. Recovering addicts need their community. I can’t tell you how many times this came up on that night. These people know that they need each other. If they don’t have this community, they are toast. Each week they pass out a phone list to new comers so that they have someone to call during the week should they need to talk. My friend was the speaker for the night so he shared his whole story. When he was done, others shared in response to him. At least 5-10 people expressed how they owed a big portion of their recovery to him being involved in their lives. This was really powerful.
3. Diversity and authenticity. These two words describe the ethos of the group that was there. There were people from almost every walk of life. Yet, there was an authenticity that was so very real. I know those of us who are not living lives that are caught in addiction like to make jokes about the “Hi, my name is ____ and i’m an addict” saying. But, there is something really powerful about everyone sitting in the room saying, “This is who I am.”
In short, I have never to something so moving and compelling before in my life. In a way, it made me wish I were an addict so I could go back there every week and be part of that community.
Of course, this feeling and this experience made me ask a lot of questions about the Church and Christianity that we practice…
1. As Christians, do we have a vision as powerful and as clear as being clean from drugs? Let’s be honest. What are we doing as Christians? Do we have any kind of vision for our lives as individuals and as communities? Do we even know what we are trying to do?
2. Assuming we have a vision as compelling (which might be naive), are we willing to go to the extent that addicts are to make that vision come true? Are we as desperate to find success in living the goals of our christian lives?
3. When it comes down to it, is community really that important to our seeing our vision become reality? Or can we get by without it?
4. Is what we do when we gather together for “church” so important that we can’t miss it or we are toast?
To answer some of these questions from George Barna (thanks for these stats Blindbeggar):
– Christians spend seven times as much time on entertainment as they do on spiritual activities?
– Christians said that desiring to have a close, personal relationship with God ranks just sixth among the 21 life goals tested, trailing such desires as ‘living a comfortable lifestyle?’
– Not one individual interviewed in a nationwide survey among “born again” adults said that the single, most important goal in their life is to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ?
– Only one out of every seven Christian adults placed their faith in God at the top of their priority list?
Yikes. Those stats hurt. As compelling as NA is, I personally think that the Church and a risen messiah is kind of compelling too. Perhaps we need to figure out why its not for many, many american christians.