Someone would have to be be out of their mind to claim they have been “blessed” with addiction. Would they also feel blessed by a hurricane that destroyed everything in its path: property, home, relationships, health, hope? And yet, I have seen, through word and deed, countless people who believe they are blessed with addiction; and their experience, strength and hope can be a blessing to others. Let’s unpack this oxymoronic phrase: blessed with addiction.
Many people only encounter the word “bless” as a response to someone sneezing. But many have also heard the word, “Beatitudes” ~ the root of which comes from the Latin word, “beati,” which means being or feeling blessed. Amongst the Beatitudes, we hear, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and “Blessed are the meek.” Many people probably feel more afflicted than blessed when coming to terms with being addicted to alcohol, opioids, and other substances and behaviors. When those substances and behaviors that allow a person to “strut and fret their hour upon the stage” fall or are taken away ~ what remains is often a rather meek person coming to terms with a poverty of spirit and being powerless to manage their physical and material lives.
And yet some religious or otherwise spiritual blowhards believe that persons so meek in mind and poor in spirit are blessed? An addict often sits upon a mound of destruction, desperation and desolation, while many who witness this spectacle proclaim and believe that such a person as this will inherit the earth? “Give me a break” might be a more apt and honest benediction to this state of affairs than “Amen.”
But what if I told you the word “meek” in the Beatitudes (blessings) is better translated into English as “humble” ~ and, therefore, it is the humble who will inherit the earth? What if I said the phrase “poor in spirit” means knowing and accepting that there is something lacking in your spirit? Often poor in pocket and poor in spirit, people come to God slash Higher Power slash a power greater than their own ego; and they cross the threshold of a 12 Step meeting hoping to be healed of what is lacking in their lives that has caused such pain and unmanageability. For such a person, “give me a break” is indeed a heartfelt prayer,
Churches, 12 Step-based fellowships, ashrams, mosques, temples, treatment centers, seminaries, holistic health centers and other places where people gather for healing know that if you are full of yourself, and feel there is nothing lacking in you, and think your problems are based in everyone else ~ then a restorative Spirit will find it difficult to enter you and make you whole.
And yet, no matter the brokenness of body, mind or spirit; the addicts, lepers, mentally deranged, blind, deaf, immoral, lame, delusional, and those suffering other dis-ease ~ those who came one day in their brokenness; their meekness; their poverty; their estrangement; their feeling of being decrepit, hopeless and inferior ~ they came to a hillside to hear a man named Jesus speak. And his response was amazing! He just kept blessing them over and over again!
So much about those who missed the mark and fell far short of the hopes and dreams they held for their lives. I want now to tell you about a woman I regularly visited who went back and forth between hospitals and rehab centers. As her hope for recovery from cancer went up and down; there came the few days before her passing when, frail and lying in a hospital bed, she said to me, “Imagine how some people have to go through life without family or faith. I feel so blessed.” In the face of pain and death, her faith and feeling blessed became a blessing to me that is still, many years later, a fresh source of inspiration.
When the poor in spirit; the meek; the frail; the addicted and those who mourn come to us ~ let us bestow honor and compassion upon them in their vulnerability. Let us bless them when their guard is down, and their cockiness is nowhere to be found. For it is when they are ill, grieving, confused, broken or despondent and in imminent danger of losing their life, job, or freedom ~ that they are often more willing to go to any length to regain physical and spiritual health and balance. It is then that the healing power of a divine, healing, holy Spirit is granted better access to our soul.
It is in times such as these that, through our God-granted desperation, people may realize a turn toward love, peace, acceptance, hope and recovery. It is through the wound that the blessing enters. It is often through desperation and passion that the soul is readied for healing.
In rooms that are rented at a reasonable rate to recovery groups by community centers and houses of faith ~ humbled people learn to show the world, in word and deed, that there is nothing more life-changing than love. It is often through those blessed with addiction and recovery that the God of our understanding calls us to offer mercy to others as fervently as we wish to receive mercy ourselves. Being so blessed, we may become a blessing to others and, in so doing, become a beautiful, living manifestation of the life God has intended for us for us since the moment of our birth until this very moment and into the next.
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