Friday, April 26, 2019

Faith Talks

For many of us, the solution to the addiction (or substance use disorder) that de-rails our lives is a spiritual one.  It is what the 12 Step Program of Recovery advocates, and in fact, the basic text “Alcoholics Anonymous” states that the purpose of the book is to help the reader find a power greater than one’s self by which s/he may live. Many find recovery through their church, or through another spiritual practice such as yoga or meditation. 

Finding and relating to a Power greater than ourselves, be it God, Allah, The Universe, or whatever name one chooses, can be a daunting task.  It can be a slow, educational process or it can be a “burning bush” moment such as Moses experienced. In the literature and in the rooms of 12 Step meetings, one often hears talk of the “God-sized hole” inside that participants previously filled with mood- or mind-altering substances.  I truly believed that was a condition peculiar to people with substance use disorders.  I was wrong.

A woman in my hometown was looking for a new purpose following her retirement, and asked for guidance.  The result was an event which became “Faith Talks.”  It is a monthly event for women that includes a dinner and a speaker from various faiths who shares her experience, strength, and hope of her journey to and with God.  In the two years of its existence, Faith Talks has grown to an audience of 110-150 women each month.

The first consideration of any performance is to know your audience. When the Founder of Faith Talks first approached me about speaking to this audience, I was absolutely convinced that I was not right for this audience.  I do not profess to follow any particular faith, and my relationship with my God came through Good Orderly Direction, the Great Out-Doors, and a Group Of Drunks, not the Bible. (which I have read, cover to cover) I am often abrupt and cavalier about many things which I had assumed this group would hold sacred.  However, she persisted, thinking that I was right for this group. Later, she told me that my initial response broke her heart.

I worked really hard on my presentation, digging deep and exploring my childhood memories of God. There had to be at least 6 different drafts of my talk.  The only limitation was having 30 minutes to share my story.  I gave my Faith Talk on April 2 to 127 women and asked God keep me honest. The words floated out of my mouth as if in song.  Sharing my journey of faith lost and found in recovery was very powerful.  I realized that there are many people walking around with a God-sized hole in their hearts who need the message of hope.  I realized there are also many people walking around who need to have their faith in this mysterious God validated and renewed. 
April 2, I was allowed to be the vessel for the message of love and hope, and I am grateful.