Among my friends are three very dear people who come to “Uncle” Larry for a listening ear and a shoulder upon which to cry. For hours we sit, share coffee, chat about their troubles. One deals with an alcohol problem, one suffers depression, and the other harbors a worsening paranoia laced with hallucinations. Yes, for hours I offer my perspective, my attention, and sparingly my advice. I’ve come to realize that advice is not what is being sought.
When I’ve reached the end of my patience, I offer a last bit of hope. It is the activity which keeps me sane, content and somewhat normal. It refills me with more of the same patience which has just been exhausted. It comforts my soul, connects me with inner peace, prepares me for the next round of coffee and chatting.
“Wanna go to church with me?”
I ask this question very broadly. Most of our AA meetings are sponsored by the local churches; therefore, when I extend the invitation to come with me to church, I am covering all my bases. Whether a table surrounded by recovering drunks or a sanctuary filled with recovering sinners, it just seems to be a good place to find a program of spiritual living.
Ouch! The stares from my friends are borderline hostile. The remarks are equally inappropriate. And finally it hits me. These friends somehow gain a morbid sense of fulfillment from wallowing in their case histories. They don’t want resolution. They don’t want to recognize a world beyond their fragile egos. They don’t want to forgive, be forgiven, and move on.
One of my favorite expressions is “been there, done that”. So it goes with alcoholism and mental illness. We can all relate to the times when a moral inventory and turning it over were crazy as…well…. getting sober or giving control to God. Unthinkable! ….until the day when we were face down in the gutters of despair and hopelessness….until the day when the only way to go was up. Some of us made it, some did not. I was willing to do anything at that time to escape the cesspool that I called life. How about you? What are you, my three dear friends, willing to do?
“Wanna go to church?”