Being raised in a evangelical christian church self-help groups were not something I was around. In fact, self-help groups where even discouraged and mocked to some degree where I was raised. People I knew were taught to turn to Jesus for their addictions and problems of life. Although I never heard NA or AA preached against, I did hear it preached about. I heard it preached about how the people there needed Jesus and that coming to church would be the answer for them. Coming to church and to an altar of repentance would solve their problems and they would have no need for a support group.
At 37 years old, I had never been to any support group. I had, however, been to many churches. I have been to churches where an addict would feel welcome and I have been to churches where they have been scorned. Thankfully, the church I go to now, is one of love and mercy and would welcome anyone with open arms.
A friend from church just moved here from Boston recently. She has been almost four years clean from any drugs and alcohol and was very involved in her local NA in Massachuettes. She was asked to speak at the Nashville NA to share her story and wanted me to go for support. I was probably as nervous to go the meeting as she was to speak at it. It was such foreign territory to me.
I’m not sure what I expected but what I found were people who were warm and welcoming, people who didn’t care what color I was or what clothes I wore. They welcomed each person they saw with a smile and open arms.
I was surprised at the structure of the meeting. There was a program and explanations for the steps that people were on and different people were assigned tasks to read the rules of NA and the expectations of those participating. Many times as someone would say ‘their part’ you would see others saying it along with them as this is something they have memorized and live by. My friend, towards the middle, told her story and it was moving and funny and I could tell that those in the audience related to what she was saying. It was an honor for her to ask me there and I was glad to support her.
As the end drew near, the lead speaker of the meeting had someone come up to give out chips for certain milestones; a yellow keychain tag for 9 months clean, a green key chain tag for 6 months clean, etc. Then something amazing happened that even now, a few months later, picks at the back of mind on many days. Then the leader said, come up here if you are ready to start this journey, come up and get a white key tag if you want to be clean from now on ~ if today is your day to start come on up and amazingly, in that structured meeting, people started going up . At least two or three people went up and were welcomed with open arms and the audience applauded.
It really made me think about who we are as a church body that in a structured meeting people with addictions feel loved and welcomed and can walk in front of an audience to get a keychain. A keychain that, on it’s own, had no power. A keychain, that simple.
I have seen the power of God move in services and Pastor’s call out for people to be healed or for people to be delivered and there have been times when no one goes forward. No one. And in this moment, I wanted to scream, people go up for a keychain, for the love. . .can you not go up for a God who moves mountains? Can you not, under a spirit of annointing, in God’s house, go up for a healing from the God who caused the lame to walk and the dumb to speak?
I am proud of people who will step out in faith through a program they can gain strength of character. I am sometimes ashamed of those of us who already have a power within us that these people hunger for and we won’t step out and get the blessing God has for us because we don’t want Sister SO and SO to think we were sinning or we don’t want someone to think we are weak. If people without hope can walk up for a keychain, what is wrong with us?