This Easter, I Celebrate
This Easter brings new meaning to me for several reason. This is my first Easter without my brother and grandmother, who both passed away last year. Easter is a time for celebrating and celebrations are always hard when you are missing loved ones. But on a happier note, this is my first Easter with a renewed faith in Christianity. I should start out with saying that last year, my relationship with God was distant to say the least and had been for most of my adulthood. A few weeks after Easter is when my brother passed away and I went from a distant relationship with Him to a somewhat hostile one on my part. I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church on Sundays...even went to Sunday school...drank the punch...ate the finger-ring cookies...sang 'This Little Light of Mine' in Children's Church. So, I knew what it was all about, but somewhere along the way I began to drift further and further away from God.
When my brother passed away, most of my family turned to God for comfort. I turned to alcohol. When my parents would tell me to "turn it over to God," "trust in His will," or "pray about it," it would make me so angry. What was God going to do? He was the one who just took my brother from our lives. How could it possibly be His will to take my brother from us? Why weren't they angry with Him? How did they seem to be somewhat at peace with what was going on...trusting in Him? I was so consumed by the darkness of death and alcoholism that it had blinded me from seeing any light...any hope or faith, at all.
I woke up on June 11th around 6:00 that morning and before even opening my eyes, it was like a decision had already been made for me. I had passed out the night before in a blackout state, so I wasn't doing much lucid thinking between passing out and waking up. Without giving any thought, I knew what I had to do. I found myself standing in my parents bedroom, waking them up to tell them I was going to check myself into a treatment facility for help. I had never given any thought to seeking help before. I was well aware I had a problem, but I wasn't willing to admit it to anyone, so getting help wasn't an option. Now remember, God and I weren't speaking...or at least I wasn't talking to Him at this time. So, I am not thinking God has anything to do with this decision...at all! Looking back now, it is clear to see that it was God's grace that did for me what I could not do for myself. Like many alcoholics/addicts, I felt so unworthy of asking God for assistance in my life. I was not leading a very Christian-like lifestyle. I had been so nasty towards Him. Why on earth would He want to help someone as broken as myself when I had shut the door on Him years ago. As I sobered up, I began to get glimpses of what He was doing in my life and had been doing all along. Even when I was angry with Him, He was there. When I wanted to have nothing to do with Him, He was still there.
My spiritual awakening has been a gradual process. The first night in rehab, before I went to bed, I opened up the Big Book of AA without any clue of what it was about, and I read Bill's story. I knew when I read, "It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my new beginning," then maybe I would be okay. I could do that much, I knew. I began to pray, even when they were just words, as one of the counselors instructed me to do. I was dealing with so much anxiety that I would often not be able to catch my breath. My solution had always been to drink to alleviate it, so the first time I had an anxiety attack in rehab and wasn't able to drink, I tried praying, and it worked. Over time my prayers to God became longer and more frequent and I started having a little faith. I began to see His blessings come to me through my pain and suffering. According to the Big Book (p.85), "What we (alcoholics) have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition." The most important way for me to improve my relationship with God is through prayer and meditation, which I do each morning when I wake up and each night before I go to bed. And by the grace of God, I have been sober for 293 days.
So, this Easter, I celebrate! I celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I celebrate the light in my life over the darkness. I celebrate my brother, who has been released from the bonds of addiction and given new life. I celebrate my grandmother, who is free from the pains of Alzheimer's disease. I celebrate God who has given them both eternal life. And I celebrate new beginnings, which I receive each morning I wake up.
I sit in rooms every week filled with people who once saw only darkness. People who felt helpless and probably found very little to celebrate at one time. People who felt unworthy of God's grace. These are the same rooms that are filled with nothing but light and hope today...with some of the happiest, most faithful people you will ever meet. These are the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous.
From the book of daily reflections by an AA member for March 31st, "I came to you-a wife, mother, woman who had walked out on her husband, children, family. I was a drunk, a pill-head, a nothing. Yet, no one denied me love, caring, a sense of belonging. Today, by God's grace and the love of a good sponsor and a home group, I can say that-through you in Alcoholics Anonymous- I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a woman. Sober. Free of pills. Responsible. Without a Higher Power I found in the Fellowship, my life would be meaningless. I am full of gratitude to be a member of good standing in Alcoholics Anonymous."