Brian Simmons has defined it this way: “The one thing you lose the moment you think you have it.”
I think that’s pretty insightful, don’t you? This idea that none of us knows it all.
And the moment we believe we have the edge over someone, life tends to slap us in the face and convince us otherwise. It’s really a two-edged sword — humility can put us in our place when it needs to and be the most comforting place to set up camp in life.
As I began thinking about what long-term recovery has looked like for me, I kept coming back to this word of humility. Because rooted in humility are a few recovery truths I can’t ignore:
-I can’t recover alone.
-There will always be room for growth.
-No one has this all figured out.
Let’s examine each of those a bit…
I CAN’T RECOVER ALONE.
As a reminder, you & I were created to be fulfilled in life-giving relationship — both with the God who created this universe and with other human beings who inhabit the earth.
As much as we try to run from this in life and through trials, pain, & addictions, we will always come back to the truth that we were never meant to live, breathe, & grow all by ourselves.
I asked someone I highly admire as a recovery coach of sorts about this. What is a key or tool or advice he would give for long-term success in recovery? This was his response:
“For me, the key to long-term success in recovery is the willingness to continually cultivate a “beginner’s mind.” I’ve had a few slips over the years, always after starting to think of myself as a helper who no longer needs help, a veteran, a post-graduate, a wise and self-sufficient expert. That kind of thinking is delusional and dangerous. It causes me to drift from the herd, to imagine that I now dwell on a higher plane. Because I think I know it all, my curiosity dies and I lose my capacity for wonder. Creeping superiority changes the tenor of my interactions, contaminates my relationships. If the opposite of addiction is connection, then any so-called “progress” that leads me away from others is potentially fatal.” (Nate Larkin)
What an incredible perspective on what it means to walk through recovery alone versus doing it alongside other people!
Recovery takes an immense amount of work. And it’s work that’s not only meant for you.
Something I began to realize the further along I got was that I had a responsibility to help others along the way too. But it was always in the context of community where I could grow as well. This leads me to the next truth…
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE ROOM FOR GROWTH.
Make no mistake, there are no winners and losers in recovery. Recovery isn’t meant to be a race to some magical “finish” line.
Rather, there are only those who are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and unfortunately, there are those who give up and quit. Though I suppose that is in itself a loss.
My point is this: EVERY person in recovery will have things to work on for the remainder of their lives. No one has perfected their lives.
The Bible paints a beautiful picture that we are clay in the potter’s hands. I don’t claim to know anything about pottery or those who use materials such as clay to shape and mold beautiful creations. But I would imagine the potter has to really take his time. He must be patient. There are spots to smooth out and a particular shape that he is envisioning.
Sometimes I wonder if the process of creating the pot is more beautiful than the final results.
In recovery, I believe that to be the case. Each and every day of my life, I’m confronted with areas that still need transformation and healing. I’m free today of pornography. But there is plenty of space in my heart that is still uncharted.
Areas like anger, anxiety, fear, and distrust to name a few. Yes, Jesus died so I could be free from my addiction to pornography. But his death doesn’t just apply to one room in the house. It applies to the entire house. That’s what He wants.
Remember that there will always be room for more growth in your life.
NO ONE HAS THIS ALL FIGURED OUT.
As my friend Nate plainly stated above, one of the greatest keys to recovery is continually cultivating a beginner’s mind.
Sure, the goal is to grow and build sobriety into your life. But that’s not the end goal. The end goal is to be a life-long learner of your heart. What makes your heart tick? What did you experience as a child? What painful memories do you remember? What are your triggers?
Asking questions like these is indicative of someone who hasn’t figured it all out. Because it will require a lifetime to learn all there is to learn.
I not only have the honor and privilege of writing for XXXchurch and Small Groups Online, but I also get to lead two SGO groups during the week. And it’s such a beautiful thing to see men every week continue to learn.
Knowing the depths of sin and compromise you’ve dealt with and how good God has been to redeem your life brings A-LOT of humility. And so, I really do think those who experience the greatest success long-term are those who have a healthy understanding of what humility means.
I want to encourage you today that if you’re at a place where you feel stuck that perhaps you go back to the basics. Ask yourself if you’re trying to do this recovery thing by yourself. Ask yourself if you feel like you’ve hit the ceiling as far as knowledge goes.
It could be you need someone (hopefully it’s yourself) to remind you that you don’t know as much as you think you do LOL 🙂
There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a good healthy dose of humility. Trust me, you’ll be better for it in the long term.