I walked into my first AA meeting on a Wednesday evening last June. It was sunny and rather lovely out, and I was nervous and cagey. My friend April –who is not herself an alcoholic but who is, indeed, a great friend– accompanied me.
After eight months of going regularly to this same meeting, I went back out –which is AA lingo for going back to drinking. During that season, I bounced around to a few different meetings, but purposely avoided my home group.
Today I made a point of walking back through those doors. Not because I needed to get sober (need help staying sober, yes). Not because someone was making me. But because I knew I was ashamed and consciously hiding from people who knew me. Hiding from fully owning my missteps, and I knew I needed to do that. So I once again entered that room nervous and uneasy.
It is amazing how shame and disappointment, mistakes and hurt, wash away when met with grace.
It’s a beautiful thing to receive a hug, when you better deserve a “what the hell were you doing?”
Being welcomed back with open arms, with genuine care and smiles, after silently stepping off the face of the earth and intentionally doing harmful things to yourself, is breath-taking in its extravagant mercy.
I can only hope that I demonstrate even a little bit of that grace to others.
My experience with AA and recovering alcoholics has been a wonderful mirror of God’s grace for me. These people continually hand me love and encouragement, but never in a way that suggests I can lean into resignation or stop growing. The “program” of AA calls me out as much as it gives me peace for where I am right now. Some days, when I am feeling disillusioned with the community I live in, AA serves as a reminder of what Christ calls the church to be –and by stepping outside of my living community and into the rooms of AA (a different, but similar community), I am reminded that we do the same beautiful things, that we extend the same feeble offerings of grace to one another too, but sometimes my eyes lose the acuity to see them.
Attending AA meetings gives me an even a larger picture for how God is working. Sometimes stripping the “churchy” embellishments from God’s truth renews my vision and thirst for it.
God knows I am a cynic, and yet He makes a point to reach me beyond that -it’s crazy how artful he is at speaking to me in ways that I will actually listen.
What a grace that is too.