Every now and then one of the international students I work with will ask me a question that makes me take pause. Not because I don’t know the answer (although they can throw out some rough questions) but because it forces me to feel the answer. I constantly encourage students to read and listen and if there is something they don’t understand, either the words or the message, I will help them. This could be something on TV, the internet, an advertisement, a bumper sticker or anything at all.
At one particular visit, one student asked me three questions: “What does ‘meth kills’ mean?” “What does ‘freedom isn’t free’ mean?” And finally “What does ‘In God We Trust” mean?” In retrospect, this was kind of like “out of the mouths of babes”. These are not questions the average adult gets asked on any regular or even irregular basis by another adult. And, the questions are asked because the students truly want to know the answer. They definitely want more than lip service.
I answered his questions squarely in terms of what I knew to be true as well as some historical facts about freedom so I could prove I knew something about American History. My explanations were met with satisfaction and I have to say I had not thought anything more about it until now. But now I ask myself these questions and they take on new meaning. I feel the answers. They are not the same answers I gave the student. These are 12 Step Recovery program answers and are even more appropriate at this time of the year when we, as a nation, celebrate our independence and freedoms.
“Meth kills”. And so does alcohol and a lot of other drugs (legal and illegal) when we become addicted to them. We know that knowing this doesn’t solve anything. We have to admit we are powerless (Step One) and become willing to do whatever it takes to get clean and to stay clean. And that day, my friends, is the most important day of your life. It is your own, personal INDEPENDENCE DAY!
“Freedom isn’t free” is more personal depending on what kind of “hell” you had to go through to feel the freedom of sobriety. We all paid a price before we could be free of our addiction(s). Some paid the ultimate price by losing their lives to their addiction. Freedom means we have a choice. The most difficult concept for non-addicts to understand is why we can’t make a choice not to drink, drug, or whatever our addiction. We are not free enough of our addiction to make a choice. Well, maybe that is not totally true. We do make choices but it our addiction(s) that make them. It is these choices that keep us in bondage.
Even after we achieve independence from our addiction(s) and begin to feel the freedom of sobriety, we must remain cautious and know that we must continue to work hard to remain free. Working hard and diligently to protect this new-found freedom is dependent on the willingness to pray and meditate, go to meetings, be of service, sponsor, to practice the principles of the fellowship, and to do whatever is necessary to live life on life’s terms. We all get to a point where we say “Enough! I don’t want to do this anymore.” It is at these times when we have to remember that these are required of us to remain free. Choices come with consequences; some good, some bad. Each person must ask himself/herself “how free do I want to be?” If you continue to be willing to go to any lengths, you will make the right choice.
“In God We Trust”. As serious as this statement is I had to laugh with this one because it takes us so long to know how to trust in a Higher Power and here I was explaining this phrase to a student who grew up in Communist China! I wondered if he didn’t understand more than sometimes we do. This is the deal. We have to come to believe in a power greater than ourselves and the sooner we believe that there is a God (Higher Power) and we are not Him (it), we can begin to learn how to trust. Trusting is definitely a process and is part of what we learn and practice one day at a time. Trust is not crossing our fingers and wishing. Trust is losing our egos enough to turn it all over to someone who knows what He is doing.
So we celebrate our independence from our addiction and we can celebrate it every single day of our lives. We can now make choices and we make them by trusting in our Higher Power. Trust God and let freedom ring!
Namaste’. May you walk your journey in peace and harmony.
"Like" Grateful Recovery on Facebook. Kathy L. is the author of "The Intervention Book" (Conari Press)