Captain Recovery and the Dry Drunk
Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? Acts 3:12
I write often of my personal responsibility in recovery. There was a time when I just sat back, prayed for God to change me, and refused to do anything. My refusal to change led me only to further disaster. I began to recover only when I began to follow God’s command to daily seek his way instead of mine.
My thoughts and my writing reflect this in that I often speak of what it is that I must do. In doing so, I sometimes take it in the wrong direction and begin to think that I do it all. My ego likes to take credit for success. Look what I’ve done. I was a mess, but now I’ve recovered. It was a lot of hard work, but I’m really quite amazing.
The problem of course, is that in this condition, I’m completely focused on me. When I begin to think of myself as Captain Recovery – when I think that I’ve done it all – I forget to point my life at God. I celebrate all that I’ve accomplished and then, I look down at my life, realizing that even though I’m sober, I’m still following me and my way. This is what AA calls a dry drunk – someone who isn’t intoxicated on chemicals, but is still hopelessly self-centered. In this condition, I’m more lost than when I was using. At least when I was using, I knew I needed to change.
Today’s passage reveals the solution to this condition. In the story, Peter and John met a lame man whom God healed through the disciples. Those who witnessed the transformation looked in awe at Peter and John. Peter could have taken credit, but then he would have turned from God’s path. Instead, he gave credit to God, the one who had actually performed the miracle.
This is what I must continually do. Though I do bear some responsibility in my recovery, it is only because God first reached out to me and continues to work in me, that I remain on the right path. Whenever I become Captain Recovery, taking credit, I again become that dry drunk, sober, but tragically self-centered. God has transformed my life. Now, it is my responsibility to tell others, not only about what God has asked me to do, but also what he has done for me.