Remembering Where I Came From
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us . . . Titus 3:3-5
Like most of us, it’s easy for me to see the mistakes that others make. In addiction medicine, it can also be quite frustrating to try and help someone who seems bent on making the same mistakes over and over. When someone is given the chance to get out of jail to go to treatment and then relapses as soon as he leaves treatment, only to go straight back to jail, it can be maddening. You were given every opportunity to maintain your recovery. Why would you want to go back? What’s wrong with you?
At those moments, when I’m tempted to indulge in my frustration, it’s always healthy to remember my own past. I’ve been there. I’ve been the one whose behavior was confounding to others. I’d like to say that was eight years ago and that I’m different now – and I am – but I spent 15 years in my addiction. It’s not like I made one big mistake and then figured it all out. I failed repeatedly. I went to treatment, relapsed, and repeated the whole cycle over again. I did this for years before I found sustained recovery. I know there were those who were ready to give up on me – for good reason. I was a repeat offender and it appeared that I’d never get it right.
More than just remembering who I once was though, it’s also healthy to remember that I’m still not perfect. Living in recovery, I can look back and recognize that I once struggled but it’s easy to begin to feel that I’ve got life figured out now. Look how well I’ve recovered. I am pretty amazing at this. Yes, I am in recovery, but I’m not yet made perfect, and I’ll always have some growing to do. If I’m honest, I can see that I still repeat some mistakes over and over, in a way that others probably find frustrating. I complain every day that I’m too fat at the gym, yet every night, there I am at the fridge at 10 PM. That’s got to be perplexing to anyone watching.
In today’s passage, Paul encouraged us to remember where we once were. We’ve all had our struggles. We’ve all had our failures. In our failures, God reached down and saved us from ourselves. When we’re tempted to be frustrated by the failures of others, it’s helpful and healthy to remember our own past – and present – struggles.