Bright Word Shine
September is Recovery Month and with that, many articles and stories about people in recovery and different recovery pathways. Advocacy is highlighted. Our voices are amplified. Our message (RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE!) is projected across the dismal backdrop of statistics from the CDC saying that more people are dying today of drug overdose deaths than ever before.
In this series, I’d like to introduce something new for the month that celebrates recovery advocacy. I’m going to explore my own recovery pathway: faith. Messy, gritty, complicated and imperfect. I’m going to explore with you what the Bible says on certain topics familiar in the recovery advocacy space: topics like addiction, trauma and resilience.
Now you might have grown up in the church and if that’s the case: good for you. You likely know a lot more than I do about most things. You might have married a preacher or gone to seminary or at least have been to a small group (for those like me who had no idea what this meant, imagine a recovery meeting with similarly hilarious and broken people, without the sober lingo) and studied the Bible at some point in your life.
Or—you might be more like me and somehow wandered into getting baptized, church hopped how I used to bar hop, and today find myself wrestling against what it means to follow Jesus—be a disciple—in our strange and scary world of IG Reels, endless Amazon bubble wrap, fake eye lashes, very round (thic?) butts, and global pandemics.
I have always felt on the outside of religion or spirituality or whatever you feel comfortable calling it. I’ve had a tough time mixing with the “church ladies”—or who I perceive church ladies to be—feeling like I don't belong and never will. But I do consider myself a Christian, a label freely given but hard won it feels like some days.
Despite my past and my reservations, despite my own judgements and fears, despite the church and even myself—today (God does have a sense of humor), I find myself studying God’s Word, teaching Adult Sunday School, writing about my faith, and learning more about what scripture says about the things I care about: things like addiction, recovery, trauma, and resilience.
As I say in all of my writings on scripture (as should anyone), test what I say. I am not perfect. I am not schooled in theology (beyond reading authors like Tozer and Allen and studying in community with other women in Bible Study Fellowship).
You might be completely turned off by the idea of the Bible and have since shut your laptop or scrolled along to something a bit more palatable like a Frappuccino (it's ice cream, friends) instead of the stringent bite of sugarless, unadorned scripture.
The Bible, for me, can be this sometimes: bitter. Hard to swallow. Confusing. Annoying. There are parts I have to close my eyes for like during the loud gun shoot outs of action flick scenes.
In my mind (especially in the Old Testament), I visualize something like the set of the movie 300 with men that look like Gerard Butler and a young Danny Glover (for those under 35 please Google him, not to be confused with Donald Glover) all bloodied and bruised and toting spears with sweaty loin cloths blowing in gusts of chariot wind and riding on Lord of the Ring-esque horses. Dusty. No women anywhere.
Okay, I’ve spanned several movie references (probably too many), but you get my point. The Bible, in places, feels very far away. From another time. For another time. And to be honest: uncomfortable.
That’s why I’d like to shine some light on specific passages up close. How can scripture point to truths found along the recovery path that I have grown so in love with? How can those of us in the recovery community family—who want to—learn more about these things? Can the Bible—for people like me—still be relevant? Can the Bright Word Shine?
Enough introduction. Let’s jump in and continue asking these questions together.