"I feel like I was fine not to have anybody," Josh Hamilton, baseball superstar and recovering addict, told a local radio station three weeks before he fell off the wagon. Then after a night out that I know lasted longer than the hours ticked off the clock he told reporters, "Understand, I'm going to do everything I can and take all the steps necessary..."
The problem with what he said, and my fear for him (which began when I read his book, Beyond Belief), is that there's a lot of "I" in his apology. Although that's just a public statement, God only knows what exactly he prays for or what he shares with others to be held accountable. But I know through my own recovery and ongoing support through a recovery ministry, that "I" get in the way of true healing.
One encouraging quote out of all this mess, "I cannot take a break from my recovery. My recovery is Christ." So he has that going for him. His faith is no secret to those who have followed his story. He is an encouraging speaker, frequently appearing for youth groups, churches, and especially recovery groups. In his book, he speaks of how he came to know Christ so he is no stranger to the Holy Spirit. Yes, the past few years he has been sober much more than he has not, but I wonder how much he is relying on the power of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis to help him with his recovery versus relying on himself.
Chapter six of Kyle Idleman's book, Not a Fan, "self empowered or spirit filled?" focuses on the Holy Spirit. He's right in that the subject makes many a Christian uncomfortable. He describes the third member of the Trinity like Cousin Eddie that no one knows exactly what to do with. He's the drunk uncle (but it's only nine in the morning!) that no one understands. And if it wasn't for my own experience in recovery, I would have responded the same way.
I remember going to my first meeting, then as a mentor/discipler for another addict (oblivious to my own need). The meeting opened up with prayer and someone prayed for the Holy Spirit. Huh? I grew up Catholic so I have prayed for Mary, for Saints, and of course for Jesus to walk with me. But to pray for the Holy Spirit? I was afraid we'd step out of that meeting speaking in tongues and with the hair on top of our heads singed. (Not really, but I wasn't sure what was going to happen next)
It wasn't until later when we were discussing a meeting that did not go at all as we planned. "Sometimes we just have to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit work." And it clicked. Honestly, this epiphany transformed my relationship with God. Yes I'd pray to Him for things as if he was the cosmic Santa Claus. And I'd pray "in Jesus' name". But I began to pray for God to move me out of the way and let the Holy Spirit work in my life. I began to relate to the Holy Spirit as a force of motion, which we need to move anywhere in our spiritual life, especially overcoming addiction.
Going back to my subtle reference to the book of the Acts of the Apostles above, I've read several commentaries that suggest this book of the Bible should actually be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. I couldn't agree more. The early church could not have moved without the Counselor guiding them.
Idleman describes in his book how fans of Jesus get burned out because they rely on their own power. I still struggle with this, to be honest. I need to learn to rely on the Holy Spirit in the "non-spiritual" (work, family, as if those things shouldn't be spiritual to begin with) Followers of Jesus know to rely on the Holy Spirit to give them strength. I could go on and on with scripture references to back this up, but I'll save that for another day. Instead, I will simply speak from experience. Simply put, I owe my own sobriety to the Holy Spirit.
Kyle closes the chapter with a list of what friends on Facebook have seen the Holy Spirit do in their lives. If the Holy Spirit is the weird cousin in your spirituality that you just don't know what to do with, consider that the Holy Spirit has enabled others to:
- finally forgive my dad
- lose 150 pounds and stop smoking
- forgive my ex-husband for his infidelity
- adopt two boys from Ethiopia
- overcome a drug addiction
- overcome a gambling addiction
- overcome a sex addiction
- overcome a shopping addiction
- overcome an eating disorder
- be four years sober
- raise my special needs child, even as a single mom
- save my marriage
- conceive after being told it would never happen
- return my child home after three years of silence
- find peace when my husband passed away and I thought my life was over
- remarry my ex-husband after a long, nasty divorce (pg 98)
This post continues my series blogging through the book, Not A Fan by Kyle Idleman. I encourage you to follow along by clicking on the Not A Fan label to the right. And I urge you to pick up a copy of this book for yourself.