March 2022

High Noon Recovery Church

According to publicly available statistics, one in ten people in the United States reports struggling with addiction to alcohol, prescriptions medications, methamphetamines, and other illicit drugs. Damaging addiction is not limited to these, however: food, pornography, work, sex, shopping, and all manner of everyday activities overtake the lives of millions each year. Addiction can be owed to genetics, environment, personal choice, and a myriad number of systemic causes, such as race, gender, socio-economic status, education, and family behavioral history. As a person in recovery for alcoholism and drug abuse, I know how addiction can overtake the entirety of a person’s life. Getting out from underneath it is possible, but it often requires a drastic change in how we behave and the decisions we make.

On March 10, I will—God willing and if the crick don’t rise—celebrate six years of alcohol sobriety. Not unlike many people with addiction issues, I also live with mental illness and a serious mood disorder. Addiction often is driven by a need to self-medicate, to contradictorily numb oneself in order to feel something. Whether this is done through alcohol or shopping binges, the chemical response is very similar. For a brief period, one feels alive and even jubilant. Decision-making faculties are altered; in some cases, we are the life of the party; in others, we become erratic and even abusive. Fear begins to creep in that the high is waning so one consumes more. And more. The high gets harder to achieve and the real-world consequences of these behaviors pile up. At a certain point, the addiction drives itself; there is very little enjoyment anymore, just a vortex of a joyless need.

I am a member of the newly formed Heartland Conference Harm Reduction Team, which includes clergy and lay persons focused on all manner of addiction issues, including public policy, needle exchanges, testing, public services, and education in Ohio, northern Kentucky, and parts of West Virginia. We are in early days yet, but I have felt called to start a new online ministry, High Noon Recovery Church, held on Facebook at A Place of Grace (@Wonderfully MadeRadicallyLoved).

I’m of the opinion that if I cannot laugh about the challenges in my life, joy is that much harder to cultivate and sustain. High Noon as the service name is cheeky, but also accurate. There are times in which we can feel like we’re in a shootout with our addictions, one that has the highest costs imaginable. I also know that there were lots of days in which I took the noon hour to feed my addiction. High noon, indeed.

This new service begins at the strike of noon on Thursdays and runs 15-20 minutes (below you can find links to the first two offerings). Recovery services utilize liturgical language that centers addiction challenges. A person need not be sober to participate; services aim to meet people where they are, regardless of addiction specifics; music, prayer, scripture, inspiration, and fearless affirmations inform the content. I also try to lift up other voices and resources each week, with the hope that moving forward others will want to contribute.

We are oversaturated with online content, so my aspirations for this service are modest. My hope is that there will be enough people who find the space and help create something that is needed: time to connect with God as we are, imperfect and in pain, but knowing that our addictions have too much power. I cannot count how many times I tried to quit drinking before it finally “took,” and I am all too aware that I just one tragedy or poorly made decision away from another day one. I need this space just as much as the people I’m hoping will find the service.

Getting sober helped me to realize that regardless of the stark challenges in my life, there is always one blessing I can focus on and raise up. What it is doesn’t matter as much as shifting our focus. Jesus tells us to love our enemies because if we do, that means they do not get to control how we relate to them. We choose love over hatred. It does not mean that we are a doormat, it means that while we are aware of evil and hatred, our focus remains on that which is good and true. As enough time has passed and I’ve come to rely on the constancy of my sobriety, I’ve been able to lift it up daily as one of the major blessings in my life. I realize that it is fragile but choose to see it as strong. Jesus calls us to be pillars, not doormats.

Be well, do good works, and love one another. I’ll try to do the same.

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