I have held some very wrong ideas about recovery. I probably still hold some of them. Some of those wrong ideas are hopes – hopes that recovery means that every is okay, all is well within the world and nothing will ever hurt again. I have that hope – but I acknowledge that it is not for this world. It has to be an eschatological hope that believes and hopes in the God who repays the years the locusts have eaten and brings all to justice.
This side of heaven, I think recovery means something a little different. Rethink describes four principles of recovery that are as follows:
‘Finding and maintaining hope, the re-establishment of a positive identity, finding meaning in life and taking responsiblity for one’s life.’
I am inclined to agree with Rethink. For so many, a time of illness – physical or mental – there is a lack of hope. Hope can be lost in long periods of treatment that seems not to get anywhere, long days where nothing gets better, dark days where everything just seems to be getting worse and worse. To find and maintain hope is vital for living life. The belief that things will not always be bad involves being freed from the tangled mess of our minds and experience. The knowledge and hope that we have a purpose and value.
Secondly, identity – for some it is not a re-establishment, but finding an identity in the Maker. Looking in the mirror and not seeing the broken, the abused, the jaded – but seeing the child of God who is loved, valued and cherished by God. Seeing, not a victim – but a survivor.
Thirdly, finding meaning in life – that thing that was shrouded in darkness and pain. Finding that there is a point to living – through the dark days and the dawns.
And fourthly, taking responsibility for life. We have each been given a life. But we have to choose to live it. We have to choose to take that scariest step forward to say I will not live my life wanting death, I will make the decision to try to make the most of what I have. Deuteronomy 30:15-20 says:
15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
I do not think recovery necessarily means a clinical remission or cure – I think it is more about coming to terms with your past, making peace with your present – making the most of what you have and who you are. To hope in the future, know your value, find a meaning in your life and take responsibility for that life.