I am many things in this transitory life. At work I am an Admissions Counselor. At Church I am a Eucharistic Minister. At play I am a 3rd baseman on a softball team, a really bad golfer and a football fanatic. I am a sponsor and a sponsee. I am a Son and a Brother. I am a recovering alcoholic and addict. I strive to be perfect, or, more realistically, spiritually mature. However, there has been one constant in my life. I was and I am a sinner. There is no escaping that fact. When I first came into recovery I struggled mightily with the guilt and shame that attaches itself to active addiction. When hope started to be restored and I could feel the grace, love and healing power of God at work in my life I felt I was unworthy of it. Much like St. Peter in Luke 5:8 I said “go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Admittedly, the felling that I am not deserving of God’s love and forgiveness still creep in from time to time.
These feelings of unworthiness do not come from God. In fact, Jesus tells us just the opposite. In Luke 5:31 Jesus tells us “people who are well do not need a doctor, but those who are sick. I did not come into the world to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” This is Gospel (which is translated “good news”) indeed. Jesus came into the world, suffered and died for me, not because I am a righteous person but because I was a sinner. What a great gift! What an epiphany to realize that my imperfections make room for God’s grace. Through 20 years of active addiction I was building up the grace granted me by Jesus on the Cross. Not only am I worthy of God’s love and forgiveness, that very love and forgiveness is the reason Jesus came into this world.
There is no denying that recovery can sometimes be a struggle, especially early on. How thankful I am that the bridge we cross from the brokenness of addiction to the wholeness of Christ is short and safe, replete with many helping hands along the way. Jesus is waiting for us with outstretched arms. All we have to do is walk toward Him.
When the feelings of unworthiness creep in I remind myself of the most famous passage in Christendom – John 3:16. “for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him would not perish, but have eternal life.” I remember that God’s love and the forgiveness granted by the Cross are not only for the world but also for me… especially for me, a sinner, called by Christ to repentance.
By Toby Brace