Every Tuesday night I meet with a few spiritual friends. These people are important providers of security for children’s events at Maywood. Each Sunday and Wednesday night these kind people check in children for the children’s programs at our church. We meet on Tuesdays to visit, pray and talk about random topics that I propose to them.
Meeting Makers Make It
One slogan that is often used in AA meetings is that “meeting makers make it.” Our Tuesday night topic was to get the opinions of my friends about the value of AA, NA or church small group meetings.
Mike H. was first to reply. He is an outstanding tile and carpet installer. He is also a fun and engaging member of our group. Mike said, “I like groups because we can bounce ideas off of other people.” He didn’t use the words, “spiritual friends,” but he described the value of meeting with other people to share the journey to wholeness and being more like Jesus Christ.
Lena is a hard working grandmother who helps care for her boyfriend’s daughter that suffers from brittle bone disease. We often call on Lena to pray in our group. She quietly slips wisdom into our meetings. Lena simply said, “People help me in groups when I learn that they are going through the same thing that I am.”
Johnny attends the Wednesday night small group at Maywood. He is currently installing insulation in 95 plus Kansas City heat. Johnny turned to the group members and said, “Our Wednesday group is reading the Bible like this. We read a Bible passage and write it down on a piece of paper word-for-word. Then, we write it a second time in our own words. The third thing we do is to write down how we’re going to put it in practice.”
Mike H. also participates in one of the Wednesday night groups. He said, “I really like hearing what other people have to say about a Bible passage. They give me ideas and inspiration that I can’t get on my own.”
So far, Mike C. had been silent. He said, “I need and depend on the support system of church and AA.”
Mike H. replied, “That’s true. If I miss church services or my small group, I quickly become a mess. It is so easy to fall back into my old life without the support of a group.
What can be done to improve small group meetings?
All of my spiritual friends who were present on Tuesday have been in some kind of treatment for addiction. Lena entered rehab on her own, desiring to get free from her addiction. She said, “I voluntarily entered into rehab. Other people who were there were court-ordered. I felt weird, like the odd man out, because I was serious about getting sober and they weren’t.”
There were comments of agreement around the table before Lena continued. She said, “It was like they expected us to relapse. I felt like they were setting us up for failure.”
Mike C. said, “Relapse is part of recovery, but it is also part of my sickness.” I thought how very true Mike’s statement was for so many of us.
Mike H. joined the discussion about relapse. He said, “We’ve been learning in church that we have to train and not just try to get better. I have lived most of my life doing only what I want to do. It is hard to change, but I am training myself to become more like Jesus.”
Johnny returned to Mike C’s comments about painful childhood experiences and addiction. He said, “Everybody has issues. So many of us have childhood issues, even PTSD.”
We didn’t get far into how church small groups and AA groups could be improved. Instead, we spent time talking how childhood wounds affect our lives, even to adulthood.
Black Mold Hidden in the Heart
Several years ago, we had a small amount of black mold in our basement. It was no more than three feet of mold on a board that covered the sump pump. One night I found myself unable to sleep and feeling strange at two in the morning. I knew it was the black mold. What I did was get out of bed, rip the board from around the sump pump, and throw it outside. Then, I could get relief and go to sleep.
I told the group my black mold story and said, “Childhood abuse, injuries and PTSD are like black mold. We are told to grow up, get over it, forget it, and so on. The truth it is like the board in my basement. It is out of sight, but it affects our whole life.”
Mike C. gave me a very encouraging smile, like I had connected with a truth he knew only too well.
I continued with a bit of a rant of my own. I said, “My grief is that the church seems powerless to help people in this state. We need the power to help people to find healing from the painful memories of their early life.”
Prayers for Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Dear God, please help your church and AA/NA groups to be effective healers.