Immediately I began hearing several of the slogans tossed around in the 12-step atmosphere.
Like so many others before me, I was drawn to the popular phrase, “One day at a time.”
Back then, I had no idea how popular it was in the recovery world, or why it mattered.
I know that I connected with it and clung so tightly to the idea behind it, and it felt silly at first. How could I cling so tightly to an idea? A slogan?
But I was desperate.
Also, it sounded do-able, and I was totally okay with do-able.
So I held onto this one and also to the specific line in The Serenity Prayer that goes:
“Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time.”
As an adult child of an addict, I had lived my entire life up to that point seeking to gain a sense of control over my life. Control to me, was the equal and exact opposite of what I was trying to get away from: chaos.
Coincidently, after I became addicted to prescription medication, control was one of the first things that I lost. And newly sober, it was also the first thing that I was asked to leave at the door.
Funny, life. Funny.
Only this time, I chose to give it up. If living one day at a time would help me get through, then okay. I was doing that. One day at a time meant that I need not plan tomorrow, or stay up all night wondering when the next time I was going to fuck up would be.
I would do my best for that one day, and if it got too hard, for that one hour. And that was it.
And with as little worry as I could manage. I could move slow and trust that things were going to be okay if I just made one good choice at a time.
Three years later, (approximately March 2009), I joined a women’s Bible study. I was still a very new Christian in the early stages of navigating and learning the basics about scripture, the people in it, and the Bible itself. I was an atheist, turned cynic, turned skeptic, turned student. And all that I knew at that point was that Jesus’ Grace was real and I was hungry to learn more.
One night someone read Psalm 119:105: Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path (NLT).
I had heard that one a handful of times, but never had I heard it explained the way that I did that evening. This woman began describing an illustration to our group that summarized the power of that short, simple verse. It couldn’t have taken her more than two-minutes to create for us this beautiful word picture that would end up leaving a mark on me, forever changing the way that I look at how my faith and my recovery could intertwine seamlessly.
Imagine a path in front of you.
It’s your path.
Now imagine a lamp.
It’s small enough so it can be carried with you.
And without it, you cannot see the next step to take on your path.
But being small enough to take with you, it will only illuminate a few feet of your path at a time, only showing you what you need to know at that time to safely move forward .
It is safe to have it with you at all times.
It is smart to seek its guidance to direct your steps.
Without it, you are left to navigate in the dark, without direction.
…..Or something similar to that effect.
I imagined it as she spoke and things started to make more sense. Today, my approach to life 10 years in recovery is not much different than it was my first 10 months, or even my first 10 days.
Much like the early days I know that I am vigilant and mindful of the fact that I am not in control of this thing and I never really was. I try to chill and take on one day at a time and I know that I don’t have to have control or the illusion of control and I don’t need to live beyond today.
I accept that there is something, and for me, someone who is greater than I am, who IS in control.
He is THE light, the one that guides my path, the one I can count on to direct my steps, and the one who is guaranteed to never leave me in the dark without extending a hand.
Sometimes I feel like that particular slogan prepared me for living a life that is only illuminated a few feet at a time, and essentially that means giving up my need to control. I am still gratefully living my new life, one day at a time, a few feet at a time.