I am reasonably good at the formal end of carrying the message and practicing the principles of recovery. I take some comfort in knowing that family, friends, and co-workers will use me as a starting point to those in need on their first steps in dealing with their own or another person’s substance abuse issues. Yesterday I had a four-hour lunch with a co-worker facing a lung transplant after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis. She has always been an inspiration to me in living life on life’s terms and living to the fullest. Yesterday, I saw how the many principles I have learned in recovery were helpful as she goes about her important decision-making in the coming months. I am pleased that over the years I have never said I don’t have time to work with an addict who still suffers.
Yet I also know that in my home is where I most consistently fall short in practicing the principles. When was the last time I had a four-hour lunch with my wife to discuss important decisions she is facing in her life? I have gone years without reaching out to some of my cousins, siblings and others who I know are in need. I am reminded of the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s concepts of “cheap” and “costly” grace. I get that cheap grace is the type that is easily acquired easily, set right in front of us. We get cheap grace from helping the little old lady across the street, talking to the newcomer at a recovery meeting, sharing our story of recovery with those in active addiction. But costly grace is digging deeper, being more mindful and intentional of living the principles of recovery in the mundane everyday aspects of my existence with all the children of this earth, regardless of relationship. For me, that truly is a lifelong process and not a singular event. I am blessed and grateful today that I am at least mindful of my need for costly grace.