Happy Sunday to you all!!
My latest post, 2013 - Another Year of Change, I shared about the ups and downs of life and making repairs, in the spiritual sense and the physical sense. It was a year of learning, fun, injury, scares and more...
That year, I landed a spot working with a life coach, and that taught me A LOT about my values. Through that values work, I came to the realization that of all values and things in life, if I was to be left with one, it would be service work. I truly believed, and still do, that service work could breed all the other good things in life. So, it had to stay, and had to be atop the list.
That led to a desire to make a difference for others that holiday season. I pondered ideas throughout November of that year, thinking about how I could help people in recovery, especially the people in the halfway house I had once gone through.
One thing I learned about holidays was how powerful the gift of giving was for humans, and certainly those in recovery. See, most of us afflicted with addiction suffer from an extreme amount of selfishness, and gifting others takes some of that away. Recovery literature, the wonderful folks I met early on, and the Spirit of the Universe taught me that service and charity would be my way to long term recovery and happiness.
That November, I made the decision to create a cause - A Gift for Recovery - that would help those who were in similar positions to one I was once in, residing in a halfway house with little to no income or money saved. I asked for, and was granted permission, to obtain lists of a few items each man wanted to provide as gifts to close friends and family. I then raised some money and did some shopping. We held an event to distribute and wrap all the gifts, and there I told my story to the house, something I always knew I loved doing.
Many of the men were extremely grateful. Grateful they'd be able to provide gifts to children, spouses, parents and others. Watching that unfold was as gratifying as anything. It wasn't easy, though. Raising funds, especially with no real traction or audience, is difficult. Asking for money is humbling, even if for someone else. It was uncomfortable. Most of the cause was uncomfortable. Because it was new. New is uncomfortable for me, always. Uncomfortable saves me, though. As it would many times to come.
The biggest lesson I learned was that it's not about how large the gift is, how broad the gift reaches, or how known the gift is. It's all about the act. The act of charity. And service. That's what returns a sense of satisfaction I hadn't really understood or known before. See, all the work on the past life and righting the wrongs simply clears the ground. But if nothing else is added, it simply leaves room for more wrongs. Adding the good, the service, the unselfishness, the uncomfortable feelings - that's what keeps the wrongs at bay.
In this world of humans, the wrongs will always exist. For you, for me, for everyone. But owning, repairing, and managing those is possible. Charity is the greatest escape I've found from wrong, evil, and everything in between. And the lessons learned are unmatched. My troubles seem to hold a lot less weight and show up as anything but troubles when I'm in service work. Does it make me any better than the next person trying to live a good life? Nope. Does it deserve applause? Not at all. Does it change me, and keep my shot at recovery and wellness a more certain thing? Absolutely. And with that, comes opportunity for others. Maybe those reading this. Maybe those I've shared my story with. Maybe those I've worked with personally. Maybe you.
What started out as A Gift for Recovery ended up being a bigger gift for me. Recovery is a beautiful thing. Being uncomfortable, as strange as it sounds, is just as beautiful. All those clichés - they make sense today. The best experiences in life often start outside of comfort. I'm grateful for ideas. More importantly, I'm grateful for the courage to act on those ideas. Some fall short. Some change lives. All make a difference, for me and the world. For that reason, I'll never stop. Ever.