If you’ve been in recovery for more than a few days, you’ve probably heard about the giant telephone. Mine weighed about 500 lbs I have heard about phones that weighed 100 lbs, 250 lbs. One guy even claimed his weighed 1,000 lbs. At least that’s what it felt like when you tried to pick it up and call somebody as you entered a relapse cycle. As we enter recovery, we are all told, “When you find yourself struggling, pick up the phone and call somebody.” I don’t know about everyone else but that was almost as hard for me as admitting that I was powerless.
Eventually I made the first call, and while it wasn’t a cure all, it did provide strength and encouragement that I greatly needed. I also remember the first time I made a phone call for help and the person didn’t answer. What the heck? I thought a phone call was supposed to be the magic pill. Well, first, sorry to burst your bubble but there isn’t a magic pill. That’s your addict brain talking. Recovery is work. When nobody answered my phone call I relapsed. As I shared the experience with my sponsor, passively aggressively attempting to shift the blame for my relapse to him, he explained that I didn’t need a person that would answer the phone and save me. I needed a community. But I have always been surrounded by people? I have even been on staff at a church! He went on to explain that I had been surrounded by people, but I still hadn’t experienced community. He explained that in recovery, community is a trusted group of people that have walked this path before and are walking it with me now. It’s a group of people that understand my struggle and will provide a safe place for me to live out my journey. Then he came back to emphasize the word “group”. It took him a while to get me to understand that community involved multiple people. Not me and a friend. Not me and Jesus. God told us in the 2nd chapter of the Bible, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”
I was encouraged to start by looking for four people that I could trust to talk with me when I begin to struggle. These weren’t four random people off the street or mere acquaintances. These were people that I could trust with my story and my struggle. One of these was someone I had known for years and knew that he genuinely cared about me. Three of these were guys I got to know through a recovery meeting I was attending and as we talked, I recognized that they were real, honest, and could be trusted.
Over the years my circle of community is continuing to grow. I now have an address book with dozens of names and numbers of people that I trust and can reach out to. I’m part of an online forum of men I can reach out to any time day or night. I’ve discovered there really is strength in numbers. If you are on this road called recovery, you need to expand your community. That may mean finding that first person you feel safe reaching out to. It may be time for you to expand from one person to four. It may be time to expand to ten, or more. My challenge to you this week is to expand your community.
Oh, and that 500 lb. phone I had when I started recovery, I replaced it a long time ago. There are still times I don’t want to pick up the phone and make a call, but I do it anyway. I have experienced first hand the strength that comes when someone answers my call and shares my burden.
If you have questions about community and would like to talk, send me an email at email@example.com. If you have questions about coaching, we can talk about that too. Freedom is available, but it is found in community.