Purim, Addiction & Recovery ... A Personal Reflection
On Purim we recount a story of evil plots and ultimate redemption, and all the twists and turns along the way. Yet, in contrast to those living through the tale, on Purim we watch the threatening scenes unfold while already knowing of the victorious end. As we read chapter by chapter in order and at once, each piece of the narrative becomes meaningfully interwoven together and forms a meaningful whole. And through this bird’s eye view of the various Purim scenes, the purpose and plan behind become revealed, despite the struggles experienced along the way.
As we read the Purim story, and all its unpredictable, uncertain, and looming moments, in context of the full picture - we are reminded that, even in times of chaos and threat, God is orchestrating each piece of the puzzle from behind the scenes, and that it begins by turning toward Him in moments of despair.
This is a message that those in recovery from addiction are living and breathing on a daily basis.
As expressed by one recovering alcoholic in Alcoholics Anonymous Daily Reflections, “My act of Providence came as I experienced the total bankruptcy of active alcoholism – everything meaningful in my life was gone. I telephoned AA and, from that instant, my life has never been the same. When I reflect on that very special moment, I know that God was working in my life long before I was able to acknowledge and accept spiritual concepts. My life continues to unfold with divine care and direction.”
Anyone in the clutches of addiction will tell you of the threat of destruction being confronted daily. As said in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “With [the alcoholic illness] there goes annihilation of all the things worthwhile in life.”
Many have described addiction as quite literally being under the reign of a “dictator.” Yet, despite this insidious threat, those who maintain hope, too, have uncovered hidden miracles through finding and turning to “a power greater than themselves: “To watch the eyes of men and women open with wonder as they move from darkness into light, to see their lives quickly fill with new purpose and meaning, to see whole families reassembled, to see the alcoholic outcast received back into his community in full citizenship, and above all to watch these people awaken to the presence of a loving God in their lives – these things are the substance of what we receive as we carry A.A.’s message.”
How does this ‘miracle’ happen? The process has been found by many in recovery through these three core principles:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
As relayed in Twelve Step literature, “When we developed still more, we discovered the best possible source of emotional stability to be God Himself. We found that dependence upon His perfect justice, forgiveness, and love was healthy, and that it would work where nothing else would. If we really depended upon God, we couldn’t very well play God to our fellows nor would we feel the urge wholly to rely on human protection and care.”
On Purim, let us draw inspiration from those in recovery who continue to demonstrate the transformative power of turning to God in moments of hopelessness and threat, and let us be inspired by those who fight for recovery and who need our support and compassion, not judgment.
Devora Shabtai LCSW, a contributor to the CCSA blog, is VP of Clinical Development at Onward Living, a hybrid addiction rehabilitation program which caters to the specific needs of Jewish men in recovery. Devora lives in Boca Raton with her husband and daughters. To learn more about Onward Living contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org