In Recovery YOU Have To Do The Work

The old saying is true. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. It’s also true that you can take the water to the horse, put the water in a china cup and sprinkle rose petals over and it still won’t drink.

In my years as a pastor/ chaplain/ mental health worker the ones who made the progress and saw recovery were the ones who did the work. They didn’t sit around smoking all day, regaling the old days. They were the ones who made the effort to change.

Then there were those that seemed to think you had the magic God wand. That if you just prayed for them then they would be healed. They were the victims of others and they let you know about it. Once they realized you weren’t going to be the deliverer of them out of their pit then you were added to the list of complaint.

Seriously, we all want someone else to do the work. But it’s in the work that we find the gold of transformation, recovery and hope.

I’m including myself here.

I don’t like to do the work. To go to Barry’s blind spots, the dark corners, and dig around in the ‘not so nice’ areas of who I am. But if I am going to become a wholehearted fully alive person then I will need to do the work.

In the journey of recovery that we are observing in the book of Nehemiah we now come to a crunch time. All the talking had been done, motivation was high, people had said ‘Yes, we will commit to recovery’ but now it was where talk had to move to action.

The phrase ‘Put your money where mouth is’ is a call to commitment and action. In Nehemiahs case it was ‘Put your muscle where your mouth is’. Get off your butt and build the buttress. Build a place of significance, strength and beauty.

Chapter Three of Nehemiah is like a drones eye view of what was happening below on the wall of Jerusalem.

The other day I was able to watch one of those fancy little drones in action. Its camera would beam back a video of what it was seeing. In Nehemiah 3 we have a view from a drone looking down at the work going on. In upcoming posts we will explore various aspects of this view from above.

Here are the opening two verses. 

Eliashib the high priest and his fellow priests went to work and rebuiltthe Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set its doors in place, building as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and as far as the Tower of Hananel. The men of Jericho built the adjoining section, and Zakkur son of Imri built next to them. Nehemiah 3:1, 2

The point of this post is that talk moved to action.

I know that in times of my recovery journey I have not ‘walked the talk’. I have been more interested in what others are doing or not doing. Or I have slipped into the P.L.O.M. (Poor Little Old Me) dance. I have not taken responsibility for what I alone should be focused on.

I think we can all do this. Focus on what others are doing, or not doing, and then like whiny children complain about it.

Are you taking action?
What excuses are you making?

Are you a whiner or a winner? Winners don’t whine about all the difficulties they faced on the way to the podium.

Here is a typical example of what I would encounter when making suggestions.

I would suggest often to people that they spend some time each day reading their Bible. About 90% of the time the response was either one of these moans or just a general cocktail of them mashed together

  • I can’t read – even though they had a formal education and were quite able to read.
  • I can’t concentrate
  • It’s too big
  • I don’t have the time

So I would help them break the huge goal down to small bites. Read 3 verses each day. Read the same 3 verses every day for a week.

Now that goal is reasonable. If they couldn’t read because of some literacy learning issue we would explore adult literacy classes.

But, people would much rather sit on their butts and moan about their lives than form habits that would get them to the podium.

Mental Health is never handed out on a silver platter. You have to work for it.

Recovery comes down to cultivating an internal motivation and desire to push through personal barriers and fears.

Quotes to Consider

  • If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got
  • A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it. G K Chesterton
  • Do what you can do and leave the miracles up to God
  • Forgiveness is a nice concept until you have to practice it C S Lewis
  • It is not the critic who counts;
    not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
    or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
    whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
    who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
    because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
    but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
    who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
    who spends himself in a worthy cause;
    who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
    and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
    so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
    Theodore Roosevelt

Questions to consider.

  • Are we being too soft on some people and making it so comfortable that they don’t push on and in and up?
  • How many books are you going to read this year?
  • Are you taking responsibility for someone else’s recovery when actually it is their responsibility? Why?

Barry Pearman

2 Replies to “In Recovery YOU Have To Do The Work”

  1. Barry, so true. All of it.

    I love the idea of the magic God wand! I’ve had experiences where people wanted me to use that, too. (I even have wanted it to work on my own situations, a few times. Well, more than a few.)

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