The Prodigal Son

I love the story of the prodigal son in the other big book. It is a perfect metaphor of the journey of recovery for me.

A young man believes he knows better than his father about how to live successfully so he takes his gifts and leaves his father’s house. He squanders his inheritance on the pleasures of the world. Homeless and starving, he has no choice but to sleep in a pigpen. He doesn’t eat what the pigs eat. He eats what the pigs leave behind. Now that’s hitting bottom!

I separated myself from God at a very early age. I didn’t see the need. Instead, I used my gifts to accumulate money, property and prestige. I believed as soon as I had enough I could rest, but I never seemed to have enough. I spent more than I earned. I wasn’t homeless when I hit bottom, but I was close. My apartment was a mess. I lived off cheap wine and fast food.

Finally the prodigal son has a vision. He remembers the servants in his father’s home and how good their lives are. They have plenty to eat, warm comfortable beds, and loving friendships with each other and the father. He decides to return home and ask his father to take him back. Not as a son, but as a servant.

Graced with a moment of clarity, I was allowed to see how pathetic my life had become. I reached out to a therapist for help. After telling me some very unpalatable truths about myself, she said she couldn’t help me, but maybe the treatment center up the street could. I wasn’t sure I was alcoholic, but I didn’t know what else to do.

The prodigal son leaves the pigpen and begins his journey back to the father’s home. His father sees him coming from far away and rushes to meet him. He throws his arms around the young man welcomes him back, not as a servant, but as a full-fledged son.  There is much rejoicing and a big party is thrown in his honor.

I believe my journey back home began when I spent my last $3,700 of Visa credit to enroll in an out patient treatment program.  The obsession was removed immediately and three days later I walked into my first meeting. You guys welcomed me with open arms. I felt the joy and excitement of one alcoholic helping another. I laughed, really laughed for the first time in years. It felt like I had finally found my way home after a long painful journey. It’s been a non-stop party ever since.

I know much less about God today than I did as a newcomer, but I do know God is present in every meeting. Another often used bible quote reminds me of this fact: “Where more than one is gathered in my name, I am present.”