by Chad Lentscher, Program Director, Gate Lodge at Origins
I believe that all joy exists through gratitude.
My experience has been that an entitled heart will continue to stay sick, while a grateful heart has the opportunity to get well. My life began to change drastically when I became clear on the fact that I was getting way more than I deserve. Knowing how truly blessed I am, there is not only no need to complain, but I have no right to complain. If many of us in recovery shared the details of our stories with others not in recovery, I think the overall response would be, “when did he or she die?”, or “please tell me that person is in prison.”
Gratitude can be found throughout the 12 steps.
I had an overwhelming experience around Step One. I learned the truth about my own powerlessness, which I think many alcoholics and addicts never have the opportunity to hear. Knowing what I was up against, I was not only grateful I survived, but I was grateful to hear about a solution that worked. This attitude carried me to Step Four, where I had the opportunity to look at my resentments, which are really a form of entitlement. In my delusional mind, I believed that I was not being treated the way I deserved to be treated. In most cases, I found that people were treating me better or exactly the way I deserved to be treated.
I then had something to give to God.
He performed miracles in Step Six and Seven, which placed me in a position to clean up my past. Step Nine allowed me to get “right-sized” with the world. The gratitude I experienced around the forgiveness and the support of friends and loved ones was unbelievable. I was then in a position to live life as a daily reprieve, and be useful to others.
The life I live today is not one that I deserve, but it is the one that I have been blessed with. If I cannot find gratitude in that, I’m not likely to ever experience true joy.