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A Grateful Heart

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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.