Monday, March 24, 2014


I recently had the privilege of attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as part of a training course.

The experience was profound.

It was particularly moving to see the amazing amount of love and patience a group of people recovering from life-controlling substances showed with each other.  Not only was it infinitely more love than I ever saw in Fundamentalism, it's more love than most of the world exhibits, especially with "difficult" people.

Oddly enough however, I was also struck by how many of the concepts they discussed applied to me as a non-addict.  And though I don't want to take away from the struggle of those recovering from addiction and make it about me, I learned a great deal.

"Drunk: bad.  Sober: good."
"Sobriety gives you everything that alcohol promised *it* would give you."
"I was in a prison of my own making."
"Thank you all for loving me until I could love myself."
"The only person I was deceiving was myself.  Everyone around me knew there was a problem."

In a particularly poignant moment, a young woman in the group said that she had been lying in her warm bed the previous night and the thought crossed her mind - for the first time since she could remember - that she deserved to sleep in a warm bed.  She hadn't ever though she deserved anything like that before. What a tragedy that one of God's children, an imago dei, didn't think she deserved something even as basic as shelter from the cold.

And at once I felt not only compassion for her but a kinship with her.  Because if there's one thing Fundamentalism is good at, it's taking the human condition and adding to its pain rather than emphasizing the love of God and the comfort of grace.

Through that experience, I came face-to-face with the fact that my name is Clara, and I'm a Fundamentalist.

I am addicted to following rules and feeling superior.  I'm addicted to having a right answer for everything.  I'm addicted to being so busy doing things to "take a stand" or to "hold the higher standard" or to "avoid the appearance of evil" - ironically all the while proclaiming that salvation isn't works-based.  I work so hard to explain away my arrogance and lack of love - all while fooling nobody, except maybe other Fundamentalists.

And then I found grace.

Grace gave me everything that Fundamentalism promised *it* would give me.
Fundamentalism: Bad.
Grace: Good.


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