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Experience Reflection Thesis

‘Sobriety is not achievable’?

‘Sobriety is not achievable.’ I let that statement sit with me for a few moments. (As I said some time ago: in order to critique something, you have to let it change you first.) Did I really believe what I was saying, that sobriety is not achievable? Yes, for a few moments. You see, all along I had firmly believed the converse: that sobriety is achievable. That was my whole framework. What made me change my mind (for a few moments)? Things were not working, again. So, in the frustration and desperation of an addict, I was trying to flip the statement on its head and get the opposite angle on it. But the notion that sobriety is not achievable makes little sense! It is so devoid of hope! The reason for my addicted behaviour must lie in something else. If sobriety is indeed achievable, then the problem might in fact lie with me—since I have not achieved sobriety—or it might not lie with me at all. To find out for sure, I should look around at alternative causes for my repeated failures. To express this a different way: given that I believe that sobriety is achievable, I have to keep looking for the fault line.

Assuming now that sobriety is achievable, but that I was doing something wrong in my pursuit of it, I immediately see two phenomena rise up: divine grace is the first. Immediately and with certainty I assess that my problem does not lie with divine grace, either in its quality or in its quantity. This is because divine grace is divine, i.e., of God; He is perfect and so is everything that comes from Him. Likewise, the gifts of his grace are without limit. What I am coming to here is that, as an addicted person, I have plenty of divine help—even more than I need.

What else could I be doing wrong in my pursuit of sobriety? What is it that can and should go hand-in-hand with divine grace, and is perhaps my missing link? If everything is well on God’s side, then something must be ill on mine. I suspect that my human effort was lacking. Specifically, I think that I had been expecting God to do most or all of the heavy lifting, and myself to do little or none of it. The answer seems to be that I need to take a more active and a stronger rôle in my quest for sobriety: stepping up from the passive and weak part that I played before. I need to put in my limited human-effort to be combined with and multiplied by God’s limitless divine-grace, in order to reap a harvest of sobriety.

By Stephen Plustwik

'In the face of all my foes I am a reproach, an object of scorn to my neighbours and of fear to my friends. Those who see me in the street run far away from me. I am like a dead man, forgotten in men's hearts, like a thing thrown away.'—Psalm 31[30]:12–13 (Grail).