“Well you know, my story is like countless thousands of other people that you know who go down a path of substance abuse and alcoholism. Other addictions that they become all consuming. So in my case they were all consuming because I didn’t really have much in the way of a career. I had very little in the way of relationships. I didn’t have much to really say that I could you know be proud of and then there was a breaking point I would say that caused me to say that I couldn’t take it anymore. And I don’t know what that is. For a lot of people, they refer to it as a bottom. But for me I think it was a high moment of grace that God chose to you know, at least, intervene in my life and to shine some light or grace on me to say that I needed to change what was going on in my life because my life had become so bad.
Well I hate to say it. This seems a little strange but it was actually at a Super Bowl party of all places to be. I was with four or five brothers and we were all drinking and of course two out of the brothers actually have a drinking problem. It seemed like a very sad situation to me. It struck me as odd it and for some reason I told myself ‘I can’t continue to live like this.’
It has taken quite a long time,. That was 30 some odd years ago. But it led from AA into also another 12-step program which deals with sex addiction and the two I’ve attended simultaneously ever since.
I went to a conference recently and I heard one of the members say “AA saved my live, SLA gave me one worth living” and I think that was pretty profound cause it kinda sums up what these programs have done for me.
Even in the heart of my addiction, I don’t think I ever lost that connection with God I think it was strained. I actually stopped you know going to church for periods of time but I returned even when I was still active in my addiction.
There is one thing in the Catholic mass when you give the sign of peace and that’s the one part of the ceremony where I actually felt something and it just told me there was hope.”
Daniel’s Reflection: Steve Lawson is a dear friend of mine in Cincinnati and I will forever be grateful for his love and friendship. Steve fell very fast into chemical addiction and sex addiction in the 1960’s and 1970’s as he was growing up gay and closeted. He likes to say that he is an alcoholic, drug addict, sex addict, food addict but not a gambling addict—but don’t bet on it! Today, Steve has a very successful and impactful career as a chemical addictions counselor having earned the highest level of professional certification (Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor–Clinical Supervisor).
What amazes me about Steve’s story is how he continued to go to Church during his many years of active addiction. Not because he was trying to pretend to be something he was not. But for hope. It was the simple sign of peace that Catholics give to each other at the end of a Mass that resonated deeply with Steve and gave him hope that he might one day be sober and healthy.
It is so easy for many to write off all aspects of traditional religion or some simple ritual of our own upbringing. Or a simple ritual of our own creation. The sign of peace, in this case. For many others in this project it was playing under their father’s Tallis (Jewish prayer shawl) in synagogue, lighting a candle for a loved one, or praying for a pregnant mother on bed rest. The most simple of acts can remind us deeply of who we are or who we could be.
I am so grateful that Steven Lawson took hope in the sign of peace and that he went on to counsel so many recovering addicts that he impacts everyday.
Blessed be the broken one among us who helps others to heal. (P.S. We are all whole, we are all broken, we are all potential healers).