Grant Montgomery: Finding hope
In time of heartbreak and need, some may turn to their spiritual roots. Unfortunately though, he reception in many religious houses of faith can sometimes be rather judgmental.
It’s interesting to compare a legalistic faith group with a good AA group. In a legalistic setting, it is culturally unacceptable to have problems; that is called being sinful. In an AA group it is culturally unacceptable to be perfect; it is called denial. In the former setting, people look better but get worse; and in the latter, they look worse but get better!
So for those who have gone through a divorce, for example, they may experience a subtle judgement of divorcees, sublimely sending the message that divorce is a result of sin. Or in the case of someone trying to stop drinking, that “drinking is wrong” and “you should simply quit”, something obviously easier said than done.
One of the books I read after my divorce is Dr. Henry Cloud’s “Changes that Heal”. To quote a recovering alcoholic cited in Dr. Cloud’s book: “When I was in church or with my Christians friends, they would just tell me that drinking was wrong and strongly indicate I should repent. [Comparatively] when I got into Alcoholics Anonymous, I found that I could be honest about my failures, but more important, I could be honest about my helplessness. When I found out that God and others accepted me as is, in both my drinking and my helplessness to control it, I began to have hope.
“Whereas, as much as the church I attended preached grace, I never really found acceptance there for my real state. They always expected me to change. In my AA group, not only did they not expect me to change, they told me that, by myself, I could not change! They told me that all I could do was confess who I truly was, an alcoholic, and that God could change me, along with their daily support. …That was totally different and it changed my life.”
So to find hope, you need to seek out a culture where you do not have to be ashamed of your failures, and where you truly realize that any and all shortcomings can be forgiven. Then truth and grace begin to have their effects in your life. Grace and truth are a healing combination because they deal with one of the main barriers to personal growth: guilt.