Since the beginning of November I’ve seen little reminders on social media and in blog posts about the benefits of gratitude. Some people like to post daily lists of gratitude. Daily devotionals are also starting to point us to an attitude of gratitude in preparation for Thanksgiving.
Those of us in recovery learned about gratitude (Lesson 22) when we reached Step 11: “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.” That’s not to say we weren’t already experiencing lots of positive life transformation before then. But it’s at Step 11 that we start to make it a consistent practice in our recovery journey.
A few days ago, I read a particularly good devotional related to recovery and gratitude. It is from the book, The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie. It is based on her widely popular book, Codependent No More, which is an early landmark book on the subject.
As we turn to teaching the lesson on gratitude next week and preparing for our annual Grat Night celebration, I share this piece of encouragement from her book. It is the reading for November 15. (© 1990, Hazelden Foundation)
Benefits of Recovery
There are two benefits from recovery: we have short-term gains and long-term gains.
The short-term gains are the things we can do today that help us feel better immediately.
We can wake up in the morning, read for a few minutes in our meditation book, and feel lifted. We can work a Step and often notice an immediate difference in the way we feel and function. We can go to a meeting and feel refreshed, talk to a friend and feel comforted, or practice a new recovery behavior, such as dealing with our feelings or doing something good for ourselves, and feel relieved.
There are other benefits from recovery, though, that we don’t see immediately on a daily or even a monthly basis. These are the long-term gains, the larger progress we make in our life.
Over the years, we can see tremendous rewards. We can watch ourselves grow strong in faith, until we have a daily personal relationship with a Higher Power that is as real to us as a relationship with a best friend.
We can watch ourselves grow beautiful as we shed shame, guilt, resentments, self-hatred, and other negative buildups from our past.
We can watch the quality of our relationships improve with family, friends, and spouses. We find ourselves growing steadily and gradually in our capacity to be intimate and close, to give and receive.
We can watch ourselves grow in our careers, in our ability to be creative, powerful, productive people, using our gifts and talents in a way that feels good and benefits others.
We discover the joy and beauty in ourselves, others, and life.
The long-term progress is steady, but sometimes slow, happening in increments and often with much forward and backward movement. Enough days at a time of practicing recovery behaviors and piling up short-term gains lead to long-term rewards.
Today, I will be grateful for the immediate and long-term rewards of recovery. If I am new to recovery, I will have faith that I can achieve the long-term benefits. If I’ve been recovering for a while, I will pause to reflect, and be grateful for my overall progress.
Wherever we are in our recovery journey, gratitude is an important part of our continual emotional and spiritual growth. It keeps us focused on the progress and living one day at a time.
I’m grateful that recovery taught me how to be grateful, and that I can now model that to my family, friends, accountability partners, and sponsees.
Have you benefited from recovery? What are you grateful for?
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.