I hope you are taking advantage of our recent BlogTalkRadio podcasts related to the Twelve Steps that are listed and linked below. Our recent one with Robbie Goldman of Dry Bones Denver was particularly enlightening. Robbie works with homeless kids in downtown Denver and he talked about how when he first started thinking about going through the Twelve Steps he was thinking how good this would be for the kids they work with, many of whom are addicted to drugs and alcohol. But one of the first things he and his staff had to shed was that very kind of thinking that says the steps are for someone else. No, they’re for us. And so he and his staff went through the Twelve Steps before they ever went over them with their kids. And when they take the kids with them, they all go through the steps together. And Robbie says the number of times he’s been through the steps doesn’t matter. He learns something new about himself every time. Robbie is convinced that the Twelve Steps use a language of spirituality that the western church needs to wake up to — real words, not the lingo we talk.
As in: “Hi, I’m John and I’m an alcoholic.” Certainly you’ve heard this familiar greeting everyone uses in an AA meeting to introduce themselves if they wish to speak. And you probably know it is followed by a boisterous “Hi, John!” from everyone else in the room. Robbie pointed out that this simple practice is a means of removing shame from the room and turning people into people. Everyone doesn’t go “Hi, you alcoholic,” or “Hi alcoholic John.” It’s just “Hi John!” As soon as you say it, the label is dropped, because we’re not getting to know an alcoholic; we’re getting too know John. How important this is for all of us wherever we are in life. We need to drop the labels. We are people with names; we’re not adjectives. This goes for all labels we tend to put on people. The label drops when you find the person.
Not that it isn’t important to identify yourself as an alcoholic. At an AA meeting, that’s pretty obvious. Get it out on the table. We need to know where to start. For those of us who are not alcoholics, it would be important to identify ourselves as sinners, and specific ones at that, so we all know where to begin. Imagine what church would be like if every time someone spoke they started with something like, “Hi, I’m Bill and I’m a wife-beater.”
It’s actually the best place to start, and why AA works so well — you start at the bottom. You start where you struggle — where you need help the most.
For more about Robbie and his work, go to http://www.drybonesdenver.org.