Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Hi, everyone! Happy Independence Day!

I finally moved out of sober living last weekend -- 18 months (almost to the day) after I moved in, for what I planned would be a month or two. I've been looking for an apartment for a couple months, and getting kind of discouraged. I needed a place near my 5-year-old son's school (he starts kindergarten in the fall -- he graduated from preschool in a cap and gown a few weeks ago), where he could have his own room, in an area I felt safe with my son, that I could afford. I was starting to define "near school" rather loosely, becoming willing to sleep in the living room so he could have his room, and stretching my definition of "affordable."

Then, a couple weeks ago, I saw an ad for a place in the perfect location, a two-bedroom, and a rent at least $250 a month below market. I filled out the application, and I got it. My son is thrilled, he just loves it. He's very excited he can stay overnight with daddy. The place is perfect -- it even has drapes and a dishwasher.

I pray frequently, I'm a real 11th-Stepper. Normally I pray for knowledge of God's will for me, and the willingness and ability to carry it out. Last week, though, my prayer was, "God, give me the apartment." And, wow, He answered the prayer. I took it to be that my desire was aligned with God's purpose. Nevertheless, when I couldn't remember if there was a refrigerator, on my way to sign the lease I prayed, "God, let there be a refrigerator." Guess what -- there's a fridge! I shared this with the guys at my Friday group, and said that now I was praying that the cable company had left the service on, and that I would be able to pull internet service from an unsecured wireless network. The guys suggested I may be pushing it... (Although I'm willing to make the argument that cable companies are part of Satan's dominion and therefore God wouldn't mind me pirating service. I'm no theologian, but it makes sense to me.)

Seriously, though, it does seem miraculous, that this great apartment appears at a ridiculously low price, and falls in my lap, seemingly just so I could have the right place to live and take care of my son.

In the last 18 months I've struggled to get my work life back on track, struggled financially, struggled to be a good father, struggled to get along with my estranged wife. Sometimes it seemed I didn't have the resources to make it through the week. Maybe the gift God gave me in this struggling is recognizing that He gives me everything He needs me to have.

So I don't look at this miracle as a special favor from God, or some sort of reward for being such a great guy. I consider it something God needs me to have. He has His own reasons for providing me with what I want. I believe that God needs me to provide a good home for my son, for starters. I'm sure there are additional, less obvious, reasons that will unfold and become clear if I am willing to keep my eyes, mind and heart open to them.


At the sober living I was at, every new guy who moves in writes an essay which he reads at his first weekly house meeting. The topic is, on one side of the paper, "What I Can Do For the House," and on the other side, "What the House Can Do For Me." I don't remember much of what I wrote a year and a half ago, but I do remember my expectations were way off target from what actually happened. So, as I left the house, I wrote about what I actually did for the house and what the house actually did for me:

What I Did For the House
  • I made my bed every morning.
  • I signed in and out every day.
  • I observed the curfew.
  • I did my chores.
  • When I did not do my chore and didn't have someone cover me, I paid the fine.
  • I cleaned up after myself.
  • I paid my rent in full and on time.
  • I served as house secretary.
  • I attended the weekly house meeting, and called the manager beforehand if I couldn't be there.
  • I tried to make each new man feel welcome, at home, accepted, and respected.
  • I tried to be a good friend: encouraging guys when they were having a hard time, celebrating their successes, sharing the journey of recovery, and enjoying our times together as house brothers.
  • I tried to be considerate and respectful of every man in the house.
  • I stayed clean and sober.
What the House Did For Me
  • It gave me an affordable place to live when I arrived in LA broke, jobless, and knowing only a few people.
  • It gave me friendships with men I love and admire greatly.
  • It gave me structure, discipline and accountability.
  • It showed me how to serve others.
  • It showed me how I'm the one who benefits the most when I serve others.
  • It taught me not to judge anyone by their appearance, circumstances or experiences -- only by the content of their character.
  • I learned that when I find out about a man's age, drug of choice, criminal record, ethnicity, material well-being, job, tattoos, haircut, clothing, experience in recovery, or length of sobriety/clean time, I have found out nothing of importance about him, nothing relevant to anything. I know nothing about a man until I see how he treats his fellows -- then I know everything about him that I need to know.
  • It showed me how small and insignificant my own problems and my own plans are.
  • It showed me in rich detail what addiction, relapse and recovery really are.
  • It made me believe in miracles.
  • I was accepted and loved by my brothers just as I am. I could take off my mask.
  • It showed me that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves -- and that God chooses to use each of us as His instrument to help all of us -- and all of us as His instrument to help each of us.
  • I stayed clean and sober.