From Rev. Matt:
Step ten in the Twelve Step process for addressing addiction simply says, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” In other words, the work is never done. We’ve been walking through these steps in our worship services at Emmanuel because we believe two things: first, we are all addicted to something. Second, the steps can function as a path to knowing God. In either case, the work is never done.
One concrete picture of step ten comes to us in the form of how we manage our physical health and wellness. For example, I go the YMCA in Howard County twice a week (most of the time). And I intend to keep going as long as I am able and that’s the way it should be.
There will never be a day in which I finish exercising at the Y and realize that I’m done with exercise forever, that I’ve reached peak physique and never need to go back.
There will never be a day in which I finish exercising at the Y and since I’ve done every exercise and class the Y has to offer, that I no longer need exercise in my life.
On the flip side there will never be a day in which I finish a meal and declare that I’ve now eaten enough vegetables in my life, that I will be healthy never eating vegetables again because I’d reached my life’s allotment of vegetables and never needed another one. (Oh what a day that would be!)
No. Life doesn’t work that way. Life is not static. It is dynamic. Is it any wonder that managing an addiction (to alcohol, social media, food, or social approval) would work any different? Is it any wonder that our spiritual journey is never done? Things like addictions, spirituality, interior work, mental and physical health, or interpersonal relationships are never done, never “mission accomplished.”
Instead they are journeys, with ups and downs. With moments of health and unhealth. And we have a responsibility to implement practices which help keep the line of our life trending up and to the right over time as much as is within our power.
That’s what I love about the people in the Bible, especially those we get to spend lots of time with. I think of Abraham, Moses, and David in the Old Testament. Because we get to see them in their individual journeys with God over long stretches of time, we see that they never fully “arrive.” They have good days and bad days. Some days they take God at God’s word and things go well. Other days they lie about their wife (Genesis 20), get mad and hit rocks (Numbers 20), or even orchestrate the death of another person in order to get what they want (2 Samuel 11). All of those things happen after they meet God and are well into their spiritual journeys. And those are the “good guys!”
All of that to say we shouldn’t be surprised at the fact that our work is never done. And that is okay. It isn’t due to some moral failure or a weakness of character. Its simply part of being human and being alive. Life is dynamic, it is never static. The only static things in this universe are things that were never alive in the first place (or aren’t anymore). So may we all lean into this life together, embrace its dynamic nature, and rejoice in the fact that our work is never done.