Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Hope and “Payola”

A couple of weeks ago I was working at a trade show in Chicago with some of my co-workers. It was a huge show, taking up all four exhibit halls of McCormick Place.

By the time the show had ended at 5:30 on Saturday, we were all more than ready to head to our hotel. All we needed to do was load one display into its case and shrink wrap boxes onto a couple of pallets. Easy, right?

Yes, except for one thing. The case and pallets we needed were somewhere deep in the bowels of McCormick Place. Workers on their forklifts zoomed up and down the aisles, delivering such containers and pallets to other booths, but not to ours.

Pretty soon an hour had passed. Then two. Then three. It was then that I stated what I thought was the obvious solution to my co-workers. If we wanted to see our crate and pallets anytime soon, we might want to consider slipping a few dollars to one of the forklift drivers.

Right or wrong, such “gratuities” are sort of a way of life in Chicago. It’s a part of the game that, if we wanted to see our hotel rooms that night, we needed to start playing.

How much should I pay him?

30 bucks.

Anybody got a 10?

Here you go.

Hey buddy, do you think you can help us out here?

Oh, yes sir. Right away.

Before we knew it, our packing project was moving forward in earnest. The crate was loaded, pallets were wrapped in shrink wrap, and we were seated in our Uber, headed back to the hotel.

Life is like that sometimes. We can have all sorts of hope for the future. We can put plans in place in anticipation of that day when such plans will be fulfilled. Yes, hope is a wonderful thing, but sometimes more than just hope is required.

Take this morning for example. I hoped I would be comfortable sitting out on my balcony. When I checked the temperature, I put my robe on to ensure my comfort. Without my robe, hope would have left me shivering in the cold!

So it was with our crate and pallets. Our hopes would have ultimately been fulfilled. Eventually the workers would have brought them to us. Realizing our hope sometime before the next morning required a bit more though. It required action. Or, in this instance, a little “payola.”

When I entered the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous, it didn’t take me long to admit that I am an addict. Once I had admitted the reality of my addiction, I found myself hoping that the NA program would work for me. I saw it working in the lives of other recovering addicts, and wanted what they had. Hope began to grow.

Despite my hope, progress was slow. In fact, at times, progress seemed completely out of reach. I’d rack up a few days clean, only to grow frustrated and go back to using. Even inpatient rehab wasn’t enough to keep my hope alive.

Hope was in short supply. What was I to do?

Do. That was the key word. It is a word of action. A word of commitment. A word of hope.

So, I began to do. I began to work steps, however slowly, I did work them and still do. I began taking spiritual principles to heart, not only pondering them, but actually living by them. I began trusting my sponsor with the truth. I even began to pray again… and meditate! These things and more, I became willing to do.

The one thing I became unwilling to do was pick up. I became unwilling to do drugs in any form.

When I added a little “Do” to my hope, all of those things that I had seen and wanted in the lives of other recovering addicts came into reach for me. My hopes began to be fulfilled. My future began to look brighter. I began to change.

It would be nice if, instead of honest effort, I could have just used a little “payola” to find recovery. The truth is that when I signed the check for my inpatient rehab, I thought I was buying recovery. I though that investing a few thousand dollars in my problem would lead to a cure.

Oh, I’d been warned it doesn’t work that way, but I’m so different don’t you know… I could surely buy my way into a bright future.

Well, that one didn’t work so well. I learned that payola doesn’t work in recovery. Different action is needed. A deeper level of commitment is required. Like every other recovering addict I know, my hope would require a deeper commitment to work.

Today, life still presents me with my fair share of challenges. Shoot, recently, it’s felt like more than my fair share of them. Life also fills me with hope. I see the progress made in such a short time, and hope brings me strength.

I hope for a healthy marriage. I do the work necessary to keep it healthy.

I hope work goes well and my success there continues. I do the hard work that it requires each day.

I hope for a better relationship with my family. I pick up the phone.

I hope God will help me along the way. I pray and meditate, seeking His will for my life.

I hope I can stay clean. I do recovery.

There is no reason that hope ever needs to leave my life again. Today, I realize that to preserve my hope, I will need to do the work that is required. My effort is the only form of payola that works in my recovery.

Have a remarkable day!


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