Real Men, Real Recovery

By: Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin has worked in the mental-health and addictions field for 17 years. He is the author of A Man’s Way Through the 12 Steps (Hazelden), the first trauma-informed book taking a holistic look at men’s experience of recovery from addictions. He is also co-author of the groundbreaking curriculum, Helping Men Recover, the first trauma-informed curriculum to deal with men’s unique issues and needs.

Dan served as state drug court coordinator for the Minnesota Drug Court Initiative from 2002-2010. He has also worked in addictions research, case management, public advocacy, and counseling. In 2010, Dan started Griffin Recovery Enterprises for consultancy and training. 

Dan has been in recovery since 1994, and lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter.

Promise #12: We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for outselves.

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Feb 21, 2013

This Promise can sustain us and teach us to trust in our Higher Power’s infinite support in our lives. And that is not the easiest concept to trust in.

Like a lot of young men of Irish descent, I grew up Catholic. Like many, my catechism had its positive experiences and its negative ones. One of the positives was my encounter with the story of the Footprints, which has been adopted by many people in recovery. The essence of the story: In the midst of our greatest trials and tribulations when we so often feel abandoned by God, those are the times when God is carrying us. Looking back to the most painful times of my life, I have been given some solace believing that God was not only with me but truly was carrying me.

This Promise is about faith: faith that our Higher Power, like the loving parent that many of us always wanted, is watching over us and always looking out for our best interests. We are never alone. Life will never be too much for us to handle, no matter what happens. Yes, it may feel like it at times. In early sobriety, it may feel like it a lot. But if we trust in the wisdom of The Promises and the experience of those wise elders of the recovery community, then we can trust that no matter what happens we will be okay. Our Higher Power will always meet us halfway (at least) and carry us through when we  simply allow it to happen.

The opposite of the statement in this Promise is also profound and important: God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves.

It appears to be a fairly human tendency to want to blame someone or something for the problems and difficulties in our lives. Many of us with addictive disorders are quite good at coming up with reasons as to why we can’t do something. Or we find it a little too easy to abdicate any role we have in being responsible for our lives; thoroughly responsible. For those of us who still carry the idea of God as the Great Rescuer, we need to pay attention to this Promise lest our misinterpretation of it reinforce any confusion we might have.

What a beautiful world when we begin to see that the feelings of desperate loneliness that we used to have were nothing more than our spirits crying for a deeper connection to Life. And, more importantly, that the connection – and the power that comes with it – were always available to us. And will always be available to us.


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