Response to FRLC Retreat aboard cruise ship in February 2013 by Gary W. Galen

It was a meaningful and genuine trip. First of all, as our first cruise, Sharon and I enjoyed it immensely plus our time in LA with my nephew. We were also thankful we weren’t on a Carnival cruise ship in the GULF. What makes a cruise meaningful is having some kind of program like our FRLC fellowship. Otherwise a cruise is just a cruise.

As I hadn’t been on a FRLC retreat in a few years I enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. The format was meaningful as it delved into each of the 12 steps with ample discussion in a Christian context and relating to us as Lutheran pastors, something we wouldn’t do in a normal AA meeting. The format was thankfully like my home group in Edwardsville uses. I believe Step meetings and Big Book meetings are the most beneficial, followed by speaker meetings.

I especially appreciated those from Alanon, or codependant as I relate to similar issues. ( I was in the Family Program) Those issues are now more pertinent later on in my sobriety. Thanks for letting me share and I encourage others to take advantage of some sort of FRLC retreat in the future. All of those I’ve attended have been a great experience.

It Works if You Work it!

One of the pitfalls to being in a “helping profession” is my tendency to neglect my own needs. Someone once told me people in helping professions go into those professions precisely because they need the help themselves. And rather than getting the help they so desperately need, they end up helping others, thinking this will satisfy their needs.  Perhaps ministers go into the ministry because it is they who need to hear the gospel so much.  In any case, as a recovering person and as a minister, I need to remember that unless I meet my own needs I cannot meet anyone else’s. As Jesus said, “Take the log out of your own eye first.”  My recovery has to come first before I can be of any use to anyone else. This means my meetings must be a priority, the steps need to be my daily habit.

People say it is a selfish program and there is much truth to that. By being selfish about my recovery, by addressing my issues first, I am in a better position to serve others. By putting my recovery first, I am putting others first.

Brother Lawrence, a monastic from the 17th century made this observation once: “It was lamentable to see how many people mistook the means for the end, addicting themselves to certain works, which they performed very imperfectly, by reason of their human or selfish regards.”  Brother Lawrence was talking about how in the name of feeding others we begin to imagine we are being fed by our actions – we become so preoccupied with forming committees, serving on boards and dealing with crises we start to see ourselves as principal actors instead of people who need to be acted upon (works, righteousness, idolatry).

My meetings feed me and keep me humble. Working the steps keeps me growing in communion with God.

They have a wonderful saying at the end of my regular meeting. Usually, after the Lord’s prayer you hear, “Keep coming back, it works if you work it.” At my home group they add this line: “Keep coming back, it works if you work it, and it sucks if you don’t.”

Ain’t that the truth!

Ed T., Editor