Friday, March 11, 2011

Breaking the Addiction to Mediocrity

Wedesday began the season of  Lent; a  good time for  resolutions that will bring meaningful change into our lives. It's easy to go along with the old ways of doing things, forgetting that a strong  desire can change a life of mediocrity into one of fulfillment. A priest-psychologist, writing for the "Bible & Life" magazine, ponders the difficulty faced by those with an alcoholic problem in bringing change into their lives.

He recalls the muted scream from someone who heard his talk on alcohol addiction: "I read that those who try to overcome their addiction have a success rate of only 3 percent. Do you think," he asked, "that I can beat those odds?"
The question was not serious, but a heartfelt cry from a person who had tried and failed.  Alcoholics have a desire to change, and what is not well understood is the need not to search for a cure for the problem, as is commonly done, but to manage the problem  by providing the care that is necessary. The writer has seen many programs on the problem of alcoholism but rarely on the recovery period, probably because of the  difficulty involved.

We must never forget. he says, that the primary reason we are interested in the problem of addiction is to have the person shed the addiction and lead a better life. Telling them that only a few succeed in doing this is not helping them but taking away what hope they may still have. 

Recovery from alcohol addiction is never easy. One has to have a firm resolve and realize they are fighting a difficult enemy. It will be a long journey and persons who are on that journey will find it scary. But there are  helpful oases and safe havens along the way, if they persevere.

Returning to the person who heard his talk on alcohol addiction, he advises him to tear that page out of the book that says only about 3 percent succeed. Statistics from outside the country have the recovery rate from 50 percent to 60 percent.

Lent is a time to begin a new way of living. To do everything as if it was going to be our last Lent. While the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, many of us are addicted to a life half-lived. Living in the past made present only by our calendars and watches will not bring change into our lives. To see a change we have to have a strong desire for change. It is a dying to the life of mediocrity, being born again to a fuller life, and living the paschal mystery.  We also will have the help of our community and the graces that will come if we open our hearts and  have a strong desire to see change. Catholics who make  Lent truly a time for meaningful change are no less deserving of praise than those who work to overcome their addictions to alcohol.

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