You have turned my wailing into dancing;
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy. (Psalm 30:12)
I carry on my person everywhere I go two talismans of my recovery.
The first is a medallion celebrating my first year of sobriety.
The second is a bracelet — the last thing I bought without telling my wife — that helps me remember I don’t need to spend money when I am feeling “restless, irritable, and discontented.”
But what recovery really looks like for me is the Pendleton shirt I’m wearing in this picture with my grandson.
After I lost my job, I was at home a lot more often. I would usually wear jeans and a turtleneck and my favorite plaid shirt.
I remember sitting on the couch one evening thinking, “I really like this shirt; I should buy another one.”
It took only a few seconds for my new inner voice to respond. “Don’t be an idiot. This is a Pendleton shirt, and it will last forever. You won’t outlive this shirt; you don’t need to buy another one.”
Paul writes that:
We do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day …. in this tent we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed” (2 Cor. 4:16, 5:4).
Even though God is working in us to renew our inner nature, we may need reminders of that hidden process from time to time.
“One day at a time,” says AA. “Daily we begin again,” say the Benedictines.
Even though we “wish not to be unclothed,” we may have to spend time being uncomfortably open and vulnerable — honestly sitting with our restlessness and our “stinking thinking” — before we can experience a new kind of peace and serenity.
Being content, being at peace, being calm — these are what it means to be “clothed with joy.”
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (BCP 102)