I stray. I’m a stray-er.
Not in the cheating type of way, but, in that I get distracted and drift off from the rest of the sheep type of way.
As an only child, I was alone a lot of the time by default. But, as I grew up, I did that isolating all on my own. A loner in high school, though, not an introvert. A latcher-on-er in college. A co-dependent in my long term relationships. I was always guided by my own mind, despite its flawed, sometimes masochistic, misguidance.
Even today, in sobriety, I like to be alone. And, while I love the recovery communities of which I am an active part, I have real difficulty turning my whole self completely over to their hands, however capable.
AA, while it will never be the hoppin’ social scene for me that it is for some, has provided me with something far more profound than the group itself. It’s given me back my shepherd. My God.
Long forgotten, lost to me, my God was waiting. As I trotted in empty pastures, void of grass, wondering why there was nothing to sustain me, I never thought to look to the man with the staff. I wandered still, further out. I walked where I wanted to walk, and at a certain point, I accepted that being lost was my lot.
One thing I learned alone in that pasture was: I am strong. Even in my moments of absolute isolation, lost to the herd, hungry and tired, I stood. I can stand on my own. And, that’s something, just to survive. And that knowledge is not something I’ve written off. To survive what I survived, alone, is a testament to who I am. But, it’s not what I am. That’s what I failed to see. I failed to see that we are not meant to survive alone. We are meant to be sheep amongst sheep, workers amongst workers, kin amongst kin. If we were meant to scrounge for nibbles of grass, we would. But, why? Why scrounge when there is someone intended to, made to, lead me to what is meant to be my sustenance?
How had I forgotten? How had I lost him? I still do not know for sure. There are many reasons. But, these days, the one thing I do not question is how I returned to the rest of the herd. Because, I did not find my way back. The shepherd came looking for me. As if I’d been lost too long. He worried. He’d allowed me my freedom. Allowed me to stray. Perhaps, he did this so that when I did return, I would truly see. See what I’d left behind. See what I’d chosen for myself. And, I did choose it.
As I’ve sat under the weight of the depression that’s descended on me the past few days, I’ve turned to God. I’ve asked him to reveal something to me, something that I’m supposed to take from all this. I know that this low is not for nothing, because nothing is for nothing. But, my eyes have always been fairly quick to see my faults and my errors. I have made many missteps, but, have always been fast to right my footing and walk onward. A quick study.
After leaving bible study tonight, I still felt without God. Without that sign that I so wanted to see. As I returned home and threw a pan of brussel sprouts in the oven to roast, I heard my phone ding. A text message. It was was from my good friend, and a fellow AA. Someone who has taken me on a strange spiritual journey that I still don’t fully understand. He told me that Romans, Chapter 8, might be what my soul needed. He sent this without prompting. I had not told him how down I’ve been.
My sign. And not the subtle sign that God will often present me, quietly. But, verse. Bible verse. Unsolitcited. Perfect.
A Good Shepherd, waving his staff, that I might not drift any further from the outskirt of the pasture.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.