“I believe that after any number of years of abuse or relapses, sobriety is a sovereign work of God in a man's heart.”
Let’s not assume what is in a man’s heart. Let’s choose our words carefully.
Sobriety is indicated
by integrity, ethics, milestones accomplished, and life on an upward climb.
When we encounter someone who may appear to have turned onto a sober path, it's
safe to assume their sobriety is forefront in their mind, every day, and it may
even be sacred. Any suggestion to the contrary is an offense.
Recently, we were in
court with a man who had been sober for several years,
working hard, and dedicated to his wife, his career and extended family. An old
charge had come up, and a warrant was out for something he had done while
abusing drugs. When he found out about it, he didn't run as he did prior to his sobriety, but got a lawyer and
appeared before the honorable court. He fought it for a year during his sobriety, appearing about
ten times in two different courts. Since he had never been charged with
violence, assault or weapons, and since he had turned himself in, we were
praying the court would have mercy. In finality, the court ordered four
years in prison, of which he would serve two.
On his last thirty
days, he worked his usual double shifts seven days a week, while preparing his
workplace and home for his time away. The day had come. This good man, who was now at the highest
point of his life and career, walked into court, gave into being handcuffed and taken into custody.
For the past twenty
years, I've heard the honorable courts' parting words upon sentencing. They have
been wise, wonderful, challenging, encouraging, sometimes scolding, but most
often inspiring. In this case, we were stunned by the loose words spoken over
this good man. After rhetorical questions of no depth, it was implied that it would be difficult for this good man to stay sober in prison. One of our staff members who cherishes her own sobriety and honors the sobriety of others, said it felt like a knife in her heart.
This good man was in court as evidence that his sobriety means everything
to him. After all, when you're sober, you do the right thing, no matter how difficult. While we doubt that our good
man had a support system that night, we believe he has enough sober work under his belt to come out shining.
Let's all remember... While
true sobriety is iron clad against against all that would assail it, please tread lightly and please speak with care, for you may be on sober ground.