As a general rule, I don’t talk about what happens in the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) group meetings or anything about the people in them. However, today I’ll make a little exception since this is going to be about some of my experiences with the group and an invitation to come join us. I hope this doesn’t come off as narcissistic or haughty but rather in the spirit of sharing.
We have a standing invitation for Bishops and Stake Leaders to come and see what the group is about (with at least a one week notice so we can give the participants a heads up). We want them to experience and feel the spirit of the group so they will not be hesitant to refer others who could benefit from participating with us. Some time back, we had a Bishop visit us and he seemed to leave with a good impression. At least when I saw him last, he remembered me.
But a few weeks ago, we had the High Councilman, who supervises our Stake’s ARP groups, visit us to see what these meetings were about. The group was given notice the week before and again that evening so they had the option to participate or not. Thankfully, most stayed and participated as we had our usual meeting. At the end of the check-in portion of the meeting, I asked him what his thoughts were because I visibly saw that he was moved. He had difficulty telling us his thoughts because, and it was obvious, he was quite overwhelmed with what he just experiences and witnessed.
With very few exceptions, the strongest places I have felt the spirit are in these meetings. Our Father in Heaven loves the sinner who is trying to learn to get through tough times. Besides, He is our Father, He freely gives support to those who seek and ask for it. So it’s no surprise that He pours out His spirit into these meetings of sinners who are struggling to learn to be submissive to His commandments, in other words, trying to learn to be humble. This submissiveness is what humility is, to submit ourselves to the will of God. Humility, for me, was a really tough, even an almost impossible pill for me to swallow but once I did, life became a whole new ball game.
When I was asked to be a facilitator, I readily accepted, thinking I would have a chance to help others, knowing I not only had the experience but I was also further along the journey than most that would be in the group. But I was to be given a big dose of humility because the first thing I learned was that being a facilitator necessitates that I keep myself ready or I’ll miss out on being a tool in the hand of God to minister to others. And make no mistake, it’s more than just giving good advice, it is ministering in every sense of the word and if I’m not ready, I’m left to be one big quivering mass of stupor.
I’ll explain: one meeting not too long ago, I was not ready. I was not reading my scriptures like I should and I let my pride get the best of me. So when I was at the meeting, I was, as I mentioned before, a big quivering mass of stupor. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get a single thought or sentence to make any sense. After a while, I just shut up, having learned my lesson. Conversely, recently, I was buried under a mound of work that I knew I would not be able to attend a meeting (we have two PASG groups that I help with). In the middle of working, I looked at the time and said to myself, for the umpteenth time that day, “I’m not going to be able to go to group tonight” but then I got a jolt to the system and a very unmistakable prompting that I MUST go that evening. So I finished the task and went. I won’t go into detail but I can assure you that there was a reason I was told to be there because there was a person who needed the benefit of my experience. It came clearly to my mind what needed to be said and it flowed easily.
Both lessons are priceless.
But if I were to pick the #1 thing I learned as a facilitator, and the whole reason for this post, it would be this: God loves the sinner who is sincerely trying to overcome this world so much, that it doesn’t take much movement on their part to get close to Him that He will begin to bless them immensely. It may not seem like it at first, but He is there, involved and waiting to give.
So if you are hesitant to go to an ARP meeting, GO! Listen to the spiritual prompting that is directing you to go to a place that is filled with good.