Compassion can be found in many physical locations. This was my grandparents’ summer home where I found love and safety. Another place I discovered great kindness was in “these rooms,” shorthand for 12 step meetings which offered me solace as I dealt with the addictions of members of my family.
I have been reflecting on something I learned years ago in such a room. When the family member of an addict changes, she will encounter a very strong message of “change back.” The addict counts on the people around her staying the same so that she can continue on her own course. Once the other person stops their routine behavior-whether walking out of a room where the addict is raging, or refusing to make excuses for their behavior- the addict has a problem. Things have changed. The solution the addict comes up with is CHANGE BACK. I LIKED THINGS THE WAY THEY WERE!
It seems to me that there is a lot of “change back” going on in our country at the moment. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous to resist the pressure to change back. But we are called to continue on the paths to justice, racial and religious reconciliation, respect for women, welcome of the outcast, and embrace of the homeless that we were on earlier this century.
We can’t expect that our persistence in the face of such powerful and scary messages to “change back” will be welcomed. Ask anyone who has sat in “these rooms” and discussed the ramifications of refusing to give into an addict’s demands. But persist we must. It is the way to healing and wholeness, both for the future and for our country.