FRIENDSHIP, RECOVERY, LIFE
By Christopher Pachik
I was messed up. My high school sweetheart Jamie still tried to help me. Even through my active addiction, she was trying to help me, but she enabled me to manipulate her out of money and love. Using people I called friends was normal then, but in recovery I realized I had harmed her.
For a long time, friends were just people I befriended because they had something that I needed or vice versa. It has been in recovery – and only in recovery, that I found true friends. People who generally care about you because they like the person you are. I was “running and gunning”, as I like to call it, for so long that I had no real friends. Being in active addiction for 10 years has taught me to cherish these friendships obtained through recovery and in Christ Jesus.
“If either men fall down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4;10
Fellowship and friendship in recovery is based on the understanding that as humans we all fall down, but if we are living by honest, spiritual and biblical principles, then we accept our duty to pick a fellow brother up. There is no way to succeed if we try to do recovery alone. It is a pay-it-forward program. We only gain progress in recovery by giving ourselves away.
My sponsor, who is now my best friend, Cadet Robert Coriston, took me through the 12 steps and discipled me. There is something about completely vulnerable with another human being about all of your fears, defects and just bad things you have done that brings you closer. It was through “cleaning my side of the street” that allowed me to be open-minded and willing to hear God’s calling on my life. Completely clear-minded and healthy for the first time, I started to hear this voice that was telling me “it is going to be ok”. Then I remembered a scripture Rob had given me: “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired that I listened to what Rob had been telling me about laying it all down at the altar and starting life as a new creation through Christ. On February 3rd, 2014 at the Suncoast Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in St. Petersburg, Florida, I gave my life to Christ as my mentor, my sponsor and my best friend Rob and Col. Mark Bell prayed over me. I cried tears of joy for the first time in my life.
Rejuvenated by power of Jesus Christ, it was now my turn to pass it on. It was great to start discipling other guys at the ARC. Our 12th step in Alcoholics Anonymous states “after having a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we carry the message to other alcoholics and practice these principles in all of our affairs.” Discipleship and sponsorship are one and the same – they are about teaching the way as we have been taught. Jesus never sent out disciples on their own nor did he travel alone. He did this so that in times of need they could lean on and support one another like a friend would. In recovery, we believe in the same principle of fellowship with one another. Friendship means more to me than just a word; it means life-long brothers and sisters in Christ.
Repairing relationships is part of the recovery process. In A.A. our 9th step is to make an amends to those we have harmed. So I had Jamie, my high school sweetheart, on my mind. The problem with this was that she had moved to New York. In fact, she had not been home in 10 years even to visit.
While I was staying at the ARC, I had the chance to wash dishes at a friend’s restaurant in my hometown to make a little pocket money on weekends. One Saturday morning in March 2014, I was walking out of the back with a bus tub full of clean dishes. Home for only one day, a young woman walked in the front door of the restaurant – and it was Jamie! I dropped the whole tub of dishes and started sobbing right then and there. I ran over to her with tears in my eyes told her what God had been doing in my life, how much I have changed and how much I regretted the way I treated her. “What can I do to make up for all the bad things I have done to you?” I asked. Her response is one of the things that keeps me sober, she said: “Just keep doing what you are doing and help others as you were helped.” She is one of my biggest supporters and friends to this day.
Recovery taught me how to care about others over myself, but it is God’s unfathomable grace that allows me to be a friend to someone else. At heart, the Christian life is a recovery journey. Sharing the journey keeps us on it and in it.
Christopher Pachik is a graduate of the Suncoast ARC and an accepted candidate for the training school for officers (2016-2018). He is currently employed as a Salvation Army Mission Specialist at Clearwater Corps in Florida.