In These Rooms: A Reflection on the First Step in the Search for Health


There is this saying in recovery communities that captures something special about the  nature of trust and vulnerability that is unique to groups of people whose commonality is that they’ve all come in their ends and are looking for health.  The saying is,  “in these rooms” and it’s often used when referring to the safety and types of stories that are told at meetings.

In these rooms everyone equal and each story matters.
In these rooms you don’t need to fake it any longer, you can let our guard down.
In these rooms you won’t find judgement, just fellow pilgrims on the journey of recovery.
In these rooms you can share your failures and your successes freely.
In these rooms we’re together.

Those three words signify to many a space where we can be truly honest about our struggles, and it’s in this place of brutal honesty and confession that healing begins.

As a pastor I’ve been drawn to this concept because I think it’s an idea we all need, addicts, sinners, saints and all.  In some traditions this space was cultivated in the practice of confession and absolution, but for most of us, our lives are completely void of anything resembling these rooms.

Here is what’s tragic about this, it’s been my experience that every one of us needs this space.  We all know that we’re unhealthy and we long to tell the truth about it to another.  Our list of struggles is legion.  For some it’s addictions, others self doubt or loneliness, and others exhaustion and depression.   As I sit with people and listen, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t have something along these lines, and often I become these rooms to others.   

See, I think we’re all trying to get healthy, but we don’t know where to begin.  Intuitively, we know that we’re walking through life with a limp when we could be running freely.   And so we go to things that promise health or distract us altogether, but leave us more tired and sick in the end.  We’re looking for something that will bring us life and nourishment but we end up consuming more junk food and empty practices.  In our search for health we usually try to do more when maybe we must need to be more.   Instead of faking it, we need a place where we can take off our bandages and just be the hurting, tired, and broken people we are.

This is what I think we can learn from our recovery friends, that the first step in the journey towards health is admitting we’re sick and finding a space to share this with others as they share with us.   As we become these rooms to others, we create a space for people to move towards health and subsequently where we can too.

Let’s stop pretending that we’re not sick.  Because it’s this act that actually keeps us from wholeness,  Let’s be a space place for others and also be courageous enough to be vulnerable with our own life.   Whether it’s with a friend, spouse, counselor, church, or recovery meeting, being and finding this space this is a step worth taking.



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