As the new year dawns, my thoughts alight more and more often on one of the loveliest words in the English language, “grace.” As the dictionary confirms, notions of gratitude, “mercy, clemency or pardon,” and the “freely given, unmerited favor and love of God” are all wrapped up in this one wondrous syllable.
Grace was the spark that ignited my recovery, and it continues to sustain me. I’m sure it’s been the same for millions. Grace is our oxygen. But like the life-giving gas, it’s easy to lose sight of grace sometimes in the flash-bang madness of the everyday world. So at this time of renewal, I like to pause and linger a while with the grace I have received.
Gratitude. No one recovers alone. Everyone has angels. I had two. My partner and I will celebrate 10 years in February. Sensibly, he withdrew to the sidelines after I set myself on fire and the blaze really got going. But he appeared at the door with a smile and a carton of my favorite smokes my first day in rehab. He visited me every day on his way home from work at the Hollywood flophouse I moved into after that. With his patience and love, we rebuilt our relationship from the smoking rubble up, into something stronger than it’d ever been before. The emotional risk he took for me is almost unfathomable.
Then there’s my sweet friend in Beverly Hills, an older woman who lives in a sprawling mansion just over the West Hollywood line. One night towards the end when my situation was getting pretty desperate, I was sitting outside Perfect Beat on Santa Monica, homeless and tweaked. The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done” came on—“When there’s nowhere else to run, is there room for one more son?” I teared up.
My friend let me shower at her place. She let me set up my computer there, and often left me alone in her house full of priceless antiques. We’d have long conversations about everything. She included me at holidays—a scruffy tweaker among her elegant friends and her three grown boys. “You’re family,” she’d say. There actually was room for one more son. I was teetering over the abyss. Her tangible faith gave me a reason not to fall.
Mercy, clemency, pardon and the freely given, unmerited love of God. I used to shamble down the sidewalk cursing God at the top of my lungs in terms too vile to repeat. How could He let this happen to me? If He really did exist, then where the hell was He now that I needed Him? But the very moment I committed to myself to stop, He flew to my side. The presence was palpable, and it all became clear. It wasn’t up to God to save me. If I wanted to destroy myself, that would be my choice. But once I chose the light, the magic began. Little by little, I got my life back. That presence is still around, looking after me.
So I guess my message is this: If you’re in recovery, take a moment and meditate on the grace you’ve received. It’ll warm your heart and charge up your spirit. If you’re not in recovery yet, that’s OK. Just know that the moment you take that first step, you’ll begin to find your grace.
Peter DelVecchio is a reporter for Frontiers and an attorney. He is also writing a book about his experiences with meth.