On God’s Lap

Bobby H.

It wasn’t really that long ago…that the little boy marveled in the stories of Jesus and the teachings of God.  I remember how he anxiously awaited the arrival of summer and Vacation Bible School. I can remember the enthusiasm with which he applied himself in catechism.  And I can remember the tears he shed upon hearing the ‘wash out’ rate at his confirmation, as he prayed, “Please God, don’t let it be me that walks away…”

It wasn’t really that long ago…that the adolescent boy played the part of “Doubting Thomas” in the annual Easter pageant.  How ironic it is, as about this time he began to feel terribly insecure about himself…and very shy. And he began to act as an extrovert, with no cares in the world at all. I remember how everyone laughed at the “Class Clown.”   And he prayed, “God, I am so afraid of being alone…”

It wasn’t really that long ago…that the young man in college discovered that beer could ease all his fears and hurts.  Beer helped him ease the pain of losing a young love, of losing a dream to fly, of losing the love of a father he was not worthy of.  And he no longer needed to pray, he no longer needed God — he now had beer.

It wasn’t really that long ago…that the young man met the woman he married.  He thought he was in love, but he didn’t really know.  As he began to suspect the truth, beer helped him mask his terrible shame and accept his life.  I remember how he began to hide in bars, volunteer for remote assignments and frequent temporary duty assignments (TDYs) to run from the truth.

It wasn’t really that long ago…that God blessed this union with two beautiful children. I remember the feelings of humility and gratitude the man felt toward God as each child arrived.  I remember his determination to be a better father for his children than he had had; no child deserves the treatment he received as a kid. And the TDYs became more frequent as the children grew older.  He was insecure with his role as a father, yet beer often awarded him “Father of the Year” in his own eyes…

It wasn’t really that long ago…on a bright sunny morning, while TDY in southern California that the middle-aged man was out for a ride with a female friend he had gone to visit.  I can remember the intense feelings of pure elation he felt just being with her.  And I can remember how he looked over at the woman and prayed, “God, why can’t I feel this way toward my wife?”  And an incredible sadness overcame him as he fought off feelings of guilt, shame and remorse.  And it was beer once again, not God, that relieved him of the pain he felt as he resigned that “true love”was just not meant for him in this life…and he was so alone within himself…

It wasn’t really that long ago…that the hurt and pain of this man’s life became ever-present. Beer no longer gave him the relief he sought.  “Oh God, please don’t let me drink today,” he prayed upon waking, only too often grab his first beer before nine am. (If you are not a drunk, what’s the big deal about having a beer before noon anyway?)  And one day he became sick and tired of being sick and tired .And he turned to God for help…there was no where else to go.

And now, reflecting back to a time two and a half years ago…while sitting in on an evening Lead meeting in a Minnesota treatment center, he heard again a remarkable woman share her story. She relayed how, often in early sobriety, she yearned to crawl up in God’s lap– to feel His comforting arms around her; to feel His unconditional love for her; to be safe from hurt and pain and anger and shame — forever.  And I will never forget how the tears came to me that evening, as they do today, as I pray there might be room for me too someday, on God’s lap…

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