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The Blessings of Service

| February 16, 2012

The Heroes in Recovery movement, 12-Step programs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, wilderness treatment centers, family support groups, or sober living environments are groups or programs that we know to be connected to treatment and recovery from addiction or mental illness. For whatever reason you may be connected to one or more of these programs, recognize that they function on the principle of serving others. To serve others is part of everyone’s recovery process, no matter what you are recovering from. But it is not unique only to recovery; it is part of most people’s lives. It is a way we connect to others.

Service is an act of selfless giving to another. We lift someone up without expecting anything in return. Many times we don’t even know we are doing it. It could be a small simple gesture of kindness or paying forward what we have been given by another. It may be a grand gesture of unexpected magnitude. It can be done by one person or by many. It may be words that someone needs to hear, or an act of holding someone’s hand when he or she is dying. No matter what it is, when it is a true act of service, there is never anything expected in return. Service is the giving that comes from the heart; it is an act of unconditional love.

Are we all capable of service? Yes. We all grow into it in different ways and times in our lives. We are born a blank slate. As our life story unfolds, how we are drawn to serve unfolds simultaneously. It continues to evolve, depending on where our life journey takes us. We may have the desire to serve because we are children mimicking parents or young adults learning from our own struggles. Watching how others endure a tougher journey than our own may also call us to serve. Where we serve can be a wide variety of places: our own homes, communities, churches, work, hospitals, schools, etc. Who we serve can be anyone, as none of us are exempt from needing help some time in our lives. But the person or people we serve is where the connection is made. Regardless of how we get there, where or when we serve, it is the shared experience between us that reminds us we are all equals.

Our emotional, physical and spiritual life journey determines the “who,” “where” and “how” we serve. Depending on where or who we are at a certain point in our lives, it may not be time for us to give, but we may need to receive. We may need time to grow into our next service. We may be able to serve continually. I believe the “when” is connected more to our spiritual journey. This, I believe, is not in our control. The “when” is presented to us because we are ready, willing and able to serve. We are ready because our life experience has brought us here. We are willing because we have accepted our life path and turned it over to something greater than ourselves. And we are able because we have learned to love ourselves enough to have something we can give away.

Service provides both the giver and receiver with personal growth and change. What growth and change occurs depends on where we are in our journey. Happiness, hope, acceptance, love, peace, joy, and humility are just a few of the things we may feel as we encounter service, whether we are the giver or receiver. It moves us forward and strengthens our recovery. When we stop serving others or think we are not in need of being served, that is when our recovery can start to falter. When we give from our hearts, with unconditional love, the magic can happen for both the giver and receiver. It comes full circle.

I am so grateful and honored that Heroes in Recovery felt I was ready, willing and able to serve with this movement. The magic is already happening for me. It is my hope that all who read this will also feel the magic of being of service to one another.

Susan Felices, Heroes in Recovery Lead Advocate

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