Using Psalms in Recovery

Turn mourning into dancing

by Hal C.

Many alcoholics convince themselves that a painful moment will last forever and that we must go out and drink in order to relieve that suffering. As alcoholics we cannot get it through our heads that all moments of life are temporary. I cannot even begin to count the times that I experienced some pain and headed straight for the bar.

Songs traditionally attributed to King David

Psalms are songs traditionally attributed to King David. Following is Psalm 30, Verses 1-7, 10, 11 (later verses below). I will extol you, O God, for you have lifted me up, and have not made my foes to rejoice over me. O Lord, my God, I cried unto you and you healed me. You brought up my soul from the grave as water drawn from a well. You kept me alive that I should not go down to the realm of misery. Sing unto the Lord, O ye faithful, and remember God’s holy name. God’s anger endures but a moment, but in God’s graciousness life exists.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy arrives with the morning. And when the morning came and I was comforted, I said, I shall never be moved …

Meditating on songs to find serenity

The writers of the psalms believed pain was temporary

In fact, it is we ourselves who extend these moments of injury and suffering by turning to the bottle and continuing to wallow in self-pity or in misery. One of the most important things that we can remember as alcoholics is that when bad things happen in our lives they happen for only a short space of time, then they pass and they are over. The pain of endurance may seem unbearable, but the pain will at some point go away.

The writers of the psalms did not have a different view of this concept. They also believed that such pain and “exile” was only momentary. Turning back to a higher power would bless them and take away their agony, even restoring them to their natal lands.

Because I didn’t run to the bar I was there for her

Now that I am sober, after 39 years of drinking in order to escape my pain, I regret that I could not see this truth. I could not see I was extending my misery through my own behavior thus giving me further reason to drink. I also could not see that because I wallowed in self-pity, every new moment of suffering simply added to the greater whole.

Had I simply solved each issue as it came into my life I would not have had so much to run away. Now I find things are more easily solvable. Even though I have serious medical issues, and learned only yesterday that a dear friend has an untreatable, progressive, fatal disease, I now can find the strength and peace within myself to handle these difficult situations. Because I didn’t run to the bar I was there for her to comfort her in her pain.

Because I didn’t run to the bar …

More importantly, due to the isolation caused by drinking I used to feel like I had to solve every problem alone. Today I spoke with a professional who is taking direct action in order to help me deal with a very difficult medical decision I must make. In the past I would have fretted and fretted, then headed for the bottle. In other words, due to this person’s intervention this situation, too, will pass, and I have already gotten on with my life by writing this article.

The pain will go away

Following is the rest of Psalm 30: Lord, you have made my mountain to stand strong. You hid your face, and I was troubled. Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me. Be my helper. You have turned mourning into dancing. You have girded me with gladness. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto you forever.

Photos by Unsplash

A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes … Our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

—A.A. Preamble

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