Lions, Tigers and Bears and the Yellow Brick Road to Recovery

This is a guest post by Steve Devlin, a recovery coach from Philadelphia PA, and a long time friend. I chose to post this over the Christmas weekend, because it brings me such joy, and brings back wonderful memories of watching the Wizard of Oz on TV during the 60’s. Thank-you Steve, and Happy Holidays to all of my readers.

Over the past week, I have been thinking about the Serenity Prayer and its connection to the Wizard of Oz.  Some of you might be looking at your computer and wonder if I have lost my mind.  I beg for your patience and to hear me out.  First a caveat or two.  I represent only myself in this message.  The second caveat is this message was inspired by a share I heard at a 12-step meeting.  The person who said it gave me permission to use it.  So here we go!

We all know the Serenity Prayer.  “May God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  And almost everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz or at least the movie version of the story. Dorothy is not happy with life on the farm, runs away, is swept up in a tornado, lands in a strange place, and gathers three companions on her journey to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard.  On the way, she must deal with witches – good and bad – flying monkeys, and castle guards before she finds she always had the power to grant her wish of returning home.

So what does this story have to do with the Serenity Prayer, let alone recovery?  We cannot find fulfillment, happiness, or peace in our lives. We run away and just when we realize that we have run too far, we are swept up in the tornado (or drug of our choice).  Its path of destruction destroys the landscape of our lives and carries us far away. Thankfully, when the storm passes we land in a new brightly-colored world filled with sober people singing about the blessings of recovery.  Yet our own work is just beginning.  There is a road we must follow with steps leading to the Emerald City of sobriety.  We also learn that we cannot walk the path alone.  There are still temptations, flying monkeys, people, places, and things calling us back to the darkness.  However, as we follow the path we first find the companion of serenity – the heart to love ourselves and others.  A new heart also gives us the gift of forgiveness and acceptance.

The second companion is the courage to move forwards even when encountering lions, tigers, and bears.  It is courage which lets us turn over our lives, let go of character defects, and make amends.  It is also courage that lets us pick up the phone or go to a meeting.

Finally, there is wisdom, which gives us the ability to see choices in our lives and to know what we can and cannot change.  After long periods of feeling tied up like a scarecrow on a post, we are set free to walk a brick road of new life.  Of course, finding these three companions to fight back addiction is only part of the story and the Emerald City is not the ultimate destination.  Our companions bring us to the shining light of recovery, but we must take the gifts back home and use them in our daily lives outside of the rooms.

I wish recovery was as easy as clicking our heals together.  Finding our way home takes work but with heart, courage, and wisdom we can overcome all the flying monkeys and stay out of the way of tornadoes.  We also learn that the greatest companion of recovery is gratitude which was always just in our own backyard.

Question: Who are your companions on the brick road?

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