Filling The Void: Meaning, Purpose And Hope In Recovery

As humans, we can live without many things in our lives, but we can’t live without meaning. And without hope, we soon perish. What is the meaning of your life? What is your hope?

Turning To Drugs And Alcohol As An Escape

If you can’t answer those questions, you’re not alone and you’re not beyond help. Strangely, this is why many of us got caught up in addiction—we needed something that made life feel interesting, purposeful or worth living. We needed some way to escape the traumas and horrors of the past. We need something to take the edge off of a life that felt hostile and painfully empty. In addiction, we were looking for something that would give us the hope of simply being able to get through the day. The bar was set pretty low.

The addiction, in its own way, filled the deep void. For many of us, maintaining our addiction was almost a sense of purpose. We used like it was our job, so keeping up the habit was where our focus was. Maybe we didn’t feel we were capable of much more.

Filling The Void Meaning, Purpose & Hope In Recovery - ChristianRehabAnd though we know that an addiction is a poor excuse for a life’s purpose, in sobriety, once the substance or behavior is removed, initially we feel a void. Our life is no longer devoted to obtaining the fix and maintaining the high. We feel desolate, bored and depressed.

Made For Something More

But God intended better things for our lives than the addiction cycle. We were made for more. A life in recovery, committed to knowing and honoring God, holds the promise of peace, contentment and joy. But in early recovery we don’t find much purpose in it. The void persists.

The answer? Begin living your life’s purpose today. When you find meaning in your life, you have the hope and endurance that can carry you through anything life sends your way.

Easier said than done. Meaning and inspiration are elusive and funny things. Many of us sit around just waiting for the light bulb to go off above our heads, but in reality, a sense of meaning and purpose begin with some legwork. We have to force ourselves to get involved in life and to actively pursue our recovery. Inspiration, purpose and meaning soon follow.

Looking To The Future In Our Recovery

The just-for-today, 24-hour focus of recovery doesn’t mean we neglect the future. But instead of our fantasies of what the future might be, we are looking ahead, realistically, to a life of purpose and meaning. We anticipate the healing and restoration that will continue to characterize our lives. Hope is future-focused. Our faith in God, and our reliance on his future grace, allows us to believe that his plans for us are good. Every day we are sober is a day he is ushering us into this goodness.

Filling The Void

The founders of AA knew that busy, purpose-driven hands were happy hands, and that if addicts weren’t given something meaningful to do, they were going to use again. And thus we have step 12:

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Our greatest asset, as addicts, is the ability to help other addicts get free of the bondage of addiction. This is our most vital service and one of the places we can be most useful in the world. If you are sober even a day, you have a story to share and the experience that allows you to help someone else. This is meaningful.

But meaningful service isn’t always as grand-scale as saving the life of another addict. Sometimes it is simply working your program and keeping your recovery commitments. Or it’s showing up and serving at your meeting—even by doing the simplest things like setting up chairs, making coffee or connecting with newcomers. These acts are important, they’re useful and in the end, they might save a life, possibly yours.

Whether you feel it yet or not, your life has meaning. And as you continue in recovery and seek God, you will find it. For now, start small. One genuine act of service can be your reason for getting out of bed today.

See How A Belief in God May Help Manage Mental Illness