“To be alive is to be addicted, and to be alive and addicted is to stand in need of grace.” So says Gerald May in his book Addiction and Grace.
That’s not what May would have said in his college days. In college, he moved away from religion and, in his words, “made a god out of science” (5).
This love of science led him to study psychology and eventually to become a psychiatrist. His first job was director of a drug rehab center.
May threw himself into the work with tremendous zeal. The results . . . were disappointing. He was surprised at how often he failed, and he fell into depression.
In the midst of his depression, he met a faith healer at a conference. They had a conversation, and she told him that she believed he was meant to be a healer, too. But then she said, “I wouldn’t take my dog to you, because you think you are the one that has to do the healing” (6).
His response? “These are not the words one might expect to be helpful for a depressed person. But they struck me deep and well” (ibid.).
As he thought, he became open to new directions for helping addicts. He went to several addicts who had turned their lives around. He asked them what had helped them to do so. “All of them described some sort of spiritual experience” wrote May (ibid.).
After a long time of reflection, May was led to apply this sort of thinking to himself. It led to a very simple prayer: “Dear Jesus, help me.” This prayer began to grow within him in the months that followed and eventually he found healing through God’s grace.
He concluded that it’s not a question of whether you are an addict. The question is to what are you addicted and to what extent? He saw his depression as rooted in an addiction to success.
And how could he find healing? He found healing in the grace of God.
And the grace of God can heal us, too.