Grace Is Real – A Journey From Addiction to Surrender
In this soul-searching narrative, we journey into the realm of grace — a term that goes far beyond religious sermon or spiritual cliché, and becomes an important catalyst for personal transformation.
From a skeptical upbringing in Sweden to moments of divine intervention, what unfolds is not just a story of recovery from addiction, but a deeper tale of realization and spiritual awakening.
Discover how grace illuminates a life once darkened by substance abuse and despair, and leads to a profound sense of purpose that has lasted over two decades.
Grace in Hindsight – How Sobriety Revealed a Divine Plan
Growing up in Sweden, grace was a word I only heard in sermons during the times when us Swedes went to church for holidays like Christmas, as well as other traditional events like weddings and graduations. The word grace is not a common word Swedes use in spoken language.
So, when I first got to AA and heard others share about grace at meetings, I would get annoyed and irritated. I remember thinking “What the F… are you talking about?”
Subconsciously, it somehow triggered the memories of how I sometimes felt as a child: alone, disconnected, and without any concept of God. For me, grace felt distant, something clearly unattainable.
In the early days of recovery, I was mired in anger and depression, so it was incredibly hard for me to understand grace or any aspect of a higher power. But as the days passed, and I stayed sober and kept going to meetings, I began to see that, indeed, moments of grace had played a great part in the events that led up to me becoming sober.
“I realized I was powerless over drugs and alcohol. “
How Unmistakable Events Aligned to Remove All Doubt of the Existence of Grace
I understood that, throughout the last 24 hours of my drug use, many events aligned in such a way that there was no doubt something bigger than me was at work in my life, something beyond my limited consciousness.
I had been up all night using drugs and eventually fell asleep on my friend’s apartment floor, while his cleaning lady swept the floor around me. Around 5 p.m., my friend returned after buying more drugs. At that moment, it felt as though an invisible force lifted me up by my collar, giving me the strength to say, “I have to leave now.”
After I got home, I realized I had missed an important appointment that day. The drugs had overpowered me and hijacked my thoughts and my actions. I went into a panic and was more frightened than I had ever been. I saw for the first time that drugs controlled me, and I had no control over them. As we say in AA, for the first time, I realized I was powerless over drugs and alcohol.
I shouted angrily at God out the window, “You were supposed to help me!”
Something shifted, and not until later did I realize this moment of grace, because from that day onward, I never used drugs or alcohol again, and that was 25 years ago.
Finding Grace in Recovery –The Sunlight of the Spirit
I often heard people at AA meetings speak about the sunlight of the spirit. At that time, I envisioned an image of the sun’s rays shining through the clouds. The clouds blocked that sunlight from the spirit shining through, from shining on me. To me, the clouds represented alcohol and drugs. They represented all the anger and all the fear that occupied my brain. They blocked me from seeing anything that could resemble grace or from feeling any real joy in my life.
As the years went by and what I had envisioned shifted, I discovered that it was also negative emotions, resentments, and distractions that cut the connection to that light. I slowly was able to see rays of sunlight and I would know when I was connected with it and when I was not. I knew that even things like junk food, some movies or TV, or toxic relationships would also block me from that light.
“Grace is not linear, and most often only becomes recognized by the conscious mind in hindsight. “
Why I Never Used Again
The desire for this connection is the reason why I have never had alcohol or used drugs again. To be connected with the sunlight of the spirit became the primal desire and dharma of my life.
It is in this sunlight that we find grace, or that grace finds us; no one knows which one comes first. Grace is not linear, and most often only becomes recognized by the conscious mind in hindsight. For many of us, it’s only in hindsight that we can see how grace played a part in shaping our lives. Some of these events were easy to navigate, while others were more difficult. These are incidents that have a great impact on the direction and destiny of our lives, like meeting someone who forever changes the course of our lives.
How Awareness and Self-Reflection Led Me to Transformation
Personally, I believe that it was all the effort to understand myself and clear out all the ‘weeds’ — the resentments and negative emotions — that gave me the space I needed to see all of the patterns that needed to be broken down, patterns that cluttered my mind. Then, meditation and becoming more connected with my breath became important elements that enabled me to be more present and more aware of grace operating in my life.
By becoming the witness to our thoughts and our actions, we are able to observe our faults and our neurosis, and when observed we can let things dissolve. And as I started to clear the weeds of my emotional state, I could surrender negative emotion and allow for forgiveness and love to come in, and slowly but surely, grace began seeping in here and there. It was through this process of letting go and deep surrender that I was finally able to observe grace in real-time. Grace will sneak its way in if you work for it and truly wish for it.
Discovering Grace Through the Pathway of Surrender
When we let go of the dramas, our speculations, and our opinions, we create more space for grace to appear. Grace happens when we say yes to life, and not no. Grace happens when we stay present to life and go with the flow through the doors and through the openings. We discover that there is something out there showing us the way, something that is looking out for us.
When we allow for life’s ups and downs, rather than resist, and just flow with this undercurrent of energy, we can live in the experience of grace. Grace is a cosmic unfolding and invisible pathway that we are only able to see when we become open enough to follow the signs. Now, I am able to look back and see countless moments of grace.
“The pathway of surrender has enabled this visceral experience to come to pass.“
Moments That Forever Changed the Trajectory of My Life
And now that I have actually felt it, it is so clear to me what it is. Moments and events, some simple ones and others more powerful. For example, two of the most important events in my life have been my recovery from drugs and alcohol and meeting my teacher Sally Kempton.
Grace is the only explanation for these events. Gifts from God. Gifts that were instrumental in guiding and directing me toward the next phase of my journey, moments that forever changed the trajectory of my life. None of these events ever consciously came from anything I’d planned or even imagined before, they came from a place beyond my mind, beyond the conscious mind.
At this point in my life, when surrender is the way I live, grace has become more tangible. I can feel and see it. The pathway of surrender has enabled this visceral experience to come to pass.
Grace is something indescribable, like love, something we cannot see and something we cannot touch. Most of us know what it is, but not many of us feel that we can truly say we have experienced it in our lives. Grace is like a street light at night, lighting up the dark street ahead, that shows us a path forward that seems impossible or that confuses us. A path that not until years later, do we see it was perfectly and divinely chosen for us.