My group has just completed the 12 Step Re:generation process and had a small ceremony Monday night at Hope East. I am very proud of the men who joined me on this path and I know that they have all been transformed by the Holy Spirit as I have.
As I mentioned during the ceremony, this is not the end of the journey. Being a process, it really has no end. It should be part of who we are now. We live it and breath it. The 12 steps are tools to make us better Christians, husbands, fathers, friends, co-workers. It’s not something we do when we have time or when we think of it; it’s intertwined in our beings now.
I was driving around town the other day listening to a conservative podcast and the topic of the anti-semitic remarks some of the new members of Congress had been making and I thought that I had not known any Jews in my life. But, then it hit me. Hard.
When I was in the 6th grade (yes, i can remember that far back) I started at a school in my hometown of El Paso. We had been in Germany for a few years and attended that school in 1st and 2nd grade, and was now returning as a 6th grader. I really didn’t know many of the kids, although there were a few that I remembered from the earlier years.
A boy named Marvin Tanner befriended me. He seemed to be pretty cool and we got along well. Since we were living in a rental home at the time because our home was still under lease to another family, my mother had to drive us to school each day. The route that my mother took passed Marvin’s house. When we found that out, I suggested to my mother that we give him a ride to school. So, each morning Marvin would be waiting outside for us to pick him up.
This next part is not so nice. Kids at school were not as friendly to Marvin. As some of the more popular kids found out that I was friends with him, they asked me why I would be friends with a Jew. Jew? What is that? I had no idea what that meant, but if these other kids thought it was bad, it must be bad. So, not wanting to be ostracized myself, I made the decision that I shouldn’t be friends with Marvin as well. The next day, as we drove down Salisbury Drive, Marvin was standing outside waiting. I told my mother to keep driving. I don’t remember what she said, but she complied. As I remember that moment now, I can see Marvin watching in horror as our car drove by and he began to run after us in a panic.
I don’t remember ever talking to him after that day.
I relate this story because as part of the Re:gen process, we are to continue to take a moral inventory. This clearly falls under the “Harms by me” category. When we were on Step 4, Inventory, it was easy to identify the more recent harms I have caused others. As I continue on this path, it seems as though there will be little triggers such as this one to realize that there have been others that maybe weren’t recognizable as such before, but need to be addressed as best I can.
Clearly, back then, I was easily swayed by peer pressure. Kids are very susceptible to this. But, I remember how I felt when I saw him running after the car. I knew it was wrong in my gut and in my heart. I don’t remember ever doing this again. I’m not saying that I have “loved my neighbors” my entire life but I don’t think I ever made a judgment based on what other people thought or said from that point on.
Now, with a new life in Christ, I believe that I am at the point where I can and will try to help others whenever possible. Family, friends, enemies. We are to love one another. I will continue to walk this path, using the 12 Steps as a guide, to continually reconcile my sins to God and to others. I know the other men in my group will do the same as we hold each other accountable and continue to provide the support we have given each other over the last year.
Andy Stanley has something called the Principle of the Path: Your direction determines your destination. I believe the direction we have now will enable us to achieve the destination of life everlasting with God and Jesus in heaven.