“I gazed at the happy face I drew on the calendar to mark my one-year anniversary of sobriety. I thought I’d be proud—that it would feel like such an accomplishment. But instead, I was still weighed down by shame. All I could see were all the lost years I spent numbing myself with a whiskey bottle—the abuse from my childhood, my lonely years, my lack of self-worth all went away with each swallow. I knew joining AA had been the best decision of my life, and through the faith-based program I found recovery. But healing was another thing altogether…I couldn’t shrug the feeling that God was still disappointed in me.
“That evening I went to my prayer group at a friend’s house, and as I walked up the driveway, a woman tapped me on the shoulder. ‘I have a gift for you,’ she said with a smile and handed me a package of gel pens with erasers on the end. Thinking she was a new member of our prayer group, I smiled back warmly. ‘These pens are special because you can make mistakes,’ she said. ‘Then just like God’s love and grace, they erase your wrongdoings and you have a clean slate.’
“I thanked her and walked inside, but she didn’t follow me in. When I asked the others if they’d seen our new group member handing out pens, everyone looked at me in surprise and one of the women replied, ‘We don’t have any new members.’
“At the end of the hour, we were asked to write what was on our heart in our notebooks. I wrote about my failures, my alcoholism and how God can’t love someone who chose whiskey over Him. Erase it! Start again! echoed through my mind. I paused, then rubbed the words away. Instead, I wrote that I’d been sober for one year and God loved me. Suddenly…my heart felt like a clean slate.”
—Lilly Vaccaro, 61, Baltimore