Firehouse Family Faith

Firehouse Family Faith: Humbug to Hallelujah

By Fr. Jim Swarthout

Through my work, I get asked a lot of questions from clients who come through our doors and alumni who have completed treatment. Many of these questions are hard to hear and even harder to answer, and interestingly enough they are all rather similar. The wording may vary slightly. One may ask, “How do I heal?” Another, “How do I move forward?” Another still, “How do I become better?” When you boil these questions down to the most basic principle, all of these individuals are searching for the same exact thing—health and happiness.

Individuals and families who I see are desperately seeking the ever-elusive joy that seems to be missing in their lives. Our mission is to try and help them find it. And try I do. When I respond to these difficult, profound questions, I often refer to the 12-Steps, which serve as our foundational tool. Other times, I recite well-known reflections among the recovery community; this one happens to be seasonal…

We all have elements of our past that continue to haunt us—things we aren’t proud of and memories we’d rather not name. Regret is a universal part of life and is wonderfully illustrated by Charles Dickens in his classic tale, A Christmas Carol.

In this story, the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited by four ghosts. The first of these is Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s former business partner who had died some years earlier. Marley appears laden with heavy chains. He explains that each link in the chain represents a past wrong that has been unforgiven.

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