I came to The Walking Dead late in the game but became a fan almost immediately. Beyond the zombie lore there is a story consisting of compelling characters struggling against good and evil in both the new world around them and the one within them. Rick, the main character, is the leader of a group of survivors who for five seasons have been battling it out against both the walking dead (zombies) and the living who are in some ways even more deadly, all while trying to maintain some sense of decency and connection to the values by which they were once governed.
By the time we get to the current season five, the group is battle hardened. They have been tested at every turn and have grown wise to the ways of this new world. In episode 12 of this season they arrive at a camp called Alexandria which from all appearances looks like an oasis, nearly untouched by the death around it. Walls protect a town of citizens who have running water and electricity and a budding form of government. The people of Alexandria have jobs and they throw house parties and they discuss what sort of food they should bake for their new neighbors. It’s a very different world than the one Rick and his gang have known for the past few years. It’s one they longed to find for themselves, but now that they are in it, the question posed to us viewers is how well can they adapt and live normal lives after being part of so much death?
At the end of episode 12, Carol, Rick and Daryl look out from the porch of their new home and bring voice to their growing concern about this seeming paradise: What if we grow weak here? What if we drop our guard? It’s at this point that my recovery antenna began beeping and I was willing Rick to quote the scripture passage that corresponds with Step Ten:
Therefore, let anyone who thinks that they stand take heed lest they fall (1 Cor. 10:12).
He didn’t. Instead, he assured the others that they would not grow soft, that they had been through too much to go back. If by this Rick means that they will rely on what they have learned thus far and practice the tools which have kept them alive, I couldn’t agree more. But if he means what far too many of us in recovery often think, that they will never grow soft merely because they have been through so much already, then they, like every addict in recovery, are setting themselves up for a great fall.
Step 10 says that we “continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” Combined with it’s scriptural component, quoted above, it is the step we must never skip nor cease stepping. It encourages us to stay vigilant, to always keep watch, and to never forget that sin, like the walking dead, is always crouching at the door with a burning desire to consume us, and we must learn to master it (Gen. 4:7).
Every person who has ever been sober for a good length of time and then relapsed will no doubt testify that the days and weeks leading up to their relapse were less than vigilant. The routine that had gotten them sober was somehow disrupted. The fellowship between they and God was somehow strained. Devotion time and prayer time waned. If you have ever relapsed think back on the days leading up to it. Had you grown comfortable in your sobriety? Maybe you started letting things in which before you had cut off?
When we grow comfortable in our new found paradise called Sobriety we open ourselves to the walking dead who haven’t stopped being hungry.
12Steps.org has this to say about Step 10:
Step 10 begins laying the foundation for the rest of my life. It is a pledge to continually monitor my life with honesty and humility. It requires me to be vigilant against my addictive behavior and against the triggers for my addictive behavior. It requires me to be humble before my God who can keep me from my addictive behavior if I have the right attitude. It requires me to deal with my defects promptly when they arise and not to let them linger in my life.
How can we practice Step 10 in our lives? Here are a few suggestions:
- Practice what got you here. Continue the daily disciplines that you did when you were first getting sober. If you have stopped these at some point pick them up again. If you feel it’s time to alter them in any way, talk it over with a sponsor or mentor first.
- Begin every day with prayer. Turn your will and your life over to the care of God for today. It doesn’t matter that you did this yesterday. Jesus said we need to take up our cross daily. We need to daily put to death our willful selves and surrender each morning to the life God wants to work in us. We can’t do even one day alone.
- End each day by examining where you were dishonest, what secrets you may be keeping, what wrongs you have committed. Who were you unkind to or where did you puff yourself up or look at others as less significant than yourself? Ask God to bring to light anything that you need to bring under the blood of Jesus and go to bed with a pure heart and clear conscious.
- Clean house. When you first got sober you no doubt cleaned yourself and your environment of your drug of choice. If porn and sex is your thing, you probably limited your cable TV (or better yet, cut it out completely), monitored your music, kept clear of certain hot spots, installed filters and accountability software on all your devices, unsubscribed to any magazines or books which have suggestive material in them, etc. Beware of creep. Creep is when these things which you once were convinced needed to go begin to creep back into your life. It’s human nature to think we are doing great so now we can slack off and watch a show or two which before we would never consider. Remember, sin is crouching at the door! The Walking Dead are still hungry.
These are just a few suggestions based on personal experience. Please add your own suggestions in the comments.
I don’t know what is in store for Rick and his group in Alexandria but I do know that unless they, and we, remain vigilant and keep walking the walls to ensure there hasn’t been a breach, we are setting ourselves up for relapse. So to the question, what if we grow soft and let our guard down? May we be resolved to answer like Rick: We aren’t going to let that happen.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).