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  • Jack H. Bender

Coffee with Liz

I hadn’t seen Liz in years before we reconnected over coffee last week. If I was forced to summarize her life story in three words, those words would be ‘darkness to light.’ If I were limited to just one word, it would be—transformation.

Before I met Liz, Liz had been an addict, convicted felon and been unemployed for a year and a half. In the clutches of addiction, imagine trying to find your way out of an elaborate maze. Even the best intentions lead to dead ends.

The convergence of reading The Purpose-Driven Life, taking a JustFaith social justice course and forming a relationship with Sister Pat Lamb of St. Francis De Sales Church, gave her a foundation on which to build a new life. Liz energetically states that life is good now. “I never imagined having the kind of life that I have today.” She is joy in human form.

Liz describes part of her journey as “working on myself for three and a half years.” At some point, she would ‘name a higher power’ that would be critical to her journey. ‘A higher power’ will resonate with many readers and those familiar with a proven path out of addiction.

In “Walking with the Poor,” Bryant L. Myers writes that a spiritual framework of reference helps many people move out of poverty. Spiritual reality, archetypes and stories revolve around transformation and both the poor and the rich have “god-complexes” that must be transformed. With their wealth and power, the rich play God in the lives of the poor, distorting their identity. Those experiencing poverty long-term end up feeling godless—unworthy, forgotten or both. Acknowledging a higher power can restore the true identities of both and reestablish a healthy relationship between them.

In Liz’s own words, “God gives us free will and we suck at it. God isn’t about to do all the work for us (Zap! you’re fixed), but God does give us amazing tools to work with.” Naming a higher power was essential for Liz’s recovery.

Now, Liz has an important job with a local non-profit and is a perfect fit because she has experienced both darkness and light and has walked the path of transformation. Liz now helps others transform while being a key player in creating a stronger, healthier community.

* Exclusively for my own comfort, ‘Liz’ is a pseudonym for my friend’s name.


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