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Ray and Esther: Spiritual Direction at Guiding Light

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

Guiding Light offers professional, holistic, and comprehensive substance abuse treatment for Grand Rapids men at no cost. One of the reasons our program stands out from others is the emphasis we place on developing one’s spirituality in sobriety.

Ray arrived at the doors of Guiding Light about three months ago asking for admittance into the Recovery program, a four-month, intensive and professional substance abuse treatment program offered at no financial cost to clients.

After a probationary period conducted by our staff to gauge whether he was a good fit for the program, Ray was admitted and earnestly began the long journey of sobriety.

While Guiding Light offers men access to support groups, life coaching, job training, and accredited therapists, one of the unique aspects of our program is the emphasis we place on spiritual healing. One of the reasons that Guiding Light Recovery stands out from other substance-abuse treatment programs is the emphasis we place on developing one’s spirituality in sobriety.

It is important, however, to distinguish the concept of spirituality from religion, and to remind the reader that men of all faiths have found a welcoming invitation to a life of lasting sobriety here at Guiding Light. Indeed, one of the first things you see when you walk through our doors is a sign that reads: “We do not presume you to be Christian, but it is our hope that we are Christian toward you and welcome you in the same manner that each of us has been welcomed through Jesus Christ into the heart of God.” We are not here to change the mind of our clients or to tell them what to believe, or indeed whether they should have to believe in anything. We do, however, believe that building a fulfilling life that is worth staying sober for requires time to heal one’s own body, mind, and yes, spirit.

Each man that is accepted into the Recovery program is given a Spiritual Director, a mentor they meet once a week for an hour-long session. Ray’s Director is Esther, who has been volunteering with Guiding Light for over ten years. “She’s refreshing,” he said. “There was a lot of times I was going through some hard times and every time I would go and talk to her she had a way of speaking that put my mind at ease, and helped me to look at things from a different view.” It is our contention that addiction is not just a mental and physical malady, but a spiritual one as well. It is the job of a Spiritual Director not to judge, or offer advice, but to guide men to explore the deepest roots of their being and to facilitate the pondering of the deepest questions: ‘Who am I, how did I get here, why am I here, and where do I go now?’

“Without a spiritual awakening, there will be no recovery that really lasts,” according to Esther. “What I love about working with men like Ray is that you see honesty become a way of life for them. Being here, they get used to a kind of unveiling and uncovering of their motivations…and certainly some of them resist this…but to be able to create a safe space for them where they can express that honesty is something that I really treasure.”

For the majority of men that come through our doors, Guiding Light is the first place they have ever been introduced to any concept of spirituality. Clients of Guiding Light Recovery attend five to seven spiritual engagement sessions, which include group meditations, worship services, and one-on-one meetings with their Spiritual Director, during their time here. We believe that the emphasis we place on spiritual development is a key factor to our high success rates. It costs roughly $300 a day to house, feed, and teach our clients, and we believe it is truly worth the investment. A remarkable 78% of men that come through the Guiding Light Recovery program stay sober for a year or longer. We are entirely funded through private donations from people like you, and without the unsparing generosity of donors and the tireless dedication of volunteers like Esther, none of this would be possible. So many men, like Ray, have seen their lives changed for the better because of the good work that takes place at Guiding Light. Men have homes, jobs, and productive lives again. Families have brothers, sons, and fathers today because of you. God bless and thank you so much, from all of us at Guiding Light, for all that you do.

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