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In addiction recovery, one often hears someone say: that’s a “God Shot,” meaning something happened that was by chance and had a profound effect on them, and proved an unexpected blessing. Mary Margaret, who has a website called God Shots 360, defines these experiences as “coincidences, messages from others or sometimes an intuitive thought that had a great impact on us.”

While I have heard others use the term, until last week I had never experienced a God Shot, or at least not one that I recognized. But just this past week, I was blessed with two.

Silhouette hands forming a heart shape with sunrise

Last week I returned to the desert of California determined to approach the journey with clear eyes. I planned to attend Al Anon, ACA, Open 12 Step Meetings, and was scheduled to speak at the Betty Ford Alumni Meeting on Friday night. I also committed to exercise and embrace what was in front of me, and not lament over what was not.

My first God Shot happened thanks to Jonathan Rauch, New York’s finest interventionist, and Heidi Anderson, Executive Director of Private Solution Detox. Jonathan is now living in Palm Desert while still working in New York, and he thought it might be fun to do a boxing class. I had seen a boxing gym on the way to Palm Springs in Cathedral City, and thought maybe we could use the facility there. I remembered Heidi knew about it, and after a quick text exchange, we were taking a lesson from JR Corrales, a good friend of recovery and an accomplished boxer and trainer. Everything fell into place and the experience was incredible. After that boxing class with Jonathan, I felt stronger and more resilient than ever.

Image of the incomparable JR Corrales

The rest of the week was emotional for me, with lots of ups and downs. On Friday night, I had a volunteer commitment to speak to patients and alumni at BFC about my ACA and Al Anon story, and the tools I use. The auditorium was filled, and the invited guests were gracious with great questions. My heart was full.

Two days later, I found myself going to an Open AA meeting. In an open meeting, all I do is listen and learn. At this particular meeting, there was a robust gentleman, who like others, previously walked to the podium. As I took my seat, I studied him and wondered about his journey. What could his story be? Then he said, in a loud resounding voice, “I need to thank the woman in the pink polo shirt.” I looked around, wondering, “Who could that be?” Then, the man said, “Louise.”

I was startled. He met my eyes. Did I know this gentleman? Where did we meet and what could I have ever done that caused him to mention my name? He shared that he heard me speak at BFC on Friday, and that the experience changed him. My eyes filled with tears at the revelation.

In his own words, which I have permission to quote, he later wrote,

“Dear Ms. Louise,

When I first heard you speak at Betty Ford last Friday, I was so mesmerized I began to rave about you for the next few days. All I could think about was the gifts you possess, and that I wanted them. When I saw you this morning …I got nervous because I knew I had to speak. I have been in attendance there for the last seven months and said nothing to the group out loud. Today it all changed because of you. When people come into your life and elevate your spirit, they become your Champions. I want to thank you for being there because it was my time to get and share your message. I look forward to seeing you in the near future. –T”

That was a God Shot.

I had no idea I had impacted anyone, let alone a person I might later meet.

I wrote back to T and said,

“Our higher power works in strange, beautiful and mysterious ways. It is I who must thank you. As I sat in the meeting and you said, “the lady in the pink shirt,” I looked around wondered who that was; never for a moment thinking it was me. Tears filled my eyes as you spoke. Thank you, your words enriched my soul. The truth is that you chose to share, and I am so happy that I was there to hear you share. Recovery is a beautiful thing and it brings wonderful people together. May you keep doing what you are doing. I for one am most grateful for you, and I look forward to seeing you next Sunday.”

Later, I read a passage from Maria Shriver’s Sunday column, which encapsulated my week. I’d like to share that passage with you now:

My real takeaway after talking to people this week is that we’re all one conversation away from tears. We’re all one question away from baring our souls to another human being. We’re all dealing with shame, loneliness, fear, grief and loss in some way. When we reach out to someone and open the door for them to be vulnerable, we open the floodgates for people to feel included, seen, heard and less alone. 

When you approach people from a place of stillness, peace and understanding, they will show up and invite you into their world. What I’ve come to realize is that vulnerability is our greatest strength. Empathy is our greatest medal of honor. I wasn’t taught this growing up, but now I know it to be true.

It’s from that summit, that mountaintop, that I want to go out into my whole wide world and make it better. Join me, won’t you?”  Maria Shriver

I want to thank Jonathan, JR , Heidi  and  Mr. T for showing up in my world, for you all enriched my soul and gave me more than I could ask for. I want to thank my higher power who I was still enough to hear. 

If you have experienced a God Shot, I invite you to share. Your stories and experiences matter. Just like you matter.