One of the most beautiful things about being a part of the recovery community is that I’ve come to experience what best-selling author and journalist Philip Yancey calls “grace on tap.”

In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Yancey says about the recovery community (as compared with the faith community):

“[…] in some ways of the most important lessons of spirituality, members of the basement group were our masters. They began with radical honesty and ended with radical dependence. Athirst, they came as “jolly beggars” every week because AA was the one place that offered grace on tap.”

Yancey connected with those of us in recovery experience daily, sometimes moment by moment: what grace feels like. Acceptance. Belonging. 

Finding Grace for the First Time 

When we sit in circles (whether in-person or virtual) and dig into the farthest corners of our hearts, we can find something there like a precious jewel. 

I remember when as a twenty-something, I walked the shores of Lake Michigan with my dog. I was newly sober (and not for the last time) and marveled at the natural world around me. It’s incredible what you can notice when you take the shades of addiction off. The waves rolled turquoise; the seagulls sang their song, carried by the breeze. The sun felt warm. I could finally feel what a beautiful day felt like again. The world around me smelled of sunshine. 

On one such afternoon, I stopped after my legs got tired and took my shoes off, and felt the sand, digging my toes until the top sand gave way to the cooler, dark sand underneath. I closed my eyes, listening to the sound of the shore. And then I felt it. There was something there. 

I opened my eyes and looked down and there in the sand was what looked like a little piece of metal. I moved more sand away and there it was: a ring. Tarnished silver with a flat piece of greenish turquoise. My dog smelled it with his cold nose, wagging his tail.

I was amazed. 

A gift. 

I wondered how long this ring had been buried. Where it came from. It looked like something a long-haired blonde in the late 60s might wear with a leather fringe vest and bell bottoms. 

I took it to the water to clean it off and then looked around. 

It was too old for someone to have recently lost. Should I keep it? 

I put it on my finger and it fit perfectly. 

A Precious Gift for You 

This memory reminds me of the concept of grace in recovery. How it’s something that is there for us, yet for many of us (for me) was buried for years. I wasn’t able to see that under the surface of things, I still belonged. I was still lovable. I still mattered. Though battered by addiction and trauma and mental health challenges, I could still receive the precious gift of grace. 

Where are you today with grace? Are you friends? Or someone you know from a distance? Have you seen the gift and tried it on? Or are you waiting for your turn to taste grace on tap? 

Grace is a gift that is freely given in recovery. Maybe it is time you open your hands (or dig your toes in the sand) and accept it. 

If you can’t –if the years have hardened your heart to receive, I understand. I’ve been there. Maybe just try walking through the doors of a recovery meeting and allow someone else to receive grace for you, to believe for you, until you can believe for yourself. Take it from me (from my personal experience), it is possible. Grace – love – God’s love – is waiting for you there. 


Caroline Beidler, MSW is an author, recovery advocate and founder of the storytelling platform Bright Story Shine. Her new book Downstairs Church: Finding Hope in the Grit of Addiction and Trauma Recovery is available anywhere you buy books. With almost 20 years in leadership within social work and ministry, she is a team writer for the Grit and Grace Project and blogger at the global recovery platform In the Rooms. Caroline lives in Tennessee with her husband and twins where she enjoys hiking in the mountains and building up her community’s local recovery ministry. Connect with her @carolinebeidler_official and

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