Consolation Beyond a Smile – Increase in Faith

June 18, 2023

I got a text from a young woman that I sponsor: ‘My husband relapsed. I am so angry.’ I texted back, ‘I am available to talk.’ After a few minutes my phone rang and my young friend lamented the series of events that occurred all the while waffling back and forth between, ‘I’m so mad’ and ‘at least he told me.’

We started talking it through. I repeated what she said back to her: he slipped one time, he told her and called his sponsor immediately. I paused to let that sink in. “That sounds like progress to me.” I said. “Early recovery is messy.

I continued. “He’s maintaining connection with you by sharing when he slipped. He’s remaining in contact with his sponsor. He couldn’t have done either of those things if he wasn’t still in connection with God. This time is different. He was very brave to do what he did.”

As we talked it through, her perspective began to shift away from a place of fear. Consolation shows up when we let go of  human expectation and start noticing God’s hand at work in our situation. God is always providing. With a grateful heart, she could see how with God in charge, her faith was beginning to grow.

On her own, she realized that her response to his honesty wasn’t one of support.”I was not very kind. I was so angry. I didn’t handle it the way that I wanted to.”

“That’s alright. You can make amends. It doesn’t undo what you said. But it does show your husband that like him, you are in early recovery and you slip too.  It will help you maintain connection to him.

Within a few moments, she realized that his actions after the slip were actually progress. She knew that her response wasn’t all that different from his. By conversation’s end, she was filled with hope.

Days later, I got a text from her telling me how good things have been between her and her husband. She was grateful that we talked so that she could slow down and notice that fear was blinding her to all of the good things that her husband had done this time. She commented that the bump in the road had actually brought joy back into their relationship. This slip was an opportunity for trust to develop in their relationship with God and her husband. It helped her notice that when she relies on her faith, it grows exponentially.

This situation reminds me of the need for discernment in our lives. At face value, her situation looked bleak. When we slow down and examine the origin of our feelings, instead of giving that one human emotion of fear all of our focus, we stop seeing our limitations and begin to see the possibility that God is providing.

Before he began working a program, if he’d relapsed he would have tried handling the situation on his own. He would have isolated, felt guilty and drank again. This time, he had a relationship with God as his foundation. He knew he was powerless and he’d asked God to help him. This gave him the courage to reach out to his wife and his sponsor. 

My friends were able to experience, just as I have in my own recovery journey, that just a little bit of faith goes a long way. And when you have the courage to rely on your faith it takes root and grows allowing you to rest in the slow work of God.

Ignatian writer Margaret Silf said, “Consolation is the experience of this deep connectedness to God, and it fills our being with a sense of peace and joy. The epicenter of the experience lies in God and not in ourselves.”

With God, all things are possible. Hearing it is one thing. Experiencing it is another. The gift of consolation shows you that the tiny bit of faith you started with has been growing underneath the surface without your awareness until one day you face a situation that would have toppled you in the past. This time, you’re not alone. This time you sit back and observe what God can accomplish. Your faith helps you to rest and breathe.

Going Deeper:

Read these articles for more insight on faith and consolation:

Listening for God in Consolation

Faith & Action

How, Then, Shall We Trust?

Listen to this Guided Imaginative Prayer by Becky:

Do You Want to Be Made Well?


Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

Jean Heaton is a blogger, writer, speaker, teacher, and a workshop and retreat leader. Both her husband and son are in long-term recovery and she has worked her own Twelve Step program for those affected by the addictions of others. Jean is the author of “ Helping Families Recover from Addiction.” She shares her experience, strength, and hope with others at

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