On Word Meanings--Recovery

I’ve been writing a series on recovery. My particular bag of choice was liquor, but yours might be different. Perhaps you’re into pills, or eating, or not eating, or materialism. No matter; we’re all in recovery from something. Welcome to the Recovery Room. (And while you’re here, please consider liking my Facebook page to receive Recovery Room updates.)


Today’s piece is brought to you by the word recovery, and its sister verb recover.

Many claim the word, or some derivation of it. “I’m in recovery from addiction,” or “I’m recovering from abuse,” we say. It’s an equal opportunity word, one used by the substance abusers, the depressed, the over-eaters, the under-eaters, the sex, the self-loathers, the people pleasers, the happy-plastic material folks, the struggling perfectionist, the over-elevators of theology, the worshipers of the church idol--all addicts alike.

It is a word for the broken; isn’t it? The word is bandied about in twelve step meetings and therapy sessions, sometimes rolls of the tongue with twinge of guilt and sorrow.

But though it may carry a culturally implied sense of shame, the word recovery is a beautiful. It is pregnant with possibility.

As first used in the English language, the word recover, carried with it the notion of regaining consciousness.  It was derived from the Old French “recovrer,” which meant “come back, return, regain health….”

At it’s essence, the word recovery contemplates the following: (a) the subject was once healthy and fully conscious; (b) the subject fell into a thick, sick sleep; and, (c) the subject is finding his way back to full consciousness, to being healthy and awake!

I suppose it’s understandable—recovery might be used to infer shame by some. After all, didn’t we choose to go the way of the addict? Didn’t we choose to elevate our vices—liquor, sex, food, theology (mull that one over for a bit)—over substance (the abiding present God of our waking)? Didn’t we eat the poisoned fruit? Didn’t we self-induce our own comas?


But consider it another way.

Jesus once said the healthy have no need for doctors, for recovery. His house call was for the sick, for those who wanted to return to health. He came recovering sight for the blind, health for the leprous, and life for the dead. He was recovery personified, and he visited it on those small enough to see their need.

I’m owning the word recovery. It’s mine, and it carries no sense of shame or guilt. Instead, I'll wear it as more specific nomenclature—I am in the company of those whose houses have been visited by the best of doctors, the doctor who need not waste his time with the healthy.

Photo by by André Banyai, Creative Commons via Flickr.