We call it Lake Ferree – the enormous above ground pool we installed a few years ago. For me, the expanse of glistening water is a picture of heaven. There are few things I enjoy more than swimming laps, and even when the water is too cold to be comfortable, I don a wetsuit and swim away.

This year, though, after a few weeks the pool water stopped circulating. The pump would run, but it wouldn’t eliminate the yucky film across the top of Lake Ferree. We swapped the filter almost every other day, which worked for a few hours, then the water would stagnate again.

A repair man eventually determined the original filters, now in their fourth season, were holding enough trash (despite dutiful washing with the garden hose) that the heavy blankets of pollen plaguing Middle Tennessee this year quickly stopped them up. When we looked closely and separated some of the filter’s folds by hand, sure enough you could see the sticky debris clinging stubbornly inside.

Life and recovery feel similar sometimes. Maybe you’re practicing daily healthy disciplines and avoiding the big problematic behaviors that once brought calamity. You’re present enough to recognize your serenity is slipping, but you can’t figure out what’s causing it. You try a thing or two to restart the flow, but still you’re sluggish.

Then you look into the folds of your heart and spirit, and you find them clogged. Small particles of discouragement, self-absorption, resentment, self-pity, fear or weak faith are keeping you spiritually stagnant.

The solution? If only it were as easy as pressure washing the filter of your heart or just replacing it altogether! The spiritual version is to tell the truth about your inner spirit to God and to safe others. Step Ten advises to continue to take a personal inventory and promptly admit your wrongs.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24, NIV).

This fix isn’t as quick as what happened with Lake Ferree, but at least I’m seeing movement.

Marnie C. Ferree