For the past 2 months I have attended a “Celebrate Recovery” in my church. At first I was a bit skeptical, because I have been to one in a previous church and it didn’t seem to help me much. I felt, I was talking for the sake of talking (and I also saw some from my past I wasn’t too keen on rehashing my past to). Even though there was a group for men and women and within those two groups a subgroup based on those recovering from chemically dependent (on drugs and/or alcohol), physical/emotional and sexual abuse, sexual addiction, eating disorder, problem relationships, recovery from anger, and financial recovery. But I felt, personally like…I wasn’t getting anything enriching from it. I felt like it was more focused on staying as long as you can to earn the “Celebrate Recovery” chips (like you would earn at an A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) or N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) meeting. It wasn’t goal I felt worth earning if it was only for a chip, especially since I didn’t have an alcohol or drug program. So, I left that “Celebrate Recovery” program and that was like what….4 or 5 years ago??? However, lately I found (it took me forever to admit it but I had a major anger problem.
Two reasons why I went:
- When I lived at my ex’s house, his sister recommended me to attend a “Celebrate Recovery” at our church. I was skeptical at first of attending, because the first time I attended a “Celebrate Recovery”, it didn’t help me very much.
- My ex telling me I had anger issues. This was during time he had broken up with me. Although, there were things he said to me that were contrary to my character, that had to be the one I agreed with. Even much after we broke up, he revealed to me he knew I had a lot of pent up anger and it could have been the reason why my anxiety and depression was so bad. It was true, but I never knew—not that I didn’t want to— how or to whom to relay my hurt to. So, yeah…I’d tend to erupt like a volcano when I got really But don’t get me wrong…I didn’t do it prove him wrong about me or in hopes we’ll get back together. I did it because well…I was tired of being angry all the time and I was tired of my anger getting in the way of the people I loved and mostly importantly, loving myself.
When I first entered the program at my church, I didn’t feel like I fit in… Most of the people who attended I have done drugs and/or drank alcohol, were in a gang…and me…well I didn’t. Some of the people came transitional homes…some of them were court ordered…some of them came from different churches… How was this place going to do it for me? However, once the program started with praise I felt a stir in me telling me I should give this place, this program a chance.
In “Celebrate Recovery” it first starts a large group and then later with small groups in respective to their gender. The large groups starts with the choir singing, then testimony, an offering and lastly, a topic for the evening. The music was great filled with heart and soul to give attendees something to look forward to in the next hour. Next, there would be a praise report from one of the attendees of how God and “Celebrate Recovery” has helped them to change their lives. The stories these people would tell! You’d never think some of them would have shot up heroin, you’d never think were on Skid Row….I mean all these people regardless of the mess they lived in or brought to themselves all had one thing in common: they were dealing with a hurt, habit and/or hang-ups and were willing to make changes in their lives. Most got married, started a family, started their own business. It brought joy to my heart that hear no matter how a person has lived their life, no matter what pain they have an endured, you can always turn your life around.
What I liked about the program is that it’s a spiritual one, two, my feelings and experiences are NOT discounted and three, it asks a lot of hard questions. Not like they are hard per se, just that it unlocks a lot of old feelings. For me, spirituality keeps me strong. Without it…well, just makes my life harder and more overwhelming. My therapist— before the current two I had—would seem to try to split my spiritual side from my mental side. I did not appreciate that, but I had continued to see him with my discretion (he did help me out with the CBT though).
Growing up in a domestic abusive household, was tough for my younger self, but it was also tough to find people to confide with. The classmates who were my playmates, would often scoff at my stories telling me my life wasn’t so bad, because my family looked “perfect” and I lived in a nicer area. Oh, wait for the best part… “that there are other people who had worse lives than [mine]”. Classic… classic ignorance! I’ve often felt alone, because I could never have my experiences and feelings counted for, I felt that I, myself could not be counted too. Being at the “Celebrate Recovery” meetings, is “training” me to be connected to people and to be in connected to myself. No story is worse than the other, no person is to be without their story being told. Every person’s story (e.g. hurt) has a right to be told for it is in doing so, the healing begins. And definitely, the healing has begun for me.
The questions…oh those pesky questions… Just as I thought, I was done healing…apparently I wasn’t. The questions come in the from the “Celebrate Recovery” program’s participant guide booklets. These include:
- Guide 1: Stepping Out of Denial
- Guide 2: Taking An Honest and Spiritual Inventory
- Guide 3: Getting Right with God
- Guide 4: Growing in Christ
These books helps participants such as myself to face our hurts, habits and/or hang-ups and achieve the restoration and reinforcement of the relationship we have with God, with others and ourselves.
For example, in guide 1, these questions include:
- What do you fear turning over to His care?
- What is keeping you from turning over?
- What does the phrase “live one day at a time” mean to you?
- What is a major concern in your life?
- What’s stopping you from turning it over to your Higher Power, Jesus Christ?
Such questions gave me more to answer in order to unlock more fears as well as dreams, because just when you think you have unlocked the doors of your heart, you find out there are doors within these doors. Pain underneath other pains. And let me tell you, I’ve never cried so much like that anywhere in front of anyone. I don’t usually like showing people my sadness.
So far it has been like a month since I’ve attended and I’ve been feeling great. I still have anxiety and depression, but I feel it’s not as bad as it used to. Facing my pains along with the teachings of Christ, has been so helpful. It’s only because and of my faith haven’t completely fallen on my face with all that has gone on in my life. On the 1st step of the 12 steps it says:
- We admitted we were powerless over our additions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
“For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
Upon reading this step, I felt a great sense of relief, because it shows that we may not have strength to control whatever our vices may be. For me, I can’t control my anxiety and depression and as Christians, we know that anxiety and even depression is not of God. Yet as long as we live on this Earth, our bodies and minds will experience such things. I have tried so hard to control it on my own and well…it hasn’t helped much, but give me more anxiety and anguish over my inequities. My anxiety and depression has impacted my life in various ways and I do my best to not let it best my life. I’ve often heard in my life such quotes as “God helps those who help themselves” or “We have the power to overcome our sins”. The thing is (well, at least for me), I’ve tried on my own to fight anxiety and depression, but I can’t apparently and I know I have what it takes to not let anxiety and depression overcome me, but I don’t know how to and I know I definitely can’t do it on my own. That’s where this leads to the sixth step of the “Twelve Steps”:
- We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
Having to pray to God to help me overcome my anxiety and depression has helped a lot, especially knowing that I’m only human and that there is so much that can be in my control, even my own mental health. However, what matters is that I’ve acknowledged Christ as my savior and my willingness to turn my inequities over to him and change for the better. It’s as Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 (NLT),
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
And doing so has helped me out a lot especially through the worse days of depression. I feel more at ease with it, so I’m not finding myself beating myself up over living with anxiety and depression. I accept it and just move through it even if it’s just baby steps. It’s just like it says in Psalm 34:17-18:
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is closes to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
So, yeah God and Jesus Christ isn’t going to stop loving you, just because you are facing depression and/or anxiety or any other earthly infliction, even if it’s guilt. He knew what you were going to go through even before you experienced any of the problems you’re currently facing. In fact, they’ll run over to because you face such problems and have called for their help.
Best of all, the program has other followers of Christ and not judging one another problems or telling each other to just “pray more”. We do pray, but it’s done with lack of judgement and a lot of heart. Here are two other steps that pertain to this:
- We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
“Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
- Having had a spiritual experience as the result for these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves or you also may be tempted.”
There are people who have done meth, lived on Skid Row, and/or been in gangs and not once has any of them said, “My life is worse than yours” or “There are other people who have it worse than you.” Ugh! I have no idea why people think those are wise things to say, but anywho, nobody is judging anybody. We are just bodies of Christ coming together to overcome our pains and even help our fellow attendees overcome theirs.
This program, Celebrate Recovery, founded by John Baker of Saddleback church in 1993, is in 20,000 churches nationwide and in more 156 countries. So in other words, it’s bound to be in your neck of the woods. You don’t have to be a member of the local church that sponsors this program. You just come as you are, regardless of who you are or what you have done and be willing to overcome your hurt, habit or hang-ups.
If you would like further information on Celebrate Recovery, click on the links below:
If you would like readings on how God and Jesus helps you to overcome the troubles in your life, click on the pages below:
Oooh! Also, I have the “The Road to Recovery” and “Twelve Steps” charts on my page, so be sure to check them out!