Celebrate Recovery

Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 

Celebrate Recovery is a Christian 12 step program for any one struggling with a hurt, habit or hang up. It’s an opportunity for people from all different denominations and walks of life to come together, worship God, encourage one another and hold one another accountable.

But I wondered if the decision to go last night with my friend was the right thing to do. I’d never been before, but since two counselors had recommended it, so I knew I needed to try.   My stomach was in knots with anxiety over how much of my story I was going share. Could I be honest with total strangers?  Would I even fit in?

We entered the sanctuary about fifteen minutes after it began, so we missed the opportunity for small talk and getting tags with our names on it which was fine by me.  We took a seat quietly on the very back row.

The leader was talking about the Egyptians whining in the desert about wanting to go back Egypt.   It caused me to think about a ladies Bible study I’d attended last year and had walked away devastated from.  Some of the ladies at the study had talked about how the children of Israel had made God look bad with all their grumbling.  My conclusion from attending that study was if they thought complaining made God look bad what would they think about my history. I’d felt isolated, alone and misunderstood. I never went back.

Last night,  the leader compared all of us, including himself, to the children of Israel.  He talked humbly about his struggles and encouraged us that we were not alone in our longing for anything that’d give us temporary relief from our pain, even if it was something that was very bad for us.  There was no shame or guilt heaped on, only the free gift of grace that told us God loved us no matter what.  It was so much different from what I’d heard before.

After a song was sung and the offering was taken up, a guest speaker stepped up to the podium. His topic of discussion popped up in the screen behind him.

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

I could only shake my head and smile. God was at it again. My email to my counselor just an hour before had said,  Please tell me sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better but it does get better…And if that wasn’t enough to convince me God wanted me here, the speaker shared how he had a verse to share specifically for someone.  Can I just go ahead and say that I’m not charismatic?  I’m skeptical anytime someone says they have a word from the Lord.  I’ve judged charismatic people because I’ve met some who’ve been pretty mean.  But I realized after last night that maybe I needed to expand my narrow view of how God was supposed to operate.

The speaker read:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely  on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:10-12 ESV

The speaker went on to say someone here has had lies and gossip spread about them and needs to know that their reward is great in Heaven.  Not so long ago I realized people in my husband’s family were gossiping about me. The news had been devastating.  His words brought great comfort to my heart.  I felt a a deep sense of peace I hadn’t experienced for a long time.

Then we broke off into small groups.  We sat around in a group with seven or eight other ladies. As they began to share stories of their own heartbreak and struggles, I was amazed and refreshed by their honesty.   When it was my turn to share I couldn’t believe I was actually comfortable enough to do so.  Their courage had given me the courage to do the same. 

I’m an adult child of an alcoholic.  I’m an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I’m a survivor of spiritual abuse by my pastor for ten years…

The ladies looked at me with surprise, but not rejection.  They lovingly listened and gave looks of compassion.  I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders.  It felt so good to just be honest.

After it was over a lady grabbed me and gave me a hug.  She said, “Honey, it was not your fault.”  And went on to tell me about a friend of hers who’d suffered the same thing.  Another weight lifted.  Someone understood. 

I’m definitely going back.  🙂

If you haven’t been to a Celebrate Recovery Program and are struggling, I highly recommend it.  I wish I’d gone sooner!

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