As a Celebrate Recovery leader, I get the pleasure of watching God at work and speaking into others’ lives. It’s not because I’m a trained recovery professional or a therapist. It’s because I’ve walked this road before and experienced the life transformation through this Christ-centered 12-step program. It is an honor and a blessing.
I’ve been reminded many times lately, as I participate in another step study group, what it was like for me when I was in my first step study many years ago. I was in the same place emotionally and spiritually as the others in the group. I was going through some of the same circumstances and decisions as some as well.
I had the same fears. I had the same worries. I had the same anxiety.
And I had the same love and support of the others in my group. My life depended on it back then.
I had never had intimate relationships like that before. Even my marriage was lacking in this type of emotional connection and vulnerability.
Writing in a journal was one of the recovery tools that I implemented while in that first step study. I recently pulled out my first journal and read page after page of my struggle. Names of people who were there for me surfaced on the pages with their wisdom and encouragement to make the needed changes in my life.
They were a gift to me. They were Jesus with skin on to me. I experienced love and acceptance in my brokenness for the first time—unconditionally. It was truly healing.
Revisiting my journal brought up many painful memories of what my life was like back then—the arguments in my home and the hurtful words spoken. The bitterness and resentment that had been brewing for years was now being unleashed. I gave myself permission to cry buckets of tears, not letting shame or fear of judgment hold them back.
In the midst of this pain I also had hope. It was a tremendous help to know that I was not alone in my struggles. Others had walked this road before me, or were in the midst of similar circumstances.
As they encouraged me and gave me the space to process what I was going through, I started to trust God more. I had pockets of peace begin to surface in my life.
I made tough decisions, and prayed throughout the process (for the first time in my life). As I took steps to follow through with these God directed steps, I gained confidence.
It was scary at times, but I also felt such relief and freedom. My burdens were being lifted and carried by God and others.
I never imagined that what I was going through at the time would be of benefit to others down the road. I never considered leading or serving in ministry settings back then either. But He has used it, and He has used me and my story, just like He will use them and their stories.
While I still struggle with various hurts, habits, or hang-ups—something I still journal about—reading my first journal confirmed that I am not the same person I was back then. I’ve been changed from the inside out.
I walked this road before. I survived. I thrived. I can share the victory with others and encourage them along the way.
I’ll walk this road again, using my past experiences, the support of others, and God as my center, to guide me through. I trust Him more now than ever before.
My advice to those still new to the process: Keep working the program, reaching out, and getting your needs met. Be open to change and learn to submit to the process, even when it doesn’t make any sense. Trust Him to do things you never thought possible. One day soon, you’ll see the fruit of your labor and gain peace and freedom to strengthen your ongoing walk.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.