Addiction. We hear about it on the news and sadly among our own family and friends. It is an epidemic plaguing our society. At one point, the world of addiction was totally foreign to me, something I’d only heard about, but had no real contact with. I was raised in a Christian home, with two parents who loved Jesus and each other very much. I’ve been in church practically my whole life.
Then I married my husband Brandon, who dealt with addiction in his past. There is a powerful story there, but his to share. (Maybe as a guest writer one day?) I got a crash course into the life, mind, and habits of an addict. It pushed me outside of my norm, and I was grateful. But also a little intimidated.
What he talked about most, was the program that God used to save his life. Celebrate Recovery, or CR. Celebrate Recovery is a twelve step recovery program, similar to AA, NA, or Al Anon. The main difference is that these programs have you call on a higher power of your choice. CR names only one Higher Power- Jesus Christ. As I like to say, it’s just AA with Jesus.
Early on, Brandon told me that he wanted to get involved with our local Celebrate Recovery, and asked me to go with him. I told him I’d give it a try, but mainly to see how it was beneficial to him. It just wasn’t going to be my thing. I’m sure God just shook His head and laughed at that moment, like He has many times when I make resolutions about my own life.
I went with Brandon and started soaking up the teaching. It began to feed my soul in a way that was totally unique. It taught me to look at myself, my bad thinking and habits, how that messes with the life Jesus would have for me, and how He loves me enough to help me fix it. It is a gut level honest approach to healthy Christ-like living.
Here are just a few of the twelve steps that recovering addicts work through in this program. A link to all twelve steps is included at the bottom.
We admitted we were powerless over our compulsive behaviors. Who actually likes to admit we can’t do something or are powerless? Not me.
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. It can be scary to go over your every major life decision- good and bad- with a fine tooth comb.
We made direct amends to such people whenever possible. This may be the hardest, to make things right with those we hurt. Primarily for our own sake.
Just think how much healthier our churches would be if Christians, regardless of their background, would put in the work that these steps require.
So God started to plant in my heart a passion for this ministry. And I, of course, threw up a couple of reservations.
First, I wasn’t one of ‘them’. Believe me, I am not always a stellar Christian. My lifestyle has not always honored God, and I still slip up. But because I had never done a drug or had an alcohol problem, I felt like there was some difference between me and an addict. I quickly learned that there is no us or them. We aren’t separated into categories in God’s eyes.
If we really believe that God’s grace can cover any sin, that nothing we do can make God love us any more or any less than He already does; then it follows that His grace is just as readily available to the worst of sins as it is the slightest. We are all just sinners saved by grace.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Second. I realized that in God’s eyes, I’m no different from the people working the program, but our life circumstances are drastically different. There is no way I could help anyone.
I grew up in a good home.
I wasn’t addicted to a substance.
Neither I nor my parents were divorced.
I didn’t have children, much less lost custody of one.
I’d never suffered abuse.
How would I ever be able to relate enough to help someone? God quickly reminded me that He changes lives, and He can use any vessel, even seemingly unqualified ones. He told me to love people, and let Him do the rest. So I did, and found out that we all struggle with the same issues, just expressed in different ways and with differing severity. I started to love people like Jesus loved people, like I wanted to be loved.
God gave me a heart of compassion for the men and women in the program. The things they have overcome are inspiring. Our worship together on Sunday nights is so genuine. The way we drop our masks and talk honestly about failures and successes, struggles and strengths- it’s refreshing. It’s something the church drastically needs to learn from.
And just like when God told Moses in Exodus 4, “Go, and I will be your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” He’s given me the words I’ve needed in the situations He’s put me in.
So, if God has put a call on your heart to love on some people around you, but you have some reservations, please know that God can break through every single one of those. Don’t miss out on the blessing He has in store for you just for being willing to serve Him.
And if you’re struggling today, please know that the unconditional love, support, and encouragement that I’m talking about is here for you too. You don’t have to be ashamed of what you’ve done or haven’t done. Jesus welcomes you to come find rest in his love and grace. If you need that, please contact me or someone else you know who loves Jesus. We would love to point you in the right direction.
To see all twelve steps, please visit https://www.celebraterecovery.com/resources/cr-tools/12steps
For more information on Celebrate Recovery, please visit https://www.celebraterecovery.com/index.php, or talk to me. I would love to share some information with you!