I love the quote that says, “You don’t just wake up and become a butterfly. Growth is a process.” Recovery is the same. Many of you have heard or read my story about how I overcame my addiction to prescription pain medication, but you may not know much about the incredible program, Celebrate Recovery (CR), that helped guide me in my recovery process.
Celebrate Recovery was started by John Baker over 25 years ago at Saddleback Church. It is a Christ-centered, 12-step recovery program that also uses eight recovery principles based on the Beatitudes that Jesus preached about in the Sermon on the Mount. The goal of Celebrate Recovery is not simply to help hurting people recover from past sins and hurts but to teach people how to make the healing choices that will help them to develop a more Christ-like character. CR addresses a wide range of problems that people face. Their three key words – hurts, habits, and hang-ups – encompass all kinds of issues, big and small, that keep us from being all that God wants us to be. For example, a hurt can be abuse in our past, a hang-up could be perfectionism or not processing anger well, and a habit could be an addiction of any kind. We’ve all created ungodly and unhealthy methods for handling life. Not one of us is untainted, and because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us.
One of the main things I love about this program is that it’s not strictly for addicts as so many assume. In fact, only one in three people attending Celebrate Recovery come because of a chemical addiction of some kind. In Life’s Healing Choices by CR founder John Baker, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren offers up a few questions as food for thought: “Do you ever eat or drink more calories than your body needs? Do you ever feel you ought to exercise but don’t? Do you ever know the right thing to do but don’t do it? Do you ever know something is wrong but do it anyway? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, you’ll know without a doubt that you are a citizen of the human race. Every single person, as a member of the human race, deals with a hurt, a hang-up, or a habit at some level, in some form.” There is not a single person on the planet who cannot benefit from this program.
A wonderful friend of mine wrote a beautiful post about how people feel when they hear the word recovery, which reads: “After surgery, they take you back to what is called ‘recovery.’ When you break a bone, there is a period of time for healing, for getting mobility and [usability] back. That is called recovery. When you get the flu or a cold or an infection, or, God forbid, cancer, and you are on the mend, you are recovering. This type of recovery is acceptable, desirable, welcomed, wanted, exalted. There is no stigma attached to it. However, if you tell someone you are in recovery from an addiction to alcohol, to drugs, to sex, people avert their eyes, end the conversation, change the subject, or leave. Why can't their recovery be just as valued as the recovery of someone with a broken bone? It's the stigma attached to it. Recovery, no matter what kind, is hard. The end goal is always healing whether you catch a bug or have an addiction. The healing process is hard and painful, and sometimes you feel like it's just too hard...just like with physical therapy when it hurts too much to take one more step. People with addictions or depression or anxiety or any other kinds of pain they are trying to recover from need your support, support like you would give anyone else. I've seen first-hand how hard they work to get that [recovery] chip. I've seen first-hand the devastation of a relapse, as well. I'm really blessed to be part of a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. Don't you love that name? CELEBRATE recovery. Welcome recovery. Expect recovery. Desire recovery. No matter what your hurt is or your habit or your hang up, this is a place where you can be loved. You don't have to have a chemical addiction or any other kind of addiction. You can be in need of healing because of divorce or depression or anxiety. You can just be broken. We love you where you are. There is no judgement.”
That being said, whether you come to the meetings or not, I beg of you to please show compassion to anyone in any type of recovery. Sometimes, it's that compassion that helps them make it one more day: One more day clean, one more day anxiety-free.
If you look at the definition of the word recovery, it reads: 1) A return to a normal state of health, mind or strength, and 2) The action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. I love the synonyms that come to mind with the second definition, especially the word redemption.
But don’t just take my word about how great Celebrate Recovery really is. Here is the testimony of a participant who doesn’t deal with addiction issues: “I’m a grateful believer who struggles with anxiety and codependency, and my name is Randi. I’m actually 75 days antidepressant free! I’m also 15 months free of anxiety rescue medication. That’s pretty spectacular considering the fact that in the last 20 years I have been on at least 24 different antidepressant or anti-anxiety meds and hospitalized three times for severe depression. I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety, social anxiety, agoraphobia, panic disorder, severe clinical depression, dysthymic disorder, and PTSD twice. I thank God for Celebrate Recovery. I thank God for giving this great big idea of it to John Baker. I’m just so thankful for my forever family and for the difference this lifestyle change has made in my life. I’m thankful for what it’s done in my family’s life and in the lives of my friends and my church. I have such joy! It’s incredible! Celebrate Recovery has made such a difference in my life, and I know it can make a difference in yours, too. Thank you for letting me share.”
If there is one thing I have learned from this program, it’s that the broken will always be able to love harder than most. Once you’ve been in the dark, you learn to appreciate everything that shines. Over 2.5 million people worldwide in over 27,000 churches have completed Celebrate Recovery. If you are someone who feels that you can benefit from this program or you know someone who can, there are two programs in our immediate area that meet regularly and would love to have you visit. Celebrate Recovery Golden Triangle meets every Tuesday at 6:45 pm at Meadowview Baptist Church in Starkville. Celebrate Recovery at The Mission meets every Thursday at 6:45 pm in West Point.
It’s okay not to be okay, just don’t stay there.