Saturday, September 16, 2006

time to celebrate

Friday night had become my night to attend a Celebrate Recovery group about 20 minutes from my home. It has become my night because a friend I have who is struggling with alcoholism needs to go, my son will need a place to go when he is out of prison, and more than anything, I need to go. Celebrate Recovery is a ministry which helps those people struggling with habits, hurts and hang-ups. It is specifically Christian, recognizing Jesus Christ as our Higher Power, and the principles it is based on are from scripture. It's really for everyone at various times in life, because we all struggle with things that get us stuck.

It seems crazy to me that a group of broken people coming together to be completely honest before God and each other about things that are ruining their lives could do anything at all for anyone. It seems like either a recipe for disaster at worst, or a pathetic display of the dregs of human weakness at the least. But it is not. There is something about the truth that is incredibly powerful. Our meeting starts out with praise to God. We sing a few favorite songs. The people that are picking out seats and chatting away before the meeting starts run the gamut in appearance from soccer moms to ex-cons, and they are. But when the singing starts, everyone knows why they are there, and appearances matter not at all. Next is a lesson based on the scriptural prescription for recovery. It is much like AA, or any other of countless groups out there, except that, once again, scripture is indisputable truth, and there's no guessing about that. Then there is sharing time. No cross talk is allowed, no advice, as we're not there to fix each other or counsel. We are there to admit what is happening in our lives, and to tell the truth.

Last week's meeting was incredibly powerful. I did not plan to go, but my friend had been having a terrible week, drinking for days, and was too shaky to drive. When I went to that meeting, I knew I had to commit to this process, for myself, and those who would need a place to go that I knew. There were two testimonies in that meeting in which the men talking basically said it took rock bottom, addiction, alcoholism, prison, to find Christ and they were so glad they did. I was shocked. People say things like that, but I thought to myself, the hell it is to be an addict and behind bars, and you are saying you are glad about all of that? I was stunned, because people here aren't behind a pulpit or a podium. They are sitting next to me. So I spoke up last night, saying how much that meant to me, for my son's sake, and I explained his situation. Another ex-con came up to me afterward (Chris-now he's my friend Chris), and told me the same thing. He's not an educated man. He's covered in tattoos and dressed in an old, holey white t-shirt. But people like him are saving my life. Then another sweet, youngish woman touched my shoulder. She told me her husband is facing six felony counts related to drug addiction. She has two children, four and eight years old. Her husband may be facing serious jail time, but so far, God has intervened and he walked out of the first hearing a free man. Pam-her name is Pam, she's my friend now, and I'm going to pray for her and her family. Then Dave spoke to me. He keeps his commitment papers to remind himself how much God has changed his life. Dave tried to kill himself, so he understood when I told him about my son's suicide attempt and his crazy behavior, because the world told Dave he was certifiably insane.

It is hard not to get into my church mode, "responsible Sue" costume when I go to anything that is God- related. But here that only gets in the way. Before I left a beautiful 20-something came up to me and said, "Oh, you have co-dependent issues, too. I can't get away from my boyfriend. He's no good for me. And I'm Cheryl, by the way." Cheryl, by the way, you have no idea how much healthier you are than me. I cringed inside hearing your honest admission, because I never stop being entangled in relationships that hurt me. But I cover it up because I'm a worship leader, a prayer warrior, the happiest person in the room, and you just blew my cover. Thank you, my new friends. It's going to be a long road to becoming broken and better, but I trust you.


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