Nine years ago, today I walked into Celebrate Recovery at a church I had been attending for about a year and a half.
I was there, broken, unable to talk, with hot tears running down my face. I tried to smile as I was greeted outside, but only looked more pathetic.
The older gentlemen, who looked like he had crawled up off the street, with untamed hair, wearing just jeans and a simple t-shirt, smile wildly back at me, “You’re in the right place.”
It was my first day. It would become my birthday.
It was the day I didn’t understand how I had gotten myself so lost but knew I needed to be here.
This day, was the first day of the rest of my life. Nothing was ever going to be the same.
Bill called them weeping tears. He encouraged me to let them to flow.
They were healing tears, he would say.
Oh, I was so tired of the healing tears. They would flow for at least five more years.
He told me my soul was crying out to Jesus and that he would catch every one.
He wasn’t lying.
We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18
I was a divorced, single mom, of three small boys and was pregnant with my daughter. I had been in two abusive relationships. My life was out of control.
We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13
I realized I was never in control. My life had become a series of reactions. Nothing and no one was guiding me.
We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1
I wanted the chaos to end. I threw myself down at my Lord’s feet. “Make it all stop! I can’t do this anymore.”
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40
And so I started a list. Things that had happened to me. Things I had seen. Things I had heard. Things I had remembered. Things I had done.
Even unto this day, this list grows.
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
My sponsor listened to me. She heard my pain. She saw my shame. And she confided in me, “Me too.”
I am not crazy. I am not alone.
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
The more and more God heals my wounds, the more and more wounds he reveals. And the more and more wounds he reveals, the more dependant I become on Him.
I will never be completely healed this side of heaven, but I know he does not let me suffer alone. He does not reveal, what he does not intend to heal.
We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
I now praise him for my weaknesses, for through my weaknesses, I grow closer to Him.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. ”So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Corinthians 12:29
We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
Where many never get past step four, I was stuck at eight.
I did not struggle with asking for forgiveness for the things I had done. I had, however, struggled with the fear of seeing those who I had to extend forgiveness too.
Would I be strong enough? Would I fall prey again? Would I play the victim? Have I learned anything?
I made my list.
We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24
God kept me safe. It was made clear who I would be able to see, and who remained in the distance.
But regardless, I was still released from the chains of guilt and shame that bound me.
We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12
Remember step four?
We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.Colossians 3:16
Nine years later, and after weeping for five, I continue to search for knowledge. My thirst has not been quenched. I still drink from living streams.
Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” – John 7:38
Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1
So I am here! On my ninth birthday, reaching out to you who may be weak, who may be weary, who may be weeping…
I encourage you to take your first day. To make today your birthday. To start living a life that will never be the same.
You are not crazy. You are not alone.