Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Celebrate Recovery

I have a friend who has some problems (Don't we all?). He thought maybe he'd benefit from Celebrate Recovery (Web Site) which is a kind of Christian based Twelve Step program.

I knew our church had one and offered to go with him if he wanted. He did. (Friends can be so inconvenient like that!) So we met there about 7 on Tuesday evening. They actually will feed you if you can get there by 6 but that proved impossible for both of us. And I was starving to death by the time I did get there. I did have time to feed the horses and the cat and kiss my wife hello and goodbye before going though.

This was my first time to attend any kind of Twelve Step meeting. I knew about it from reading and friends who were Twelve Steppers. But it is always interesting to actually experience something first hand.

There were more people there than I had imagined. I would have been surprised at seeing some except that I already knew they attended. I think they were surprised to see me. It made me feel a little funny actually just to be there - a little less sure of myself perhaps - or maybe that's not quite right.

Let me try again on that. It's like you watch someone you know who suddenly recognizes you in an unfamiliar place. It isn't just an unfamiliar place but an unexpected place for you. So you watch the flash of recognition that is so quick that I can't even tell you how I know it is there but it is. And then there is the other nearly instantaneous and nearly imperceptible change of countenance that kind of makes you feel your esteem by the someone has fallen some. And then its gone and replaced with the welcoming smile and the happy to see you. Or maybe it is more a puzzlement expression. More like that I think in retrospect.

There was some singing and praise and there were some traditions I was able to pick up quickly. For instance everyone says "Hi, I am so and so" and then that they are a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and then something about the addiction(s) they struggle with. And the crowd, or at least the ones that know what to do, say hi back.

There are some heart tearing testimonies and opening and ending prayers with group response and there's a token ceremony that celebrates days and months of recovery and a chance for new people to make a new commitment by going up and taking this little token or coin.

I was sitting there trying to think what in the world I was going to say if someone asked me why I was there. Because I don't honestly have any addictions - or at least I think I don't. Except that right away I felt that in that setting to say one had no addictions or issues might be perceived as dishonest. I didn't exactly want to say precisely why I was there because I didn't want to embarrass my friend and certainly didn't want to reveal anything about him. I started thinking of things I have struggled with but really they are in the past - at least for now. Not that I am above reproach and far from it and God knows it but anything I thought of was a pretty serious stretch. And I certainly didn't want to demean or devalue others' struggles.

One lady was crying and obviously distressed and also new and there was another single lady that was new. Another young couple was new. And me and my friend made three new women and three new men. All the ones who had been there before left to attend small groups and we separated by gender after we watched a little movie.

When it was my time in our little group I just said how long I had been a believer and that I had come to support my friend.

It was quite an experience for me. I think it is a great bunch of folks who are really, truly trying to help one another. I think they are all terribly and wonderfully brave to do this. Some were already in 12 step programs but wanted something more in line with their faith they said. That made sense to me.

The twelve steps - Celebrate Recovery version:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. That our lives had become unmanageable. (Romans 7:18 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.)
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.)
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. (Romans 12:1 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.)
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.)
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. (James 5:16a Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.)
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.)
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. (1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.)
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. (Luke 6:31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.)
  9. Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Matthew 5:23-24 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.)
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. (1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!)
  11. 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. (Colossians 3:16a Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.)
  12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs. (Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.)
Eight recovery principles:
  1. Realize I'm not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable. "Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor"
  2. Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, and that he has the power to help me recover. "Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted"
  3. Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ's care and control. "Happy are the meek"
  4. Openly examine and confess my faults to God, to myself, and to someone I trust. "Happy are the pure in heart"
  5. Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. "Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires"
  6. Evaluate all my relationships; Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I've done to others except when to do so would harm them or others. "Happy are the merciful" "Happy are the peacemakers"
  7. Reserve a daily time with God for self examination, Bible readings and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.
  8. Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words. "Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires"


Lori1955 said...

Good take on this Terry. I have been in a 12 step program before and as you may know Helen was a sober member of AA for a little over 37 years. What always amazed me was that people found such strength in a place where they were drawn together by their weaknesses. Right now I am struggling with my smoking addiction. Maybe I should look to those 12 steps again for this too.

flintysooner said...

The fellow that spoke to me and the other men said smoking was his issue and he'd tried everything and finally decided to go 12 step. He had been free of the smokes for about a year and a half I think he said.

It's been 26 years this year for me on the Camels and I can attest it is absolutely not an easily given up addiction.

SKYGIRL said...

Congrats Flinty! You just got your feet wet, and you are such a curiousity seeker of sorts. I have been to every 12-step program imagineable, and unlike you, belonged in them all! The cool thing is, that they are free, God is written througout, so exposes some to Him, for the first time, and the fellowship is amazing.

I will only add that in the normal ons, if you ever get the inclination, (and don't make up an addiction, so you can fit in!)LOL!

There are "Open" meetings and those are for the addicts, and friends & family, or just interested folks. And there are 'Cosed' meetings, designed for those that do not want others there,that are not struggling with the same problems. So just check your handy little manuel, and remember, a dysfunctional family, is anything
that was not like "The Norman Rockwell Painting" so I like to think that we can all belong on some level!

Good for you, you faced your fear, and did it anyway. You are not only a good Husband, but a Good Friend, as well.