I have to confess that as I’m sitting down to write this, I’m tired. Falling asleep at stop lights in the middle of the afternoon tired. And contrary to my big plan at the beginning of this blogging adventure, I don’t have at least two or three finished pieces ready to post at any time. At least not tonight.
My reasons are the same kinds of things we all have: the perfect storm of actual bad winter weather, work, extra visits from the grandbaby, my second ever asthma attack, along with the regular stresses of life.
What I really want to tell you about is a few minutes of a radio show I caught coming home from Celebrate Recovery last week. And oh yes, love. Because this is posting on Valentine’s Day. And they really are related.
Ok. I can see I need to get this a little more organized, so you can at least attempt to jump on this train with me. Last week my regular Celebrate Recovery group was displaced by a special event at the church where it is held. So I decided to go to a different campus for CR, one where I had gone through an eight month Step Study with a terrific group of women who are now my step-sisters for life, who I love deeply and was ecstatic to see again.
A Step Study, as the name implies, is a journey through the twelve steps and eight principles of Celebrate Recovery, all based on the Bible and the words of Jesus. It’s an intense study, a deep look at yourself, done in the company of and with the support and encouragement of others who are also looking deeply at themselves.
It is the most intense experience I have ever had. And I’ve done a lot of Bible studies.
I must confess that I’m kind of spoiled now. I have learned so much about my own character flaws, faults, sins, grudges, unforgiveness, defensiveness, as well as strengths and victories, that I find it necessary to dig deeply into anything I decide to study. But in the world of women’s Bible studies, they are generally not as cathartic as a Step Study.
So I eagerly headed to their CR last Friday. I’d been savoring that night all week. I was pleasantly surprised at the difference in feel between our larger, more formal group (I’d guess at least double the size) and the intimacy of this smaller group. They did the same basic things as every CR program, but more up close and personal, which felt so good to me. There was only one men’s and one women’s open share group, and all my step-sisters that were there were in group with me.
Last week I listed several topics I wanted to write about, Celebrate Recovery being one of them, specifically my own personal recovery journey. And in my mind I was going to start at the beginning. I planned to map it out, have it go in chronological order. Because I knew I wanted to start talking about it, and it seemed like the logical way to go about it. And yet I hadn’t figured out a good way to start.
Which is where the radio show came in. Chuck Swindoll was playing on my drive home Friday night. It seemed to be an address to a group of graduate students, and I tuned in as he was giving a list of about twenty principles to remember as they headed into their lives. This is the one I’ve been thinking about all week.
Does it flow, or is it forced?
So far everything I’ve written has flowed. It hasn’t all been in the most logical order, the topics have changed in the middle of the stream sometimes, but it has felt effortless and purposeful.
Until this week, when I tried to write my recovery story from the beginning, or searched my mind for a different topic. I’ve sat down several nights and gotten a total of twenty-six words down before hitting a wall.
That would be an example of forced.
There was a little more to his principle. Am I asking God to lead and waiting for his direction, or am I pushing ahead with my own agenda based on what I’d like to see happen? Pastor Swindoll urged his audience to wait for God’s leading instead of jumping ahead of him, because when we do things with God’s timing, it will flow. And when we do it in our own timing, it will feel forced.
So as I sat down tonight, tired, my thoughts refusing to come together in the way I thought they should, I did what I should have done in the beginning. I asked God what I should write about and what I should say. The faces of my step-sisters and brothers from this other group popped into my head. The love and acceptance I felt from them Friday night, that I had felt in the years I’ve known some of them. The hope that was kindled in my heart when I clearly saw what starting a CR at my own church could look like if I had the courage to ask God to show me if and when to launch a new group.
And it quit feeling forced and started to flow.
It really does all circle back to love.
I’ll tell you another time how it all started, but recovery is all infused with love: the people, the program itself, the words of Jesus we speak to each other week after week.
The way God cracks my defenses and lets me pour out my pain and struggles, as well as welcome in healing and restoration. The way listening to other women talk about their journeys, their own struggles, helps me get clarity for myself. The gift of being able to pray over and for these women that are part of my forever family, along with the men who are also my brothers in this journey.
God loves me so much that he isn’t satisfied to let me force my way through life, never dealing with my issues. He offers me help that is real and life-changing, but he doesn’t force it on me. He waits for me to get to the end of my own plans, my own brilliant ideas that only make things harder.
He waits for me to ask. And then the help flows, in ways I didn’t imagine, gently, filled with grace, mercifully exposing me for who I am. And giving me a glimpse of who I can be.