I’ve had the privilege over the last few weeks to attend two Celebrate Recovery programs in cities I was visiting.  The differences in the way each place presents their large program and open share groups was refreshing to see.  I learned there are lots of ways to approach how we encourage each other in recovery.

At each location I felt the freedom to talk about my own issues, my recovery journey, in an honest and open way.   The regular attenders and newcomers at each place also seemed open to sharing in the presence of a stranger.

I really cannot explain this phenomena any other way than to say that when you get involved with CR you discover a forever family.

Four years ago when I started coming to CR, I instantly felt a connection to other women who had been through some of the same things I had.  When someone can understand your point of view without having to explain everything that happened to you, that creates a deep bond, a connection that I don’t think can be broken.

I will always know these women and they will know me in deeper ways than my family of origin knows me.

One of my ongoing problems is that I have trouble trusting women, making friends with women.  The exception is at a CR meeting, when I am not afraid to expose the real me.

I think  I’ll know I am healed of this issue when I’m able to be as transparent with women outside CR as I can be at a meeting.  God continues to show me how to get rid of the things that keep me from being open and loving with other women,  and I look forward to making more true friends.

It’s like peeling back an onion, going deeper into why I isolate or set up walls between me and other women.  The oldest and most obvious layer to me is that I was abused by older teenage girls when I was young.

It’s been a long road, facing and naming the experiences that had such a deep impact on me, but it has also been freeing, as I’ve been able to let go of any desire to see them receive justice for the things done to me.  Instead I’ve found it necessary and possible to forgive.  And I have.

The layer I’m working on right now has been harder.  It’s one that has nagged at me for much of my life, that I haven’t wanted to explore.  But God tells me I’m ready, so I’ve been stepping out with faith in where he’s leading me.

Following last week’s post about Mother’s Day, I have a confession. Though my mom died almost three years ago, I don’t miss her.

And I must say clearly that I love my mom and she loved me.  No question.

Mom lived a good long life.  She did the things she wanted to do.  She shared Jesus with lots of people, traveled around the world, stayed active with her church and volunteer work as long as she could.

These are reasons I have given myself for not missing her.  She was ready to go when God took her home.

At first I was situationally depressed, after the constant time spent at the nursing home those last weeks, talking and caring for her, singing and praying with her, remembering lots of our stories.  I still have no desire to step foot in a nursing home or hospice.

Then after a little rebound time my life was plunged into the new adventure of grandfostering when my daughter began her foster adventure.  So I put aside the thoughts I’d had, wondering why I never thought about my mom, though I think about my dad every day, even after almost twenty-six years that he’s been gone.

When Mom died, I had completed a Step Study, working my way through the twelve steps and eight principles of Celebrate Recovery.  I had worked on the issues that God brought to mind over the nine months of the study, mainly my childhood abuse, and I was continuing to work on issues as they came to mind.

The only thing I felt I couldn’t finish about my Step Study was discussing it with my mom.  By that time her dementia was getting worse.  She always knew me, but she was easily confused about what was happening around her and would drift from the past to the present.

I wanted to ask her what she knew about my abuse, since I never admitted anything or told anyone.  I wanted to tell her about it, but I didn’t think it was fair to possibly hurt and confuse her with information she may no longer have been able to process.

So I was amazed when God took care of that for me.

One night my younger daughter and I were sleeping over at the home, and Mom started asking me questions.  Why weren’t we as close as she had always wanted us to be? Something had happened to me as a child.  What was it?  She wanted to know.

Here was my opportunity.  I made sure she was asking what I thought she was, and then I gave her a simplified, gentle description.  I almost forgot my daughter was there listening, but it was something I had told her before.

Mom’s response was tears and kisses, she held my hand and raised it to her lips to kiss over and over and we hugged and wept together over my lost innocence and her inability to do anything since she never knew what had happened.

But now I’m beginning to explore her first question, the one I answered with brief summaries of conflicts we’d had over the years. I’d assured her  that I didn’t hold anything against her.  But the distance between us was real.  My words reassured her, and placated me.

I realize now I was still holding things against her.  And I’m not beyond it yet.

Friday night you can find me at  CR, talking about whatever pieces of the puzzle that is me God has revealed to me that week, that day.

Recovery isn’t something that happens once and you’re all done.  And it doesn’t happen instantly.  It’s truly a journey.

So whether I’m at my local CR or visiting one in another city, I am eager to spend a little time speaking out loud how God is leading me down this path.

Because it speaks life against the death the enemy desires for me.

And it gives hope to the person who is just stepping foot on her own journey.