I had the great privilege of attending Celebrate Recovery Summit East in Hendersonville, Tennessee in July, 2019. I want to tell you all so many things about it, but it’s going to take some time while I digest and process all the great stuff I learned.
So I’ll start slowly, with one of the first things I heard that resonated deeply inside me.
It was a simple question. Why?
Yes, the one my two-year old granddaughter LOVES to ask, though I’m not sure she understands what she’s saying.
The answer to that question is not, “Because I said so” or “Just because”. It’s a question that, if properly answered, needs to be thoughtfully approached.
It demands involvement, commitment even.
There are many other questions that are easier to answer. Logistical things, like when is something happening or where, how long will it last, how much does it cost, who will be in charge, who will decide which person does which job.
These are the kinds of questions I’ve been fielding as I’ve approached my church leadership about starting a Celebrate Recovery group at our church. But they aren’t the questions I think really matter.
You guessed it. That question would be “Why?”
Why, when there is a Celebrate Recovery that meets within a few miles of our building, should we let you start a whole new ministry out of our church?
Thank you so much for asking! Because, as I learned at Summit, the answers to the why questions get to the heart of the matter, cut through the busy work and touch the places people need to hear possibilities.
Why, when there are plenty of other recovery type programs out there, should we choose CR as the one we endorse?
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Why do you even think there is a need for Celebrate Recovery in our church?
Interesting question. Let me tell you what I’ve learned in the last four years as a part of Celebrate Recovery.
Those why questions, they get my heart pumping because I can see hope and healing and freedom spreading through the people I’ve come to love and think of as family with the answers.
The other questions, not so much. I can make guesses of who will lead what and when we might start this study or that promotional push, but those are all just supposes. The people I think of could easily be replaced, will be replaced as the years go by. The day and time I come up with may change to better suit the needs of the people (because there’s a better why that might need to be addressed!) In the end, those other questions matter to some extent, but they aren’t the crucial ones.
Here’s one of mine: Why did it take me almost 50 years to face my childhood abuse?
There’s a question for you! I’ve been working on this for a little over four years, and I’m finding that I will probably be facing different aspects of how my abuse has affected my life for years to come.
The answer is pretty simple, once I was willing to face it: fear. Irrational, yes. But there it is. I was afraid to say anything to my mom the one time she ever asked when I was 6, and ever after that I created my own ways of dealing with the aftermath. And it took me almost 50 years to name the fear.
From the outside, it might look like that should be that. I got it out in the open. Now I’m all better, right?
If only life were really that simple.
And I’m a strong person. I’ve always been independent and willful. I don’t cower in the face of opposition. I learned to stand up, to be seen and heard. If anyone could face fear it should be me.
But I couldn’t. So again, why?
That’s the question that took me a couple of years to truly embrace, to answer honestly.
Because I am not in control.
In fact, my life is out of control. I admit it. I cannot make anything happen that I think should happen. I can’t control the weather, the economy, politics, my kids. And I can’t control my own tendency to do the wrong thing in any given situation. It’s often the easier choice, the lazy choice, that gets me into trouble.
In facing the answer to that last why, I found freedom like I have never known before. I am not in control! And thank God, He is!
And it’s because I’ve been digging deep to answer my own why’s that I’m eager to answer those kinds of questions, because the answers are so satisfying when you see them come to life.
So let me give you some answers to the why’s. Yes, there are several CR groups that meet within a few miles of my church building. But I don’t see the people in my church attending them. There is something to be said about familiarity, and many people won’t step out of their comfort zone, even when they are in extreme pain.
Why CR as opposed to anything else? Secular programs have very similar steps, similar meetings, success at helping people get and stay sober from chemical dependencies, at least for a time. The simple, yet overwhelmingly complex answer to this is: Jesus. He makes all the difference.
Celebrate Recovery is centered around Jesus, and when I realized that I had no power to handle the things I was facing about my past, that’s when I learned that I have his power flowing through me. He is willing to take on whatever I have to face, if I ask. And that is the thing that makes CR the success that it is. Feeling the strength of Jesus in me helps me know I can face anything life throws me.
So why is there a need for Celebrate Recovery in my church? My simple answer is that I needed it. And I had to look for years before I found it. And I don’t want anyone else to waste all that time when they could be finding hope right where they are.
My church family needs CR. There are people struggling with hurts they can’t get past, hang-ups that keep them stuck where they don’t want to be, and habits that they think are going to take care of their pain, but only prolong their misery and bring sorrow to their loved ones. I know they are there. And I want them to find the healing and freedom I have found and am still finding.
So I dare you. Don’t worry about all those other details.
Ask me why.