I’d like to share my testimony about the incredible difference that a supportive and encouraging community can make when you want to give up.
From an early age, I felt that I didn't belong anywhere or with any group. I had experienced rejection and abandonment, and I felt like an outcast with friends, and even with my own family. For many years, I've battled drug-addiction demons and at one point, spent time in jail for drug-related offenses.
Yet, I managed to get clean and stay that way for 17 years.
It was in the summer of 2006 that changed. My marriage was on the brink of ending due to unresolved issues on both sides, and I relapsed. Fortunately, it lasted only eight days, but it was as devastating an event as I have ever experienced.
The relapse stunned me and left me with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Unable to come to terms with my failure, I became angry with God, the church, my wife and family, my job, myself, and just about anyone who crossed my path.
My neighbor at the time knew of a program at Seacoast called Celebrate Recovery. He put me in his car, took me to that first meeting, dropped me off, and told me to go in, and “Do what they tell you.” I went in with a heavy heart and a serious dose of skepticism.
Despite my attitude of “Contempt prior to investigation,” I stayed for the entire meeting. I was sure that God had given up on me and that “these people” couldn't help me. What I found was that “these people” were able to understand because they had all gone through similar situations. They got it! More importantly at the time, I saw a joy in their demeanor and their approach to life. More than anything, I wanted some of that joy. My actions and despair had left me with the inability to laugh, and I wanted it back.
The next week, I went of my own accord. Willingly. What I learned over the following weeks was eye-opening. I had been trying to do this on MY OWN! It apparently, to my surprise, doesn't work that way. Albert Einstein once said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” I needed desperately to tap into others’ thoughts, experience, and hope. I needed a path—the twelve steps. I needed a direction and a sponsor. I needed the groups, the meetings, and accountability.
I took on an attitude, like my neighbor had told me, of “If they tell me to do it, I'll do it, whether I agree with it or not.” I certainly wasn't doing well on my own. “These people” from Celebrate Recovery became my friends and my support structure.
God Loved Me Through It
Now seventeen years later, they remain the best friends I’ve ever had. They love me for who I am, not for who they want me to be. God has loved me through it, good times and bad.
Every day, I try to live by the principles I learned early on in Celebrate Recovery. One day at a time, it works if you work it. This too shall pass. Play the tape the whole way through. Now, I can laugh every day. My soul finds rest in God alone. My life verse is Psalm 62:1: “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation” (ESV). I won't find rest in drugs, or alcohol, or sex, or pornography, or money, or power, or fame. My only rest is in God.
Dear Lord, I’m standing at the turning point right now. Give me your protection and care as I abandon myself to you and give up my old ways and my old ideas just for today. AMEN
– AA second step prayer