“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16).”
As I sat in the coffee shop a few days ago, I had an epiphany. I didn’t just have a problem; I WAS the problem.
I came to this conclusion after examining my current situation. I am unemployed and have some major marital issues.
The lack of a job and my problems with my spouse stem from my anger. Shoot, let’s call it what it is: my rage.
While I have acknowledged that I have a problem with anger, I also have thought that others have overreacted to it. “After all, they provoked it by their own behavior”, I have said to myself.
However, while there may be some truth to my thinking, it became clear in that coffee shop one does not have major problems like I do without culpability. I admitted then and there I needed help.
I went online right in the cofffee shop and started reading material from a Christian website I am familiar with. I read an article called “Hiding Behind Blame” by Dr. David Hawkins, a relationship expert. I read another about longing for comfort that doesn’t come.
Then I went back to an article by Dr. Hawkins called “The Narcissistic Husband”. All I could think of after I read it was, ‘”Ouch!”
Dr. Hawkins lays out several steps men must do to heal from their wounds (the source of rage). The first one was to acknowledge them. Check.
I read steps two and three without much thought. However, I became curious when when he wrote the following:
Fourth, men must make healing a way of life. Instead of reluctantly conceding to go to counseling for six sessions, men must be willing to do whatever it takes to name their wounds, talk about them, be involved in a community of healing such as Celebrate Recovery and then commit to a life of healing. Men need to experience the safety of being vulnerable, sharing their deep pain, and learn how to deal effectively with anger, hurt and sadness.
I asked myself,”What is Celebrate Recovery?” I had never heard of it.
So I did what I often do when I want to know more about something. I went to Google.
I learned that it was a ministry founded by Pastor John Baker of Saddleback Church in California. From what I could gather from the Internet, it is an organization similar to Alchoholics Anonymous, but with a more direct link to Christian belief.
I then went searching for a local group I could attend. I was in a hurry because in a few days I will be leaving for an overseas job assignment for almost a year.
Due to a family emergency, I didn’t go to the group I planned to attend, so I went last night to another one. My county doesn’t have any groups, so I went to a church located in the next county over.
The day of the meeting I sent an Email to the man listed as the contact for the group, a fellow named Tony. He responded promptly and gave me directions.
I arrived over there in plenty of time, but still managed to be late because I got lost. I arrived 20 minutes after the meeting had begun.
When I entered the sanctuary, I thought perhaps it was a church service because there was music and lyrics on some large screens. However, a man sitting next to the door confirmed I was indeed at Celebrate Recovery.
Men and women sat scattered around the room. Over to the far right were some men running the audiovisuals.
Not long after I arrived, the songs stopped. Then a video testimony was shown.
This fellow discussed his addictions, failed marriages and other issues. It was his third wife who got him involved in a group she was attending: Celebrate Recovery.
Of course, the man discussed how it had helped him. This man was no bum, but an otherwise highly successful businessman.
After the video, the men and women broke into separate groups in different rooms. I went to a room with Tony and a gathering of some 15 other men.
These men shared briefly some of their past and current stories. I shared with them how and why I had found them.
I got a blue chip keyring as a newcomer. I also told them I would be leaving for Europe in a few days and hoped to find some “likeminded sufferers” to begin a group with.
During the refreshement time, Tony walked up to me with a Celebrate Recovery Bible, hardback edition. It didn’t look cheap. I asked him to Email me and ask how I was doing.
This whole experience has given me a gratefulness for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Some motivated individuals around the country, and even in some places overseas, are reaching out to others who need a place to go to share their hurts, temptatations and sins-people like me.
The Israelites in the Old Testament for the most part seemed to be a rebellious, wicked brood. However, there were times they could truly be a band of brothers.
One such instance was when they reached out to one of their tribes which had been destroyed in a civil war. Even though they refused to even let their daughters marry up with the men of Benjamin, the Israelites wept bitterly over the loss of their brethren (Judges 21:1-4).
They eventually found a way around their oath to refuse marriageable women to the Benjamites. The whole story, including a rather peculiar dance party, is a bit odd.
However, the episode shows the heart of the people of Israel for their own. Having disciplined them, they went out of their way to heal them (Judges 21:5-23).
John Baker, in his own testimony, describes how he began Celebrate Recovery. Having been mocked at AA for his open belief in Jesus Christ, and yet lacking men in his church small group with whom he could confide his recovery from alcoholism, he wrote his pastor and suggested Celebrate Recovery.
Over 10,ooo people have gone through the program at his own church. Over 10,ooo churches and 500,ooo people have completed in the U.S. and around the world.
I am about at the place John Baker was when he proposed Celebrate Recovery to his pastor. God willing, I can find some men overseas with whom I can meet and heal with together.