recovery from ourselves
I currently attend Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) working on my Masters in Biblical Counseling. This semester in the Spring of 2018, I am taking a class on addictions and substance abuse.
I was looking forward to the class; addiction had always been interesting to me. I had seen it too closely for it not to be intriguing.
As an assignment for this course, we had to attend three meetings with a 12 step program (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.) For more context, click here.
To be honest, when I was told of the assignment I didn't know how to feel. I never had to go through recovery for anything in the past, or even considered a 12 Step program, so to go into a meeting already seemed uncomfortable. I had always pictured 12 Step programs something that was super intense and dark and scary; or that's how they portray it in the movies, right?
I decided to go to Watermark Community Church's 12 Step program called Regeneration. You can read more about it here. I heard it was a bigger crowd (unlike an AA meeting, which tends to be a smaller group), so I knew I could slip into the back and not be noticed. This was my goal here.
I ended up going to the first Regen meeting with a few of my DTS friends who were all doing the assignment as well. Through the whole day before, I got this aching feeling that I just didn't want to go, which I honestly found strange. I typically love new experiences and tend to be interested in the brokenness of people.
(I was getting my masters degree in counseling, right?)
I couldn't shake it. This overwhelming, never-ending feeling that I definitely did not want to go to this meeting. I could feel the fight against the responsibility. I thought of ways I could lie my way out of the assignment. what is wrooong with me?
I felt weird parking my car.
I felt weird walking into the building.
I felt weird waving to the very friendly greeter that I probably gave a weird look to.
I felt weird walking into the opening worship set.
You get it.
I was trying to find every way to leave early, I just didn't want to be there.
God, seriously, this is so uncomfortable.
And I promise, I just heard it in my bones, a response:
Time seemed to move in slow motion that night. It always seems that way, doesn't it? That time seems to stand still when you want it to go faster.
Two people stood up in the large group that filled most of Watermark's sanctuary and told their testimony of recovery. There was something different about these stories -- they weren't all filled with recovery from drugs and alcohol -- but from pride, resentment, anxiety, anger, etc.
This was a very different recovery program.
We split up into groups for men and groups for women. The women's room was set up with circles of chairs in approximately 15-20 chairs in each circle. In comparison to the large group, these seemed like intimate circles. I was separated from my friends into a different group at this point, starting to slowly assimilate into a random circle on the left side of the room.
These girls looked like me. Smiling, laughing, regular.
We spent the next hour going around the circle talking about things they were recovering from and if they were making progress or not. I just introduced myself since it was my first time to be there. Their addictions and struggles were genuine and humbling. I sat in awe of their bravery to disclose such personal things. Things they were talking about were things I had gone through -- but they were things I hadn't even considered recovering from.
My brain was spinning with moments and previous habits in my life that I had buried deep in my subconscious in fear of addressing them.
Anxiety, previous addictions, my cynicism to leadership, a time of abuse that I had suppressed so so far down that I almost forgot about it -- they continued to surface to the point where it was overwhelming. When my turn had passed, I sat in my chair wrestling through all of the boiling memories.
I saw vividly then why I was afraid and uncomfortable throughout the day. I didn't want to see myself this way. I never wanted to dive into these things. God was in the process of shaping me into a better image of Himself and it hurt.
I got back to my car and just broke down in tears. I had spent so much of the past five years holding in my garbage so it didn't affect anyone else, and now it was breaking me into pieces. I let my confession of the things I had held onto fill the air of my car.
I collected myself to drive home to my husband and we sat on the couch as I had a moment of confession to him. I confessed all of the things I had kept to myself, pressed down so far -- those sins and heartbreaks that I kept in the far corner of my soul, swearing to never tell anyone.
Not even an hour later, my whole body felt lighter. The weight on my shoulders that I had tried to massage away dissipated. It made me laugh that I had tried to find a physical solution to my spiritual problem. A smile found my face again. I felt the difference after having a time of confession, between me and God and between me and my husband. Scraping away all of the dirt that I had let make a home on my heart. It began my process of recovery.
Confession to another person is not a prerequisite for prayer. We do not need an intercessor to have conversation with God. But when we confess to another person, we are taking away the power of the enemy to use it against us. There is healing in confessing out loud to another. Our enemy is here to "steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10:10), and can use our secrets even more powerfully when they are kept secret. There is a fear of judgement when we confess, but I am consistently surprised by the similarity of our problems. Seek out someone you trust or a leader in the church. Confession may not fix our situations completely, but it releases us to feel a joy that we may not have been able to for a long time.
"I kept my sin in and my bones wasted away." Psalm 32:3
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." James 5:16
"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
We ostracize ourselves from our surroundings when we have a secret with ourselves, when we keep something so tightly that no one can know. We will harm ourselves from keeping our own secret. We cannot have full communion with our God without confession. Confession is a habit that I believe we have lost in our daily life.
When we miss confession, the problems deep in our soul decay. We forget that the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23); we forget that sin is not just something that is "kind of bad", but something that is lethal. We forget that sin is something worth recovering from.
When we aren't in a habit of confession, it is like we are consistently drinking poison.
Confession is a small whisper to our closest relationships and to our maker, but it is vital; for our relationships and for our health.
Addressing these things with love and care is essential.What are things in your life that you need to recover from? What are things you have suppressed so far down so no one can touch?