Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -Matthew 10:39
The loss of my guy friendship drove me straight into the place where God actually wanted me: Celebrate Recovery (CR). When I attended on that first Friday evening, I sobbed through the entire service. I knew this was the beginning of something entirely life changing. I just didn’t realize exactly how life changing it actually would be.
I spent a year in CR, faithfully attending each Friday night worship service and breakout session. After my first night, they offered the CR bread and butter: a single sex small group “step” study. I signed up immediately—filling out the card many times to make sure I was a part of a group where “the real healing occurs.” At the beginning, attending CR was a change—but I thought I had found my life, at least for the time being. However, about two months into my step study, I was laid off from my job at the data company. I applied for unemployment for the first time in my life, believing God for the best. I helped out an elderly gentleman and searched for jobs as the days passed, but I found no full-time employment. I was volunteering in the young adult ministry at the church where CR was located, but I was struggling as I began to look at the roots of my issues. Two months after losing my job and right as my step study deepened, my young adult pastor called to tell me that he was removing me from my positions in the ministry. Hurt and desperate, I fled to Arizona to hear from God about what was next. After spending nearly 40 days there, I returned to Maryland and CR, only to have a close friend berate me via e-mail about my choices and my personality. She basically ended our friendship. I processed that loss and found a temporary job, only to wreck my car twice as I commuted there—a sign, I felt, that I should not be there. I remember that during these months, I would wake up each morning feeling as if a house was sitting on my chest. I believed God was doing something great in my life, but I just couldn’t see that through the intense loss I felt.
It was during this difficult time that God reminded me of Jesus’ words in Matthew: sometimes, you have to lose your life for Christ’s sake in order to find it. Looking back, I can see clearly that God was stripping me of everything I had ever used to identify myself. He was forcing me to find my identity in the one place it could be securely anchored: in Jesus Christ alone. I lost my identity as the hard worker and wage earner when my company downsized. I lost my identity as a servant of God when my pastor removed me from my church positions. I lost my identity in my community when my close friendship ended. I even lost my identity as a car owner when I wrecked my car. So if I was not any of these things, then who was I? And could I find my identity solely in God as a co-heir with Christ and a child of the King?
It turns out, I could—and I did. And although it was the hardest year of my life, learning to find my identity in Jesus—by suffering the loss of everything I had used to define me—was the best thing that could have happened to me. God knew that I had to lose my life to find it.
In what ways have you had to lose your life for Christ’s sake in order to find it?