“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25
After attending Celebrate Recovery for a year, I felt God calling me back to my former church—yes, the one I had left abruptly. I had made amends with my pastor, and he had told me, “Oakdale will always be your home.” However, I somehow believed that completing a recovery process meant that I wouldn’t face any obstacles and that I was finished with my work. So even though I returned to the church a different and better person, God was not finished His work in me. I had a lot of growing to do. In fact, I found that I was still struggling with people and with how to use my gifts. So after a brief stint back, I left again, hoping to find a place where my gifts could be used—even though my heart was not in the right place.
My search turned up dry, though, and in the midst of feeling out of community, I became involved with a man who offered me false community and intimacy. He claimed to be a Christian but was not practicing or in community with other believers. We began a relationship while he was still married. I somehow convinced myself that this was not adultery because he and his wife were separating. However, because I had stopped talking with my close Christian friends, I had no accountability. It was a brief relationship, and thankfully, God delivered me from it and opened my eyes to my sins. When the relationship ended, I repented and returned once again to the church I had left—to the community of believers who showed me the grace and love I had been searching for.
The latest years of my life have shown me a few important things:
- Recovery is ongoing. Even though I was free from my pornography addiction and related issues, I was still struggling with my relationships. My beliefs about relationships with men and my own worth still needed work. And I realized that my thought life was still an issue—daydreaming and control issues ran rampant. I did not leave Celebrate Recovery fully healed: I left healed of many issues, but I still need constant work to continue to grow in my walk with God.
- Ongoing recovery requires community. I didn’t have to stay at Celebrate Recovery, but I needed to be in community SOMEWHERE. When I stopped attending church, hanging with my Christ-like friends, and allowing myself to be held accountable, I fell into sin very easily. I went down the slippery slope so fast, I was unable to recover in time. I praise God for His grace, but I know that not having community was the biggest reason I fell into sin. Now I make community a priority in my life—so that recovery can continue!
- Every community is made up of sinners like me. When I left my church, it was because I didn’t believe people were communicating with God about how to use my gifts. As it turns out, I was the one not in tune with God. No matter what church you attend, no one there is perfect—including you. I had to temper my expectations about people and about God. And I had to realize that people—even and especially my Christian friends, would disappoint me and even hurt me. When I understood and accepted those things, staying in community became that much easier.
When I returned to my church this last time, I spent one year in a ministry supporting in the background. I finally submitted to God, allowing Him to develop patience in me and allowing Him to use that year to mature me in very specific spiritual and emotional areas. And when I humbled myself before Him, He lifted me up (James 4:10)—to the perfect worship leadership position for me. I currently serve there, and though it is challenging, I know that God is using this time to develop and grow me even more, so that I can face the next eight years with full confidence in Him and who I am in Him. And that is the reason I sing!
Thank you for reading my story and hearing my song! I pray that it has blessed you and encouraged you in your own walk with Christ!