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Faith for Recovery

I am a staff member at This Is Living Ministries. This is a college paper I wrote a couple of years ago.




Kendra Hillis

Professor Hartman

English 1020

4/4/2022

Faith for Recovery

 

"You know that empty feeling inside.  The cold wind of hopelessness blows right through it" (Baker and Warren 25).  That is a feeling anyone who has ever suffered through addiction can relate to.  You know, that feeling of being lost, forsaken, not wanting to live anymore or having done too much wrong to ever be given a chance to get it right?  Addiction will "take your life, then kill you" (Shepley 11).  None of us chose to be addicts, it is not like it was a choice we made.  It started out innocent, then we found something that felt like we had magically escaped all our pain, stress, and fears.  We end up spending the rest of our time in addiction chasing after that magical feeling (Shepley 8).  At the root of every addiction there is a broken person that doesn't know how to whole or deal with their past trauma or pain (Baker and Warren 11).  My intention in this writing is to educate you on how to not only get sober but heal that broken person inside of you that keeps pulling you back into that pit.

Celebrate Recovery is a program that leans on Jesus for healing through recovery and has multiple branches.  One of them is CRI, which functions inside prisons and jails with the intention of helping inmates find healing and peace before their release, in hopes that a changed attitude will bring about changed behavior.  Celebrate Recovery was not developed solely for addicts, but for any person needing help to overcome their "hurts, hang-ups, and addictive habits” (Noyes and Young).  Another program that leans on Jesus for recovery is All In Counseling Center in New Jersey.  In an interview for a news article the owner of All In said, "We know that treatment of any addiction, whether drug, alcohol, opiate, or other substance, requires a comprehensive approach.  For this reason, our treatment approach is based on psycho/bio, spiritual, and social models" (M2 Presswire).  Yet another program that leans on Jesus that is used independently in churches, homes, and community centers all over the place is Life Recovery.  Life Recovery, much like Celebrate Recovery, uses the twelve steps found in the Narcotics Anonymous program and pairs that with faith in God instead of just a Higher Power.  Now that we have discussed some of the programs and places, we are going to take a closer look at how recovery with the twelve steps and Jesus really works.

Step One: "We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.  "For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." (Romans 7:8) (Baker and Warren 12).  There are two key points to this step.  The first that we admit we are powerless.  "This immediately challenges the loner/isolationist in us “. . . Although we would be more comfortable with the word I and would prefer to get better alone, only we can recover (Arterburn and Stoop 3).  Working the twelve steps forces us to open up to other people, to use their own stories as inspiration and motivation, and to learn that we are not in life on our own.  We begin to learn that it is okay to lean on others for support, guidance, and help.  In fact, we can see from Jesus that community is vital to spiritual transformation.  We see so many times in the Bible Jesus meeting with His disciples, as a group in their homes (Arterburn and Stoop 2).  "Living in open and honest community appears to be necessary for spiritual growth" (Arterburn and Stoop 3).

The second key point of Step One is admitting powerlessness.  That can be hard for someone that has wound up caught in the throes of addiction, often times having lost everything due to a do-it-myself-I-don't-need-anybody mentality (Arterburn and Stoop 3).  We have to stop believing that it is just us and Jesus and accept the help from people that God has put in our lives if we want a successful recovery. "When we realize that God Himself is in community (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), we become aware of the fact that human beings were created to be connected to others” (Arterburn and Stoop 3).  When we admit that we are powerless and allow God to move in and do the work we find that recovery, and so many other day-to-day things we could not accomplish in our own power, are now possible only through Him (Arterburn and Stoop 6).

Step Two: "We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  "For it is God who works in you to will and act in order to fulfill His great purpose." (Philippians 2:13) (Baker and Warren 12).  In this step, we acknowledge that our addiction was a season of insanity.  We started out innocently enough, attempting to numb the pain or find pleasure or relief, and wound up using a crutch that could no longer hold our weight (Arterburn and Stoop 13).  We can compare addiction to the man called Legion that had so many demons inside him that he was crazy, and in that Jesus can cast out those demons of jealousy, fear, and hate that leave us lonely, angry, and feeling hopeless (Arterburn and Stoop 14).  God is willing at any time to help us come to our right mind again, be free from our out-of-control emotions and be free of our addictive behaviors.  We only have to reach out to Him for help (Arterburn and Stoop 14-15).

Step Three: "We made a decision to turn our lives and wills over to the care of God. "Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship." (Romans 12:1) (Baker and Warren 12).   This step can feel like losing your life entirely, it can be scary to turn away from the things that brought us comfort, entertainment, and reward.  It is like losing a dear friend and can be scary and intimidating.  (Arterburn and Stoop 23).  "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it." (Luke 9:24) (Arterburn and Stoop 5).  Giving up life as we know it may seem daunting, but in exchange for it there is so much more waiting for us, we only have to make room for it first.

Step Four: "We made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves. "Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord." (Lamentations 3:40) (Baker and Warren 12).  We must realize that addiction has three factors: physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual (Arterburn and Stoop 31).  Getting clean does not fix the whole problem.  In recovery, we discover new and healthy ways of coping with life's issues instead of using drugs or avoiding our problems and feelings.  "The only way to proceed in that process is to uncover our shame and allow God's light and life to flow in and heal us" (Arterburn and Stoop 31).

Step Five: "We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."  "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." (James 5:16) (Baker and Warren 12).  In this step we continue to learn how to release our pride and trust another person.  We must trust the person we are sharing with not to judge us, and to help us (Arterburn and Stoop 43).  Admitting the things we have done wrong opens our eyes to how we have behaved and what damage we may have caused in other people or our relationships with them (Arterburn and Stoop 42).

Step Six: "We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." (James 4:10) (Baker and Warren 12).  We may feel like some of our character defects have been useful to us, for instance independence.  We must realize we are no longer living in survival mode anymore, nor are we living with dark secrets, so we no longer have to isolate.  "To have a successful, serene recovery, we must let God chisel away even the defects that have been our default mode" (Arterburn and Stoop 51).

Step Seven: "We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.  "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) (Baker and Warren 13).  In this step, we "get out of our own way, accepting that our way of life has been problematic for us, others, and God" (Arterburn and Stoop 60).  This is the first step that we take in moving forward to who we are meant to be instead of focusing on who we have been (Arterburn and Stoop 60).  Many of us have had faith all along but still lived in addiction, because we never turned our lives and wills over to God.  "We must grow and allow God to shape our internal character, or relapse is inevitable" (Arterburn and Stoop 61).

Step Eight: We made a list of all the persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.  "Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31) (Baker and Warren 13).  Here we must attack our pride again, as often times we have not been willing to acknowledge our part in situations that hurt people simply because we feel we should not be the only one apologizing.  We must move past the blame game and look at our actions alone, forgiving the other person whether they ask us to or not (Arterburn and Stoop 70).  It is also very important that we realize that, most likely, the person we have hurt the most is ourselves.  We not only need to make amends to ourselves, but we need to forgive ourselves as well (Arterburn and Stoop 72).

Step Nine: "We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.  "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24) (Baker and Warren 13).  This step is something that is intended to be supervised by a sponsor or a mentor, someone who can help us decide who we need to seek out to make amends to that will not be hurt or deal with damage to their life or relationships by us dredging up the past now (Arterburn and Stoop 77).  

Step Ten: "We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.  "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1Corinthians 10:12) (Baker and Warren 13).  This is the first of what is called the "maintenance steps" (Arterburn and Stoop 88).  After getting past the wreckage in our lives and no longer playing the victim, we become aware that recovery is about "spiritual character building" rather than comfort and convenience.  We also become aware that this is not a one-time thing, it is something we must keep continuously doing (Arterburn and Stoop 89).

Step Eleven:  "We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly." (Colossians 3:16) (Baker and Warren 13).  As addicts, we have become used to instant gratification from our attempts to alleviate our ailments.  Talking to God and waiting to hear from Him, prayer and meditation, can be hard as there are not instant rewards and answers when we do it.  Although it may feel forced at first, if we truly commit to it, we will find that it is indeed rewarding and life carries so much more peace when we are living it in His will (Arterburn and Stoop 100).

Step Twelve: "Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.  "Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live in the Spirit should restore that person gently.  But watch yourselves, or you may also be tempted." (Galatians 6:1) (Baker and Warren 13).  After living in the dark in our addiction for so long, we are finally able to have a full and blessed life by having a relationship with God as well as people.  This brings us too much joy to just keep it to ourselves (Arterburn and Stoop 108).  As it says in Matthew 5:15, "No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket.  Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house."  By sharing our story and helping others still in addiction we are not only giving others the hope that we now have, but also reminding ourselves of where we have been and how far we have come, keeping us from falling into the denial that we can return to our old ways now (Arterburn and Stoop 107).

We must continue to work all these steps in all of our day-to-day affairs, all of the time, from this point on.  Just because we have finished the last step does not mean we are done working on our recovery, we must remain intentional and focused to remain in recovery (Arterburn and Stoop 108).  "Remaining in recovery is similar to what Jesus said to His disciples in John 15:5 "Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit.  For apart from me you can do nothing." (Arterburn and Stoop 109).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Arterburn, Stephen, and David Stoop. The Life Recovery Workbook. Tyndale Momentum, 2007.

            This is a source I found in my personal collection of literature accumulated on my own journey of recovery.  It is a book as well as well as a workbook that is designed to help one along their path of addiction recovery.        

            The Life Recovery Workbook makes an adaptation the Narcotics Anonymous approach to recovery, using the twelve steps just as fervently but making no mistake about who the authors believe their Higher Power to be.  It includes life tips, advice, scripture, the twelve steps, and after each of the twelve chapters a handful of self-searching questions for the reader to answer.  It helps the reader dig down as deep as they can to the root of the problem of addiction, and also helps the reader discover how to reach the root of the solution, God.

 

Baker, John and Rick Warren, Stepping Out of Denial Into God’s Grace – The Journey Begins. Zondervan, 2012.

            I had this book in my own personal collection of literature I have gained through my own recovery journey.  It is the first of four books/workbooks that walk a person through the Celebrate Recovery Program. 

            It is written by a couple of preachers and is centered solely around God as His word as the core of a successful recovery to addiction.  It is a lot like working the steps of NA, the only difference is that instead of using a higher power, the writers make no mistake in who their Higher Power is, God Himself.  The book includes scriptures, stories and testimonies, and practical application tips, as well as questions for the reader to ask themselves after each chapter in order to dig deeper and heal the wounds that drive them to addiction.

 

“Faith Based Recovery Programs: A supercharger For Addiction Solutions.” M2 Presswire, 6 Dec. 2021, p. NA. Gale General OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A685552581/ITOF?u=tel_a_mscc&sid=ebsco&xid=3d04854e. Accessed 10 Mar. 2022.

I found this news article on the online Motlow Library.  It is a brief article following an interview with the owner of All In Solutions Counseling Center in New Jersey.  The writer also went to a meeting with the clients at the facility. 

            The writer tells the reader about the centers approach to recovery, which is based around faith.  The writer quotes scripture and tells the reader how and why this method of recovery works.  The writer also briefly goes into the causes of addiction, stating that many people attribute it largely to a spiritual issue.

 

Noyes, Chaplain Denny, and Chaplain David Young. “Faith-Based Recovery: Transforming Lives One Inmate at a Time.” Corrections Today, vol. 80, no.5, Sept. 2018, p. 10. EBSCOhost, https://search-ebscohost-com.exproxy.mscc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.553116380&site=eds-live.

 

            I found this article in the online Motlow Library.  It is an informative piece about Celebrate Recovery and the many different branches it has.  The author tells the reader about how the program came about as well as its affiliates and how they merged.

            It informs the reader of the different branches of the program that are available to inmates, different age groups, different ethnicities or cultures, and different settings.  It gives a quick run-down of the way things work within the program, how they help, and the results they can produce in the people who commit to the program.

 

Shepley, Nick. Addiction & Recovery. Andrews UK, 2011.

            This source is an E-book I found in the Motlow Library.  The author is a recovered alcoholic, six years sober (at the time of writing this piece) and loving life.  His approach is a lot like AA, especially in that he uses the twelve steps very adamantly but is very different at the same time. 

            He writes in a way that is easy to grasp an understanding of, no matter what walk of life the reader is on.  He writes for the drug addict, the drunk, the sex addict, and every other kind of slave to anything.  He makes sure to tell the reader that it is okay if you believe in God, are an atheist, or anywhere in between.  He drives home the point that none of these things make a difference in whether or not working the steps can bring about life changing results. 

            He writes about things like the big bang theory, God, a Higher Power, meditation, and stories from his time in addiction (for him, alcoholism).  He is very relatable and open, making it easy to listen to listen to what he has to say. 

 

 

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