Celebrate Recovery® at CRBC

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Hi, my name is Christina. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and in recovery for codependency, relationship addiction, and my relationship with the Lord.

I wrote my testimony during a two to three hour time span one Saturday morning in September of 2010. In it I filled 15 pages worth of examples of the painful memories that occurred throughout my life and documented a good amount of my struggles. I then shared it with a close colleague, one who has been privy to my life for some time now. Before her review and feedback however, I reread it. The next morning I stood in her doorway as is my norm and announced I was going to rewrite it. Her question was simply “Why?” My response – it didn’t really say what I wanted it to say. While the first was well written and grippingly emotional, it was simply a reenactment of the moments of pain and hurt from childhood into adulthood and focused more on them than the growth from them. She agreed with a simple little nod.

I was introduced to Celebrate Recovery during the dissolution of my marriage. A coworker, Vickie Boals, was the Lord’s spokesperson. I find it very interesting to see how intricately his plan was woven. You see, Vickie and I had worked together (though indirectly) for at least seven years before she approached me during a period of time where I was simply lost. Struggling to put together the pieces of a shattered marriage. Struggling with what I could do, should do, to make it right. I knew of her enough to be able to share my marriage issues and over time to ask her questions and advice … feeling the urge to trust and follow. I began to listen closely … and eventually found myself asking questions about a God I didn’t really trust and hadn’t for a number of years – a God I felt drawn to nevertheless.

It took me quite a while to admit that my life was out of control, I never HAD control, and that He had a plan and ... from what Vickie said … she was sure it would be a better one and everything would “work out”. The first was easy to admit - my life was out of control - there was hard evidence. The second was hard - I never had control - because denial is a strong force to reckon with. What do you mean I don't have control? The third was a little harder still - that He had a plan … it clearly linked with the second because what could be better than what I’d chosen, right? I knew what could make me happy!

Vickie handed me a card, I took it and sat on it for months before finally walking in to CR - utterly lost and broken and having tried all avenues on my own. Maybe CR could fix it. It wasn't until a year or so later that I finally accepted that it wasn't my husband or my marriage that needed to be fixed, it was me. And a lot happened in that year that helped me get there. In that time, I held onto Vickie and several other supporters before finally trusting my biggest supporter – the Trinity.

I began to notice that every time I had a question, I received an answer. I joke about it but my messages began in feelings of peace and joy amidst my hurts and resentments and struggles as my separation proceeded ahead to divorce. Then they moved into the right song on the radio and writing (including big billboard messages and yes … even Facebook) and into the mouths of friends and even perfect strangers. As I started participating in CR I began learning things about myself … the first thing that became apparent was that while I came to CR as the fix to my husband and my marriage …. I needed some fixing in my own heart and belief systems. I needed to recover me and my relationship with my Lord. In the time I have spent in CR I have evolved from the lost and tearful, not-sure-who-I-am individual and blossomed into a more confident individual on all accounts. I've been reborn into a new life with new relationships and a new awareness of the Truth and the Way.

I went from a God-fearing, non-trusting, bottling-everything, cause-I’m-the-responsible- one-and-have-to-control- everything-Catholic to something very different. I can’t tell you how long it had been since I had genuinely smiled, since I met someone’s eyes and held them, since I have hugged someone and really embraced them, since I have felt or really wanted to feel God’s hand in my life. That is, before I came to CR I couldn’t tell you. Since I have relinquished the chains of denial, released my sense of needing control, and simply accepted and trusted in the promises God has made that Jesus shared … I didn’t want to be born cross-eyed, I’m pretty sure I didn’t ask for it nor the teasing and attention that ensued from it. Four surgeries in my early childhood stemmed to correct it and I still have some scary memories but all was well. I didn’t want to fall and bruise my two front teeth as a baby which became another event for teasing and attention from childhood friends and family until they finally fell out. Thank goodness baby teeth fall out - talk about triumph when I had new teeth to replace them with. I didn’t want my mother to be so very ill with several instances where we found ourselves saying good bye as a precaution. I didn’t want my grandmother to die only to uncover it wasn't murder but rather suicide and bottling the resentment stemming from that family secret. I didn’t want to deal with breaking up with my first boyfriend nor uncover that he cheated and lied nor the friendships that were caught in the middle and dissolved as a result. I didn't want to break up with my second boyfriend, it took me a year after the first to finally build a shaky trust. My third boyfriend turned fiance turned husband... and during this evolution I didn’t want to have four miscarriages nor did I ever anticipate my marriage would end. And I certainly never wanted my children to be hurt and scared.

Why in the world would God want these things for me? And therein lies the challenge I was going to confront through CR. What I always wanted was for the world to be right, for my fears to subside (or never exist), to be able to trust people, to be married, to have children, to be happy, and to be loved unconditionally.

What I have learned and embraced is that I have all these things that I say I want … God has a plan, so the world is as it is (not as I want it) which is "right", my fears have subsided after having acknowledged their real core, I can trust people while still understanding that people are human, I was married, I have two children, I am happy with what I have, and there is One who loves me unconditionally. But I did not learn this overnight.

For years my defense mechanisms have been no eye contact, bottling, compliancy, retreating, overanalyzing, and codependency. I was the wall flower, the rule follower, the cool wife, the good listener, and the great thinker so there would be no avenues for making waves. And yet I knew there was something more I was missing and that my happiness and security in myself was only really based on how people seemed to feel or feel about me.

CR’s close knit family of women showed me and taught me through example what love can feel like. What strength is … and it’s not holding it together on your own. It’s reaching out for help and asking the Lord for it. The step-study I went through showed me the error in my perspective that held me back for so long: God was never punishing me with the trials I struggled through. Without experiencing the chain of events as they occurred I could never have obtained nor fully embraced all that I have now.

In high school, after finding out my boyfriend cheated, I was sitting on the bus staring out the window and I remember thinking “What am I here for? What would life be like if I wasn’t?” I wasn’t suicidal but as an analyzer I did question everything about myself and life in that instant. I was a little unprepared for what followed my question. Every thought (and for me to have only one thought is huge!) was pushed out of my head. The air around me seemed to simply stop moving. There was no sound – just a sense of when I tell my son to “Freeze!” It was as if someone had literally grabbed me by the shoulders and jolted me out of my little reverie before I could get started. The only thought was a powerful force and it clearly told me “Don’t even think it.” I didn’t – ever again. But I do still remember that day very vividly.

Jumping several years forward, I was clearing my first trimester or so when I watched my tv as the second plane crashed into the tower. I seriously questioned the world I was bringing an innocent life into ... I was completely fearful and wondered how in the world I could offer him protection - I had no control over these events. ... Growing up I bottled death and loss ... I even forbid the discussion much less the use of Noah's Ark themes for the baby's room much to my family's confusion. I prayed that day but the contents of the bottle were beginning to move and I needed a protector who was bigger than me but I didn't yet trust Him. I bought a Christian soundtrack and listened to it in the car, loud! You know, so the baby could hear it too. And after the baby was born, I put "Now is the Time to Worship" to repeat and I would sing the words and dance with him in the living room until his father got home when the radio would go off or change to a different station. My husband couldn't understand my desire nor did he have a desire of his own. I attempted to get us all to go to church a little more but eventually had to resign myself to going with my son or simply alone. The livingroom dances and concerts in my car continued though - our music choices expanding a little more in the praise and worship genre. In my need, I suppose I was opening the door to check to see if He was there ... He was ... I didn't invite Him in.

Driving home one night, a few years later – I found myself cut off on a highway by a driver going only 15 miles an hour. I remember this vividly because I looked at my speedometer thinking I must have been going really fast when I realize he was just going really slow. I was able to judge accordingly but upon looking into my rearview mirror there were numerous cars that weren’t able to. I braced myself for the onslaught of impacts I was sure would occur – all I could do was glance at my baby in the backseat sleeping soundly in the car seat …. The impacts never came. I glanced up into the rearview mirror to see cars swinging from left and right and not a one coming near me. I remember thinking to myself even then …. The Red Sea. What it must have been like for those there to see His power. Seems like a "Jesus Take the Wheel Moment" I know but I don't remember crying out to Him for help... Or to Him to save us... my relationship with God was still an opening and just checking status at that point. All I know is, regardless, He was there for my son. And I thanked Him for protecting my son ...

Fast forward several more years, past three miscarriages and arguments over church attendance and a widening rift between my husband and I and an unconditionally loving bond between my son and I and the birth of my daughter. (Oh yes I prayed for her, begged the Lord for her ... I made promises if only He'd hear me ... I promised they'd know Him. That I'd be a better teacher to them. He heard me.) The rift widened and the separation began. Infidelity occurred. And a last ditch effort to save the marriage began and ended. I did everything I could ... he chose to walk away. I was devastated. Not only did I question who I was, I questioned why. I questioned God. I had two children! .... It would dawn on me later that I had two children - my remnant. CR helped me soooo much during this time. I didn't have all the answers and I was still hurting but there was a lot of healing. Driving home one evening after having picked up both kids after a long work day, I stopped at a light and I looked up to see a truck barreling up behind me. I do remember praying fervently that night as I took my hands off the wheel and simply waited for the impact – there was nothing I could do. I didn’t have control to change the course of events at all. I watched as the nose of the truck disappeared in my rear view mirror but the impact never came. I looked up and watched in awe as this truck completed an impossible maneuver. It was as if it was picked up and twisted 90 degrees and placed along the ground again, sparks flying as it ran up a hill and back down missing every tree and driving away as though nothing had happened. I remember thinking, thank you and then hamster wheeling my way into “wow, my kids must really be important … He has saved them both on different occasions” ... "I wonder what they are meant to do". God has a sense of humor and does provide answers, eventually. Not just when I ask for them. Or not ask them, but make assumptions like I had that night. A few nights after this latest near miss I was driving and …. Yes. Another near miss. Only this time I had no kids in the car. Some might say “sheer coincidence” ... my message? After all I had done and failed to do, God was still there for ME too.

For years I had been angry with God for having the power but never saving my grandmother – I built up walls and stayed away from church whenever I could. Yet I still considered myself a Catholic and still felt guilty when the proverbial boxes weren’t checked, still felt the need to follow some of the basic rules, and always found myself seeking out a church when problems presented themselves. I am so thankful that He plants that seed of yearning in the beginning, the one I tried to fill with my boyfriends and husband and people and denial …. That seed made it easier to listen and believe Vickie when she came into my life. But I’m even more thankful because as I finally saw the chain of events, when all along I thought He had pushed me aside, He had actually held me. You see, I was supposed to spend the night with my grandmother, go over and check on her the next morning … I have been able to see that maybe He knew better ….

Even during the occasions where I didn’t reach out and those times when I pushed Him away …He saved me. He still put people in my life who would see me through my trials – guides who had been there ahead of me and could guide me. And all my trials reiterated that He was there and waiting. Consistent, constant, loving, and protecting. Did I see that at the time? Not always ... I had moments of rolling eyes when another person called me out of the blue to ask me how I was, to invite me over, to talk to me about their day.

Don’t get me wrong, life’s lessons aren’t always “whoo hoo” moments – they do occasionally entail “growing pains” … moments where my will and His clearly collide. I have found that when I trust Him – it turns out the “right” way. I didn’t always like the right way but the alternative would have been worse and I wouldn’t have wanted it that way in the long run. Some of that is again – my being human and wanting to exercise my free will. Sure it’s free, but if I’m not careful – there is a cost.

CR allowed me to step into the trailer of ChangePoint and through ChangePoint I was able to hear more messages and learn more about a Father and Brother I found I never really knew. I then stepped into the church – CRBC. As a result of this chain of events … my wedding anniversary is now my anniversary of the day I rejoined the fold – the day I accepted … truly accepted that Jesus was my Lord and my Savior. My son was baptized with me while my parents, daughter, and ex husband looked on. Is life perfect? No, but life is good!

The one thing I clearly keep in the back of my mind when trying to determine the “right thing to do” is George Boals saying, “You know it’s the devil when the action or decision brings you away from God.” Boy the devil is cunning. Whereas God glories in my weakness and turns them into strengths and brings me closer to Him, the devil will glory in my weakness and turn them into strengths as well - anxieties and mistrust that keep me from God.” He used events that led up to the baptism … my weakness is that I am sentimental. George was to baptize my son and I. The afternoon before, he became very ill. I, being sentimental, thought about postponing but upon looking at the bigger picture my being sentimental would have kept me longer from obeying God. God was calling, I was simply to respond to the call – not postpone the meeting time for a better opportunity. Thank God, God made me an analyzer too!

Please do not misunderstand; I am not claiming to be perfect, or to have been perfected. I have simply accepted His grace and mercy and have decided to let His will be done as I say I will when I pray the Lord’s Prayer. I still make mistakes and I still wish I hadn't said something a certain way ... still have my insecurities.

I am currently striving to submit to trust His will for my life. I smile because I tell my son “Don’t ask me why, just do it.” Knowing that what I asked him to do was not for his harm. Interesting perspective don’t you think? God is so good, so powerful, so loving. There are several references in the Bible about seeking Him, you will find Him. I know this to be true. And the most amazing part I found was that all I had to do was ask. I didn’t have to shout (though I probably did that too), I didn’t have to beg, I didn’t have to cry (though I KNOW I did that) and I could put up a wall and He could overcome it to get to me. I could even whisper. I know this because sometimes this was all I could manage. And still he never ceases to amaze me ... because there are times where I don't even ask and I am simply reminded by a blessing just because and it's usually more abundant than I could ever have ever asked for if I'd thought about doing it.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. -
Malachi 3:10

To date, I still fall into concern over “What is my purpose? What am I supposed to be doing?”

I smile as I reread this next paragraph as I answered this question of purpose in what I originally wrote: I'm sure I will get the question of "What is my purpose?" .... I don’t know … not in the sense of what I am to fulfill but I do know that He had watched, waited, and worked with me to get me to where I am today – to get me back to the fold. So whatever my purpose is, it’s pretty important I’d think. And with His guidance I will continue to walk my path, Jesus to keep me company, and the Spirit to give me the strength.

Father as I sit here sharing this testimony I question whether this testimony shines enough light on your awesomeness ... your abundance of love and patience and mercy and grace. I thank you for it all. Without all these, and the messengers you placed in my life to reveal them, I'd be lost. I am so thankful that You have shown me Your promises, softened my heart, guided my footsteps, taught me trust, built my faith, shown me what love is really supposed to be, and given me the opportunity to share it all. You know my hamster wheel intimately; you have run it along with me. I have lived my life in the past and the future and am only now learning the contentment of living in the moment. Cast your shining light and wipe the shadows away for all your children. Remind them of Your truth when you promised Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called accordingto his purpose. In Jesus’ name I pray.

And when I get drawn back onto the hamster wheel … I simply ask Him for help remembering again and again and again. And He will help me … again and again and again.

Please remember that you have been drawn here for a reason. Seek Him – He will cross whatever distance you need. It doesn’t mean He will do ALL the work and it will all be easy, but what I can guarantee is two things – He is patiently waiting and it will be worth it!


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Last updated 5/27/11