Asbury United Methodist Church
Saturday, May 18, 2013
From Victim to Victory
Celebration in Recovery
I sat in my family counselor’s office two years ago and explained that for the 30+ years of my adult life I had felt like a boy, never a man. I am confident that I was judged a man from the world’s perspective. I had a long career at a major company. I retired at a relatively young age. I have a wonderful wife and family and have held practically every position of significance in the church hierarchy. Inside me, though, something was missing.
I grew up the son of an occasionally violent, always alcoholic father. I never felt that I was enough. This was communicated either directly or by insinuation. My father died in 1996 without any change in our relationship. For 30+ years I let my relationship with my father define who I was. For those 30+ years I remained a victim.
Shortly thereafter the men’s ministry invited Gordon Dalby, author of Healing the Masculine Soul, to speak at our church. I, along with 150 other men, spent the better part of a Saturday listening to Dalby’s message. I decided at that time that there had to be an answer to my pain. There had to be a way to claim my rightful place as a man, the man God designed me to be.
Several months later I shared my story with the church council of which I was a member. I stated at that time that I would no longer let my relationship with my father define who I was. I stated that from that point forward my relationship with my Heavenly Father would define me. I felt good and the words were warmly received by those present. But there was a problem. My relationship with the Father was tenuous at best.
The bottom line was that my walk didn’t come close to my (new) talk. I had for many years cultivated my relationship with the “church” but had done very little to cultivate my relationship with Jesus Christ. I had also grown very comfortable in my victim status. It was a known quantity. Being a victim allowed me to avoid responsibility and accountability.
Before I proceed I want to make it clear that I in no way discount the developmental impact of one’s family of origin for good or bad. Damaging behavior is very real whether it takes a subtle form such as neglect and indifference or obvious forms such as abandonment or physical/sexual abuse. I do, however, believe that as an adult I have a choice as to how I handle the resulting pain.
It was several months later when I joined a men’s small-group and was introduced to the power of recovery and accountability. I learned that it is part of God’s desire and plan for me to be healthy. Philippians 2:13 states that “It is God who works in me to will and to act according to his good purpose”. I also learned that I, alone, cannot effect the change that God desires. Romans 7:18 confirms this in saying that “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
Step two of the Celebrate Recovery process claims that “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”. Restoring me it is. Through an ongoing, often painful process of self-examination, confession, surrender and forgiveness I am coming to terms with my compulsive behaviors including co-dependence, anxiety and anger. Not yet healed, but healing.
The process has led me to understand that a relationship with Jesus Christ requires far more than mere desire. It requires prayer, studying His word, discerning His will, surrendering daily and ongoing fellowship with like-minded men. I require all of this to develop my long neglected spiritual muscle.
It is not easy and it is not quick. I can tell you, though, that for the first time in my life I feel far more like the man God designed me to be than I ever have before. I made the decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God. I chose Celebrate Recovery, a safe, welcoming, grace-filled, Christ-centered ministry of our church, to assist me in this endeavor.
Is Celebrate Recovery for everyone? I don’t know. I can only tell you that it has provided me with an opportunity to find greater peace, serenity, joy, and most importantly, a stronger personal relationship with God and others.