Saturday, Jan 29, 2011
I’d been in Celebrate Recovery about 2½ years. We were on our way to the 2011 one-day seminar in Sacramento. The lady in the back seat said: “Jim, I remember your first time at Celebrate Recovery.”
I was astonished, and touched. Then she said: “I remember thinking – WOW! What is HE doing here? If there was ever anybody who does NOT need to be here, it’s Jim! He has it all together. He and his wife are pillars of the church.”
I remember that very first night, too. I came in late, left early, and did not stay for the open share group time. I was not sure I wanted to risk getting involved with this group. After all, I had secrets to keep! But even with my fear of that first night, I knew I’d found something I needed. I’d finally reached the end of my…???…. I’d reached the end of Me.
You see, Marlene knew me by my “church” face. I’d had a life-long relationship with God. I knew all the right things to say. I knew how to act. I knew what was safe to share. I knew how to cover up those secret things I thought would keep me from being accepted. The sad thing was; I knew I would not be accepted. I’d already experienced the judgment that came when I failed to conceal my other face(s), when I wore the wrong face to the wrong place.
I’d gotten very skilled at presenting the face that the setting, or the circumstances, or the company I was in required of me. I wore one face at church. That was my “holy” face. I had another face at work. I’d done a good job for AT&T for 37 years. But the face I wore at work was not my holy face. It was not an evil face, but I certainly knew I should not wear my work face to church. I was also very hesitant to reveal my “holy” face at work. Part of me lived in fear that those two worlds would meet. I sometimes thought about my funeral, the day when friends and family, coworkers and others, people from all parts of my life would finally come together.
I would ponder: “I think I’m glad I won’t be there!”
There were some other faces I wore; there was the face my friends saw, there was the face my kids knew, there was the face my wife kissed, the one she woke up to. I had another face when I was with my brothers and sisters, or Mom and Dad. I was 63 years old, and even I did not know which one was real. But I was growing desperately tired of trying to figure it out.
In March of 2008, Mom died after battling cancer. My life began to boil. Relationships exploded. I got lost. I didn’t know who I really was anyway, but now things got worse. I could stand here for hours and talk about those dark days, the weeks and weeks that lasted more than six long months.
Come to think of it, though, I have talked about it for hours; at Celebrate Recovery, with people I now know are safe, in open share groups, in two step studies, over lunches and dinners and cups of coffee in a corner of a restaurant with my sponsor. And with my wife. Matt was the second person I felt safe and open with. (the first being my wife) He became my sponsor and one of my accountability partners. God guided us into an open and honest relationship that began the healing process that literally saved my life. I’ve been able to take that security, friendship and safety into other relationships. I remember one day making the comment to my wife: “You know, Honey, I’m realizing that God, through Celebrate Recovery has been making one person out of me instead of three or four.” I told her that she had been married to more than one husband, but they were all me.
A major healing point occurred in me when we were in the 3rd book at my first step study. We were sharing about our relationship with God. I had been cautiously stepping into new territory in my walk with Him. I realized in a deeper way than ever before that God loved me, accepted me, and that Jesus liked to spend time with me. “JESUS LIKES SPENDING TIME WITH ME”!!! I am loved and accepted! The healing process of that thought is continuing to invade my inmost being and bring peace to my soul.
One of my close Celebrate Recovery friends shared with me recently that he is seeing the term “RECOVERY” in a new way. It’s not recovery now as much as it is DISCOVERY of new things. That thought has been exploding within me. I’m beginning to move beyond the hurts, habits and hang-ups of my past into a new era of discovering Who I am in Christ. If you’ve been attending this group more than a couple of months, you’ve probably heard the phrase – “Stay until your miracle happens.” I feel like I’m right on the edge of discovering my miracle.
The “GOD” word I’ve learned in Recovery is PROCESS. God has taken the brokenness and confusion of my hurting heart and is restoring me to a measure of wholeness. I now wake up in the morning and wear the same face all day long. Well, more days, anyway. I’ve grown to like living with that face. It’s the same face at church as it is at home. It’s the same face with my family as it is with strangers. It’s the same face with my wife as it is when I’m alone. I’m retired now, so I don’t need my work face anymore, but when I meet my former co-workers, it’s with my real face. I don’t have a ‘holy’ face anymore, I have a real face. My wife likes living with the same face day after day after day. Sound boring? She likes the security of it. She likes living with the peace it gives me(us).
Jesus likes spending time with The REAL Me… Now, I do, too!
(He liked spending time with me before. too, I just didn’t know it.)
jim catlett 1.29.11 firstname.lastname@example.org