The very first time I gave my testimony of recovery was to my Celebrate Recovery home group sometime in mid 2007. If you have read my story, you know that 2007 was not my best year. There was still so much turmoil going on in my life but I had made huge strides in my recovery and it was time to share them.
A personal testimony is never complete; it changes as time goes on. It changes because we change. My testimony today is stronger than it was in 2007 and I’m sure, if I keep moving forward, learning, growing, changing…it will be even more powerful in the years to come. To me, a testimony is shared to give hope to others who feel lost, overwhelmed, hopeless, etc., that life can and does get better. It’s not a given with time but an effort that takes hard work and determination. A testimony is another way to share with others that they too can change their lives if they are “willing” and actually “do” the work that it takes. Testimonies can be a powerful influence in the lives of others and I am grateful every time I get to hear one.
That night, there were about 20-25 people sitting in that room. One of those people was a pastor, who ran a men’s recover program (which my ex was admitted to) and every week he would bring a group of men from the shelter to our meeting. There were people I was very close with, some I knew from afar, and total strangers that I had never met. It was overwhelming and utterly intimidating.
I got up to the podium and began sharing my story. I was shaking like a leaf. I had to grip the podium with both hands to stop the shaking but it was so bad, I shook the podium. I hate standing in front of people and speaking but it is was something I know I needed to do. I read through the first few paragraphs and then the tears just started flowing. I had practiced reading it over and over, at least 40-50 times, if not more, so I wouldn’t cry, but I cried through the whole darn thing!
Even though I cried, I felt that there were many positive things in my testimony; things that I have learned, a stronger relationship with my Lord, strong and healthy relationships with people, learning to trust and forgive. You get the picture. I had so many people come up and speak with me afterwards and thank me for sharing my story. Some told me how they could relate and others told me how it opened their eyes to how they were affecting someone in their lives with their addictions.
I felt it went really well until someone walked up to me and said that the pastor had been sitting next to her and said to her, “Where’s the blessing?”. That hurt. It made me wonder if I really had made any progress. I didn’t understand why he didn’t see the blessings as I had clearly stated them. Was he thinking I should have had some earth-shattering experience and be completely healed? Did he think that just because my life was still in turmoil that I didn’t have any real recovery yet? Did he expect I would say I’m completely recovered and will never be codependent again?
I was completely deflated by this one question. Each time I was asked after that night to share my testimony at another group, I questioned myself if I should. I struggled with saying yes but ultimately decided that what one person questioned should not stop me because so many others took something good away from the experience. God opened many doors for me to share over the years and I have stepped through each one and have been beyond blessed each time.
So today, in answer to the pastor’s question, “Where’s the blessing?”, I am able to respond with confidence that today:
- I have a faith that surpasses all understanding! I do not question why something is happening in my life and trust that things will work out the way they should as long as I am doing the next right thing.
- I do not live in fear any longer! I am not held captive by irrational fears and am able to process feeling and emotions when they arise.
- I do not let my emotions control my life! I am able to identify and work through emotions without denying them or reacting to them.
- I love myself today! I no longer put myself down or wait for anyone else to life me up.
- I have wonderful, healthy relationships! I do not hang on to people that bring a negative influence into my life or continually hurt or disrespect me.
- I know how to set boundaries and consequences and follow through when the boundaries are crossed!
- I understand forgiveness, of myself and others!
- I know who I am in Christ!
There are so many blessings in my life today, many of which I would not have, had I not done the work to change and grow. I am no longer worried if someone else can’t see them!