Hello, my name is Stacy (third from the left in the picture). I’d like to share with you a summary of my story of how God worked in my life through bringing me to New Life Christian Church and Celebrate Recovery.
Before coming to New Life Christian church, I had struggled many years of my life with depression, feelings of failure, never being good enough or loved enough, codependency, and chemical dependencies, including alcohol, marijuana and nicotine. As an only child I grew up in an alcoholic home with a lot of fighting.
Fortunately, I was raised in a Methodist church with great people. During middle school I loved youth group and other activities, but at school I was bullied with little self-esteem. Anger and wanting to escape developed more. At age 11 my father served time in jail and rehab. Only by the grace of God my mother eventually got sober. I began not wanting to be at home much. I was out with friends as much as possible because I’m an extrovert. In high school I chose to get into trouble because it was fun and cool. I have always been drawn to the troubled and bad influences. I became a party girl and was crazy like my parents and friends. I wanted to have a blast as much as possible. That was my addiction. Feeling good and free to do whatever I wanted.
After years of many bad choices and an unhealthy lifestyle, I suffered a lot of consequences including a week in jail for a DUI. And it could have been much worse. Many times I drove intoxicated I could have killed someone. I lived with a lot of guilt and shame from my behaviors and habits for years. I really wanted to be a good Christian but I had no idea how I could do it. How could I live happily without partying and my without my habits. I juggled 2 different lives. I went to church, bible studies and served, while continuing my self-destructive behaviors and sins. After many attempts to quit my habits on my own, I continued to ask God for help, and to send me good Christian friends. I knew I needed this to succeed. Because you are who you hang with.
I couldn’t tell anyone at church my issues. They all seemed “good”. After all, they had known me since really young. I would really shock and disappoint them if they knew what I did. This church was mostly families and older people, without single people my age so I felt I didn’t fit in.
Something big was still missing. I didn’t know how God would replace my addictions to his and my satisfaction. I needed to obtain pure God given joy somehow to fill the void inside. I didn’t have any other hobbies. What else was I going to do for fun and meet people? How would I be comfortable at the concerts that I love in that atmosphere? Would I even like myself? Who am I without the party? What’s my purpose with God?
One night in May 2014, I met a new friend and had a conversation about churches. I told her that I like to check out new churches when I move to different areas. And I really wanted to go to an upbeat, lively church because mine was not. Coincidentally, I was moving to Centreville and she recommended New Life Christian Church. I had never heard of a non-denominational church and was intrigued. We decided to go together after I moved. The Friday after I moved, which was June 6, 2014, was my last drink. God and I had this moment. I knew this was it. This time I really was done. I found myself not wanting to drink at all. It’s not good for my mind body or spirit and God told me He wants it. It is in fact a demon to me. Instead of my own willpower thinking, I decided to hand it over to Him. God turned my heart and mind against alcohol in a way I struggle to explain. He had indeed taken my desire to drink away.
That Sunday June 8, 2014, we met at New Life Christian Church. I loved how it was not like a traditional church, rather it was modern and energetic. I liked the stage, band and the pastor. At the end of Brett’s sermon, he invited us to go to the back, where there were white boards set up, and to write a word or sentence with something we wanted to let go of, that we had been struggling with. I wrote the word alcohol. Then I went back to my seat and partook of the sacraments. At the end there was an announcement about Celebrate Recovery. He says there’s a group that meets every Friday night for anyone with hurts, habits and hang-ups. Wow that sounded great for me. I definitely want to check that out! New Life even calls themselves a church for messed up people. Brilliant.
So the following Friday night came, and although I was tired, unmotivated and would be going alone, I felt the nudge and I went. I had no idea what to expect. I found the room, walked in and the lighting was dim. A guy was singing worship with an acoustic guitar, chairs were lined up, and coffee was in the back. It kind of looked like a meeting? Then someone stood at the front introducing themselves “Hi my name is so and so, I am a grateful believer in Jesus that struggles with such and such” My mouth opened and eyes wide. Then they read the 12 steps with their biblical comparisons. I couldn’t believe it. God had sent me to a Christian recovery program. How awesome this was! He had brought me there, providing exactly what I needed and wanted. This incredible God moment had us smiling together and I was in awe the rest of the evening, and weeks after. There was a live testimony and then the share groups followed. Everyone was really nice and welcoming. I learned that I could be completely honest, take off my mask and there would be no judgment. I could address any and all of my issues there. That was good for me! I picked up my first blue chip and it even said Welcome Home. It was then I started to see the real purpose God had for my life. Not even having a clue yet of what was really going to happen to me, to my life from then on from Celebrate Recovery.
After regularly attending the meetings I grew and was being transformed. I was developing healthy relationships there, helping serve by setting up, got trained for leading share groups, and went through the women’s step study program. This all changed me. God lead my heart and healed so much inside of me. Part of this was getting off of anti-depressant I had been on for many years.
Today I have 21 months continuous sobriety, 15 months no smoking anything. I have been off of anti-depressant for about 1 year.
Last summer they sent two other leaders and I to Saddleback Church in CA for the CR summit. I am eternally grateful for that. I will be going back every year! To be at that incredible church with over 3000 CR family members that have also had CR change their life, Hearing amazing stories and worshiping with them was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my life. I even got to meet completely randomly Rick Warren (one of my pastors) and John Baker who started CR.
Celebrate Recovery started 25 years ago and is now held in 27,000 churches. Some have Celebration Place and The Landing (that’s recovery appropriate for children). It is international and in many jails and prisons. This is my favorite ministry I want to serve for the rest of my life if possible.
Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
I now believe the WHOLE bible is His true living word. Not just what matched my life. I learn about Him and He speaks to me through it. I now finally walk close to Jesus, with pure Joy in my heart (the best high ever) I no longer feel that hole inside. Because He’s saved me, from myself, from death, and set me free from my sin and darkness. For everything He’s done and will do, I can easily center my life around living for Him, not me. His way, not mine. He still saves me everyday. Everyday He blesses me here on His beautiful Earth, whatever the day brings, He guides, I learn and my faith grows stronger. Those 3 major dependencies were replaced with 3 way superior ones: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Today I’m thankful that I had made so many mistakes, that I was as sick as I was, and brought to recovery. Hard work pays off. And He’s still working on me til I leave Earth. So far I’ve noticed my thinking has changed, heart has changed and just noticing I am not the same person. I may have been saved years ago, but the surrender of my addictions, and my life, in recovery is when I became reborn. I mostly listen to Christian Rock now…crazy. I am now “one of those” who is on fire for the Lord with my arms and hands stretched in the air worshiping and feeling His spirit. As I know my home is in Heaven with the Lord. I am no longer of this world.
After years of having the dream to move to NC, it finally came true, and I moved 4 months ago. Although it was super hard leaving New Life and all my loved ones, I know this was God’s will. He opened all the doors. I’m so grateful we have stayed connected and this place will always be home. Thankfully I can still watch online.
Relocating for the first time and alone has brought new peace and new challenges. I have really been brought to completely depending on Him, and He does provide and lift me up everyday. He never fails. I have found an awesome church for me down there, a Celebrate Recovery, and have already met and started building new relationships. It’s a great feeling to know I am never alone and God sends people to me to care and be there for me. I am now a sponsor in CR so I can hopefully further help those God sends my way. I’m so grateful to have served and been reborn at New Life’s Celebrate Recovery.
Luke 11:9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Thank you for letting me share, and may God bless you on your journey too!