I’m a grateful believer in Jesus who struggles with mental health. My name is Joe.
For most of my life, I have struggled with extremely negative self-talk. My limited coping skills for ADHD, depression and anxiety, limited social connections, bullying, and abuse fueled my disdain for myself. As a result, I never felt worthy of the love of others, and I had very little love for myself.
My life was like a funnel. I slowly circled the top at first, but as the baggage built up, I began spinning faster and faster until I dove down to my rock bottom. I tried harder and harder to work my way back up, but I could not overcome the lifelong hang-ups and habits. Finally, I was ready to give up. I was sure the mess I had made and the mess I had become could never be cleaned up.
When there was no reason to love me or believe in me, my wife got me help and stood by me. For the first time in my life, I got a glimpse of the love of Christ through my wife. I finally understood what Jesus did for me. I no longer thought Jesus was there for “those people.” I knew I needed Jesus in my life.
One of the first things I did in this new life in Christ was attend a Celebrate Recovery meeting. After that, I worked with outpatient groups and my counselor, and regularly attended multiple CR groups. Celebrate Recovery gave me a forever family to love and support me and a framework to work through everything that had built up in my life.
The inventory in step four was hard, but it showed me where negative self-talk statements came from. I began to see that many aspects were not my fault. I also began to see the impact experiences, especially my mental illnesses, had on my actions and attitudes. I also became aware of my role. Life had been hard, but it did not excuse the things I had done. I had to take responsibility for my actions.
Celebrate Recovery has helped me to see myself through a more accurate lens. God has not only restored me but redeemed me to be used for his good purpose. God has performed miracle after miracle in my once hopeless life. These miracles are the evidence of his love for me which gives me the faith to believe what his Word says about me. When I don’t feel good enough, worthy, valued, or loved, I can focus on what God says about me. I am a new creation, loved, worthy, and valuable.
My mental health disorders have not gone away. I still take medication and attend counseling regularly. These disorders are still a thorn in my flesh, but they will not have control over my life. When I have to fight through the yellow and red zones of my mental health, I have a forever family and a healthy framework to help me rather than carrying the baggage alone into the battle. I don’t have to hide my struggle, and I DO NOT have to go through it alone.
At its worst, I wanted to end the pain so badly. Depression paralyzed me from doing anything to help myself. Thankfully, it also paralyzed me from doing anything that would end my life. Suicidal thoughts still come from time to time when I’m struggling, but they are brief moments. I have proven action steps to get control and stop the slide early. Proactively working on my program has resulted in fewer bouts with my mental health and much quicker recoveries when I do struggle.
Mental health is often passed down through generations. Celebration Place and The Landing have given my kids a head start in fighting this generational curse. One of the greatest miracles in my life has been watching my children recover from the traumas I have caused in their young lives. I still get tears every time I think about my oldest daughter telling me on the way home from a CR meeting that she finally wanted to forgive me for the pain I caused her.
Celebrate Recovery has also given me the opportunity to live out my twelfth step: “Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.” I share my testimony and serve others. It would be easy to feel shame about my struggles and actions, but 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (NIV).
I pray that sharing my testimony will echo Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (NIV).
If you would like to learn how to start your own Celebrate Recovery ministry, to contact your Celebrate Recovery Rep, please visit: https://crgroups.info/. To get involved in an already existing Celebrate Recovery ministry near you, please visit: https://locator.crgroups.info/.