“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
I heard a great message at Crossroads yesterday on “Boundaries”—part seven of the You Make Me Crazy series. Pastor John did a great job on the topic, drawing on information from our Celebrate Recovery friends, Cloud and Townsend, who wrote the book Boundaries (available in the Crossroads bookstore). I would encourage you to check the message out on line at Crossroads and to buy the book; it just may change your life. A big takeaway for me: Grace provides safety and Truth provides structure; you need both to have a healthy relationship. Amen!
Recovery without healthy boundaries isn’t recovery, just as recovery without accountability is not as well. As we acquire healthy boundaries in our personal life to help us overcome our hurts, habits, and hang-ups, we also learn new boundaries in our relationships. In fact, the first boundary I set was with God—there is one God, and I am not He. Once I got that down, I could move forward in my recovery. And once I got to a point of receiving some personal recovery, I could then move forward in my relationships with others—especially with my wife and family.
Grace and truth are vital to recovery. I experience it firsthand from God, and with people He puts in my recovery life, from sponsors to accountability partners, from pastors and friends, and with my wife and family. I started my recovery in a treatment center for addictions some 26 years ago and I remember one episode as if it were today. My wife, Nan, came to the center for a week of treatment for co-dependency; now I know that can get most spouses ire up with thoughts like: After all, my husband/wife is the sick one; I don’t have any of his/her problems. In fact, I’m the one holding it all together.
If you ever hear an alcoholic or addict say that they are only hurting themselves, that’s a lie; and if you ever hear of a spouse who says they aren’t hurt or greatly affected, that too is a lie. How do I know? Well it should be obvious, but then again, layers of denial may keep us from the truth. As I sat with my wife in that treatment center in a one-to-one encounter with her counselor leading us, the truth that addiction is a family disease became very clear to me. The counselor had Nan and I face each other and close our eyes, and she asked me to just listen to Nan’s words. What came from Nan overwhelmed me; she was experiencing the same pain and misery, the same fear and frustration, the same insanity and angst that I was experiencing. When I heard her speak, the wall of relational denial came crashing down—Nan was experiencing the chaos of my addictions as if she had them. Nan was not an alcoholic or addict, but she was faced with another kind of addiction called co-dependency. It was at that moment I realized that living with a guy like me would make you crazy. We needed that kind of truth and grace to move forward in our recovery, and my guess is many of you do as well. At Celebrate Recovery we get calls and e-mails from spouses and family and friends living with someone with an addiction, asking us to fix their loved one. What do I say to them? I encourage them to come to Celebrate Recovery and start working on their own issues, learning to set healthy boundaries and how to be the healthiest you can be in the middle of chaos.
So why the title “Tough Love” for this message? That’s what I needed in the beginning of recovery, and I continue to need today. Tough love is about loving a person enough to tell them the truth and hold them accountable for their actions. It’s not mean spirited, judgmental or shaming—that’s what happens when we tell the truth without love and grace. What makes tough love tough is that it’s hard to do; it’s hard to do the right thing sometimes. Tough love speaks to Pastor John’s “Boundaries” message on how to deal with people who are out of control or controlling—I was both. Stop rescuing and enabling, confront in love, learn to say no, and give consequences as needed.
Setting boundaries takes hard work, a safe environment with safe people, and God to provide the strength and courage needed for change. Nothing changes if nothing changes. If you don’t like where you are in life, then change the game plan. Find a church and a program that can help you; you can’t do it alone, but you have to make the decision to make the change. Celebrate Recovery at Crossroads Church has a good Christ-centered game plan that can help move you out of your darkness into the light.
“Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
Make this week a great God filled week-Do your part and trust God do the rest.
FRIDAY—Large Group Meeting:
Join us as Crossroads senior pastor, John Smith, gives a lesson on Step 3: We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.
- 7 pm: Great worship followed by great teaching from Pastor John Smith.
- 8 pm: Open Share Groups.
- 9 pm: Solid Rock Café.
Men’s Group, Tuesdays, 6pm: Celebrate Recovery has a men’s group meeting every Tuesday night at the 137 Homeless Connection. If you need a meeting, try this one out. I love it! Dinner is at 6pm, and the meeting is at 7pm.
NEW Women’s 12-step Group: Thursdays, 6:30-8pm. For more information, contact [email protected].
Women’s Abuse 12-step Group: Forming now, contact [email protected] for more info.
CR Men’s Hike: This Saturday. Email [email protected] for more information.